Even visitors from out of province agree: Cornucopia is one of the best food and wine festivals in the country.
Taking place every fall just before the ski season starts, Cornucopia is Whistler’s preeminent celebration of cooking, ingredients, makers, and purveyors. Which means everything from seminars, to tastings, to multi-course dinners are available at a number of the mountain town’s top-tier restaurants and venues.
This past weekend, I hopped up the Sea-to-Sky in time to grab dinner at Mekong, a new Thai restaurant in Creekside from the team behind beloved Whistler spots The Mexican Corner and La Cantina (with menu consultation by Vancouver’s beloved chef Angus An). While it wasn’t their official Cornucopia dinner, the place was abuzz with people excited to try the flavourful dishes (you must order the salmon tartare with betel leaves and the cooked-to-perfection chicken skewers with chili dipping sauce). I also managed to sneak in a booze-forward cocktail at Wild Blue, which was just named Canada’s second-best new restaurant by Air Canada. The Brooklyn (Reifel rye, dry vermouth, maraschino, China China liqueur, bitter orange) was the perfect nightcap.
The next day, after a gorgeous sleep at the Four Seasons Resort Whistler (where I have it on good authority Hugh Grant was also staying) and a luxurious visit to the hot pools and saunas of Scandinave Spa, I prepped for my main event: a multi-course dinner at Bearfoot Bistro’s intimate underground wine cellar in collaboration with Black Hills Estate Winery. Former Bearfoot pastry chef Dominic Fortin has returned to lead the restaurant’s full menu, and he spared no expense on technique or ingredients with this meal, which acted as a debut of sorts. From the first bite—sake and miso-cured scallop with pine mushroom dashi, brown butter, and whipped cauliflower—it was clear he knows exactly what he’s doing, and that he is here to stay. Other standouts included albacore and ahi tuna crudo paired with a beautiful Black Hills Alibi 2022 white blend, and a very rich Wagyu course that was balanced out with Black Hills’ piece de resistance of bold Nota Bene red. Delicious? You know it. Memorable? Absolutely.
And while kick-off weekend is behind us, there are still a number of events with tickets available through this Sunday. Since Vancouverites are notoriously last-minute, I have selected five options to consider.
Taste through a selection of wines from the Cornucopia cellar and learn about how long to hold onto those bottles you’ve been treasuring in the back of your cupboard. Sniff, slurp, and spit or swallow—the choice is yours. November 17 at 5:30pm.
For something a little less white-tablecloth in vibe, Blacks Restaurant & Pub is hosting a party featuring giant pizzas, wine pairings, and a DJ. The best of apres culture meets the best of pub culture. November 17 at 6pm.
Head to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s delicious The Grill Room for a five-course dinner complete with Vanessa Vineyard wine pairings. I spy a slow-cooked tenderloin on the menu that looks drool-worthy. November 17 at 6pm.
The stunning Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre provides the backdrop for this dinner spotlighting the best in fall Indigenous cuisine. Think: cranberry-rosemary bannock, smoked trout with slow-roasted cabbage, and Pemberton beets and carrots. November 18 at 6:30pm.
End the weekend correctly by watching the shells fly at this oyster shucking competition presented by Bearfoot Bistro and Sawmill Bay Shellfish Company. There will also be a Caesar-making contest, because of course. November 19 at 3pm.