A Day in British Columbia with Nathan Fong

So Many Reasons to Visit Whistler, BCIMG_0505.jpg This past August, Elliott attended a radiology conference in Whistler, BC. We had been there once before but this time we were awestruck anew by the splendor of the setting. Towering snow-capped mountains cradle the town yet the altitude is only about 2100 feet so we barely noticed the difference--i.e. we were never out of breath or headachy. Several of Elliott's colleagues encouraged us to do the zip lining but we opted instead for a "canopy walk," rationalizing that it would be a bit less thrilling but more exercise. We walked through the Douglas Fir and towering Cedars trees, suspended from them by wooden scaffolding and rope bridges and watched as others zip-lined just beneath us. I found a bush bearing a few huckleberries. PHOTO They are much more intense than blueberries and wildly delicious. No wonder the bears enjoy them. IMG_0507.jpg My dear friend and colleague Nathan Fong, who lives in Vancouver but has a house in Whistler, decided to drive up for the day. Our mutual friend, cookbook author and journalist from Toronto, Lucy Waverman, coincidentally also was in Whistler, accompanying her husband who was attending a lawyers' conference, so Nathan organized a day and night of food related activities. He also gave us a list of his favorite places to eat before he arrived so we got a head start, having dinner one night at Bearfoot Bistrôt and the next night at Araxi. We were delighted to be returning to Bearfoot Bistrôt with Nathan with the intention of having dessert at Araxi but after an amazing multi-course dinner at Bearfoot we never made it. Luckily Nathan was able to get me the recipe for Araxi's fabulous Lemon Tart. It's in their cookbook and will be appearing in mine as well!

IMG_0514.jpg IMG_0515.jpg We started the tour with a short drive to the marvelous Pure Bread Bakery. Owners Paula and Mark Lamming offered us a generous tasting of their sweet and savory baked goods, which I thought was to be our lunch (I should have known better knowing Nathan--it was just the beginning of an all day eat fest). We all adored the cottony soft brioche filled with rhubarb and ginger purée, the top deliciously crunch having been brushed with butter and dipped in sugar. We also tore into the Jalapeno and cheddar scones, the lavender lemon scones, and the near addictive, slightly crunchy from buckwheat scones with sour cherries. There was no possibility of trying what appeared to be a fabulous selection of breads but I drank them in with my eyes. Pure Bread is at the Vancouver Farmers' Market on weekends, at the upper Village of Whistler on Wed from 3-7, and also at several others of the area's farmers markets. IMG_0516.jpg Next stop was the Pemberton Distillery. We were greeted by the Schramms (husband and wife) who gave us a tour and also tasting of their gin, vodka, and fantastically mellow apple brandy. The young distiller, Tyler Schramm, studied in Scotland before returning to Pemberton BC to open the distillery. He explained some of the process and told us that the gin is flavored with rosemary and rose hips, and the vodka is made from organic potatoes. IMG_0517.jpg We made a quick stop at a nearby organic farm, housed in a dramatic setting--so glorious I had fantasies of moving there. Five minutes drive from the farm, Nathan pulled up to the: Mile One Eating House in the town of Pemberton saying: "here's where we'll eat lunch." "I thought we already ate lunch." I protested in a near whisper, but when he told us about the macaroni studded with 3 varieties of mushrooms, chorizo, cheddar and another regional cheese I succumbed immediately (it was irresistibly luscious). IMG_0522.jpg Of course we had to try one of the special burgers for which they are so justifiably famous. IMG_0521.jpg and when I glanced at the menu and said "Oh poutine!" Lucy said, "Let's order that too!" (For a moment there I thought she had to be kidding!) I had only eaten this French Canadian dish of fried potatoes in brown gravy doused with clump of soft chewy cheese once before in Montreal but this version was a tiny bit less caloric as the potatoes were oven roasted! IMG_0519.jpg Nathan returned us to Whistler, stuffed to the gills, with just enough time to ride the peak to peak 2.5 miles cable car with glass bottom before walking down to lower Whistler Village for--yes! dinner. We arrived at Bearfoot Bistrôt with 0 appetite. We were all led to the outdoor deck where champagne from British Columbia and fresh oysters, tasting of the ocean, awaited us, thus rekindling our appetite for what turned out to be one of the best meals of our life. For a menu description and photos check in next week!