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A Tasting Tour of Whistler

A Tasting Tour of Whistler
If, like me, you are new in town and not so familiar with what’s hot and what’s not, Whistler Tasting Tours have the answer. For more or less the price of single four-course meal you can have one course in each of four different restaurants.

It’s all about the Après in Whistler. Winter or summer, the days may be packed with adrenalin pumping action but, come sundown, that means hungry sporty types looking for foodie satisfaction. At one end of the scale, there are the ‘all dishes $4.95’ joints (yes really, you’ll find those at El Furniture Warehouse) but at the other there’s more gourmet dining in this town than you can shake a ski pole at.  If, like me, you are new in town and not so familiar with what’s hot and what’s not, Whistler Tasting Tours have the answer. For more or less the price of single four-course meal you can have one course in each of four different restaurants.
The Finer Things Dinner Tour, as the name implies, includes four of the best. Before we can get stuck in though, we meet our guide for an aperitif in the FireRock Lounge in the Westin. This turns out to be the very charming Anne Marie – a Whistler resident, avid traveller, foodie, wine expert and general bon viveur. She is great company and its clear from the outset this is going to be a fun evening but, just in case the ice needs a little breaking, Anne Marie has a few tricks up her sleeve. Or should that be cards? Poker cards in fact, dealt out to the group on successful completion of each course and various wine pairing challenges leading to mystery prizes as the evening concludes.
From the Westin it’s a quick walk round the corner to the first stop, the Bearfoot Bistro home to award-winning executive chef Melissa Craig and her partner Andre Saint-Jacques, a renowned Whistler party animal. Regrettably neither were around when we visited but we were to get a whiff of the party action by heading straight to the Wine Cellars for a spot of champagne sabering.  Great fun and not as tricky as it may first appear. With a little instruction wielding a fairly hefty saber, I managed a clean cut of the cork neck. To go with the bubbles, our first course; a delicate and tasty rainbow beet salad followed by a fascinating tour of the cellars. There are labels to cater for every taste and budget but the top priced red comes in at a mere $20,000. During the 2010 Winter Olympics, the cellars quickly became the go-to celebration haunt for medal winners - Andre generously offering them the chance to mark their moment of glory with a celebratory Nebuchadnezzar. No surprise then when we are told Bearfoot Bistro is, in fact, the top seller for Moet et Chandon in the whole of Canada.
Time ticking by, it was on to the next venue; Hy’s Steakhouse Without us knowing, Anne Marie had already called ahead so by the time we arrived, the table and staff were ready and waiting. Prime, no fuss Canadian steaks are the regular staple here but we were treated to seared Cajun Ahi Tuna and Teriyaki Beef – light and moreish, we congratulated ourselves on identifying (with a little cheating) the clever wine pairing with these dishes of a rather delicious Gewürztraminer from the Okanagan Valley. As it turned out, Anne Marie has been front of house manager here in the past and knows all the staff. They seemed genuinely delighted not only to see her but also her guests, which was rather lovely. It certainly made me feel that this would be a great restaurant to return to.
Between courses, a short walk through the village and a quick stop at Rogers Chocolates Very much a British Columbia institution, Rogers dates back to 1885 when Charles ‘Candy’ Rogers whipped up his first batch of truffles in the back of his Victoria grocery store. Now there are 8 stores throughout BC with global exports to over 50 countries. The background story and an ice wine truffle to go with coffee later was our reward for the detour.
So, on to the main course at Quattros billed as Whistler’s finest Italian restaurant. The elaborate mural featuring the owner at the entrance gives a clue as to the rather whimsical décor of the restaurant – you either like elaborate Venetian styling or you don’t. Me? Not so much. As to the food, when in BC you can’t go wrong with Sock Eye Salmon, served this time with the locally famous Quattro Spaghetti, heavy on the garlic and olives. Tastewise the food was fine although it felt like two dishes on one plate and the portion was so enormous to actually be off putting. I have a good appetite and tucked in with vigour but, even when I admitted defeat, it still looked like I’d barely touched it. Of course, doggy bags are always offered (does anyone ever take that up?) but apparently ‘Quattata’, an egg and spaghetti refry is a breakfast favourite with the kitchen staff.
Luckily a short waddle to our final restaurant of the night, the Mix Lounge at Crystal Lodge was enough to free up a little space for dessert, a rich New York  style baked cheesecake, washed down with a generous glug of ice wine. By this time, well fed and oiled, the group was getting along famously and the final round of poker, complete with gift for the winner topped off a great evening.
I loved the Whistler Tasting Tours concept – it works well not just for ready-made groups but also for couples or singles looking to get a bit more from their Après than simply food. Its sociable, fun and a great introduction to restaurants that you may well end up revisiting for a complete meal.
The Finer Things Dinner Tour costs $109.99 per person with optional wine pairing at $29.99. Operates every day with a minimum of two guests. Other tour options include the Hidden Gems tour ($89.99) and a Dessert or Lunch Tour (both $59.99)
Cathy was in Whistler as a guest of
Tourism Whistler
and Crystal Lodge Hotel
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30 August 2013
By: Cathy Bartrop
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