In the words of Virginia Wolff that famous novelist who dominated the literary scene in England in the early 20th century, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” I was to test her theory in various settings in Whistler, Canada’s premier holiday resort.
On my first night in town I opted for the classic surroundings of the ‘Wine Room’ in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
With a policy of using only the best in regional and organic produce, the Chateau’s executive chef, Vincent Stufano, supports local farms. With a reputation as a mentor to the young chefs who people his domain, I was impressed to hear that Stufano, as well as guiding his protégés in the kitchen, takes them on mushroom picking expeditions.
Chatting with Ben Pernosky, the hotel’s Executive Sous Chef, I discovered that Morel, Chanterelle and Pine mushrooms used in the hotel’s cuisine are gathered in surrounding mountain forests. Describing his favourite, the Pine mushroom, he waxed lyrical when he said “its taste is floral, like eating a Christmas tree”. In Japan this rare mushroom with a fragrance like sweet cinnamon can cost up to $250 in a superior restaurant.
My dining experience that evening commenced with seating at a table beside a huge stone fireplace. Bears, I was told, can frequently be seen lumbering past the ‘Wine Room’ windows on their way to mountain meadows.
Poached beet carpaccio and watercress, agassiz hazelnuts and Salt Spring Island chevre cheese paired with Orofino Riesling was my choice for a starter. Anticipating an equally delicious main course I ordered Thyme-Roasted Lamb Rack with Du puy lentils. Complimenting the lamb were raisinated grapes, in a lovage scented celeriac puree.
A bottle of Australia’s Hugh Hamilton wine, ‘The Villain’ was, with its fruity aroma and a delicate hint of capsicum, the perfect accompaniment. Neither an epicurean nor a wine connoisseur, I must admit to being mystified by the inventive appellations given to the Hugh Hamilton wines; among them the comical ‘Loose Cannon’, ‘The Rascal’, ‘The Down-under Dog’, ‘The Mongrel’ and ‘The Scallywag’!
Photos copyright Anne Gordon
Posted on Wednesday, 11th July, 2012