Cornucopia in Whistler: Festival Recapby
The following was contributed by Jennifer who attended Cornucopia on behalf of Miss604.com
Wind and heavy rain weren’t enough to put a damper on this year’s Cornucopia food and wine fest. From wine tastings and food seminars to amazing parties there was much to take in over this past weekend in Whistler.
November is one of the slowest times for the resort and we were surprised at how few people were actually around in the village. This of course means exceptional deals at local hotels who are trying to fill rooms before the busy ski season. We always book through Whistler Accommodation up to as little as a few hours before we arrive in order to get the ‘last minute’ bargains. You don’t actually know until you’ve booked (credit card and all) where you will be staying but are told room size and rating. Both times we’ve done this we’ve ended up at a 5 star hotel, steps from the village at a seriously discounted rate.
Friday after checking in we headed over to the Telus Conference Center (which is conveniently located right in the village) to pick up our media passes and received a lovely bag filled with goodies from some of the festival sponsors.
That evening we walked back to the conference center to take part in CRUSH. The opening Gala, wine tasting event. I was thoroughly impressed with how friendly the staff and volunteers all were and felt very welcomed. Not only were there dozens of wineries represented but many tasty treats, everything from the delicious Rogers Chocolates and Tim Tams to Terra Breads, Natural Pastures (cheeses) and Red Leaf premium water.
After scoping out the selection of wineries we stopped by the Jacob’s Creek (from Southern Australia) table where we chatted with the lovely rep and tasted a 2004 Reeve’s Point Chardonnay and were then treated to a tasting of the 2004 St. Hugo Cabernet (which at nearly 50$/bottle is not on the lower end of the price scale but definitely recommended for a splurge). This was my pick for favourite of the evening.
Further on we were delighted to find d’Arenberg (one of Australian’s most respected wineries, and a personal favourite of Sean’s) where we tasted the ’06 Stump Jump White and an ’05 ‘The Footbolt’ Shiraz. Our pick for best value (taste combined with price) at $23.99 a bottle.
Several local Okanagan wineries were also present including Tinhorn, Inniskillin, Sumac Ridge and Mission Hill Family Estate Winery. We spoke with Dan from Mission Hill and he was kind enough to go into a bit more detail regarding wine tasting (as I am pretty new to wine appreciation) and also explained the perfect conditions experienced last year which contributed to the great taste of the 2007 Reserve Riesling Icewine we tasted. This summer when we visit the Okanagan we’ll add Mission Hill to our list of winery stops.
On our way over to our hotel we decided to stop by a few independent events held by other local businesses. We stopped by the ‘Burlesque’ party over a Garfinkels Night Club but even at 11:30pm when we headed out, there was little going on other than a couple of “gogo” dancers and a handful of partiers (although there did seem to be more people headed there on our way out). The staff told us it would be more ‘happening’ closer towards 1:30am but really that’s a bit late for us so perhaps we missed the real party but I am a bit skeptical.
After trying unsuccessfully to get into the Casino Royale Party over at Ric’s Grill (which I was later told was the ‘party of the year’ in Whistler) we decided to call it a night.
While standing beside another couple waiting for the elevator to our room the gentlemen looks at us and says “You guys wanna go to a real good party?”. I was dumbfounded, I was totally unprepared for this man and his wife to invite us to ‘party’ after a moments of awkward silence he asks us again ”Do you guys want to go to a party” at which point Sean (in his most serious voice) says ”What do you mean party?”…. long story short they were event sponsors and had a few extra (coveted at $125/piece) tickets to the Casino party. This ritzy affair included girls juggling fire, men in black tie, Vegas style show girls, a gourmet buffet, unlimited drinks as well as masseurs and make up artists in the bathrooms and of course a casino (we were handed play money on the way in). Granted there was a fun atmosphere and swank decor we are unsure we’d have been happy had we’d paid the ticket price to get in, the bars were unorganized and ran out of mixers, there were very few casino tables for the number of people wanting to play and the food was average (with exception of the actual roast). From what I could tell most people were having a great time so perhaps these things went unnoticed.
Other events that we would have liked to attend given more time would have been the popular ‘Chef’s trip to the farm’ and the ‘Chef’s Table Luncheon with Rob Feenie’ hopefully next year we will have more time.