Got a dear cousin you haven't seen in 20 years staying with you for the Games? Or your boss' sister from Calgary? Or maybe you're a lucky visitor who's got a hotel condo with kitchen, or you want the inside track on authentic Whistler "secrets" when it comes to packing souvenirs back home.
Either way, Whistler's homegrown, food-fancy entrepreneurs offer so many tastes of the town you'll have no problem finding some real gems that bottle or bag the spirit of the place.
After all, what better souvenir can you find than one you eat? Taste that mountain air locked inside? Those local flowers?
To make life easy for you, the grocery stores sprinkled throughout the valley - The Grocery Store, Marketplace IGA and Upper Village Market right in beautiful downtown Whistler; Nesters Market on Nesters Road ("where the locals shop"); and Creekside Market in Creekside - all have the happy habit of practicing what they preach when it comes to buying local. This can mean Whistler, Pemberton/ Lillooet or B.C., depending on your view.
"People are coming here from all over the world so I try to carry all these local products," says Scott Aldrich, assistant manager and buyer at The Grocery Store. "I figure when people are travelling they want to find something they can't get back home. Plus we're all supporting the local food community - and we have a lot of it around here."
Most local products, if they aren't grown or raised by farmers or picked in the wild, arise naturally from the Whistler lifestyle. Many of the producers are boarders, skiers, mountain bikers or some kind of adventurers by day, and entrepreneurs by night - or something like that - earning their living in between the stuff that really counts.
"There are a lot of characters in this town, that's for sure," notes Scott.
Even the packaging is often as natural (read: eco-friendly) and distinctive as the local skunk cabbage, featuring funky artwork and images created by local artists. Plus the producers are often cooking or roasting, bottling or packaging their products with their own hands right in their homes. How local is that?
So without further ado, here are some top local picks of favourite Whistler irresistibles. Try even one and you'll see what we mean...
Zippy vinegar, earthy 'shrooms, top potatoes and more
Norm Strim's mom, Pia, better known to Norm and Natasha's kids as Nonna Pia, is known for her down-home cooking skills honed in Northern Italy. So it's only natural that Norm, a Red Seal Chef, followed his DNA coding and early inculcations to package up a balsamic reduction he's been known for for years in commercial kitchens. The result: Nonna Pia's Balsamic Reductions.
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