The quiet of the shoulder season has settled in and while Whistler Village is subdued the fire is on at the Dubh Linn Gate and there's a handful of people enjoying the atmosphere in Whistler's only Irish Pub.
The bartender cuts lemons while chatting with a lone patron at the bar nursing an ale. The pint glass sits half full. A couple sits in a booth just off the bar chatting quietly in Whistler's only establishment designed and crafted in Ireland then transported in individual pieces over the Atlantic Ocean, through the Maritime provinces, across the Canadian shield, through the prairies and Rockies to eventually land in Whistler for re-assembly mere steps away from the lifts of Whistler Blackcomb.
Dave Currie ambles out of the kitchen, smiles and reaches to shake hands. It isn't apparent from the shake but the first revealing thing he says is that he loves fishing. His resume includes stops at a number of B.C. fishing lodges, but it's not eating fish he loves, as he's a catch-and- release angler who takes photographs of all the fish he reels in. Currie spends quality time fly-fishing on the shores of lakes near Whistler or river banks in the region and when he can make it happen he gets out on the sea for oceanic adventures. When he isn't actually out in nature trying to catch fish, he also likes to tie flies in preparation for when he does get out onto the river.
The kitchen manager at the Pan Pacific Hotels in Whistler is also an artist. His work can be seen in a few places, including the new Squamish Fly Shop where a mural he painted is mounted above the back wall of the shop above the cash register.
Currie was lured to Whistler from Victoria in that time of life where the shift from teenager takes place.
"I had a couple of friends from high school that had been here for a year before," says Currie of his Whistler initiation at the age of 19 or 20. "They came back to Victoria and invited me to come up to Whistler.
"After six months I'd just got settled into Whistler back when there was 2,800 people that lived here. There was no busses or anything and everyone just hitchhiked and walked."
Just as he got settled in, working at "old school" Dustys, his buddies decided to move to Vancouver. He was invited to join them in the city but Currie had found his place.
That place for the last seven years has been the kitchen serving the Pan Pacific Mountainside and Pan Pacific Village Centre where he and his staff provide the food services for the breakfast room at the Village Centre, hotel room services, banquet foods and, of course, preparing the food orders from the Dubh Linn Gate Pub.
One of the most popular dishes in the pub is Steak and Guinness Pie. The dish is so-named because the key ingredient is Ireland's famous Guinness beer. To say the pub is influenced by the beer, which has been around since 1759 is an understatement. The name translates to Black Pool and refers to the dark pool of water beneath the heart of Dublin. The pool of water is located near St. James Gate Brewery where Guinness originates. According to legend, the dark waters are the inspiration for the beer Arthur Guinness perfected.
The Dubh Linn Gate is the place in Whistler to go for a pint of Guinness or a bit of Scotch. According to Pique readers, the Gate has the best beer selection in Whistler and the best Scotch.
"Fifty per cent of our sales is food," Currie announces with conviction when it is suggested that the Dubh Linn Gate is a pub known more for its liquids than solids.
"We're upscale pub food," he says. "Our portions are large. We have some signature Irish dishes on our menu."
While the most popular is Steak and Guinness Pie, Currie's team cooks up a few other favourites like Irish Stew, Corn Beef and Cabbage along with Bangers and Mash. All the dishes are made with raw ingredients from scratch. When his friends at Hilltop Farm near Spences Bridge have vegetables and fruit in season Currie says that's where he gets his produce. He also happens to enjoy visiting the area of the farm to fish in the waters of the Thompson River.
With Currie it always seems to come back to fishing. His art is inspired by fishing and he's clearly a man who finds relaxation at the end of a fishing rod, which means when he's at work in the kitchen he's focused knowing that once the work is done there will be time to tie a few more flies then get back on the water coaxing aquatic life to take the bait.
Steak & Guinness Pie
2 tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil
2 ½ lbs (1.15 kg) top round beef. Cut into 1 inch cubes
1 ½ cups (37 ml) chopped onion
1 lbs (500 G) button mushrooms – wiped clean
1 ¾ cups (425 ml) chopped carrot
1 ½ cups (375 ml) chopped celery
1 tbsp (15 ml) chopped garlic
¼ cup (60 ml) all purpose flour
1 ¾ cups (425 ml) of demi glaze we make our own but can use powder form from store
½ cup (125 ml) of Guinness beer
2 tbsp (30 ml) HP sauce
2 tsp (10 ml) worcestershire sauce
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
2 tsp(30 ml) salt
1 tsp (10 ml) freshly ground black pepper
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 400F (200C)
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium — high heat. Add the Beef cubes in batches, browning each well on all sides, about five minutes. Be sure not to crowd the pan or the beef won't brown well. Transfer the beef to a bowl and set aside.
Add the onion to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until tender, about five minutes. Add the mushrooms, carrot, celery and garlic and cook until the vegetables are tender and any liquid given off by the mushrooms has evaporated, five to seven minutes.
Return the beef to the pan. Sprinkle the flour over and stir to evenly mix. Add the demi glaze, Guinness, HP sauce, worcestershire sauce, thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Stir well to mix. Bring to a low boil over medium–high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer gently until the meat is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Taste the mixture for seasoning, adding more salt or pepper if needed.
Spoon the beef mixture into four to six ovenproof bowls, discarding the herb sprigs and bay leaf as you go. Cut puff pastry into rounds just a bit larger than the circumference of the bowls. Arrange the rounds on top of the bowls, pressing gently on the edges to seal. Brush the surface of the dough with the beaten egg mixture. Set the bowls on a baking sheet and bake until the pastry is puffed and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Serve with a sprig of fresh rosemary for garnish.