A marriage of meals

Brunch is essentially the perfect meal, a peacemaker, if you will, bridging the gap between the respective camps of breakfast lovers and haters.

You see, I find that this linguistic blending of "breakfast" and "lunch" is a harmonious concept. For those who typically eschew the traditional breakfast (i.e.: me), eating out on the weekends can be a bit of a struggle, as your dining companions usually want to nosh on a plate of eggs, bacon and toast in the early a.m. hours.

After years of careful study of this dining dilemma, I've found you can skirt around the issue by employing a series of delay tactics. Basically, stall: take a long shower, dry your hair, answer an "important" e-mail, do the dishes, anything to avoid going to that early breakfast. See, if you go out to eat later in the day - a bit closer to noon - it's more socially acceptable to order off of the lunch menu. No one will raise an eyebrow at your order of chicken Caesar salad or burger.

But a more polite way of pleasing everyone is to simply meet on middle ground over the best of both worlds: brunch.

There's some debate over who really started "brunch," but a quick Google search yields the following explanation on www.foodtimeline.org : "Culinary evidence confirms well-supplied leisurely enjoyed meals have been the privilege of the wealthy and noble classes since the beginning of civilization. Dining times, order of service, length of meals, and proper social etiquette vary with period and culture, but one point remains constant: only the very rich could afford to spend extended time and expense indulging themselves in the pleasures of food."

Makes sense to me. And seeing as this coming weekend is Easter Sunday, it's the perfect time for the culinary-inclined to indulge and try their hand at this oft-forgot meal. Invite a few friends over for a potluck-style Easter brunch, dig out an apron and get ready to get messy.

Here's the fun part: the menu options are pretty limitless. At this meal, almost anything goes.

Nestled between plates of staple breakfast foods, like eggs, bacon, sausage, pancakes and French toast, envision piles of egg salad sandwiches on soft, fluffy bread, fresh-baked hot cross buns, roast lamb, baked ham, quiche and even bowls of stew: a veritable feast. And to sate the sweet-toothed at the table, don't forget dessert: cheesecake, fruit salad, petits fours, and a healthy dose of foil-wrapped chocolate eggs thrown in for good measure, of course. Lay everything out, buffet-style, dig in, and wash it down with coffee, mimosa, or a Bloody Mary.

But if the last place you want to be this weekend is slaving away in a kitchen, there are a few local restaurants and hotels that are hosting special Easter Sunday brunches.

The Four Seasons' Fifty Two 80 Bistro & Bar cooks up an impressive spread, buffet style, with an omelette, benedict, waffle, crepe suzette and carving station, complete with a special kids buffet, starting at 10 a.m. and running until 2 p.m. Kids under the age of 10 eat for free, and can take part in the Easter egg hunt in the main lobby and library, while adults pay $65. The Westin's Aubergine Grille is also on the brunch bandwagon, hosting a special Easter brunch, complete with waffles, eggs benedict, omelettes and a carving station for $45 per person. There's an Easter egg hunt organized for the kids, while those five and under eat for free. Reservations are recommended for both events.

Extra helpings

A few of Whistler's finest dining establishments were recognized at the 2009 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, which wrapped up on March 29.

Restaurants throughout Metro Vancouver, Whistler, Vancouver Island, the Interior and Alberta received Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Honourable Mention designations at the 6th annual awards lunch, held on Friday, March 27, for wine lists that complement their unique menus and overall concept.

Winners in the Whistler category this year include Araxi Restaurant + Bar, which won a Gold designation, and the Rimrock Café and The Wine Room at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler, which received Silver awards.

"This competition is not just about creating a great wine list, it's about developing a thoughtful program that successfully marries food and wine and trains staff who can enthusiastically share with their customers what it means to eat and drink harmoniously," festival awards producer Sonia Fraser said in a press release.

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