Fall, the time for feasting

It's late September and rainy season is firmly upon us, and while many Whistler residents have resigned themselves to hunker down and while away the next two months quietly at home, there's another smaller, more obscure group of people who are actually a bit excited about the upcoming shoulder season. Yes, that's right - a small contingent of thrifty foodies who call Whistler home are licking their lips and sharpening cutlery in anticipation of some serious fall dining deals.

See, Whistler is home to a pretty amazing range of fine dining establishments (think Four Seasons' Sidecut, Players Chophouse, Nita Lake Lodge's recently re-launched Aura, Bearfoot Bistro, Araxi, Rim Rock Café, and many, many more). While most of these restaurants do make a concerted effort to keep their prices reasonable for locals, year-round, I think most people would concede that it's pretty tough to indulge in a multi-course meal at any of these places when you're making in the range of $12 an hour.

But spring and fall are the seasons for locals to take back the dining scene: that's when many of these establishments create special set menus that are designed to entice locals and tourists in to treat their taste buds without totally emptying out their wallets.

If you have a guest visiting in the next few weeks, or an anniversary or birthday to celebrate, make a reservation now; it's the perfect excuse to finally check out that special place you've just been dying to dine at! In the fall of 2008, I used one such visit from my mom coupled with the incredible seasonal dining special to get out of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Instead, we booked a table for two at the Rim Rock Café and spent the next two and a half hours languishing through an incredible three-course feast. (The second best part: there was absolutely no clean up required!)

After a quick scan through the ads in last week's Pique , it looks like many of Whistler's dining establishments are readying to weather the slow shoulder season: Rim Rock Café is again offering a decadent three-course feast for $45 and the lakeside Edgewater Lounge's fall special is just $39. While that's definitely still a bit of a splurge for most of us, it's amazing value for your money and a great excuse to celebrate a well-timed special event in style.

There are also plenty of places in the village that have autumn specials: 21 Steps has a three-course menu for $35, Sushi Village and Elements both have their three-course specials for $25, while the Dubh Linn Gate Old Irish Pub and Gone are offering two-for-one deals. And those are just the restaurants that have advertised. Many others are sure to follow suit, so keep an eye out for more special promotions.


An extra scoop

Black's Pub hosted the first round of their Smirnoff Premium Spirit Mix-Off competition last Thursday evening with seven local mixologists sidling up to the bar to shake and strain in hopes of advancing to the final round of competition at the end of November. Up for grabs: a trip for two to Las Vegas.

The competition kicked off at 9:30 p.m. with participants taking turns creating a series of three cocktails: the first, an original creation; second, a random selection from the Black's crafted cocktail menu; and the third, a "black box" surprise, featuring the surprise spirits absinthe and chartreuse.

Anton Fruewirth from the Rim Rock Café placed first overall with his cocktail, The Local Boy, which featured Schramm organic potato vodka, Okanagan Spirits Poire Williams Eau de Vie, fresh apple and pear from Pemberton, organic raw sugar, mint fresh from the garden, and North Arm Farm Rye poached blueberry garnish. Tia Stonier from The Mix by Ric's topped the showmanship scores and came in second with her Pink Flamingo, while Uriah Conti from Sidecut at the Four Seasons was third for his Blueberry Hill. Alexandre Horobjowski from Quattro was the final qualifier with his decadent Gettin' Piss'd Achio'd cocktail creation. Vila Kone and Jason Tonin from Black's tied for fifth while Jeff Clifford came seventh after missing a mandatory ingredient in the timed Black Box round. All in all, it was an impressive showing from some of the community's finest mixologists.

The next qualifying event will be held on Thursday, Oct. 21 with a roster of competitors from Vancouver's Cascade Room, The Burrow in Squamish, and Whistler's own Nita Lake Lodge, Mountain Club, Black's and the Bearfoot Bistro.



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