Fish to feathers - It all works In holiday dishes 

Whistler foodies share their favourite Christmas night dinner ideas

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It is the week before Christmas and all through the house not a creature is stirring ... but for the chef, who is still finalizing the menu for the family feast.

The choices for traditional holiday meals are many and varied. In many places around the world birds other than turkey rule the holiday feast. In some places meats are preferred, while ocean treasures reign supreme in some corners of the world.

So, here are some thoughts on holiday feast options from a selection of food industry folk.

Jennie Small is one of the leaders of the Earthsave group in Whistler and she said she likes a Christmas meal with yams at the centre of the dish.

"I like it with cinnamon and nutmeg flavouring," she says. To go with the yams she enjoys roasted vegetables, vegan stuffing and cranberry sauce.

"And kale," she says, "I love kale."

Her drink of choice to go with it all is a cranberry spritzer.

The next Earthsave monthly potluck dinner is scheduled for Wednesday (Dec. 21). According to Small, the dinner on Wednesday will have a Christmas theme featuring tofurkey. Small isn't a big fan of the meat substitute, but she says she looks forward to it none-the-less. Ten to 12 people are expected.

Astrid Cameron-Kent says she most looks forward to cheese and some crisp apple slices on Christmas night. B.C. cheese paired with Okanagan wines is her first choice.

She says her ideal Christmas meal includes Canadian wild rice with some Saltspring Island Montana and Moonstruck White Grace toping her cheese list along with some Pinot Noir.

Melissa Craig from the Bearfoot Bistro says she likes turkey or ham. Yes, the pride of Duncan is a traditionalist and while she says it's been 14 years since her last Christmas dinner on Vancouver Island she likes her favourites served with scallop potatoes on the big night.

She adds that a bottle of Pinot Noir is her preferred wine to accompany the meal.

Craig says she's usually full after dinner so desert isn't a priority but she likes a tart or pie featuring chestnuts.

A less traditional Christmas dinner is prime rib and that is the first choice of James Walt, the executive chef at Araxi who was recently inducted into the B.C. Restaurant Hall of Fame. He isn't alone on the beef front as Olivier Mayer and Guillaume Gissinger both like beef for the holiday dinner.

Gissinger, from the Bearfoot and formerly of Alta Bistro, says he likes Angus beef for his holiday dinner while Mayer likes bone-in prime rib.

"I'm not a big turkey fan," says Walt, "and generally at Christmas we have beef. I like it for everything that turkey isn't."

Walt loves a new product from Prince Edward Island called Blue Ribbon Beef explaining that the cows are fed potatoes and root crops grown in the area. He's a big fan of roasting the beef in a pot with carrots, local potatoes and baby onions.

"It is simple and creates lots of flavours and my kids love it," says Walt of his favourite Christmas meal.

Mayer, a private chef, was Gissinger's partner in the Whistler Chef Challenge during cornucopia.

"It is definitely comfort food," he says of the roast beef he serves. This season he plans to serve the meat with brazed artichoke and a few other vegetables.

And this Christmas he will serve it with a1984 Château Margaux French red, as he is fortunate to have three bottles in his possession.

Once the dinner plates are cleared a classic French Christmas log featuring ice cream and butter cream will be served.

Gissinger's dessert choice, to follow his Angus beef with potatoes and fried mushrooms, is a favourite his father always served at Christmas: chocolate ice cream with raspberry and pineapple sorbet layered with cooked meringue.

As if that wasn't enough Gissinger says the sweet delight is doused in sherry then set alight. The flambé creates a caramel coating and if the lights are dimmed the dramatic lighting of the desert offers a spectacle for the eyes to go along with the pleasure brought to the nose and tongue.

"It is beautiful for Christmas," Gissinger says.

One more thought from a culinary connoisseur, Rolf Gunther of the Rim Rock Café. His favourite holiday meal is pizza!

After the laughter clears he says his first choice is a European classic consisting of goose with apples and bacon.

While thinking about popular European Christmas dishes he notes that another of his favourites comes from the south of Germany.

"I also like poached carp," says Gunther.

So many great choices but no matter what the final selection is the most important ingredient is the love we have to share with our family and friends on Dec. 25.


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