Toasting a decade to come 

Vintage edition of Cornucopia shows festival has arrived

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There was plenty to celebrate with Araxi’s 25 th anniversary coming to a climax at the Bubbles, Jazz and the Deep Blue Sea after party, which included the cutting of a six-tiered, Eiffel-Tower-high chocolate cake, accompanied by champagne poured from a bottle the size of a small child. This is the festival’s most lofty, high-class event — bent on nothing but spoiling guests. Set to easy jazz music, conversation is as plentiful as the surround-sound is sparkling.

As always, the elegant evening uncorked only the best, accompanied by an ocean of tuna and lobster spoon tasters as well as sushi that could be framed on the wall. I can now see why people gravitate to the outside martini bar after discovering freshly-squeezed-right-in-front-of-you fruit martinis — the kiwi, cucumber martini alone demands a return visit.

Although attendance wasn’t reflected in its worth, the Slow Food Artisan Market at the Westin was a festival highlight. I discovered Langford shortbread dressed in organic wild flowers, Giffard syrups (no refined sugars) that transform into fizzy non-alcoholic drinks in an instant and complex martinis in another, lemon YoGHEE for veggies sporting both taste and good health, and cosmetics with a conscience — you can both wear and eat the organic product endorsed by David Suzuki. Cheeses, chocolate fountains, wines, chef creations, art, and jewelry. It was like the Whistler Farmer’s Market on speed.

I finally figured out the secret to Crush! this year. With 70 wineries in three hours facing me, I compiled a hit list of favourites from various members of the food writing and serving community and sipped up right to the best, leaving time to pair savoury bites provided by local restaurants and do justice to both food and drink.

I wasn’t just attending the festival anymore, but thinking with it.

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