An Epicurean High

Cornucopia2013[trip style = foodie + wine tasting + weekend getaway]

Eye flutters and moans marked my weekend. In case you're getting any sultry ideas, this topic is G-rated, and by G I mean gastronomic. For the past four days, I've sampled and sipped 2,000 ft above sea level at one of Canada's longest-running and highfalutin food and wine festivals: Cornucopia in Whistler, Canada.

The good-time gourmets who've faithfully attended the four-day celebration for 16 years asked for more. The result: an 11-day foray into bites and bevs honing in on the region's homegrown harvest, local talent and international appeal.

While past years focused primarily on savoring both liquids and solids, this year saw Cornucopia weave in an oh-so-Whistler thread of well being and la belle vie. Wellness-themed sessions, aptly named Nourish, made their debut on the epicurean event's menu. We could all learn something from Whistlerites -- British Columbia's masters of the good life who ski, bike or hike by day and eat and drink well by night {and manage to look 10 or 15 years younger than us city folk}.

Complementing this Whistler lifestyle, morning yoga sessions were available to balance-conscious festival goers, as well as sessions on stress-relieving foods {note to self: eat more avocados, spinach, walnuts and turkey} and skincare from the pantry. Midday, munch on demos featuring local chef and sommelier collabs, and intimate chef- and winery-led lunches at private residences. When the clock strikes six, sip to your palate's content at grand tasting galas or themed restaurant tastings.

During the weekend, I witnessed one moment that described Cornucopia best; it happened at the culinary stage series, crafted by the executive chef and the sommelier of Vancouver's acclaimed Cibo Trattoria. While tasting northern Italian wines -- chosen to complement autumnal cooking {mushrooms} -- Chef Faizal Kassam pulled handmade gnocchi out of the oven. As he topped the creamy, nearly polenta-like dish with in-season porcini and chanterelles, the sold-out crowd erupted with elation as a slice of truffle crowned the canapé. The groans were for good reason; the Italian staple was that good. Good food and fine wine have a way of bringing out our inner joie de vivre, hence the fanfare and impassioned reactions.

The rest of the weekend crescendoed with a pop when I launched the top of a Moët bottle into midair in a literal and ceremonial swipe of a sword in the Bearfoot Bistro's wine cellar. Cin cin!

Photos prawn

ravioli {Prepping my palate for Cornucopia at Sidecut restaurant at the Four Seasons Resort Whistler.}


gnocchi {Culinary Stage Series: Cibo Trattoria - Piedmont in Autumn.}

BC wine paring dinner

choco {BC Wine Pairing dinner: seven courses and 15 wines!}

marTEAni {MarTEAni Party at Fairmont Chateau Whistler, a dress-up affair turning a spot of Fairmont's famous teas into a series of sophisticated sips.}


Four Seasons Whistler cheesecake {The libation station and bite-size cheesecake at Four Seasons Whistler's Private Residences chef brunch. Find other chef luncheons here.}

champagne bearfoot bistro {The Bearfoot Bistro; the unofficial après-Cornucopia place to be.}

The Tasty Bits - Cornucopia runs from November 7 - 17, 2013. If you live nearby, there's still time to attend this coming weekend! - Tickets range from $15 to $250 per event. Stay and sip packages and other ticket-bundling options are available. - The events are as plentiful as a fall harvest and range from a $25 three-course meal at one of Whistler's most fabulous restaurants to culinary demos, seminars, grand tasting galas and seven-course dinners.

[photos by @tripstyler, taken while a guest of Cornucopia]