Whistler's Cornucopia 2014

[trip style = food + wine + weekend getaway] 

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Dear food, wine and wilderness lovers: 
I've written about Cornucopia, Whistler's celebration of food + wine, before and I'll write about it again. Because everythingespecially fine wine and haute cuisinetastes better when paired with fresh British Columbia air and mountaintop vistas.

Currently in its 18th year, Cornucopia 2014 kicked off last weekend and I was there to brush up on my 90+-point wine knowledge and my culinary curiosity for the second year in a row. To give you an idea of how much I love this highfalutin food fest, I only had Baby Styler four weeks ago, but didn't want to miss it, so Mr. Trip Styler was on daddy patrol while I jumped in and out of events. 

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The Tasty Bits 
- Cornucopia runs November 6 - 16, 2014.
- If you live nearby, there's still time to attend this coming weekend. I stayed at The {all-suite} Westin Resort & Spa due to its proximity to the events and free pet 'claws' for Dog Styler.
Hotel rates start at $89. Stay and sip packages start at $77 per person, per night
- Tickets range from $15 to $250 per event. 
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If you wonder why you should head to Whistler for a trip style = food-and-wine-weekend in November, it's this: Cornucopia is a confluence of learning and letting loose, wine and wellness, nourishment and nibbling, craft beer and cocktails andmore than anythingit brings the best of BC and the world to your plate {and glass}.

While last year I sampled some of epicurean event's grand tastings, chef luncheons, food and wellness seminars and sizzling after parties, this year my weekend focused on wine tasting, a six-course dinner and culinary demos {see photos + details below}.

Over the course of my bon vivant adventures, I was reminded why the 11-day gastro-celebration is such a mountaintop experience. Expertise and access. Whether it's a chef passing on their restaurant's iconic recipes or where they source their ingredients, or winemakers hand picking the wines you should bring to special events, Cornucopia-goers get a peek behind the apron {or barrel} with direct access to the tastemakers who are normally working on menu development, judging wine competitions or traveling to Mendoza in search of the next big Malbec.      

And so I came home with book full of notes, recipes for holiday cooking, a list of wines that will turn me into my circle's resident "som" and chef email addresses in case I want to follow up after my lunch 'n learn with, for example, chef Eric Pateman of Edible Canada about a recipe {which I did}. That's Cornucopia. And that's why 6,500 people put it on their fall travel menu every year. 

A Trip Styler Taste of Cornucopia

Araxi Big Guns. This sell-out, seven-course event is one of Cornucopia's most sought-after tickets attracting good-time gourmets to taste the wines sommelier Samantha Rahn will pair with Executive Chef James Walt's fall harvest menu.

Araxi Big Guns. This sell-out, seven-course event is one of Cornucopia's most sought-after tickets attracting good-time gourmets to taste the wines sommelier Samantha Rahn will pair with Executive Chef James Walt's fall harvest menu.

Araxi Big Guns. The setting.

Araxi Big Guns. The setting.

Araxi Big Guns. Sunshine Coast-based Northern Divine certified organic black caviar with buckwheat blini and wild smoked salmon.

Araxi Big Guns. Sunshine Coast-based Northern Divine certified organic black caviar with buckwheat blini and wild smoked salmon.

Araxi Big Guns. House-smoked Haida Gwaii sablefish sitting atop ruby streak and baby spinach in a ginger-orange juice sauce.

Araxi Big Guns. House-smoked Haida Gwaii sablefish sitting atop ruby streak and baby spinach in a ginger-orange juice sauce.

Culinary Stage Series: Edible Canada - Coast to Coast. Ingredients for the first course: Roasted carrot and beet salad.

Culinary Stage Series: Edible Canada - Coast to Coast. Ingredients for the first course: Roasted carrot and beet salad.

Culinary Stage Series: Edible Canada - Coast to Coast. Roasted carrot and beet salad paired with local greens, Charlevoix cheese, Okanagan pear and maple-hazelnut vinaigrette. {I'm going to publish the recipe to this salad in our That Travel Meal series soon because it's hearty, heavenly and ideal for holiday entertaining. Stay tuned.}

Culinary Stage Series: Edible Canada - Coast to Coast. Roasted carrot and beet salad paired with local greens, Charlevoix cheese, Okanagan pear and maple-hazelnut vinaigrette. {I'm going to publish the recipe to this salad in our That Travel Meal series soon because it's hearty, heavenly and ideal for holiday entertaining. Stay tuned.}

Culinary Stage Series: Edible Canada - Coast to Coast. Eggplant torte topped in salted caramel, brandied cherries and fresh cream. Because it was so decadent {you don't really taste the eggplant, it appears more in the texture}, I only needed a few bites, and felt healthy as I ate it because of veggie-factor. 

Culinary Stage Series: Edible Canada - Coast to Coast. Eggplant torte topped in salted caramel, brandied cherries and fresh cream. Because it was so decadent {you don't really taste the eggplant, it appears more in the texture}, I only needed a few bites, and felt healthy as I ate it because of veggie-factor. 

More WOW Wines. A wine tasting featuring 12 wines hand picked for special occasions by a panel of four experts. Some of my standout sips:  - Moon Curser Vineyards Contraband Syrah {BC}, $28.90 buy at the winery or private wine stores  - Signorello Estate Padrone {Napa}, $169 buy at BC Liquor Stores  - Jadot Beaune 1er Cru Les Boucherottes {France}, $75 buy at private wine stores  - Beringer Luminus Oak Knoll Chardonnay {Napa}, $50 buy at private wine stores  - Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Blancs {Napa}, $39.99 buy at BC Liquor Stores  - Nk'Mip Cellars Mer'r'iym {BC}, $50 at winery or private wine stores

More WOW Wines. A wine tasting featuring 12 wines hand picked for special occasions by a panel of four experts. Some of my standout sips:
 - Moon Curser Vineyards Contraband Syrah {BC}, $28.90 buy at the winery or private wine stores
 - Signorello Estate Padrone {Napa}, $169 buy at BC Liquor Stores
 - Jadot Beaune 1er Cru Les Boucherottes {France}, $75 buy at private wine stores
 - Beringer Luminus Oak Knoll Chardonnay {Napa}, $50 buy at private wine stores
 - Schramsberg Vineyards Blanc de Blancs {Napa}, $39.99 buy at BC Liquor Stores
 - Nk'Mip Cellars Mer'r'iym {BC}, $50 at winery or private wine stores

CRUSH gala, Cornucopia's flagship tasting event {think: Having the ability to taste a wine bar's entire wine list in one night}. 

CRUSH gala, Cornucopia's flagship tasting event {think: Having the ability to taste a wine bar's entire wine list in one night}. 

Moi Cornucopia-ing.

Moi Cornucopia-ing.

Culinary Stage Series: Café Medina. A lunch 'n learn from the gents who run the restaurant and kitchen in my go-to and gratifying Vancouver brunch hangout.

Culinary Stage Series: Café Medina. A lunch 'n learn from the gents who run the restaurant and kitchen in my go-to and gratifying Vancouver brunch hangout.

Culinary Stage Series: Café Medina. Moroccan mimosa. Cava and reduced orange juice infused with fig, fennel, coriander, pink peppercorn, saffron, anise and cinnamon {read: I could drink this every AM}. 

Culinary Stage Series: Café Medina. Moroccan mimosa. Cava and reduced orange juice infused with fig, fennel, coriander, pink peppercorn, saffron, anise and cinnamon {read: I could drink this every AM}. 

Culinary Stage Series: Café Medina. Seared sockeye salmon marinated in homemade bitters, salt, pepper, mint and North African spices complemented by hummus, yogurt and local greens.

Culinary Stage Series: Café Medina. Seared sockeye salmon marinated in homemade bitters, salt, pepper, mint and North African spices complemented by hummus, yogurt and local greens.

Culinary Stage Series: Café Medina. Ending the session with Medina's cult-following Liège waffles accompanied by a peach-bourbon-butterscotch sauce. 

Culinary Stage Series: Café Medina. Ending the session with Medina's cult-following Liège waffles accompanied by a peach-bourbon-butterscotch sauce. 

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