Category: #dining

10 Exciting BC Moments From 2016

As the new year approaches, it’s time to look back at significant moments from 2016. From #1 spots on “Top 10” lists, to a Royal visit, it’s been a memorable year in BC.

10. The BC Government reached a historic deal with First Nations, environmentalists, and logging companies, and announced that 85% of the 6.4-million-hectare (15.8-million-acre) Great Bear Rainforest will be permanently protected from logging.

Grizzly crossing a river in the Great Bear Rainforest.

Grizzly crossing a river in the Great Bear Rainforest. Photo: Pete Ryan

9. Local businessman and philanthropist Michael Audain opened the hotly anticipated Audain Art Museum in Whistler. His personal collection includes one of the world’s finest collections of First Nations masks, and pieces by renowned BC artist Emily Carr.

Entrance to the Audain Art Museum in Whistler.

Entrance to the Audain Art Museum. Photo: Caley Vanular

8. Chinatown’s Kissa Tanto, a delightful marriage of Japanese and Italian cuisine, was named Canada’s Best New Restaurant in Air Canada enRoute magazine’s annual best-of list.

7. Mount Revelstoke Resort opened the Pipe Mountain Coaster, an exhilarating ride that lets you control your own speed down a 1.4-kilometre (0.9-mile) track.

Pipe Mountain Coaster at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.

Cruising down the mountain on The Pipe Mountain Coaster. Photo: Ian Houghton

6. The BC Craft Brewers Guild launched the BC Ale Trail, a collection of seven craft beer routes around the province. Cheers!

Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast.

Persephone Brewing Company in Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast. Photo: BC Ale Trail

5. A media frenzy descended in September when Will and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, arrived for a week-long Royal Tour.

The Duke and Duchess sample food and wine in Kelowna.

The Duke and Duchess sampled some of the best food and wine BC has to offer while in Kelowna. Photo: @canadian.heritage

4. BC Parks announced an investment of more than $20 million over the next five years. Plans include 1900 new campsites for locals and visitors alike to spend time in the great outdoors.

Nairn Falls Provincial Park near Pemberton.

Setting up camp at Nairn Falls Provincial Park near Pemberton. Photo: Julian Apse

3. Baldy Mountain Resort, near Oliver in BC’s Okanagan Valley, found new life with new ownership. The resort re-opened this winter—much to the delight of locals.

Baldy Mountain Resort near Oliver.

Glade skiing at Baldy. Photo: @apreswheeler via Instagram

2. The world’s largest Christmas light maze put on a display near Vancouver‘s Olympic Village. Enchant boasts more than 5,000 square metres (55,000 square feet) of illuminated sculptures, as well as a Christmas Market featuring 40+ local vendors and a dozen food trucks.

Enchant Christmas Maze in Vancouver.

Enchanted by Enchant. Photo: @wendy.shep via Instagram

1. In October, Lonely Planet released their annual Best in Travel list for 2017. Number one on their Top Countries list? You guessed it: Canada. Aw, shucks.

Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park.

Natural Bridge in Yoho National Park. Photo: @goldiehawn_ via Instagram

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Mountain Towns: Golden

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, in the Rocky Mountains near Golden.

Amazing powder at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Photo: RCR-Trent Bona

There was a time when Golden was barely on the ski map. Up until the end of 2000, the mountainous terrain around this railroad town was served exclusively by a small, weekend-only ski area named Whitetooth. It operated since 1986, and people had been backcountry skiing here for decades, but the name “Golden” was not on many skiers tongues outside the immediate area. Not until the Kicking Horse busted the town’s reputation wide open.

Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden.

Eagle’s Eye Restaurant boasts an amazing view. Photo: RCR-Dave Best

When Kicking Horse Mountain Resort opened in 2000, the ski and snowboard world noticed. They had to. With some of the steepest sustained fall lines, gnarly chutes, and some good old-fashioned powder bowl skiing, Kicking Horse came on like a wild animal. People now flock to the resort for serene panoramic vistas followed by rowdy, leg-burning descents. Of course, it’s not all hardcore. As with any ski resort in North America, there are options for families with kids, especially in the lower terrain grandfathered in from Whitetooth. And there’s also an easy, 10-kilometre (6 mile) run that goes all the way from the peak to base, so beginners aren’t restricted to the lower sections. In short, everyone’s welcome, but experts will fall in love a whole lot faster.

The resort is made up of 1,133 hectares (2,800 acres), four bowls, countless chutes, and a bunch of ridgelines. The big three ridges for skiing cool lines are named CPR, Terminator, and Redemption. There are only four lifts, so getting around is easy. It’s an explorer’s mountain. Get up there and root around. Everyone finds something.

Backcountry Skiing in Golden

Beautiful skies over Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden.

Beautiful skies over Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. Photo: RCR

One of the qualities that makes Golden’s mountain town status shine so bright is its access to backcountry. Arguably, it’s the nexus of cat, heli and human-powered backcountry skiing and riding. With three heliskiing companies and one catskiing operation, the area knows how to make good use of the numerous ranges that come together here. Indeed, the first heli-skiing in the world went down in the nearby Bugaboo Range. Rogers Pass, an easy drive from town, also offers world-class backcountry.

Food and Drink

Dogs at the top of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort.

Enjoying some mountain-top downtime. Photo: RCR

When the shredding’s done, the celebration begins. The Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at the top of the gondola is worth spending extra cash. Enjoy a drawn-out cocktail complete with as-far-as-the-eye-can-see mountain views, or splurge on a dinner. It’s an experience mostly found in European ski destinations. The town of Golden has a recent influx of great spots to stop for a drink and a bite to eat after a day of testing what you thought were strong legs.

In the morning, Purcell Coffee in town or the Double Black Café on the mountain are your best choices to get caffeinated. For lunch or dinner, the Cedar House is known for upscale urban fare, and Eleven22 is a relatively affordable local’s favourite that does dinner right. Don’t miss it. As for après, the Riverhouse Tavern is a pub that some might call a dive bar, and others might call perfect. The Golden Taps is another simple, cozy pub with good beer. Drink the local stuff. It’s better. Also, be sure to open up to the locals. They love their little ski town and are proud to talk about it. They should be.

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A Day of Dining in Nelson, BC

40: According to some sources, that’s the number of dining options here in Nelson, British Columbia. We’ve only got 10,000 people who call this place home, which means for every 250 people, there’s a place to grab something to eat. Compare that to New York City’s 24,000 restaurants serving its 8.4 million citizens; that stacks up to one restaurant for every 365 people. You know what that means?

Nelson is better at food than New York City. Bold claim for this small Kootenay town situated on the West Arm of Kootenay Lake and in the heart of the Selkirk Mountains? Well, let’s at least agree that per capita, Nelson sure does provide options. If you’re visiting, you might appreciate a little guidance in getting great grub. Good thing you stopped by — I like to eat and I’m about to write about it.

Let’s get to it: where to get breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Nelson. Feel free to partake in a full day of dining or spread these out over your stay.

Breakfast 

The Bent Fork: Open 7:00 am – 3:00 pm (most of the time). Cash or debit only. 318 Anderson Street

The entrance of The Bent Fork in Nelson, BC with its big sign hanging over the front steps which people are walking up to go into the red restaurant.

Entrance to The Bent Fork in Nelson, BC.

If you’re looking for Nelson in a nutshell, it’s served up at Bent Fork. This tiny place is kitschy, the staff doesn’t put on pretensions and the food is real. I guarantee you’ll have to wait for a table on weekends — the seating area fits within what used to be the front room of a converted house — and once you sit down, you’ll have to wait again for your food. The staff will tell you up front this isn’t a “fast food” joint. This place is about the experience, both for your eyes and your mouth.

There are variations on eggs benedict for whatever mood you’re in (unless you’re not in the mood for eggs), homemade jam and their home fries are enough to fill you up alone — big, generous hunks of sizzling potatoes seasoned and sauteed in what you imagine must be a cast iron skillet from your grandmother’s day.

A table at The Bent Fork in Nelson, BC filled with two plates (one piled with toast and homemade jam and the other with eggs benedict, home fries and bacon).

Breakfast is worth the wait at The Bent Fork in Nelson, BC.

While you’re waiting for that food to be served up, cast your eyes about. You can’t resist doing it, anyway; the place is littered with memorabilia from any decade but this one. A two-piece killer whale salt and pepper shaker hugged up to a ceramic kitten, a classic diner-style sugar dispenser and a $20 culture magazine from Dubai at our table and conversations just as eclectic as the interior, and indeed, Nelson itself. Play a round of cards until your food comes, eat up, then lean back and declare that it was worth the wait — because it is.

In a hurry alternative: Oso Cafe, a block uphill from Baker Street, is just as busy (and eclectic, at least as people watching goes), but you take your order at the counter and much of the food is already prepared so you can be in and out in ten minutes or less. Bonus: this place is regionally famous for its coffee.

Lunch

Smokehouse BBQ: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm, closed Sunday. 301 Victoria Street.

Smokewood BBQ's Entrance Menu posted on a wall.

Smokewood BBQ’s Entrance Menu.

Though I’m French Canadian by heritage, I’m a United States southerner by birth, which means I’m pretty proud of our BBQ. In fact, I think barbeque sauce runs through any southerner’s veins (though mine is laced with maple syrup from my Quebecois family).

It didn’t take long before I found Smokehouse BBQ. The smell permeates the air; anyone walking in the downtown area inevitably comes in contact with its smoky sweetness. So, in the most patriotic thing I could think to do, I walked in those doors on July 4th and gave way to my southern patriotic side.

Smokewood’s walls are plastered with plywood and corrugated steel and photos of the owner barbecuing in the south. A giant menu covers the entry as you walk in. After you’ve made your selection from things like pulled pork sandwiches or the BBQ box, you order from the window and take your pick of checkered cloth-covered tables. Condiments, like extra sauce, are in squeeze bottles and wet towelettes take the place of paper napkins. I was thrilled. It’s exactly how we do it in the south.

A real southern BBQ box full of mac and cheese and meat on top of a checkered tablecloth at Smokewood BBQ.

Real Southern BBQ in this jam-packed box from Smokewood BBQ.

My delight was bursting when my order came up (the BBQ box) and I opened the lid — baked mac and cheese (they allowed me to sub out the baked beans), coleslaw, corn bread and mounds of different types of meat, some slathered in the restaurant’s house sauce, some hickory smoked and everything looking just like home. It was enough for two, but there was no way I was sharing, even if it meant taking it home for later. 

The southern-style generosity spilled over from the portions to the owners, who took time to talk with us and share my enthusiasm for southern food. My box was only a third empty by the time I left, but my smile was as full as my stomach.

Dinner

Rel-ish Bistro:  11:00 am – 10:00 pm. 301 Baker Street.

A toy chef holding a "Welcome" chalkboard on top of the bar at the entrance of Rel-ish Bistro in Nelson, BC.

A warm welcome at the entrance of Rel-ish Bistro in Nelson, BC.

We’ve gone casual all day, now it’s time to step it up a notch. In Nelson, that means getting out of your muddy bike shorts and putting on a pair of clean shoes and jeans. If you can handle that, you’ll be rewarded for all the hard playing you’ve done all day (in between all this eating, of course).

Rel-ish has a coziness with its modern edges. For example, while the open kitchen is decked in stainless steel and the restaurant is laid out linearly, wooden and brick elements warm up the interior and large curved leather seats soften some the lines.

The interior wood tables set against windows at the dimly lit Rel-ish Bistro in Nelson, BC.

Interior dining at Rel-ish. In the summer, diners can also make use of the patio.

The food plays on its own juxtapositions, taking classics and twisting them with creativity. The Aunt May burger shows off Rel-ish’s talent for this; the burger itself is hearty but with the addition of brie and apple butter, it rises above the everyday. Thin fries, in their golden crispness, are piled to the side of the main course. If you don’t hurry, your dinner date will steal a few from your plate — they’re too good to let sit idly.

Some of the flavours here are uniquely Kootenay. Rel-ish strives to use as many locally-grown ingredients as possible and it’s noticeable when you bite into the freshness of the fare. And while this might be on the slightly upscale end of the town’s scale, don’t think you’ll get miniature dishes. Rel-ish’s portions will appease any hard-charging mountain biker, which is good, because Nelson claims a lot of ‘em.

There are many great places to add to this list — what’s one of your Nelson dining favourites? 

Related links: 
Dining in Nelson, British Columbia

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