Howe Sound Brewpub (Squamish, BC)

howe-sound-brewery-1Squamish (or “Squampton” depending on where your allegiances lie) is a small burg nestled in the peaks between metropolitan Vancouver and the bacchanalian circus that is Whistler. It’s one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful places in BC that you can easily visit by car (half an hour from the Horseshoe Bay Ferry!) and if you happen to love outdoorsy stuff like my wife and I do it’s a must-visit destination… Except… Well… It’s kind of at war.

Y’see it’s still a small town, just enough industry to keep it going during the winter and enough summer kids hanging around to run the store while all the tourists pile in. Problem is we’re not talking a handful of tourists here. When a sizable portion of metro Vancouver decides to holiday in Whistler, they’re all driving up the same highway at the same time to get there. And they’re all having lunch in Squamish.

During our entire five day long stay in Squamish we witnessed cooks, servers and baristas battling some of the most outrageous lineups of entitled people we’ve seen since… Well, Whistler *laughs* But Whistler’s veteran hospitality army can handle ‘em… Squamish just couldn’t seem to hold the line. Nearly everywhere there were long waits for food, dirty tables and panicked bussers, fuming customers and thousand yard stares from beyond the pass. Our sushi restaurant even ran out of rice!

But I said “nearly” everyone didn’t I? Yes! One shining beacon of hospitality stood out amidst the cloud of war. It’s the biggest, baddest, jam-packed fullest joint in town. The number one recommendation for dinner and post-MTB drinks we got from everyone. Squampton’s Generalissimo in the war of hospitality: The Howe Sound Brewpub.

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Oyster Mushrooms

OysterIn the fertile forests surrounding Cumberland there is a special spot, just a couple ‘o yards from their famous mountain biking trails (hint: just across the bridge and to the left) that so many of us crankjobs fly past without a second glance. In this dank little oasis, tucked away under salal bushes is a rotten old alder tree (nearly 15 meters long and god knows how long dead) that houses a secret, edible ecosystem.

Twice a year (once in the spring and later on in the autumn) this fallen titan sprouts hundred upon hundreds of snow white fungal tongues that quickly grow into families of winged oyster mushrooms. When in full bloom the tree is nearly covered in fungus and can be spotted from much farther away… Luckily for me no one is venturing that far off the trails. These guys are all mine!

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The White Whale (Courtenay, BC)

via The White Whale on facebook
via The White Whale on facebook

Only a quick forty five minute drive away from our house, the local foods epicenter of the Comox Valley might as well be across the ocean for my wife and me when planning a dinner trip. After we factor in the time and money it takes to get a hotel (dinner does mean drinking after all!) and the commute after a hard work day it just never seems worth it… So, we just go and eat at Beijing House.

And yet, there is always an exception; A day apart , and afternoon perfectly sequenced into our overly-scheduled lives, a dinner-window where we can just kick back and enjoy whatever we damn well please.

So on a rare Saturday off in October there we were: Already in Courtenay, hungry as all get out (early breakfast and no lunch) and in that strange not-quite-dinner time before 7:00pm; plenty of time to have a meal and a couple ‘o drinks before heading home. Finally, the opportunity I’d been waiting for to hit up Chef Aaron Rail’s critically acclaimed new restaurant The White Whale. (more…)

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Araxi (Whistler, BC)

Araxi 1A month ago – Back when blueberries were blooming on alpine meadows throughout the Strathcona Park range – My wife and I were pulling into a hotel on another mountaintop. Whistler was the final stop on our invigorating mountain bike tour of the Caribou Highways and Byways and despite my physical exhaustion I was spiritually elated!

Whistler is home to, among other things, the restaurant that I most wanted to cross off my local bucket list. I’d met the chef of Araxi at the BCSGA Shellfish Dinner months back and had decided that if we ever made an appearance on the mainland that was to be my Mecca. (more…)

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