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On the foodie trail from Whistler to Pemberton

- August 18th, 2012

In British Columbia, the local, organic food movement is hugely popular.

With its abundance of seafood, temperate climate for fruits in the Okanagan Valley and gourmet restaurants and food trucks, it’s no wonder culinary tourism is a big draw in the province, especially so, as I discovered today, in Pemberton.

Scenery at Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef.

Scenery at Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef.

A 20 minute drive from Whistler, Pemberton is a small town filled with big flavours and exciting developments in the organic industry.

At Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef, Don Millerd raises cattle for natural meat products that are making big waves in the B.C. culinary world.

Local beef wasn’t as readily available in the area as locally sourced seafood, but that all changed after Millerd teamed up with his neighbours, Bob Mitchell and Roxy and Mark Kuurne, to raise about 60 cattle per year that roam free and are grass, then grain, fed. The meat produced is hormone and antibiotic free.

It’s made Pemberton synonymous with organic, free range products, says Millerd.

After two years on Millerd’s farm, the cattle are butchered and prepared at Two Rivers Specialty Meats, owned and operated by Millerd’s daughter and son-in-law, and the meat is sold to consumers and restaurants.

The free range cattle are healthy and happy at Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef.

The free range cattle are healthy and happy at Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef.

One of Pemberton’s hottest eateries, Mile One Cafe, is one local restaurant that has put Pemberton Meadows beef on the menu in its signature burgers.

Our group stopped by Mile One for lunch and were treated to a bevy of creative, gourmet dishes available at exceptionally fair prices. The roadside eatery is small and warmly decorated in art by local artists and its menu is displayed on chalkboards above the register.

See you at Mile One!

See you at Mile One!

A number of local beers are also on the menu and the owners, Randy Jones and Cindy Yu, use locally sourced produce in their dishes whenever possible. Just that morning, Yu told our group, a regular customer brought in lobster mushrooms he had harvested that would be used in the resto’s dishes that day.

First was the Wild & Tame Mac n Cheese with Two Rivers’ venison chorizo, mushrooms and grilled asparagus. Next was the Pemby Meadows burger with tomatoes and red onion.

Having just seen the cattle at Pemberton Meadows that morning, eating a burger made with meat from the farm was a surreal experience, but the juicy, flavourful beef burger proved that locally sourced and hormone free products really can elevate even a classic meal to a gourmet one.

Pemby Meadows beef burger at Mile One Cafe.

Pemby Meadows beef burger at Mile One Cafe.

We also tried the “Outlandish” Oyster burger before declaring ourselves stuffed. A unique, must try menu item, the burger is made with breaded oysters and Fraser Valley bacon. It was crunchy, savoury and completely fresh, having been made with oysters from B.C.’s Discovery Island.

After lunch, our group was off to Pemberton Distillery to sample the world’s only certified organic potato vodka. Using locally grown potatoes that aren’t fit for sale in grocery stores, Tyler Schramm uses techniques he learnt in Scotland to turn up to 100,000 lbs. of potatoes a year into a flavourful sipping vodka that can be enjoyed on its own without a mixer.

Sample organic potato vodka at Pemberton Distilleries.

Sample organic potato vodka at Pemberton Distilleries.

Gin, whiskey and local apple brandy are also being produced at Pemberton Distillery.

Needless to say, there are many exciting developments and products in Pemberton’s organic food industry. With so many consumers now looking to incorporate local and organic food products into their diets, one can only hope this delicious foodie trends continues to grow across the country.

For more information on travel to Whistler and area, visit EnjoyWhistler.com or HelloBC.com.

Whistler an all-seasons destination

- August 18th, 2012

Say you’re going to Whistler in the summer and people question what you’ll be doing there. If you’re not skiing, they wonder, what is there to do in the British Columbia mountain village?

Some may say there’s actually more to do in the warmer months in Whistler than in the winter.

For the adventurous traveller who still appreciates the charm and sophistication of the restaurants and shops in Whistler, this is the ideal destination.

It is especially popular for cyclists who like to hit the surrounding trails, as well as mountain bikers who take to the more challenging, mountainous paths. Bike rental shops are plenty for anyone wishing to get around on two wheels instead of two feet.

Bikes for rent in Whistler Village.

Bikes for rent in Whistler Village.

There are nearly equal amounts of pedestrians and cyclists sharing the paths in town this weekend as the CrankWorx mountain biking fest has taken over the village, filling its streets with mountain bike athletes.

Provincial parks are full of campers and one beach I passed along the Sea to Sky Highway on my way to Whistler from Vancouver was packed full of tourists and locals looking to beat the summer heat.

There are also countless opportunities for hiking in the area, as well as rocky cliffs to rappel down, ziplining through pines, breathtaking Peak 2 Peak gondola rides, bungee jumping, trampolining and many other extreme sports.

Though adventure tourism is certainly a forte, Whistler attracts and offers much for all tourists, from young families to older couples.

Peak 2 Peak Gondola in Whistler with trampoline activity in the foreground.

Peak 2 Peak Gondola in Whistler with trampoline activity in the foreground.

A view of Whistler Village.

A view of Whistler Village.

There are many boutique shops in Whistler Village filled with clothing, souvenirs and tasty treats perfect for browsing. Bars keep the town alive with young adults when the sun goes down. Many hotels, including the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, have pools and hot tubs on site and there are three golf courses in Whistler for those wishing to hit the greens.

And, of course, in the winter there is the fantastic skiing, snowboarding and heli skiing.

The Olympic Rings in Whistler Olympic Plaza.

The Olympic Rings in Whistler Olympic Plaza.

Whistler was the site of the ski events, as well as luge, skeleton and bobsleigh events, during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Daring visitors can actually sign up for a thrilling ride on the Olympic slides by bobsleigh or by skeleton sled at the Whistler Sliding Centre.

The vibrant spirit of the town, so evident to many Canadian viewers watching the Games, is one of the best things about Whistler. That spirit remains and will charm you, no matter what time of year you visit.

For more information on Whistler, visit EnjoyWhistler.com or HelloBC.com.