Whistler in photographs

by Brian Jewell 9. August 2010 23:52

Back at my Kentucky office, where the humid air seems to boil underneath the 95-degree southern sun, looking through photos is a great way to remember the wonderful, cool freshness of the British Columbia mountains. It's also a great reminder of the many meals, attractions and activities that haven't appeared yet in this blog.  Here are some of my favorite images from the four-day trip.

A wonderful citrus salad at The Brewhouse, which also serves incredible beef ribs.


A First Nations canoe at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre, which celebrates the history and art of the local native groups.


Traveling from Blackcomb to Whistler on the Peak 2 Peak gondola.


Friends huddle inside the ice room at Bearfoot Bistro, an over-the-top dinner spot in the Whistler village.


This grilled cheese and apple sandwhich is the most popular dish at Christine's, a full-service restaurant at the top of Blackcomb Mountain.


Hiking Whistler Mountain

by Brian Jewell 7. August 2010 23:10

Though it was 75 degrees in Whistler today, on top of the mountain I found myself surrounded by snow.

The town of Whistler sits in a valley between two mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb. Both are ideal ski destinations in the winter; in the summer, they afford great opporutnities for sightseeing, hiking and gorgeous views of the British Columbia wilderness.

This afternoon I rode a chairlift up to the summit of Blackcomb Mountain, and then took the Peak 2 Peak gondola over to Whistler Mountain. There are plenty of scenic views to be seen during either ride, and visitors often spot black bears and other wildlife during their ascents. Hiking on the backside of the mountain, however, I found pristine environments, crystal glacial lakes and snowpacks that towered above my head.

A number of ski runs and access roads on Whistler Mountain are converted to hiking paths in the summer. From the gondola station, I took a lift to the very top of the mountain, then went for an hour-long hike back down along a path known as Pika's Traverse, which wraps around the backside of the mountain not visibible from the village below. The trail is wide and relatively easy to walk, gently descending in elevation back to the main mountain station. On this isolated side of the mountain, the air is quiet and the views are expansive — all I could hear was the trickle of water running off of the melting snowcaps, accompanied by an occasional windy howl.

At the top of the mountain, sevral large glaciers are still covered with snow in August, and looking across the mountain range, I saw that some of the other peaks are completely snow-capped as well. As I walked along Pika's Traverse, I would pass by large pockets of snow in the mountainside, and occassionally walk through passages in large snowbanks that were carved by snow-clearing equipment during the winter.

So although it's the middle of summer, there is still lot of snow at the top of Whistler Mountain... and yet hiking through it in short sleeves and jeans, I didn't feel cold at all. It's an amazing phenomenon, and it made for some amazing views on the backside of the mountain.

A recipe for rub -- "Carne Diablo"

by Brian Jewell 6. August 2010 21:15

For outdoor enthusiasts, there's no shortage of things to do on the mountains in Whistler. But groups can also find ways to enjoy themselves at a more leisurely pace, such as a cooking experience with the staff of The Four Seasons resort.

One of the most popular chefs at the hotel is Edison Mays, a charismatic young man known around here as the Spicemaster. Edison is in charge of dry rubs at Sidecut, the resort's signature steakhouse, and has created a number of flavorful mixtures for beef, pork, lamb and fish. His favorite is called Edison's Medicine, but he also deals with novelty mixes including a blueberry rub and a chocolate mole rub.

My small group joined Edison and fellow chef Tory for a rub-making class of our own this morning. The two had prepped an area for us outside in the courtyard, with dozens of jars full of fresh spices, salts, sugars and other ingredients. Before begining, we took sample smells and tastes of some exotic ingredients, such as habanero powder and smoked salt, and began to get a feel for what we would like in a rub. Then the chefs worked individually with each of us to create a recipe that would accompany our favorite meats.

I'm a steak guy, and I love full, spicey flavors, so I chose to go for a strong rub that would accompany red meat with a sensation that is both sweet and hot. The chefs helped me to pick out the best ingredients, grind them and then mix them into a rub. Some of my classmates created rubs for fish, pork and chicken.

In the end, the chefs encouraged each of us to choose a name for our new rub; I decided on the Mexican-inspired "Carne Diablo." We packaged our new createions up in containers to take home. I can't wait to slather my diablo rub all over a steak and throw it on the grill.

The recipe for Carne Diablo rub is roughly this:

  • 1 tablespoon of salt, ground fine
  • 2 smoked chili pods (black cardemon)
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of  ground black peppercorn
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper

This recipe should produce enough rub to liberally coat 6-8 steaks.


Chef Edison Mays

Chef Tory helping out

Creating an original rub

Brian's "Carne Diablo" steak rub

Hairfarmers and seafood paella

by Brian Jewell 5. August 2010 21:45

The Hairfarmers can play more than 3,500 songs... and know the vast majority of them by heart.

This two-man duo is the best known musical act in Whistler, B.C., a ski resort town about an hour and a half north of Vancouver. With a couple of microphones, some conga drums, a tambourine and a guitar, these guys take requests for hours at a time, and have a sense of humor that keeps audiences in rapt attention.

Whistler is all about outdoor activity. In the winter, it's a mecca for skiers and snowboarders, who come to traverse the two large, powdery mountains on either side of the resort village. Summertime brings hiking, mountain biking, river rafting and the panoramic views afforded by the many chairlifts and gondolas in the area.

In either season, you'll find the Hairfarmers performing somewhere in town most any night of the week. These guys don't put out the professional musician vibe, but they're remarkably busy, playing some 320 shows a year.

Every Thursday night during the summer, those shows take place in the courtyard of The Four Seasons hotel, one of the many upscale properties in the area. From a floating stage in the middle of the coutyard's pond, these two croon and joke throughout the evening, as visitors dine al fresco on a special barbecue dinner prepared by the restaurant staff.  But it isn't just any barbecue -- this smorgasboard, cooked in plain view of the dinner tables, includes seafood pallea, beef short ribs, smoked rice, lamb shanks, grilled salmon and other fine foods.

Tonight, my first in Whistler, was ideal. I made two trips through the barbecue line, piling my plate high with meats, salads and sides, and enjoyed the clean, fresh mountain air and the mild temperatures. It's around 75 degrees in the middle of August, with crystal clear skies. And between covers of Neil Young, Bob Dylon, the Jackson Five and others, the Hairfarmers threw me a bone and played one of my favorie U2 songs.

I think I'm going to like this town.



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