Canada is a land of distinct regions, each with its own landscape, colours and flavours. These qualities can keep people coming back year after year to recapture that special essence they can find only in one location. Food and drink are particularly potent ways to evoke the personality of a region. Here is a selection of properties offering guests a true taste of their locales.
Fairmont Pacific Rim
Botanist, the new restaurant at Vancouver’s Fairmont Pacific Rim, is “ingredient-oriented and seasonally driven,” says executive chef Hector Laguna. “Everything varies, depending on the season we are in. We like to work with sustainability — not to say that that’s all we do; however, everything we’ve done since we’ve opened in April has used only sustainable ingredients.”
Some of Laguna’s menu favourites include spot prawns in season as well as B.C. sablefish, salmon, sturgeon and trout. Then there are stone fruit from the Okanagan and duck from the Fraser Valley. “The flavours are different when you cook with fresh ingredients than when you bring them from halfway around the world,” Laguna explains.
Botanist has also developed an extremely elaborate cocktail program. Apart from an array of house cocktails using unique botanicals such as the Electric Daisy, there’s a Cocktail Lab as an extension of the bar — “kind of like a bartender’s studio,” says the hotel’s Creative Beverage director Grant Sceney. Only three drinks are concocted in the Lab, which is glassed-off, so patrons can watch mixologists at work.
Deep Cove ($28), named for a popular bay outside Vancouver, is served in a custom punchbowl and includes local Sheringham gin, blue algae, sea buckthorn and crushed ice with ribbons of cucumber that resemble seaweed. The earth element is represented by Candy Cap Magic ($28), based on locally foraged mushrooms. “They can’t be cultivated,” Sceney says. Pretty Bird (the air element, $28) is served in a bird-shaped glass, complete with nest, and combines gin with centrifuged strawberry juice, a dill-seed tincture and a splash of Blue Mountain Gold Label Brut from the Okanagan.
“Tapping into local feeling is unique,” says Sceney. “Most people, when they’re travelling, are looking for a local experience.” You might say they’re literally hungry for a taste of their destination.