As dusk descends on the serene alpine beauty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the lights begin to sparkle from the smorgasbord of world-class eateries in Alberta’s hip mountain town of Canmore. It’s early April; the second night of Canmore Uncorked, a food and drink festival that celebrates the innovative food stylings of local culinary gurus.
Let’s Get Started
We’re about to embark on a progressive dinner that rolls through five local restaurants but before we get going, our little group of 20 enjoys a pre-dinner sampling of some locally brewed beer at the Grizzly Paw Brewing Company. After a brief mingle, we’re ushered onto a fun-spirited, cobalt blue bus – our coach for the evening.
First stop: Mountain Mercato, a European-inspired market and bistro on Main Street. We saunter into the tiny café, sitting elbow-to-elbow as if in an old-world tapas bar. We’re served a glass of bubbly Prosecco, the perfect aperitif to entice our palates.
Seated to my left are Angie and Lorne Howie, self-proclaimed food lovers who tell me they have ditched the big city for a weekend to enjoy this foody escape. A plate of crostini arrives topped with an array of flavour sensations and we all dig in. I sample the Fairwinds chèvre cheese paired with house-made tomato preserves, prepared onsite with locally-sourced tomatoes. The combination is an outstanding blend of creamy goodness. As I pop the last crumb into my mouth, our driver, Susan, comes to collect us and we’re off to the next destination.
Canmore’s Phenomenal Food Scene
Canmore boasts over 70 restaurants and the food scene is quite sophisticated, a phenomenal accomplishment considering its population barely crests 12,000. The Canmore Uncorked Festival features events that highlight the ingenuity and innovation of the chefs behind the food.
At Sage Bistro, we taste the refined flavours of a feast: salade niçoise with seared rare ahi tuna, quail eggs, fingerling potatoes and green beans all tossed in a simple red wine vinaigrette. The subtle nuances are exquisite.
The meal continues at Crazyweed Kitchen with slow-roasted ribs, marinated and braised in a sweet sensual sauce with a spicy kick. The flavours are refined and perfectly paired with a glass of Clayton Road McLaren Vale Shiraz.
James Holmes, the chef at Murrieta’s Bar & Grill, masterminded the next course: a tagliata of sliced beef served with fresh herbs, arugula and baby potatoes, dusted with wisps of Grana Padano cheese. It’s a gastronomic gem, simple and elegant.
The five course meal finishes at Habitat with a duo of crème brûlée, a classic caramel version, paired with a twist – a delightful orange and rosemary savoury crème.
As the tour winds to a close and the bus delivers our well-fed group back to the Grizzly Paw Brewery, I feel a twinge of sadness. The evening has been grand and I don’t want it to end. I console myself in the knowledge there will be more fun festival events to come – Canmore Uncorked features 13 full days of culinary delights.