We made a last minute decision to head up to Whistler for the weekend, after one of my clients offered me free tickets to LIVE at Squamish. I wasn’t about to turn that down, as I had heard good things about this annual summer music festival. Because it was so last minute, it was a bit of a challenge to find accommodations, as most places in Squamish were already booked solid. So we expanded our search, and eventually found a room in Whistler. It was only about a half hour drive away, and we weren’t planning on checking out the festival for its entire 3 days. And let’s face it, Whistler is just a lot cooler than Squamish.
We chose to go to the festival on Saturday, which actually was the better day in terms of the weather. It was quite cold on Friday night and Sunday turned out to be quite windy. It was also nice that the headline act on Saturday was The Tragically Hip, a Canadian rock band that’s been playing to crowds around the world since 1983. When I first looked through the LIVE at Squamish lineup, my original reaction was ‘What? They’re still around?’. I listened to their music in the mid-90’s, and certainly didn’t think that they were still making music and touring. They were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2005, and they’re currently working on their 13th studio album. Good job!
We arrived late in the afternoon on Saturday, and once we made our way to the main stage area, I was immediately blown away by how scenic it was. With The Chief as the backdrop for the stage, it was a truly stunning setup.
Left: Many festival goers decided to camp there for the weekend; Right: We were lucky enough to have access to the Bacardi VIP area, where we spent most of the day simply because it was right next to the stage, there was seating, and they served booze there. It was also the only area where you could find wine, which was a refreshing change of pace from all the beer that you would come to expect from a festival like this.
Ever seen an ATM built into a VW hippie van? Ya, me neither. This deserved a picture.
Some of the early acts that we caught were Current Swell, a Victoria-based roots rock band, and LP, an American pop/rock artist and songwriter who struck it big when she first jumped on the scene at the 2006 South By Southwest music festival.
It was only a matter of time before we got hungry and we decided to check out the DougieDog cart. I’ve been wanting to try them out for awhile. Their store location on the Granville Street Entertainment District is a popular one, and the owner even appeared on Dragon’s Den.
On the left, the Reuben (Grilled Bratwurst Sausage, Sauerkraut, Melted Swiss, Russian Dressing), and on the right, the DougieDog (Italian Pastrami, Grey Poupon Mustard, Horseradish, Cheddar Cheese).
When the sun went down, it was finally time for the headline act, The Tragically Hip. They rocked out a lot of their old classics and also some newer ones as well. They put on a good show.
We wandered off to the other smaller stage, where we saw Beats Antique, whose music can be summed up as an eclectic mix of electro-acoustic, bellydancing, and tribal fusion dance. They were actually really good as well, and knew how to play up the crowd. The zebra mask helped as well, and you could definitely tell which partygoers were having more fun than others, if you know what I mEan.
We ended the night with a stop at the ‘Woodshed’ to check out Kevin Shiu, a Vancouver house DJ who has been on the electronic scene since the 90’s. He was on the decks spinning some down tempo house beats to a much smaller crowd. By the time we left, we were both fully spent from a full day of outdoor music goodness.
You didn’t think we’d end this post without talking about the food in Whistler, did you?
Dinner at Aura Restaurant
Ever wonder if there are any worthy fine dining options in Whistler aside from what’s in the village? Well, stop wondering because I am happy to report that I’ve found one, and it’s in Whistler Creek, which is a 5-minute drive from Whistler Village. Nita Lake Lodge is a boutique hotel nestled away in between two lakes, Alpha Lake and NitaLake. They provide luxurious accommodation and services to guests who are ready to indulge in what Whistler has to offer.
Aura Restaurant is located in the lodge’s lobby, so it’s easy to spot. We arrived early and were seated right away. Since it wasn’t busy yet, we chose to sit on their outdoor patio, overlooking Nita Lake. The service was impeccable, and as they served us our drinks, they even brought heater stands closer to our table as the sun was going down. They informed us that blankets are readily available upon request. With a CedarCreek pinot noir in one hand and a serene view like this, it was definitely a great way to start our weekend.
We opted for the $39 Dine Out Whistler menu, starting with House Made Ricotta Gnocchi, Pacific Halibut as the main, and the Tasting of House-Made Ice Cream & Sorbet (we picked mango, cassis, and pomegranate). We also ordered the Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Leg à la Carte.
Warm bread and soft butter were brought out. The butter was infused with red pepper and basil. I don’t usually eat more than one piece of bread when regular butter is served with it. In this sitting, I cleaned the whole bread basket because of the butter. Well, and the bread was good and fresh too. The chef sent out a complimentary palate cleanser that consisted of Dungeness crab and mustard melon. The flavours were sweet and tart, which made it really refreshing. The specks of black were grated dried black olive. The bit of saltiness and tartness from that was brilliant.
Their House Made Ricotta Gnocchi dish is our server’s favourite, and it’s easy to see why. The gnocchi were made smaller than usual, like the size of a dime. It had the right balance between firm and soft, and was a gentle enough dish to help open up our stomachs for our mains. They were browned on the outside and had a nice crispy bite to them.
The Pacific Halibut was a pleasant dish, surrounded by soft coconut purple rice, Thumbelina carrots, sweet and sour napa cabbage, and smoked peanut sauce. There was also a relish of some sort that added a nice tartness to the carrots.
We’re not sure why we’ve never wrapped prosciutto around our chicken legs in the past, but this dish now gives us good reason to moving forward. The herb mousse, buttermilk mash, and the whisky jus all came together in perfect harmony with the succulent chicken. The grilled corn was sweet and sealed the deal for me. One of the best chicken dishes we’ve had.
After all this food, it was a miracle that we both had enough room left in the tank for the house made ice cream and sorbet. They also brought us complimentary chocolate macarons and strawberry jelly. All in all, we were very satisfied with this dinner. Great tasting food and great service. It would be nice to visit their rooftop herb and vegetable garden next year, if they’re able to open it up for patrons to access.
Brunch at Araxi
After checking out of our hotel on Sunday, we visited Araxi for brunch since we were able to leave our car at the hotel for the afternoon. It was a nice sunny morning, and again, we opted to dine outside. There was lots going on the weekend we were there, including the Wanderlust Yoga and Music Festival, and it was a great spot to people watch.
We ordered the Poached Fresh Vita Eggs Benedict and the Maple Cured Two Rivers Sausage Hash. The eggs benny arrived as no surprise, except the menu said “potato cakes” and I only received one on my dish. Not a big deal though, as the dish was substantial enough for me. The sausage hash came out a bit different, as we imagined a typical mashup of sliced sausage and a bed of potatoes underneath softly poached eggs. Instead, the sausages came out whole, and the potatoes were sliced. Not a bad rendition, but it definitely caught us off guard. At least we knew how much sausage there was in the dish.
Lunch at El Furniture Warehouse
Before we left for Squamish on Saturday, we decided to grab a quick and easy lunch in the village because we weren’t sure what the food situation was going to look like. The frugalness in us led us to El Furniture Warehouse, where all food items were $4.95 all day. Although the lineup was not very long, we did experience a half an hour wait for our food, after ordering a beef dip and spicy chicken tacos with a side of guacamole. Luckily, we weren’t in a rush. The food was nothing spectacular, but it wasn’t bad in any way, and it was definitely a good value.