Story by Sarah Deveau
CANMORE, ALBERTA — “If I had to describe it, I would say it’s very mystical, very Gypsy and Parisian-inspired.”
Chef James Holmes of Murrietas Bar + Grill could be describing food, art or music with the statement above. In fact, he is speaking about all three — we were chatting over deliciously slow-broiled pork belly about the Canmore Uncorked Food Festival’s signature event, the Culinary Symphony.
In this picturesque Alberta mountain town, Canmore Uncorked brings foodies from across Canada together to experience two weeks of culinary greatness.
The heart of the festival is prix-fixe dining, with 26 restaurants offering menus at price points of $19, $29 and $39. Tickets are not required, though reservations are highly recommended. Be sure to have your festival passport stamped each time you order from a participating restaurant, increasing your odds of winning one of the many foodie prizes available.
Tickets are required for the highlight events, including the Whisky Festival, Craft Beer Festival, Wine Festival and the two signature events, the Culinary Symphony and the Long Table Dinner.
Held at the beautiful Cornerstone Theatre, the Culinary Symphony is a marriage of music from the Juno-nominated Quartetto Gelato, and pairs five custom courses with five custom set lists. “Andrew Nickerson, the head of Tourism Canmore, approached me with this idea, said he had a band in mind. I spoke with the band and manager a few times, and sent them my ideas for the evening, and they created five custom sets to complement the food,” explains Holmes. “It’s going to be a very immersive experience.”
This is the second year for the Long Table Dinner. Held under a tent in the middle of downtown, 120 guests will enjoy six courses, live music and a breathtaking view of the Rocky Mountains, seated shoulder to shoulder with old friends and new.
Food Fest in Alberta’s Mountains
The event’s progressive dinner tours feature four themes. The World Tour includes transportation by road coach (of course) and visits to five restaurants, highlighting cuisine from Mexico, Italy, Thailand, Japan and the United Kingdom.
Visit five fine-dining restaurants on the Peak of Canmore Tour, or go a little less high-brow and stumble through the Canmore Pub Crawl. Sample craft beer, cocktails and gastro-pub cuisine that might include elk crostinis, ahi tuna salad, and beef and foie grass sliders.
Canmore, home to 12,000 residents, has more Olympic athletes per capita than anywhere else in the world, and the festival has capitalized on this fact by offering a 17-kilometre (10.5 miles) cycle tour of Canmore to four restaurants, led by an Olympian guide. The Olympian Cycle Tour hosts include Rosanna Crawford, Brendan Green, Beckie Scott and Justin Wadsworth, amongst others.
Where to Stay in Canmore
The Best Western Plus Pocaterra Inn offers exceptional value for guests who want to be close to festival events, with the comfort and amenities of a large hotel. The hotel offers free high-speed wireless internet, fireplaces, daily complimentary hot continental breakfast and an ample aquatic area with whirlpool, steam room and waterslide.
If you’re considering attending the 2016 festival, it’s not too early to book the perfect accommodation. The Paintbox Lodge is nestled in the heart of downtown Canmore and well known for its passion for food and service. Owned by Olympic medallist Sara Renner and World Cup ski champion Thomas Grandi, the lodge has only five suites and rooms are available for rent in this intimate boutique hotel. Even if you’re not a guest, you can still sign up for a scheduled cooking class, or book a private class, harvest table dinner or tapas party for you and your friends and family. Be sure to borrow one of the complimentary town bikes with helmets for a ride around this scenic town.
More About Canmore Uncorked
Dates: April 7 to 19, 2015
Best Western Plus Pocaterra Inn: 1725 Mountain Avenue, Canmore, AB. Telephone: 1-403-678-4334. Website: www.pocaterrainn.com
Paintbox Lodge: 629-10th Street, Canmore, AB. Telephone: 1-403-609-0482. Website: paintboxlodge.com