First off, the most important thing to remember about Valentine’s Day is that it doesn’t matter what you do with your sweetheart so long as you are together and in love and no one has to do the dishes.
Having said that however, it’s also nice to step out of the routine and put in a little effort (sweethearts love extra effort).
Luckily, Whistler is naturally full of romance, magic and beauty so there are plenty of ways to make this Valentine’s Day special. Here are three perfect days laid out for three separate price points: High Roller (love ain’t cheap), Working Class (Love is grand) and Do-It-Yourself (Can’t buy me love). Have fun.
Early Morning – Rise and Shine
High Rollers –No sweetheart will complain when the first sight of the day is a bouquet of fresh flowers from Senka Florist, Whistler’s finest flower shop. Whether you opt for traditional roses or some rare orchid Senka has it covered (especially if you order in advance). Don’t worry about anything special for breakfast, just swoon over a gooey cinnamon bun at Hot Buns Bakery on your way to meet with the heli-skiing guides.
Working It – The Whistler Marketplace IGA has pre-made bouquets (or single red roses) that will also do the trick (they don’t open till 9 AM though so you may want to get there the night before.) If you’re not in a rush Elements on Main street has top-shelf breakfast options, the baked frittattas with a shot of fruit smoothy are a locals favourite.
DIY – Looks like you’re cooking breakfast (and doing the dishes.) But first, your bouquet. Walking around Whistler Village you’ll discover a lot of free colourful maps, magazines and brochures. All you need is scissors, a glue stick(available at the local pharmacies) and a bit of creativity in order to cut and paste together a totally recyclable, uniquely Whistler, hand-made paper flower bouquet.
High Rollers – Heli-skiing is sexy. The views are incomparable, the snow is untracked, and there’s something about flying around the BC wilderness that can really get a person’s motor running. As well, heli-ski lunches are often catered by high-end Whistler eateries like The Bearfoot Bistro. Bonus.
Working It – Who needs a heli? There are lots of good turns to be had on the ski hill and everyone loves a mountain-top picnic. There are tons of good flat, sunny rocks in the Glacier Express area on Blackcomb that are perfect for a quiet lunch on the hill. If the weather isn’t cooperating you can hit up Christine’s in the Rendezvous for full service food, wine, and views.
DIY – Fresh air is an aphrodisiac and you don’t need fat pockets to get the heart pumping in Whistler. A nice long stroll along Whistler’s Valley Trail is a great way to get out and enjoy the area without dropping a dime (but if you see one laying around, pick it up!)
High Rollers – Jewelry never fails, especially if you let her pick it out herself. Keir Fine Jewelry has been Whistler’s go-to spot for decades and Pandora is literally just across the street. Choices choices!
Working It – Again, jewelry never fails so head over to Ruby Tuesday on Main street and let the sweetheart pick out something nice. The Loft Salon also carries nice stuff and they do hair too (because everyone loves getting their hair done.)
DIY – If you’re on top of things and plan ahead there is a free drop-in craft station February 9-14th, 2013, at Millenium Place (2:30-3:30 PM). Otherwise, nothing says, “I love you, baby.” like a Macaroni Necklace!
High Rollers – There’s real science behind it: chocolate makes people happy. And if you want to have the happiest Valentine in town there is really only one option: Roger’s Chocolates has the largest red velvet heart-shaped-box in town. There is only one available though, so get it now and rest assured no one in town can out-chocolate you!
Working It – Every Valentine’s day the team at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory get up super early and hand-dip about 1800 strawberries in rich chocolate-y goodness. Whether you buy just one or an entire handful, it’s guaranteed to be the tastiest bouquet your sweetheart will ever eat. The Salted Skor Bark is no joke either and don’t even get me started on the Caramel apples. This place is love at first bite.
DIY – It’s tough to make your own chocolate but a plate of warm homemade fudge brownies cut in the shape of a heart is never a bad thing. Whistler Kitchenworks in the Market Place carries heart-shaped cookie cutters.
High Rollers – Après is a romantic time, it’s when the day marries the night. Keeping in theme, The Bearfoot Bistro runs an oyster special in their Champagne lounge every day from 3-5pm. And their Belvedere Ice Room is also worth checking out. At -32C (-25F) it’s the coldest Vodka tasting room in the world.
Also, The Spa at the Four Seasons has an après-ski massage that soothes the soul and will make your feet feel human again after a long day in ski boots.
Working It – The hottest après going is fondue at Araxi (and the handmade ice cream sandwiches aren’t bad either.) Otherwise the Longhorn Saloon, Garibalidi Lift Company and Dusty’s are all legendary Whistler après spots. Nachos for two?
DIY – Grab a thermos and head to the fire pit at the Whistler Olympic Plaza for beautiful views of both ski hills and some good people watching. There’s also a free skating rink there if you feel like holding hands and ice skating under a disco ball. (Skate rental is 5 bucks.)
High Rollers – Love feels like the top of the world so you may as well hop in a snowcat (or ride a snowmobile) and head up to the Crystal Hut atop Blackcomb Mountain for a Valentine’s Day mountaintop fondue dinner. Romance thrives at 6’000 feet above sea level.
Working it – Whistler Village has dozens of excellent places to eat so take your pick but if you want a romantic getaway with a bit mellower vibe The Den restaurant out at Nicklaus North Golf Course has a 3-course Valentine’s Day special dinner with wine pairing for $49 per person.
DIY – You’re cooking again! But to help out we’ve included a free recipe from Araxi superstar chef James Walt’s incredible cookbook . It’s not that hard to make and the flavours will surely impress.
It’s all about quality time but if you really need something to do together the Village 8 Cinemas have plenty of good movies showing. There’s even a Zombie romantic comedy. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Ricotta Gnocchi with Toasted Hazelnuts and Sage
By: Chef James Walt
Serves 4 – 6 (Yields about 50 gnocchi)
The hazelnuts we have in British Columbia are almond shaped and have a pronounced nutty flavour, and I make this gnocchi with them in mind. Making gnocchi is really easy and they freeze well. Try a touch of hazelnut oil in the dough for even more of a nutty flavour.
1 1/8 lbs/500 g ricotta cheese, strained overnight to remove moisture
1 large egg
1 ½ tsp / 7.5 mL kosher salt
¼ tsp / 1 mL freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup / 240 mL all-purpose flour
1 cup / 250 mL vegetable nage
2 Tbsp / 30 mL butter, cold
1 Tbsp / 15 mL chopped chives
¾ cup / 180 mL hazelnuts, toasted
¼ cup / 60 mL grated pecorino Romano cheese
20 dried sage leaves
Combine the ricotta, egg, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl and mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated. Add the flour all at once and, with a fork or a pastry cutter, gently but swiftly work the mixture into a soft dough. Be careful not to overwork the dough, as it could become tough when cooked.
Lightly dust a medium bowl with flour. Add the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Lightly flour a clean work surface and a large plate. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 parts, then roll each piece between your palms into a log 3/4 inch/2 cm in diameter. Using a small knife or a pastry scraper, cut each log into ten to twelve 1-inch/2.5-cm pieces, then transfer these gnocchi to the plate and refrigerate them for 30 minutes, until chilled.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on high heat. Add the gnocchi and cook them until they float, about 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and rinse the gnocchi. Transfer the gnocchi to a sauté pan, add the vegetable nage and heat on medium heat until the nage has nearly reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter, chives and hazelnuts. Add half the pecorino Romano and toss gently.
Divide the gnocchi and sauce among 4 bowls. Garnish with sage leaves and the remaining pecorino Romano.
Serve the best: Russian River Chardonnay or white Burgundy, like Chassagne or Puligny-Montrachet; or, if you must have red, mature Barbaresco or Brunello could be magic.