Three Canadian Rock­ies restau­rants dish on their favourites

Where Canadian Rockies - - FRONT PAGE - By Afton Aikens

Beef-to-bi­son con­verts love the lat­ter’s lean­ness, while elk is popular with vis­i­tors who want to taste ranch-raised cousins of the game an­i­mals that adorn our moun­tain land­scapes.

Th­ese hoofed fauna are among many types of game you can sam­ple in the Canadian Rock­ies—but be sure to add a glass of wine. We talked to three restau­rants in the re­gion about their favourite wine and game pair­ings. We hope you brought your ap­petite!

Eden (p 82) ex­pertly pleases guests’ palates with multi-course dining “off the beaten path,” says Chad Greaves, maitre d’ho­tel and som­me­lier. “Ev­ery­one comes to Al­berta for beef. That’s a beau­ti­ful thing, but you can have beef in a lot of restau­rants,” he says.

On the game side, Eden has dab­bled in artis­tic pre­sen­ta­tions of elk, bi­son, squab, partridge and pheas­ant. “Peo­ple are ex­cited to see th­ese things on the menu,” Greaves says.

At the Fair­mont Jasper Park Lodge (p 119), Chef Christo­pher Chafe says many guests dine at the ho­tel specif­i­cally for its game dishes. “We have one guest who comes for the bi­son ev­ery year,” he says.

The lodge’s Moose’s Nook Chop­house serves a 6-oz bi­son ten­der­loin. Chafe pairs it with a full-bod­ied ‘Noth­ing Sa­cred – Mer­itage’ red blend from BC win­ery Blasted Church.

Todd Kunst, owner of Can­more’s Sage Bistro & Wine Lounge (p 94) adds that a Bordeaux blend of caber­net, mer­lot and caber­net franc matches bi­son’s flavour pro­file. “The wine's cherry, choco­late, vanilla and cin­na­mon notes com­ple­ment the meat,” he says.

Sage puts its own cre­ative spin on game with of­fer­ings like elk salami char­cu­terie share plates. This rustic log cabin restau­rant uses fresh lo­cal in­gre­di­ents, and wine flights let guests sam­ple sev­eral va­ri­eties side by side.

“With game, a hint of dried fruit in a wine is of­ten a good thing,” Greaves says. He notes that per­sonal pref­er­ence plays a role, too.

As for antlered an­i­mals, smoky, earthy reds like syrah, grenache and mourve­dre go well with elk and veni­son, Kunst says. Chafe de­scribes the meats’ flavours as “strong and ma­ture”, adding that Bur­row­ing Owl win­ery’s syrah is a top pick for the veni­son loin and carpac­cio served at the Moose’s Nook.

While some say game meat is an ac­quired taste, we say there’s no place bet­ter than our Great White North to step into the culi­nary world of wine and game.

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