Heart And Soul For Christmas Dinner
No matter the ingredients, ethnic origin or flavour, meals during the holiday season take on an added element of emotion and meaning. “Love” is put in the preparation, and so what better time would there be to sample the food of the South. Admittedly, the description of “soul food” triggers a few key stereotypes for me: Paula Deen cackling with her voluptuous laugh on The Foodnetwork, double deep-fried delicacies, bourbon, and lots of saucy stewed meat.
Rarely in Canada, let alone in a little mountain resort like our gem,would you encounter a true helping of soul food, but in the production belly of Whistler, Function Junction, it is served up at the Soul Food Cafe. Friday to Sunday, chef Adam Protter allows you to open your mind and palate to his tasty temptations. I say this as his entire menu is like reading evocative pornography for me. Words like Collard greens, Grits, Succotash, Creole Tomato Sauce and Key Lime Pie danced around in my head preparing me for a feast of flavour.
The Whistler Is Awesome crew gathered together in the cozy Soul Food Cafe space of what is Burnt Stew Cafe by day to celebrate seasonal tidings. Although the wine menu could only be described as adorable, the unexpectedly busy week had left it further restricted to one bottle of Chardonnay and two glasses of undefined “red” – we opted for the bottle – volume mattered. As discussion surrounded the ever decreasing size of plate offerings at most restaurants, the group was gifted with delicately flavored hush puppies and the salad sampler plate as a wee teaser of what was to come.
Jumbo shrimp and Cheesy grits – which are similar to polenta – were the first to arrive of the entrees and warned of the plate size we should expect. Saucy BBQ ribs, fried chicken and a beautiful “lent” vegetable plate rounded out the table showcasing true sautéed collard greens, black eyed peas (like braised pinto beans) and a perfectly stewed succotash of okra, lima beans and carrots. As a vegetarian there was no way I was missing out on the Creole fire in a side of the house tomato sauce regardless of animal fat ingredient advisories – so worth it.
To put us over the top, the essential Key Lime Pie and Pecan Pie completed the meal. As I drove home I realized soul food was not the previous stereotypes I had held in the actual recipes or food itself, but the heart that goes in to it. This is not restricted to slabs of beef or chicken but translates through any fresh produce, fish or grain that takes on the passion of the chef with a side of creole. A new Christmas tradition has taken root at Whistler’s Soul Food Cafe.