Sunday, May 1, 2011

Brr--rr--rr ... Sabering, chilling and nitro-ing at the Bearfoot Bistro

Are you a fan of those epic swashbuckler movies of the 1930's, '40's and 50's - you know, the ones that featured great sword fights with heroes like Errol Flynn, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and even, on occasion, Gene Kelly?

Even if you're not, you really should get to see someone "saber" a bottle of champagne, at least once in your life. Better still if you can do it yourself, but if not, at least watch someone else do it "live."

I had the chance to do that a few months ago during a visit to the Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, B.C. During a tour of their wine cellar, one of our group was allowed to actually saber open a bottle of pretty good champagne. I actually tried to volunteer, but one other member of our group got her hand up more quickly.

 Sabering a bottle of bubbly

For those not familiar with the term, "sabering" a bottle of champagne is exactly what it sounds like: it involves using a sabre, or sword, to open the bottle by lopping off the cork and surrounding glass neck cleanly enough to pour the champagne without fear of getting glass in the glasses.

Technically, the art is called "sabrage" (not to be confused with "road rage" or "roid rage!). Its history dates back Napoleonic times.

It may sound daunting, but Jennifer Patterson, our selected saberer, did a fine job under the tutelage of J.S. Dupuis of the Bearfoot. Personally, I would loved to have had a chance to do it myself, partly for the experience, but mainly because the champagne went down way to easily with the oysters we enjoyed. Would have liked a few more flutes of the bubbly, myself ...
Na zdrowie!

But we were not done, yet. From the wine cellar, we migrated upstairs to the Belvedere Ice Room, which holds in excess of 50 different kinds of vodka from around the world.

It literally is an ice room, the walls are solid ice, the vodkas are kept on shelves chipped out of the ice.

It is cold - you have to bundle up in warm coats and hats - supplied by the Bearfoot - to spend any time inside the room.

We tried two or three premium vodkas, including one from Poland and one from B.C., actually made from organic potatoes.

Note to spirit afficianados: It's a myth that vodka is always made from potatoes. While it can be, it's usually made from grain, like most spirits. In Russia, potatoes were substituted for grain during World War I, as all the grain was being used to feed the troops at the front - at least until the Russian Revolution took place - then everyone could drink as much vodka as they wanted, from grain or potatoes!

Personally, I preferred the Polish vodka. Nice clean, crisp taste. The B.C. vodka had to heavy an after-taste for my liking. But, to each his own.

After champagne, after vodka and after a wonderful meal, there was one more "chilling" experience we had at the Bearfoot that night. 
Nitro ice cream, anyone?

Following dinner, we were treated to the creation of "Nitro Ice Cream." It's made by taking a bowl of slightly sweetened cream with a bit of vanilla in it, then adding liquid nitrogen (really!) to the cream so it freezes instantly while your server mixes it.

So what does Nitro ice cream taste like? Is it really as good as its hype?

Well, I'll tell you ... it was the creamiest, smoothest ice cream I've ever had.

Eating it was like letting vanilla velvet melt on your tongue.
Batman's old foe Mr. Freeze would have been very jealous indeed, of the icy trifecta of champagne, vodka and nitro ice cream we enjoyed that night.

1 comment:

  1. My daughter, a sommelier, sabres bubbles with our bread knife when no sword is handy!!!