Michael and I have welcomed this year with another incredible ski trip but this time we flew West and touched down in Nelson, Canada. After a year living so far from mountains, snow and simply cool weather we were searching for something pact full of deep powder, endless terrain to explore and a new town to discover! We couldn't have ever expected to find Nelson, Canada, to be so inviting by the locals and the food to surprise us with every restaurant, pub, or cafe we visited. Because, as most know about us a ski vacation isn't complete with out great food to compliment the overall experience. We chose right, with having some time at White Water in Nelson and also its sister mountain Red in Rossland. We have been charmed and delighted.
So what do we look for when visiting a new restaurant, and truly what we crave when we are skiing and snowboarding most of the day? Well, first we are starved and need something comforting and savory. With out any direction on our first day found ourselves in the local spot called' Mikes Place' surrounded by an array of skiers, older and young with a lot of energy and action to keep one from being alone or bored. They had specials and usually something for any type of craving. If you like curries, Canada is very familiar with the flavor profiles and spices. Along with hamburgers that are only made of local meat, topped with a local cheese and captured in a wholesome bun that is of course locally made. Soup of the day is usually borscht or another hardy concoction that seems irresistible when you are chilled.
Nelson also has your Cafes and bistros that will definitely impress any food loving visitor. We started each morning at this bustling cafe called Oso Negro meaning 'black paw' that roasted their beans daily and offered an array of organic, vegan, wheat-free pastries and muffins along with take away Oso baguettes filled with local goat or smoked cheddar, basil, sun dried tomatoes and cucumbers. For a warm and hearty breakfast there are the 'breakfast bun'; which included organic free-ranged eggs, cheddar cheese, sprouts on a spelt bun. You could add bacon, banana peppers and nut spread which likely we did. So basically every day we would join the locals with a hot cup of dark roast coffee a gluten free blueberry corn muffin or breakfast bun, sit and read the paper and talk about the day. Lunch was kept simple with either picking up a baguette at the cafe or enjoying something at the base of White Water. Michael and I are use to the overpriced hamburgers and sandwiches that is typical fare at most mountain lodges but again surprised by the very well balanced menu they offered along with local beer and wines by the glass. We went with a bowl of chili con carne that we shared and served with a delicious chunk of corn bread. The chile was your basic formula of corn, kidney beans, ground beef, green peppers and chunky tomato stewed to perfection but hit the spot for both of us as we were eager to get back out on the mountain. Another afternoon we shared the yam fries with a garlic chipotle aioli. Not the most healthy, but with the amount of activity we were enjoying we thought why not, it sounded perfect and it really met the craving of sweet and salty as the aioli really made it special. These were house made yam fries and not just a bag from the freezer and the aioli was made with eggs and not just mayonnaise and you really could taste the difference.
Après food was another story for us, we generally would try to wait a bit later but sometimes you need something right away and in that case it was a steak sandwich from Mikes place and or honey cajun wings that were then baked and then served. The steak sandwich was served open faced on garlic toast with crispy onion wings and sauteed mushrooms and it came with a potato and leek soup. Delicious and all-around very satisfying in all degrees. The wings were served very hot and with just a nice balance of sweet and spicy that kept you wanting just one more. The meat was tender and juicy as you sunk your teeth into the crispy skin that had the kick of cajun. Okay, so we weren't eating the most fancy and healthy off the menu but it was all fresh and done well, so we enjoy those simple delights when we aren't in the kitchen.
A little nicer dinner we enjoyed was at this home that was turned into a cozy little bistro called Bibo that sat on the side of the hill just off Baker street. We were drawn by the chalk board sign on the corner of the street that said charcuterie and cheeses, so that is exactly what we ordered. After choosing a nice glass of red wine we were brought a board of cured meats-locally made, and three different types of cheese; Gorgonzola, raclette, and a brie. The cured meats were sliced thinly as they should and piled individually; one was similar to a prosciutto with a great fat line, another a saucisson with a hint of clove, and the third reminded me of bresaola dried cured beef. Dividing the meats from the cheeses was a thick line of Dijon mustard, then a nice apple chutney to one side, roasted and sweetened mix nuts, and a dish of olives and pickled peppers. A basket of sliced baguette was served on the side of this one incredible board of Michael and I favorite nibbles. Since we were just enjoying the simple tastes of cheeses and meats we went for the foie gras rillettes with crostini and wild blueberry compote to finish the evening with our wine. The rillette was served classically in a small crock with crispy endive leaves and toast points. This was our second night and Nelson and we were on a vacation high at this point. Great snow, great people, and great food what more could we ask for?
After several visits to the local watering hole for pub-fare we decided for out last night in Nelson we would go shopping and stay in. That evening we stopped over at the local fish market two blocks down from our place and picked up some fresh PEI mussels, manilla clams, and a filet of Rock Fish, than walked down to the co-op for fresh black kale, mixed greens for a salad that would be dressed by a locally made dressing, and I splurged on a nice semi-soft sheep and cow cheese to snack on while we prepared dinner at home. Michael picked out the Tomato and roasted red pepper soup, and the essentials; garlic, shallot, and a nice bottle of white wine to accompany the shell fish.
When we returned home with our ingredients and walk around Baker St. Michael got a pot out and starting heating a little oil, chopping the shallot and mincing and smashing the garlic clove and adding it to the pot, immediately the room began to smell of something great. Mussels and clams went right in since they were beautifully cleaned previously and then the tomato soup. The mollusks started simmering and opening up, as a great sign of very fresh shell fish, and not one didn't open. He also sliced up a stick of spicy pepperoni and added it to the pot contributing a flavorful heat balancing out the sweet and creaminess of the soup. In the mean time, I cleaned the black Kale, tearing the leaves away from the spine so Michael could rough chop it and add it into the soup, sliced the cheese for snacking and poured two glasses of white wine. The Rock fish was seasoned and seared in the pan with the extra chopped Kale that we then added the 'free creamers' from the fridge to add a touch of fat and round out the fibrous leaf. In about 20 minutes we were sitting at the table with each a bowl of mussels and clams nestled in a rich tomato soup surrounded by wilted kale and pieces of pepperoni, along with a mixed green salad dressed and served on the side of our pan seared Rock fish and creamy wilted kale. Amazing dinner, by my amazing chef husband who can bring together a five star meal with little accessories and ingredients. Mussels being one of my favorite foods that I usually eat when I am visiting my favorite restaurant in Avon, Co, I was in heaven. We were completely satisfied and full not wanting anything more but another sip of the white wine that was from the BC area. What a perfect way to finish off a great week of skiing in Nelson.
A passionate food lover writing about life and meals from a small mountain town in Silverton Colorado and beyond.