Events Photo Credit: Western Living

Banff’s Big Taste Offers a Taste of the Town

Banff has become as known for its culinary scene as for its snowy peaks, scenic forests and frozen lakes.

To celebrate all that’s happening in and around Banff, this year’s Big Taste festival has grown from a single event at the Maple Leaf Grill to five days’ worth of dinners, tastings, classes and other events spread out to include 23 restaurants around town. Between January 18 and 22, there are opportunities to taste some of the best things Banff has to offer; you might explore Italian or Greek wines with meals at La Terrazza or the Balkan, learn the art of the craft cocktail—and of infusions, tinctures and processes—with mixologist Caleb Olney and some of Banff’s best bartenders at Nourish Bistro, or go for South American and Spanish tapas at El Toro.

Balkan

On the weekend, you could join Park Distillery’s Master Distiller Matt Hendriks for a behind the scenes tour and tasting of 100% organic Alberta rye, proofed with glacier water, followed by a comparison of Park Glacier Rye alongside Alberta’s other unaged whiskies. In the afternoon, learn the art of chocolate making (and a hot chocolate recipe dating back to the mid 1700s) at the Cave and Basin; later in the evening, join John Gilchrist to toast Canada’s 150th with a line-up of Canada’s finest whiskies paired with chocolates and entertainment. There will be special dinners at the new Chuck’s Steakhouse and the Maple Leaf, where courses are paired with original art by Canadian artist Les Thomas.

Chef Sal at Chuck's Stakehouse
Chef Sal at Chuck’s Stakehouse

On Sunday, you could enrol your bowling team in a tournament benefitting the SPCA at High Rollers, go for a gin seminar and tasting at Park Distillery, or join Chef Sébastien Tessier and his team for a tasting menu at the stunning Three Ravens Restaurant and Wine Bar in the Banff Centre—consistently one of Banff’s top rated restaurants on TripAdvisor, Three Ravens has also been named a Top 100 Best Restaurant in Canada by OpenTable Diners.

Park Distillery Bar

There are some grand hotel deals to be had this weekend too—you can stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs, where the Grand Tasting Hall will offer samples and sips from 8 local restaurants on Thursday and Friday evenings, or at the Juniper, where on Sunday night they’ll wrap up the Big Taste with an interpretive culinary journey from Canada’s west coast to the rockies. Local elders will collaborate with Juniper’s chef Chris Irving and chef Nick Nutting of Wolf in the Fog in Tofino to explore indigenous food preservation strategies, techniques that remain a vital part of indigenous communities along with modern culinary practices.

Even if you don’t make it to Banff’s Big Taste, it’s worth a drive (or detour) for a taste of what’s happening in one of the most well-known towns in Canada.

For more information, schedules and to purchase tickets, visit banffsbigtaste.com

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