Merry Christmas, everyone! I write to you from the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, where my sister, mom, dad and I are spending the holidays. We’ve got two beautiful rooms, a glowing tree, plenty of goodies, and the only thing we don’t have here is my brother. We miss you, Mark!
After hauling what felt like 30 bags to the airport on the skytrain, we checked in and set about one crucial and important task: relaxing. This holiday is especially nice for my mother, who ends up working so hard to put together a cozy, comfortable, delicious Christmas at home.
This year, it’s all being done for us by the lovely Fairmont YVR staff, and we could not be more grateful.
While my mom and sister went off to find a coffee, my dad and I learned all about the Fairmont’s honey program, which not only produces enough honey for the hotel to use in all its food and beverage programs for an entire year, but some of which is also turned into a lager!
The hotel’s hives are kept at nearby McDonald Beach, and beekeeper John Gibeau looks after them. After harvest this year, several dozen kilos were taken up to Whistler Brewing Company to be transformed into a honey lager called “Stinger,” served exclusively by the hotel.
We tried the Stinger honey lager well as another WBC favourite, Black Tusk. Both were wonderful, and we especially appreciated the understated sweetness of Stinger. If you’d like to sample the hotel’s honey in a form outside a glass, it’s available for sale, used in many of their pastries, served with Afternoon Tea, AND the base of their beer-battered fish and chips!
We snacked on a small charcuterie platter of meats from Oyama Sausage Company (my favourite being an intensely rich chorizo), then headed upstairs to get ready for dinner. And by ‘get ready for dinner,’ I mean NAP.
By 6pm we were ready for more, so we headed down to enjoy the Christmas Eve buffet ($69/person). The Andersons are slow eaters, and we apparently carry this trait into the buffet world, also.
We first got the lay of the land, perusing the plentiful and thoughtfully-arranged food, then leisurely enjoyed some starters. My mom and I had the parsnip soup with maple and cloves, which was WONDERFUL. In appearance, a parsnip soup is never the belle of the ball, but this was one of my favourite flavours of the night. I would happily start each and every meal with this for the rest of the winter.
My ‘first course’ plate included bread and butter, some Caesar salad, prawns, candied salmon, gravlax, and some bocconcini. It was all wonderful, though I ate far too much bread and butter than is wise at a buffet. Easy on the carbs, Anderson – think strategy!
My ‘entrée’ plate was filled with roasted vegetables, seafood, whipped Yukon gold potatoes, sage and butter basted Fraser Valley turkey, dried fig and herb stuffing, gravy, and a Yorkshire pudding. Prime rib was also on offer, but I couldn’t resist the turkey. Even if we’re having it again tonight.
The star of the plate? Well, it was the dark horse, that dish which usually just acts as a landing pad for all the other food – the mashed potatoes. These whipped Yukon gold were so smooth, so creamy, so buttery, so rich, so insanely delicious that I kid you not, my mother exclaimed her love for them a total of 72.9 times, plus told our server they’re the best she’s ever had. She might have told several of the staff, in fact. THEY WERE SO GOOD.
After our main plates, we sat back, enjoyed an Amalaya Malbec, and waited for our stomachs to say they were ready for dessert. It took awhile, but we had some tea and coffee in the meantime, and eventually made our way over to the lush assortment of sweets. There was a chocolate fountain,
chocolate cake, mousses, pecan pie, mincemeat tart, a huge variety of Christmas cookies (a holiday necessity), various other cakes, Christmas pudding, and Buche du Noel.
It was tough to decide, but I went with a star-shaped shortbread cookie, a slice of the Buche du Noel, some eggnog cheesecake, and a mincemeat tart.
They were all great, but the family favourite was the shortbread cookie. Bites full of butter, with crunch and sweetness from the icing. Perfect. We sipped a Mission Hill Riesling ice wine with dessert, which my father described as liquid gold. It was smooth, sweet, and just ever so satisfyingly tart.
As we usually do, Kate and I watched The Family Stone, and, as tradition should also have it, we bawled our eyes out and went to bed puffy and sniffling. Wherever you are and whomever you’re with, the Anderson family wishes you a very Merry Christmas, direct from 1988.
Here are a few more pictures from our first day at The Fairmont……