When next you’re driving west from Calgary, resist the siren call of world-class restos in Banff and Lake Louise. Stay focused. Stay hungry. And stay on the Trans-Canada Highway until you see signs to the tiny town of Field, B.C., in Yoho National Park. This is, precisely, where you want to turn.
You won’t regret it.
With a whopping population of 133, this former railway town, conveniently located at the toe of the Burgess Shale fossil finds, schools eight children, has a post office, a Parks Canada Superintendent house, a pottery shop and an honest-to-goodness general store. All this means is that you can amble through this whistle stop in under 10 minutes, flat. And that’s exactly what you should do—because where you want to linger is where all 10 streets in Field converge, at a ridiculously cute spot that seats 40 folks.
At Truffle Pigs Bistro.
This 13-room higgledy piggledy lodge is where one Toronto expat (a former anthropologist) and a northern Ontario gal (who ran a gourmet coffee cart in the Big Smoke) unpacked their dreams in the late 1990s when they pulled their Dodge pickup into town. Sinking $250,000 into renovations, they opened this lodge and resto in 2008, and have been whipping up culinary magic in their own Field of Dreams, ever since. And it is, unequivocally, an absolute, unpretentious, delicious little gem.
Under a ceiling of flying pigs and next to a blackboard of piggy jokes and quotes from Aristotle, Buddha and Darwin is a culinary adventure worth driving to. On a recent trip, our famished gang sampled every appetizer and half the mains, and couldn’t decide which were better. So if you’re as indecisive as we were, start with the Insalata Caprese and discover the veggies from a farm outside of Golden, B.C. and the juicy tomatoes from a spot near Gull Lake, Alberta. Then move on to a bubbling cauldron of Greek olives, Kasseri cheese and mushroom confit; rip apart that crusty baguette and I bet you’ll swoon for more of the Confit-Sion. Be prepared to equally love the Mussels Maras—just be sure to leave room for the Bulgogi pork belly nachos and the signature Thai seafood cake that reduced our table to a puddle of lip-smacking murmurs.
1½ onions, finely diced
4 tomatoes, finely diced
¼ cup dry tarragon
1½ tbsp dry basil
1½ tbsp vegetable stock
¾ tbsp dry rosemary
4 tbsp of butter
1 litre half and half cream
1 litre white wine
½ cup Dijon mustard
3-4 lbs mussels
Place onions and tomatoes in white wine in a large pot and reduce by half over medium heat. Add tarragon, basil, stock, rosemary, butter and reduce by one third.
Add mustard and cook for another two minutes. Then add cream and reduce the sauce by one third. Increase heat to high and bring sauce to a boil, add mussels and steam for about four minutes, or until the mussels have opened. Remove from heat and pour the mussels into a serving dish followed by all the goodies in the pot. Serve with lemon wedges.
But don’t forget to start your meal with a cocktail.
The Pickled Pig
1 ¼ oz. Wild Turkey Bourbon
¼ oz. Amaretto
¼ oz. Sweet Vermouth
2 Maraschino cherries
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Fill a martini glass with ice and let it chill. Place a few cubes of ice in a shaker, add all ingredients and shake. Remove ice from the chilled glass, then refill it half way to the brim with fresh ice. Add Maraschino cherries, bitters and pour Bourbon mix over the ice in the glass and serve.
Mussels Maras recipe courtesy of chef and owner, Sean Cunningham.
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