Although the Pemberton Valley Slow Food Cycle in previous years has been one of summer's highlights for me, this year's version was about a 4/10 in my opinion, and not just because of the cool and cloudy weather.
Following our drive from Whistler, we arrived in Pemberton shortly after 8:00 am, and after registering we headed off on our bikes along the route, looking forward to coffee and homemade pastries for breakfast at one of the first farms visited. A cup of luke warm tasteless brown water was passed off as coffee ($2.00) while the pastries had that wrapped-in-plastic look that communicates industrial production on a gigantic scale. I chose a slice of banana loaf in error as it turned out to be identical to that available at any Starbucks anywhere in the world.
Undaunted, my friends and I continued pedaling along the route, although I think we were slightly off in our timing, as we stood in line for more than an hour for what turned out to be a very mediocre hamburger, a wait which likely might challenge an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. In the past, I have not associated hamburgers with farm produce from the Pemberton Valley, and I have not eaten a hamburger of any description in more 10 years. At $8.00 for the hamburger and a can of artificially flavored sparkling water available at Whistler's IGA Marketplace, it was more expensive and less reminiscent of farm produce than one could have purchased at any baseball or football stadium anywhere. Again, I doubt whether the beef was locally produced, and I suspect it came frozen from a huge processing plant somewhere thousands of kilometres from Pemberton.
At another farm, we endured another long wait for a triple sampler of tacos ($10.00) which included prime rib, potato, and seafood taco samplers. I found it difficult not to ask myself how Mexican tacos could possibly represent farm produce from the Pemberton Valley. The beef was overcooked, tough, and stringy, the seafood was cod, a fish which is certainly not local, and I avoided the potato taco sampler since I can't think of anything more boring than starch served inside a starchy wrapper. The fact that I dislike Mexican food generally, whether boring, refried, or simply too spicy, didn't improve the experience.
In fact, I didn't eat anything all day that I would normally walk across the street for. However, I do love a bike ride in the Pemberton Valley meadows, especially in the company of good friends. Next year, I will give this event - with its underwhelming non-local food - a pass, and enjoy a bike ride here in Whistler with friends, followed by a nice lunch at any one of Whistler's excellent choices, and one that does not require an hour's wait to get in the door.