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A pedestrian palate: Jasper Food Tours hits the road


Craig Gilbert |

Giving a leaf of fresh arugula more or less equal billing with elk meatloaf and handmade chorizos with scratch chocolate sauce is a one way to a food writer’s heart.

In her new role as the founder and sole guide of Jasper Food Tours, Estelle Blanchette has drawn a map around town that takes about three hours to do just that.

The former product developer for Tourism Jasper knows what she’s doing with a “secret” stop on the tour at the Jasper Community Garden, and when she offers a piece of the leafy green nicknamed “rocket” from her own plot in the fenced off complex across from The Crimson.

De’d Dog in the Astoria Hotel, 404 Connaught

The gift of not just nutrition and pepper on the palate but a meaty hook to hang a story on should be too much to resist for anyone with the readership to get her new venture on the radar.

For a number of weeks now Blanchette has been taking groups of as many as a dozen people around to the three-plus-one stop tour that starts at the Jasper Brew Pub, continues to the Raven Bistro, then Papa George’s, which opens specially for the tour since it takes place mid-afternoon, and finishes at The Olive Bistro.

Cutline: Estelle Blanchette of Jasper Food Tours, Jamie Swallowell and travel writer Carolyn Heller at the Jasper Brew Pub on July 9. | C. Gilbert photos

On July 9 she brought Carolyn Heller, a Vancouver-based American-born travel writer working on a book about travelling between the Coast and the Rockies, local Jamie Swallowell and the Fitzhugh around.

The Raven Bistro, 504 Patricia

The $115 price includes drink and food samples at each restaurant hand-picked by Blanchette and heavy on the Canadian content.

Papa George’s in The Astoria Hotel, 404 Connaught

Elk meatloaf and Jasper the Bear ale with lime, roasted salmon with mango chutney and rice, stuffed falafel and scratch hummus, handmade chorizos with espresso vodka and chocolate sauce, all with a side of quality conversation.

The Jasper Brewing Co., 624 Connaught

Blanchette said she’s been hearing about demand for such a tour for a number of years. It’s just her offering the tours daily but she hopes to get enough business to expand and hire other guides.

The Olive Bistro, 401 Patricia (at Pyramid Lake Road)

“I’ve always been a foodie and always loved to entertain,” she said. “When I experienced my first food tour in Vancouver last year, a lightbulb instantly came on. The feedback for the tour has been amazing and it’s gaining momentum. I have a ton of ideas for product development and I’m excited to see where it takes me.”


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