Because Size Isn’t Everything–Lunching at Truffle Pigs (Field, British Columbia)
“But, instead of what our imagination makes us suppose and which we worthless try to discover, life gives us something that we could hardly imagine.” ~ Marcel Proust
Sometimes when you least expect it something marvelous blindsides you. Think of it: minding your own business heading west along the Trans Canada Highway with your significant other, a friend or perhaps your dog. You’ve just passed Lake Louise when you realize your stomach is growling and when you look at the clock you see it’s about the right time for lunch. As the push of age-old mountains tower overhead you fight between finding your breath (the scenery wants to overwhelm you) and overcoming your annoyance because it has come to your attention that the next biggish city is Golden, British Columbia. It is fifty-five kilometres ahead of you. Though you can make it there within the hour it is not really known for its culinary delights and, by God, you want a good meal; the inner fingers of your hunger drum against your stomach walls reminding you of that. Hands on the wheel you momentarily ponder whether you should take the next turn. There’s time enough to head back to Lake Louise. At least you’ll get something akin to slow food there.
However, the fates intervene and a message arrives from your mother. She’s just sent a link to a bistro in the sleepy town of Field. On the western edge of Yoho National Park it boasts a population of 300 people and located between Lake Louise and Golden it’s a mere sixteen kilometers from where you are in that moment, which is coasting along Canada’s most infamous artery. The sun is bright overhead. “Trust me,” her message says, the intonation one of knowing, “Field may be small but this restaurant will surprise you. It’s possibly the best thing between Revelstoke and Lake Louise.”
It’s with those words that coordinates are established. You push your right foot down and the gas pedal responds with an audible hummmmm. Before you know it you’ve covered sixteen kilometers in fifteen minutes and you’ve banked left, direction Field, though your journey isn’t quite over yet. Your stomach rumbles as you wait in front of the railway crossing watching CP cars filled with mineral dust, foodstuffs and biofuel clickety clack on by. The train is on its way to Vancouver from heaven-knows where and it is an endless line of steel and iron freightage, or it seems that way at least. Yes, your hunger, is that paralyzing. Once the final car rolls past and the bell ceases to clang the zebra arms lift. The passageway is now clear. Rolling forward you can see the compact township of Field stretching out in front of you. It fits its within your lines of vision. The city limits moving no further than the sides of your eyes.
And so you drive straight and take a right. You drive until you hit a dead end. Your stomach might be starting to devour itself but you feel the rush of relief because this is where the bistro stands to greet you. It is where your empty stomach will be filled.
It is where pleasant surprises are to be found.
Truffle Pigs is the name of the modestly sized place that this Intolerant’s mother recommended and it did not disappoint. One of the few lodges/bistros in Field, it was established in 1997 by two expats from Ontario and has been proudly serving clientele–hikers, mountaineers, adventure seekers and simple-minded tourists alike–ever since. The ambiance is cozy with a typical chalet kitsch environment found in these mountainous parts of Canada.
There’s furniture polished to a shine and heavyset beams holding the structure in place. There’s cedar paneling on the walls, some of which is adorned with bear skins, moose heads and a flight of papier-mâché pigs that hang from the ceiling; faux wings beating in the soft current that whistles over your head. It’s the sort of place I imagine would be superb in the fall and winter. The time when the days get shorter and the light clouds over and all you want to do after a day of skiing/snowboarding/snowshoeing is to saddle up to the bar. Take a seat. Have a drink.
That said, Truffle Pigs was no less inviting on this particular bright June afternoon. Gazing at the menu what was most striking is how surprisingly sophisticated and prolific the options are; a profound truth when considering where you are. Some of the dishes on the dinner menu include black truffle aranchini, dry roasted ribs with Korean-style seasoning, Japanese style prawns, a platter of BC (wild-caught) seafood, and mac and cheese sausage (with panko crust and herb béchamel), you know, if you want to keep things simple.
While a bit less expansive, the lunch menu is no less amazing to behold with eye-catching options like bulgogi beef rib nachos, rasta jerk wrap and homemade soup with a side of crusty baguette. It’s the kind of menu that lets you know the staff and kitchen at Truffle Pigs take their food seriously. The menu changes according to season and only local/regional/organic ingredients are used, including meat free of hormones and all-manner of antibiotics and unpronounceable additives. It’s a return to slow food in the heart of the BC wilderness and, not only is Truffle Pigs good about using the freshest ingredients around, they are also competent when it comes to indulging vegetarians and/or catering to people with food allergies. Like yours truly.
Mr. Intolerant ordered a local IPA to get his digestive juices flowing and went with the open faced tuscan flatbread that, I believe, was topped with grilled duck that day. I stuck with mint tea (being the designated driver and all) and went for a veggie burger comprised of beets, yams, rice and roasted garlic, and came with a generous side of salad plus an order of fries. Admittedly, it took a while for the food to arrive but it was worth the wait. Mr. Intolerant, hungry as he was, found his flatbread to be just about the right amount of crisp and the toppings savoury. He loved the fact that it was served on a cutting board with a well-sharpened knife and all.
As for my meal, I enjoyed the fries (freshly made) and my main as well. While the veggie burger was a touch less compact than I expected (it was more like a sloppy joe than a “patty”), I enjoyed it nonetheless and I leaned back after every bite to let the mix of spices light up my palate. Normally not a big fan of beets, I shovelled every morsel into my mouth. I mean, if we did not have a s’more and sausage roast to attend that evening I might–I very well might–have asked for another serving.
In all, our stop at Truffle Pigs was unexpected and delightful and rewarding. It reminded me of the age-old adages to “never judge a book by its cover” (for the bistro) and “good things come in small packages” (in relation to the 300-strong town of Field). And while Field still can–if I tried hard enough–fit into the palm of my hand, the few places it boasts have the sort of energy and charm that make it a worthwhile place to stop on your coast-to-coast travels. When it comes to food, at least, the value-for-money at Truffle Pigs beats the over-priced lodges of Lake Louise and trumps the comely B&Bs of Golden.
It is a place that reminds you how food is supposed to be prepared and served.
The sort of place that pushes the boundaries of imagination and reminds you: life is always full of surprises.
Truffle Pigs (Lodge & Bistro)
100 Center Street
Field, British Columbia, Canada
Phone: +1 (250) 343-6303
Open seven days a week (see website for breakfast, lunch and dinner hours).