Whistler, BC – Araxi Longtable Dining Series

Follow Me Foodie to the Araxi Longtable Dining Series!

Follow Me Foodie to Switzerland? No. Follow Me Foodie to Austria? No. Those countries are beautiful, but this was Follow Me Foodie to Whistler! And this was the Araxi Longtable Dining Series. The photo can’t capture the quality of air and it barely does the scenery justice. It’s something you need to experience in person.

Whistler is constantly ranked the number one mountain resort in North America and a dining experience like this is worth considering scheduling your trip around. This dinner on a peak was also a peak to my culinary exploration of Whistler. It was the complete experience and one of my favourite dining environments on the mountain so far.

So they weren’t joking when they said “Longtable”. I’ve been to Longtable dinners before, but this was definitely the longest. Go big or go home and I really didn’t want to go home. Whistler was on a roll!

I was invited to the Araxi Longtable Dining Series which is an annual Summertime event that happens only twice a year. In the past it took place in the Pemberton Valley (a small town about 30 minutes away from Whistler where much of the local produce is farmed and sourced), but this year was the first time hosting it at Rainbow Park in Whistler. The event is a guaranteed sell out and it was probably one of my favourite dining experiences. The ambiance sold me alone.

With the Whistler, Blackcomb, and Alta Lake as my backdrop I couldn’t ask for anything more. Even for someone who always puts the food first I was easily lost in this picturesque landscape. I’m not even one for the outdoors, but when it comes to enjoying the outdoors like this, I’ll fully indulge and leave my city roots behind.

The crowd was mixed which I liked… and there were no kids which I really liked. Just kidding! I like kids (when I know them), but for something like this, it’s an adult playground. It kind of feels like a wedding, and if anything it’s just missing a bit of music.

Farmer’s Market Cocktail Reception

 Leggiero Chardonnay 2011 wine tastings from LaStella Winery and a dedicated vodka station by Pemberton Distillery.

People are invited to a cocktail, wine and hors d’oeuvres reception before the sit down dinner starts. The reception allows for meeting and greeting with the local growers, farmers, purveyors and suppliers of Pemeberton Valley, the Okanagan and various parts of BC. It really is one of my favourite styles of farm to table and meeting the people behind the ingredients and products makes you appreciate your dinner on a whole new level. It was an ideal event for localvores, food and wine enthusiasts and locals and tourists. Being a Vancouverite (2-2.5 hours drive away from Whistler) I fully embraced this experience.

Sure we have picnics on the beach or Stanley park, but this was unique to Whistler. The event is hosted by Araxi which is one of Whistler’s multiple award winning fine dining restaurants. I visited the restaurant the previous night (see my post here), but I was actually more satisfied with both the food and atmosphere on this occasion. Fair enough that they aren’t quite comparable, even though it was Executive Chef James Walt preparing both meals, but the Araxi Longtable Dining Series left a unique impact and I found it more special. It went beyond the exclusive four-course tasting menu featured for the evening.

The menu showcased ingredients and courses representing local woodlands, pastures and shores so it was truly British Columbian let alone Canadian cuisine. Since it was being catered for about 150 people the food was rather typical to satisfy tastes of the majority, which makes sense. However it was the quality of each local ingredient that was being showcased. That was the point.

The portable outdoor kitchen had limitations for what they could do, but nonetheless I didn’t mind and they made it work beautifully. Hot items were finished on sight, ingredients were very well sourced, sustainable, ethical and well executed considering the logistics. Since it was a one off event I’m not going to comment much on the food, but I was pleased and people seemed full. It was a casual yet elegant event served family style with wine pairings, and I took value to the overall experience.

Note: Araxi Longtable Dining Series is $175.00 per person, per event includes reception, four-course menu, wine, tax and gratuity. A percentage of ticket sales will go to The Chef’s Table Society of BC, supporting regional chefs, producers and the local food industry.

Sawmill Bay Oysters – Raw oysters with ponzu pearls. I definitely camped out here for a while.

Kootenay Alpine Cheese Co. sampling their Alpindon organic cheese and their Nostrala organic cheese.

Root Down Organic Farm showcasing their vegetables.

Smoked Yarrow Meadow Duck Breast with Corn Salsa

Windset Farm Vegetable Gazpacho and Olive Oil

Araxi Longtable Dining Series – 4 Course Menu

Bread and Olive Tapenade

First Course

Tofino Dungeness Crab in North Arm Farm Squash Blossoms

  • With Root Down Farm organic greens basil and cherry tomato vinaigrette
  • There wasn’t as much crab, but it reminded me of a jalapeno popper in concept because of the shape and the cheesy creamy stuffing. This dish wasn’t spicy though.
  • Each squash blossom on our plate was crispy and hot and it was prepared in small batches for a big crowd. There was good kitchen and quality control.
  • Wine pairing: LaStella ‘Vivace’ Pinot Grigio 11

Second Course

Hot Smoked BC Sockeye Salmon

  • Root Down Organic Ruby Streak with Lemon Verbena Dressing local baby golden beets and shaved radish
  • I loved all the variety of beets they showcased including candy cane beets. It was simple, colourful and elegant.
  • Wine pairing: Le Vieux Pin ‘Vaila’ Rose 11

For me, this is a well cooked sockeye salmon – when it’s slightly undercooked. It should flake with the touch of my fork. The inside is still silky smooth and buttery with the flavour of natural salmon oils. The inside of a sashimi grade salmon should be glossy and almost creamy and I always prefer the skin on and seared crispy. This one was, which was impressive since it was being prepared for a large scale event. I was almost sure it was going to be overcooked and wild salmon dries out even more than farmed salmon if it is. It was a risky ingredient, but a BC/Canadian dinner is not complete without salmon.

Main Course

Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef

  • Rosemary roasted loin and agnolotti of beef cheeks and shortrib with Pemberton baby carrots and red wine jus
  • I was also very pleased that this was not overcooked.
  • For those that like well done… stop. I’m kidding… a bit. I’m sure they can cook it to your liking if you ask though.
  • Wine pairing: Le Vieux Pin Syrah 09

There was about one agnolotti per person and I would have been happy with 6 of these as my side. If you asked early they made a few extras, but basically these were the highlight of the whole dinner and they ran out fast. Short rib and beef cheek together emotes the same feelings as the words “pork belly” and I just knew that this would be my favourite. The beef was excellent quality and short rib and beef cheek are in my top 4 favourite cuts of the cow.

Dessert Course

Pemeberton Strawberries + Lillooet Caribou Honey

Strawberries with honey lavender meringue and Okanagan goat cheese mousse

Mini strawberry tart with Lillooet Honey Pastry Cream

Strawberry Basil Consomme

Wine pairing: LaStella Moscato d’Osoyoos 11

Petit Fours - Pâté de Fruits, Petite Madeleines and Macarons.

Desserts by Pastry Chef Aaron Heath of Araxi Restaurant.

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