In this elegant, award-winning restaurant, executive chef James Walt introduced Whistler’s first 100-mile menu, with every ingredient sourced, raised or produced within a 100-mile radius of the resort. Fortunately for both chefs and diners, that radius encompasses Vancouver Island with its rich waters, the fertile Pemberton Valley and the Okanagan Valley, known for wines and fruits. The menu changes seasonally, and summer and fall must provide him with an abundance of ingredients. Winter is more challenging, but the dinner was remarkable even without an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits.
The tasting menu of five courses plus an amuse and a platter of petits fours was impressive in every way — freshness, creativity, presentation, careful service. Steve Edwards, the restaurant director and sommelier, paired each course with an impressive selection from Araxi’s 1,200-label wine collection — some of which are visible through glass on one wall of the restaurant and several of which made their way to our table. Whites were kept chilled in a copper bowl on an iron stand(top right), which I found to be one of the understated, stylish touches at Araxi. It is possible to peer into the kitchen through the wood and glass grid that makes up another section of wall.
Whenever I think I know a little bit about food, I always learn something new. At Araxi, in addition to total gustatory indulence, I learned that “crosnes” are root vegetables in the mint family and that Kendall-Jackson made only 30 cases of the Port that accompanied our dessert (not exactly a food fact but interesting anyway).
Here is the tasting menu that Araxi served last night:
Albacore tuna tataki with marinated daikon radish and ginger soya dressing
Blue Mountain Brut, Okanagan, NV
Vancouver Island Octopus with Dungeness crab, cucumber and lemon vinaigrette (upper photo, with octopus on the left and crab on the right)
Joie Riesling, Okanagan, 2006
House-made truggle ricotta gnocchi with fresh black truffles and truffle veloute
Golden Mile ‘Old Vines’ Chenin blanc, Okanagan 2006
Herb-crusted BC Sablefish with Pemberton Valley sunchokes, crosnes and crisp salsify
Sumac Ridge Meritage sauvginon blanc/semillon), Okanagan 2005
Fraser Valley duck breast with North Arm Farm beers and Nantes carrots
Le Vieux Pin ‘Belle’ Pinot Noir, Okanagan, 2005
Molten chocolate cake and chocolate Earl Grey ice cream topped with a chocolate wafer (lower photo, with ice cream on the left and cake on the right)
Kendall-Jackson Piner Hills Estate Port, Sonoma NV
Gehringer Bros Riesling, Okanagan 2004
Petits Fours and coffee or tea