Araxi was the fourth of the major restaurants that are synonymous with fine dining in Whistler, that we could try on this brief five day visit.
A five minute walk from our hotel in the village, Araxi's patio seating looked inviting with its white table cloths and comfortable-looking chairs. Despite the lingering sunshine, we opted to eat inside and I liked the ambience of the restaurant interior.
The menu offered a three course option - a selection from the starter, main and dessert course menus but we decided to be adventurous and try the tasting menu with wine pairing. Our server, Quentin, explained that it was a five course tasting menu and we would not know in advance what the chefs were preparing. We told him about food allergies - I avoid clams and mussels - and he asked how we like red meats prepared - medium rare, and then he whisked off to the kitchen and we sat back to contemplate what would be coming.
The first interesting touch was the sparkling wine that was served in the most unusual, exquisite champagne flutes. Steve, the sommelier came over to tell us about the Sumac Ridge Tribute - a non-vintage 100% chardonnay-derived sparkling wine made in the traditional method. Apparently Sumac have made this particular Tribute wine on only two occasions, one to celebrate the Millennium year and one specially for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
We were given an amuse bouche of cured cellar-aged Wagyu beef short rib with truffle vinaigrette and goat cheese. A delightful mouthful.
Next Steve appeared to pour a Clos du Soleil Baessler Pinot Blanc from the 2010 Growers Series. The Growers Series are wines made from a single vineyard by this boutique winery in the Similkameen Valley.
This wine paired beautifully with the first dish, a lightly seared piece of salmon served with tiny pieces of pineapple, slivered carrots, grapefruit and a coconut panna cotta.
Rimrock Cafe is the first of the fine dining restaurants that I am visiting for my Destination Whistler: Five Days of Fine Dining story. We had a reservation for 6 PM and the Shuttle bus from the Westin Resort and Spa dropped us off at the restaurant, shortly before 6 PM.
In the interests of getting the most variety of taste experience we had decided in advance to focus on sharing appetizers and small plates, wherever possible.
It was a gloriously sunny day in Vancouver, one of the few we have enjoyed so far this summer. I was stuffed to the gills- or I would have been if I had gills.
I had just walked back home from the media launch of Michelle Ng's 2011 Foodie Street Cart Tour during which we tasted fare from 5 downtown Vancouver Street Cart vendors. This is very filling fare and although on the tour in most cases we had a half portion of the serving, it was still enough to be the equivalent of at least two lunches for me.
The third full day session of the Level II course was held on the weekend following the first 2 sessions. It was on the Sunday, and after the educational component, we were to write the multiple choice examination. Luckily at this level there is no actual tasting component. By this stage in the course I was feeling pretty good about white wines, but probably had no hope of getting through a red wine tasting.
I had planned on spending time during the week and and then all of Saturday studying for the test. At this stage of my life it takes more than once over for me to remember regions and towns, never mind which varietal is grown where. I had a general concept in my head, though some of the facts had been filtered through a slightly mellowing haze of alcohol from the wines I had not been able to compel myself to pour out rather than swallow. So Saturday I was going to sit down and pull an all-dayer since the days of all-nighters are long gone for me.
The Second Day: Wines by Region and Classic Varietals
Lynn had alerted us that the afternoon of the second day might be a bit challenging as the focus was on red wines. But despite the fact that I spent the previous night enjoying Richard III instead of studying my WSET manual, I hopped off the Canada Line and walked over to BCIT with a definite sense of optimism. After all we were starting the morning with two of my favorite varietals, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, I figured they would be a lot easier for me to write intelligent tasting notes about than red wines.
We started off with a Riesling tasting and a discussion of German wine regions and labeling. This was a familiar area to me because I have been enjoying wines from the Mosel, Rheingau and Pfalz for ages, through the Opimian Wine Club.
I am not a rabble rouser. I don't sign petitions or march in parades to support or protest against ideologies or political actions. I don't subscribe to any particular socio-political ideals but make up my mind based on how I see the reality of a specific situation. So why did I, along with a whole lot of people, head off to hear a reading of Homegrown by Catherine Frid, on the same night in eleven different locations across Canada?
It's simply because I think that the arts are vital in creating an intelligent, thoughtful, curious society, and new works will not be created and performed if financial support for the arts is not there. SummerWorks is a Festival of new works or experimental productions by young companies, that has been held in Toronto since 1991. Originally a Fringe-style format, it evolved into a juried festival, where a panel of theatre professionals evaluate the proposals and select the plays to be performed.