Table Scraps 

Araxi toasted at magazine awards

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Big Air athletes weren’t the only ones flying sky high Saturday night.

Guests raised glasses of bubbly (I chose one of the freshly-squeezed fruit martinis that rival any other cocktails in Whistler) to toast Araxi’s most recent accolade: the Best Restaurant in Whistler honour from the 18th Annual Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards Competition.

The magazine raved of Araxi: “Although Araxi may have been founded 25 years ago as a traditional après-ski eatery, it’s now consistently the best fine-dining restaurant on the mountain. Find fresh ingredients handled simply (the seafood preps show a deft hand), often with exquisite results, and a well-managed raw bar.”

I totally disagree with the review.

The last time I checked you didn’t need a lift pass to access Araxi and Whistler-Blackcomb restaurants aren’t much competition for a wine cellar whose cost is probably the equivalent of what it takes to run a WB restaurant for a year. Araxi is the best on and off the mountain.

Celebrators agreed as the who’s who of the Whistler social and restaurant scene enjoyed hors d’oeuvre of delicate deliciousness such as blue cheese mini quiches (I know; sounds ordinary, but à la Araxi, the delicate pastry making way to the potent blue cheese is anything but a common experience) and foie gras on toast. One of my chaperones for the evening even forgave her devout dedication to vegetarianism for this silky smooth morsel. If you are going to vegetarian hell for breaking the thou-shall-not-eat-meat commandment, there has never been a better place to do it. Araxi deflowered my life as a vegetarian of 15 years and vegan of two. I’ll never forget how then restaurant manger Andre approached me with a concerned face asking “Are you okay?” as I reacted to the rich, robust mouthful of venison that has forever changed my menu ordering. I never stood a chance and Araxi continues to ensure more diners step out of their comfort zone to venture into their brave new culinary world, led by executive chef James Walt.

Other recent coos to Araxi talent included the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival Gold Wine List Award and The 2007 Georgia Straight Golden Plate Best Restaurant in Whistler Critic’s and Reader’s Choice Award.

Vancouver magazine also “cin cin”ed four other Whistler restaurants. Araxi received gold, the Bearfoot Bistro silver, Fifty-Two 80 Bistro bronze, and Après and the Rimrock Café honourable mentions in the Best Restaurant in Whistler category.

Bearfoot Bistro executive chef Melissa Craig was commended.

“(She) has seamlessly made Bearfoot a food-primary restaurant even if the fabled 12,000-bottle cellar might say otherwise.” The Bearfoot was also the only Whistler restaurant to be nominated in a Lower Mainland category: Best Formal French.

Craig will also be the only Whistler representative joining the 11-course Chefs for Life 2007 dinner Sunday, May 6 at Tojo’s in Vancouver. The fundraising effort for the Vancouver Friends for Life Society welcomes 12 top culinary talents into one kitchen. Each course is paired with vintage wines to top off an extraordinary event Sarah McLachlan and her husband rarely miss. To book a $325 ticket (tax receipt issued), contact chefsforlife@telus.net .

Vancouver Magazine also touted Helmer’s Organic Farm as the Best Supplier/Producer of the Year. The magazine noted the 20 varieties of potatoes the Pemberton farm produces. The best in produce, the best in chefs, Helmer’s Farm has attracted the likes of top chefs like Rob Feenie, who shot an episode of his show at the farm.

There has never been a better time to experience what city folks have to drive two hours to pull up a chair to. Whistler’s Dine and Unwind program kicks off Tuesday, May 1 enticing diners to the tables of many Whistler restaurants with multi-course menus starting at $20 per person.

Participating restaurants include Araxi, Fifty Two 80 Bistro, Rimrock Café, Hy’s Steakhouse, Bavaria, Cinnamon Bear Bar and Grille, Crêpe Montagne, The Den, La Rúa, Milestone’s, The Mountain Club, Ric’s Grill, Tandoori Grill, Zen Sushi and The Wine Room.

Try something new and leave the judging to the people who know best, or at least know Araxi isn’t located on the mountain.

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