The 12 Books of Christmas 

The snow shovels and boots have been unearthed from the garage, staff parties are booked, and yes, those are Christmas decorations on display at each and every big box store. The holiday season is upon us. While most people have at least begun their Christmas shopping at this point, we're going to suggest that rather than revert to the standard, safe go-to gift certificates for folks on your shopping list, you buy them a book. Remember those relics? They can make very thoughtful and relatively inexpensive gifts for just about anyone. This year, we've compiled a list of 12 recent literary releases from local writers that will entertain and intrigue kids, adventurers, aspiring chefs, sports enthusiasts and amateur historians. Happy reading!


Araxi: Seasonal Recipes From The Celebrated Whistler Restaurant

Recipes by James Walt, text by Jim Tobler, 250 pp, Douglas & McIntyre

After almost 28 years of feeding happy Whistler visitors and residents, the folks in the kitchen at Araxi have finally decided to share some of their secrets with aspiring home chefs. In October, they released their first cookbook, Araxi: Seasonal Recipes From The Celebrated Whistler Restaurant, a visual feast for any food lover on your shopping list (especially for fans of Fox's Hell's Kitchen series).

Using executive chef James Walt's original creations - tried, tested and true Araxi classics, like squash blossoms and fois gras pate - author Jim Tobler has crafted careful and natural text to paint a vivid picture of not only the restaurant, but the surrounding region that inspires Chef Walt's fresh seasonal dishes.

Walt also had a hand in the vision and structure of the project. A self-described "cookbook junkie," Walt has 700 culinary texts lining his home bookshelves, so he knew how to create something that married well with the restaurant's culinary philosophy. He opted to break the Araxi book into two distinct sections to correspond with the seasons: summer and winter, and included a special harvest menu section in the centre to showcase the bounty of the Sea to Sky region.

"The criteria I set up for myself was that every recipe in the book has been on the menu for the last five years," Walt explained.

And while many would shy away from trying to reproduce fine dining dishes that appear on the menu of a lauded restaurant like Araxi, there's actually a great assortment of simple dishes that only require a few basic ingredients mixed in with professional dishes that require a bit more patience and practice to master.

"I set criteria where I didn't have off-the-wall ingredients and stuff, because a lot of what we cook is regional, so I think as long as you're familiar in a kitchen at home and you enjoy the kitchen... any home cook, I think, can really get into it," Walt explained.

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