Araxi Longtable Picnic
In the +30 degree afternoon sun it seemed like a secret society of sorts. It was easy to see that the 3pm reception had begun as the Rainbow Park beach bathing suit attire was slowly swapped for linen pants and dresses for attendees following route directions……take a hard right after the train tracks and wander past the small cabins.
We had arrived at the almost mystical Araxi Longtable. Once greeted, the table itself instigated a mass photo op for guests as it drew out towards the water. The excitement of the event is set. As I personally am not usually welcomed in to Rainbow Park by more than bikini-wearing teens and floating devices, the Martin’s Lane Mission Hill Riesling and Schramm gin, strawberry, and basil cocktails were sure to ruin my expectations for life! Not to mention the laid back and friendly serving staff offering canapes of golden corn and basil soup, grougeres of Yarrow Meadow duck liver parfait and towers of Hollie Wood freshly shucked oysters.
The small market of Rootsdown Farms, North Arm Farms, and Moonstruck cheeses somehow set a feeling of familiar Sunday morning comfort. I did bike to the event so considered how efficient I would be if I just picked up my groceries while there to free up Sunday. Neil, Araxi’s GM, took to the soapbox top to start the show with a round of thanks to contributors and a reminder of the relaxed family atmosphere to follow.
As we were all seated with friendly introductions it was quickly realized that family-style service was only fitting considering how close-knit we would become. A rainbow of heirloom tomatoes with Vancouver Island buffalo mozzarella, Rootsdown organic greens, basil and gazpacho vinaigrette and tomato chips were placed in front of us. If you think that tomatoes can’t be decadent, I assure you this dish was out to disagree. Paired with the Mission Hill SLC Sauvignon Blanc it was a stunner.
1. Potato Galette
2. The Mission Hill’s family
3. The setting
4. The artists
Of course each course tried to outdo the last so a platter of perfectly seared Red Tuna dressed in spices and complimented by local potatoes, green beans, olive tapenade and eggs made it’s entrance. As a vegetarian I was treated to a rich potato galette that had my neighbors all in awe. It’s always flattering some how when that happens. The Martin’s Lane Pinot Noir may have never introduced itself to me prior to this course but just like my newfound long table family we will not drift apart going forward.
As the main event of Ashcroft Natural Lamb and Pemberton Beef Cheeks was laid out, I glimpsed the almost candy-colored North Arm Farm beets and carrots peaking out from underneath. I didn’t hesitate in requesting more of these little gems for our table from the server as I knew they were going to be in demand – and with good reason.
While the food was a gateway to heaven, the Mission Hill Oculus 2009 certainly paved the way. So smooth and so bold but what else could you expect from the winery’s big red? As the table’s buzz started to calm and turn to planning for the next encounters among new friends, the dessert smorgasbord of black forest cakes with local cherries hidden inside, buttermilk and vanilla pannacotta with BC tree fruit and apricot macaroons took diner’s attention. Sipping on the sweetness of Mission Hill’s Reserve Riesling Ice Wine we exchanged hugs, kisses and business cards to stay in touch. It was truly an event not to be forgotten and on the admittedly wobbly bike ride home I considered the peacefulness of such a special kind of meal. A picnic in the park like only Araxi and Whistler’s beauty could offer.