The GOODS from Araxi
Whistler, BC | As a greatly anticipated annual event, this year’s Big Guns: Icons of the Wine World dinner will feature a spectacular collection of highly rated, rare and collectible wines. On Friday November 9th, seven stellar wineries from the world’s top wine regions will come together at Araxi for an exclusive one-off dinner event. Each critically acclaimed wine has been thoughtfully hand-selected by Wine Director Samantha Rahn, in order to deliver a truly unforgettable tasting experience.
“This year the wines I have selected represent complexity and finesse,” says Rahn. “We want to open our guests’ eyes and palates to some truly unique expressions of grape varieties and diverse regions in a mix of old world and new, tradition and innovation, rule breakers and trend-setters.”
Araxi Executive Chef James Walt will create a bespoke seven-course menu that showcases the excellence of Canadian produce, with standout dishes including Wild Mushroom and Local Beef Cheek Ravioli topped with generous shavings of White Alba Truffles. Guest will be treated to a parade of striking flavours such as Northern Divine Caviar, White Grace Cheese from Salt Spring Island and a tasting of Pemberton’s six varieties of Famous potatoes from Across the Creek Organics. Each course will be carefully paired to these exceptional wines… Read more
The GOODS from Tinhorn Creek
Oliver, BC | On Friday, November 9th, Whistler’s lauded Aura Restaurant will celebrate the award-winning wines of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in an exclusive winemakers’ dinner during Cornucopia: Whistler’s Celebration of Wine and Food.
With a menu inspired by seasonal organic vegetables, Aura Restaurant at Nita Lake Lodge specializes in modern, Pacific cuisine that is rooted in classical culinary craft. Led by Executive Chef Michael Guy, Aura sources sustainably from local farmers, foragers, ranchers and fisheries to bring the best that the west has to offer for every season. The unforgettable menu will feature BC products from both land and sea, showcasing the region’s transition from fall to winter. Expect rustic flavours and refined technique, paired with award-winning wines from Tinhorn Creek Vineyards.
Hosted by Andrew Moon, Tinhorn’s Viticulturist and Vineyard Manager, guests will get insight into Andrew’s unique view from the vineyard. Executive Chef Michael Guy has created a distinctive five-course menu that highlights the excellence of the Pemberton Valley’s autumn harvest—alongside globally-sourced ingredients—with each plate married to Tinhorn Creek Vineyards’ prized wines.
Learn more and get a taste of the menu after the jump… Read more
What a wild weekend! And to think I almost didn’t feel up to it. Pshaw.
We started on the road to Cornucopia in the afternoon on Friday, which meant I missed my favourite event, the Trade Tasting (always good to have that rush when the doors open and the pouring begins). Once installed at the Four Seasons there was an hour for some beta fixes to this website before it was time for the Big Guns dinner at Araxi. This year the feature winery was Penfolds, and they broke out the superlative ’98 Grange during the 4th course (dry aged Pemberton Meadows beef with veal sweetbreads). The night went late and long, and involved cigars, ports, whiskeys, and I presume a few other things before I found myself in bed, 6 hours later and dying for coffee and a brand new tongue. The next day saw guests and media piled into a chartered bus and whisked to a private home tucked away outside the village for a luncheon showcasing Prospect Winery wines and the talents of Cabana Bar & Grille chef Ned Bell. Five courses later and fully recovered now from the night before, I stole a two hour nap at the hotel, enjoyed a forty minute shower, and then dressed for dinner at Bearfoot Bistro. We began in the cellar, where owner Andre St. Jacques sabred some large format Pommery champers and the gathered guests got giddy in anticipation. I’d spent some time with chef Melissa Craig and Andre in Vancouver a few days previously at the Gold Medal Plates, and they’d mentioned that dinner, paired with dueling Chateau de Beaucastel wines, was going to be a “different” and a “surprise”. And man, was it ever. They’d dreamed up a “diner” theme, playing up comfort foods of yore with high end ingredients and exacting preps, everything from mac & cheese and grilled cheese to eggs benny and banana splits. I heard some bitching from some guests (“I wouldn’t pay $250 for dinner in a diner!”), and even some media, but overall I thought the response was very positive. I certainly loved it. It takes guts to get thematic, and not a little confidence/capability to do it right. The wine pairings were challenging, but I enjoyed how they were structured. For several courses we were poured two glasses of the same wine/vintage, only one had aged in a 750ml bottle and the other in a 3l Jeroboam. Tasting bottle variation based on size wasn’t something I’d done before, and I found it fascinating that the larger format wines, all 20 years old, could do with a lot more cellaring. Once dinner had wrapped (just after midnight), my dining companions and I braved the rain and the drunken Australian teenagers who own the village square for sparkling nightcaps at Araxi’s famous “Bubbles” shindig. One huge improvement this year over previous years: crowd control. One could move relatively easily through the rooms and it was nowhere near as stifling. Perhaps they lost several thousand dollars in ticket sales by lowering their capacity, but the decision made the party that much more enjoyable. Great crowd of usual suspects and a tremendous amount of fun. I struggled somewhat through a long and leisurely brunch over at the Fairmont the next morning (a consequence of two days and nights of going too far), and then it was off down the mountain and back to the always pleasant grind.
In addition to the little home movie above, I’ve put together a gallery of photos below. Many of the pictures in both the gallery and the film were taken by my friend Coleen, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Thanks for reading, watching, and looking. If you have any advil or pepto, I’d appreciate the hook up.
First, I present some delayed optics. Here’s a collection of clips and photographs from our trip up to Penticton, Oliver, and Kelowna during the Fall Wine Festival. Michelle and I had the great pleasure of staying at Apple d’Or; dining very well at Amante Bistro with David and Cynthia Enn of Laughing Stock; fossil hunting at our secret patch; checking out the Penticton Farmer’s Market; hanging and lunching with Ned Bell at Cabana; visiting with Heidi and Michael Noble at Joie; partying at Tinhorn Creek; and checking out Road 13 for the first time since their very cool rebrand. As you will see in the video, I also drank and gawked my way through Grape Stomp, one of the most absurdly debaucherous and “loosely interpreted” competitions I’ve ever been press ganged into judging.
With that out of the way, welcome to the beta version of Scout. There are still several tweaks that we’re trying to fit in, and you’ll likely see a few changes in the coming weeks. I’m sorry it has taken so long, but things took a left turn a few weeks ago and the delay couldn’t be helped.
At school in Africa one of my best friends and fraternity brothers was a brooding Romanian mathematician turned amusing drunk who told very good (if sometimes depressingly solemn) jokes. They always involved the various animals that lived in a dark Carpathian forest near his home, and the protagonist was invariably a rabbit. My favourite – told with a Bucharest accent and in a voice slurred by cheap vodka – went something like this:
The rabbit, he goes to forest supermarket early. When he gets to supermarket, he finds big line. So he start to weave in and out of squirrels, bears, deer, and foxes like so, until he comes to front door. Before he opens door, wolf grabs rabbit and says “Stupid rabbit, get to back of line!” and throws rabbit far. Boom. Like so. The rabbit, he picks himself up, dusts himself off, and starts again through line, all way to front. Again, wolf yells “Stupid rabbit!” and throws rabbit many feet this time. So, the rabbit, hurting plenty much, picks himself up, dusts himself off, and goes through line for third time. The wolf, angry, he waits for rabbit. He grabs rabbit by ears, and throws so far that when rabbit lands on ground he can not get up for long time. So, rabbit, very carefully, picks himself up, dusts himself off, and says “I guess I won’t open supermarket today”.
I don’t know why, but I like that rabbit very much.
I haven’t been all that idle these past three weeks. Scout has been a wonderful bitch to build, Halloween has come and gone (Pip was a ghost, Jack was a storm trooper, Michelle was Cat in the Hat, I was a cowboy), and I’ve been out for several quality meals. Life goes on.
I’ve been trying to track down the last few remaining recipe’s for Vancouver Cooks 2.0, the new cookbook we’re putting together at the Chef’s Table Society with 60 of our best chefs. Just this past week we put pen to paper and signed our contract with our publisher, Douglas & MacIntyre. We also had our first meeting with Pino Posteraro as our new President, which turned out to be very spirited (extra special double plus thanks to Nu for hosting us). Jamie Maw, Sid Cross, and I are now moving into the editorial stage, writing up all the bios and the section intros. Everything appears to be running on schedule for a November 2009 release. Stoked.
The Westender has also kept me busy with my column. A couple weeks back there was a run down of the competing chefs at this week’s Gold Medal Plates, and in circulation right now is my unapologetically gushing review of Voya, the brand new restaurant in the just-opened Loden Vancouver hotel. I’m currently working on next week’s piece, which will preview this year’s Cornucopia gorge fest up in Whistler. It’s really one of my favourite events of the year, and I’m looking forward to a weekend full of the kind of debauchery that I’ll be hard pressed to remember the following week (hence the wisdom of writing about it before rather than after). I’ll be having dinners at Bearfoot and Araxi, plus a couple of killer lunches (one by Ned Bell of Kelowna’s Cabana), and attending some walk-in seminars. Crush and Bubbles will keep me in my cups, and the Four Seasons will help in the bed department. You can expect plenty of video and some wayward reporting once I return down the mountain.
That’s all for now.
It’s that time of year again. One of BC’s biggest wine festivals, Cornucopia, is just around the corner. This event is probably still best known for its late night parties and body painted models roaming the tastings, but there is some serious wine content too. We won’t talk about that here.
This year I am sitting on the panel for Battle of the Sexes – a blind taste off that pits male and female wine experts against eachother. It’s one of the most interactive and fun events I have come across at a wine festival anywhere, and I’m excited about participating.
The action heats up and the tasting gets serious as the two panels attempt to identify the blind wines while being cheered and jeered by the crowd. While not a complete gong show, it’s still a blast.
If you’re very lucky, you might get to see wine judge and educator David Scholefield dressed up as a granny.