I'm sure most of you have heard about the farm-to-table craze where restaurants source their food predominantly from local suppliers. However, what if they did the reverse and brought the table-to-the-farm? That's what I was fortunate enough to experience with Araxi's Long Table Dinner in Pemberton. Held at North Arm Farm (which incidentally supplies Araxi as well) right smack dab in the middle of their scenic field with Mount Currie in the background, it was the perfect day to enjoy a meal prepared by Executive Chef James Walt and his Araxi team as well as guest chef from Quail's Gate, Roger Sleiman.
Upon entering the farm, we were greeted with a cocktail reception featuring Quails' Gate Estate Chenin Blanc 2013 and Pemberton Distillery Vodka Cocktail. Hor d'oeuvres included RR Ranch Beef Tartare with sweet peppers, Sundried Tomatoes with buffalo mozzarella and Dungeness crab & smoked salmon in egg crepe. After some picture-taking and enjoying the scenery, I was seated along with 149 other guests at the long table. The meal was to be served family style where we would share each course. Well, they didn't skimp on the portion size as the platters were humungous. Our first course consisted of North Arm Farm Squash Blossoms stuffed with Saltspring Island Moonstruck cow's milk cheese, chanterelle mushrooms, tomatoes, green beans and sweet corn. These were large, almost overstuffed blossoms which were crispy and light. The thin layer of bread crumbs gave way to a mild-tasting cheese with a slight sharpness. However, the real star of the plate was the super-fresh sweet corn that was a pleasure to eat texturally with a juicy pop.
Majestically plated, the Hot Smoked Haida Gwaii Chinook Salmon was outstanding. With a light grill on the outside, the flesh was appealingly rare where it was buttery soft while still flaky. There was a light smoke with a touch of salt and fennel seed that didn't overwhelm the natural sweetness of the fish. Underneath lay a mix of toasted farro, fava beans, North Arm Summer squash, O'Neil farm fresh apricots and pumpkin seeds which was a study in textures accented by a touch of acidity. On top, the dish was finished with fennel and watercress that added both brightness and aromatics. Next up was the Duo of Rangelands Buffalo featuring a roasted fillet and orange, coriander and fresh herb sausage. Served on the side was North Arm baby carrots, chimichurri and demi. Despite the leanness of the buffalo fillet, it was perfectly rare where it was succulent with a firm and smoky bark. The sausage was meaty and lean with pepper, fennel and coriander notes finishing off with the sweetness of orange. I found the chimichurri to be interestingly creamy with garlicky and herbaceous notes finishing with a tang. The demi was silky and rich with a definite red wine hit.
Moving onto dessert, we were spoiled with not one, but 2 plates of sweets. The first consisted of North Arm blueberries and raspberries with Lemon Tart and Valrhona Mousse Cake. Light and almost fluffy, the creamy lemon tart was purposefully sweet with only a mild tartness. The minimal crust was buttery and firm which was a nice accent. As for the mousse cake, there was layers of texture which included creamy, crunchy and fluffy. There was a strong chocolate presence (of course, since it was Valrhona) that was not overly sweet nor bitter. The dessert finished off smooth with the aroma of coffee. On the next plate, there was a selection of Macarons, Pâte de Fruits and Caramels. I was able to sample the coconut macaron and it was sweet and aromatic from the toasted coconut. The exterior was nicely crisp that revealed a chewy, yet soft inside. A wonderful end to a unique experience. Now, it is quite obvious I thoroughly enjoyed my meal that was held in a truly Supernatural BC setting. Now at $175.00 pp including cocktail reception, four-course menu, wine pairings, tax and gratuity, it definitely isn't cheap. But considering the quality and quantity of the food all served in a one-of-a-kind dining space, it doesn't seem so outrageous after all.
*All food, beverages and gratuities were comped*
- The beautiful table set in a field with nature as its backdrop (need I say more?)
- Masterfully executed dining experience
- Not only quality, but quantity
- As much as I think it is worth it, it is still $175.00 pp
- Mother nature may not play nice, but it did play nice this time