In summer, the Olympic ski venue, Whistler, B.C., can be seen as a sort of Disneyland for mountain bike enthusiasts: very clean, very well organized (this is Canada, after all), surrounded by spectacularly beautiful mountains. But it's also a year-round heaven for foodies, thanks to the lush Pemberton Valley half an hour to the north, and relatively easy access to the icy waters of the Georgia Straight, less than 100 miles away.
Nearly 30 years ago, when Whistler was known primarily to ski bums, a restaurateur named Jack Evrensel set up a small dinner house in the village at the base of the ski lift, and named it for his wife, Araxi. From those modest beginnings evolved a prestigious group of restaurants collectively known as Top Table; the others are in Vancouver, but Araxi remains the shining light, named Whistler's best restaurant ten times by Vancouver magazine.
Executive chef these days is James Walt, who once cooked at the Canadian Embassy in Rome, now firmly committed to these mountains. He ran the kitchen at "Outstanding in the Field" earlier this month at North Arm Farm, and came up with a stunning sweet corn soup, garnished with local shellfish, for a delegation of travel writers invited to dine at Araxi the night before the farm dinner. The corn, naturally sweet and creamy, made for a fragrant soup base, enhanced by the mineral notes and soft textures of fresh shellfish. It's hard to recall as simple and tasty a dish in Seattle.
For those who would like to try their hand at the soup, you can read the restaurant's recipe over on my blog, Cornichon. You can make this at home, trust me.