So many senses are stimulated when a group of people gathers to eat dinner outdoors at a long table. Imagine if you will the contrast of fresh-pressed white table linen against brilliant green grass underfoot and a bright blue sky above. Warm yellow summer sunlight finishes off the look while the smell of grilled Okanagan beef lingers in the air to compliment the taste of a glass of wine from Quails' Gate.
Food lovers in Whistler and Pemberton will get these sensory thrills next month.
Plans to hold an Araxi Long table event at Prospect Point didn't quite work out for this summer but chef James Walt says the plan is to share the long table experience presented by Araxi Restaurant and Bar next summer in Stanley Park.
Whistler's famed Longtable Series will take over a patch of grass at Whistler's Lost Lake on Aug. 3.
Walt is working with Rootdown, North Arm Farm, Moonstruck Cheese, Hollie Wood Oysters, Double R Ranch in the Okanagan and Pemberton Distillery along with other suppliers to put together dinner for 300.
He's calling the Lost Lake menu an Okanagan course because he's working with his friend, chef Roger Sleeman, at Quail's Gate Winery.
"We're going to bring some Okanagan lamb and some of the products he uses there for the meat course," says Walt during an interview on what is supposed to be a day off.
The North Arm Farm event on Aug. 17 will focus on Pemberton Meadows Beef. Le Vieux Pin and LaStella will provide the wine for the Pemberton event. According to Walt, award-winning sommelier Samantha Rahn will help pair the wines and the food.
Now that Walt and his team have done a few of these dinners they're ready to experiment.
"We're becoming...I don't want to say old hands, but we kind of have become comfortable, so we're starting to push the envelope a little bit," Walt says. "We've got a lot of frozen desserts and we're going to make our own, what I call, gourmet popsicles. We're going to have a lot of fun with it."
The logistics of how to do an outdoor event, says Walt, have been ironed out.
The threat of showers adds a complicating element but Walt says tents will be on standby in case of rain. Those standby tents have never been needed.
"We came close at North Arm one year to using them," Walt remembers. "It was June 30 and we got a little tinkle of rain just after the event."
He explains that it really started coming down just as people were preparing to leave.
"I haven't seen a summer like this," says Walt. "It is crazy how great the weather has been."
If the weather does present the opportunity of eating in the rain a new set of sensory delights will flood in. There's that fresh air smell as the rain chases dry, hot air filled with particulates up and away along with the cool, wet sensation underfoot on moist grass.
Whatever Mother Nature brings, the long table experience will excite the senses.