August 31, 2009
August 28, 2009
Because of my continuing obsession with sourdough bread, Kristina took me to the local bakery, The Bake Shop. As we arrived, so did a busload of tourists: The Shop seems to be the go-to breakfast stop for locals and tourists alike. I purchased a loaf of sourdough bread, which was surprisingly mild and delicious. Sourdough is associated with gold mining regions, like Alaska and San Francisco, because the miners could make it without taking a "sponge," or yeast culture, with them. It could be created from yeast spores in the air.
Kristina gifted me with a bag of locally-made sourdough starter, which gets going after you add a can of beer. I'm excited to try it, but I still want to try to create a starter from air-borne yeast.
I also had "Sweet Roll with a Side of Butter," also made of sourdough, and also delicious. It had cinnamon and almonds, but also mysterious notes of brandy and anise. I had two over the extent of my stay.
Kristina, who was a vegetarian when I knew her in college, took me on a shopping trip to Indian Valley Meats. Another local vendor, they specialize in breaking down and preparing carcasses for local hunters, and sell a variety of locally raised game meats. Kristina selected and prepared a menagerie of local animals for me to ingest:
Clockwise, from left to right: Moose, Buffalo, Caribou, Elk, and Reindeer. Caribou and Reindeer are actually the same thing, the latter being wild and the former being farmed.
I also ate wild boar jerky, which was covered in some sort of garlic glaze I wasn't too keen on, and salmon that Chris had pulled from the river days earlier. This fish was delicious--and I hate fish.
In my second week, while on our way to Denali National Park, I finally acquired the object of my true desire: The Mc Kinley Mac. I had seen a poster for it as soon as I stepped off the plane, and had fantasized about it since. The Number 12 on the menu, this double-stacked McKinley Mac is only available in this state. Which is ok, because as I excited as I was to sample it, it just turned out to be a big gross burger.
On the way back from Denali, we stopped at a Burger King in Wasilla. The BK menu included a Sourdough Whopper, but after a week in the wild, I wasn't in the mood to take a risk.
Lastly, I made up a batch of Spruce Tea, after harvesting a few limbs from Alaska's State Tree. It did not just taste like pine needles, but had a richer, spiced flavour. The batch I brewed was fairly weak, and I wanted to make a proper pot of tea when I returned to New York, but I forgot my bag branches in Girdwood. Perhaps Kristina will be kind enough to ship a few stateside--I'm curious to pass some along to my beer brewing friends, so they can make an authentic Spruce Beer.
At every restaurant we went to (three in the small town of Girdwood alone) the food was excellent, something I definitely didn't expect when coming to Alaska. Additionally, there were very few chain restaurants; the ones that were there hadn't even popped up until the last decade. Alaska's relative isolation seems to have resulted in a bevy of independently owned restaurants with excellent food.
If you're interested in my non-culinary Alaskan adventures, you should look at my photos here.
August 21, 2009
"When they looked into the building they wanted to use at 826 Valencia Street, the landlord was open to the idea of a tutoring center, but he told Dave that the address was zoned for retail. They had no choice, the landlord said: at the front of the building, they had to sell something. (TheDieline.com)"
"To raise funds, inspire creativity, and advertise our programs to the local community, most of our centers include a street-front retail store filled with unusual products, entertaining signage, and, of course, our books for sale. San Francisco’s pirate supply store sells glass eyes and one-of-a-kind peglegs, 826NYC’s Superhero Supply Company offers custom-fit capes, Seattle’s Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company sells all your space commuting appurtenances, 826michigan's Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair Shop specializes in must-have mechanical conveniences, while 826LA features a time travel store, there's a secret agent supply store in Chicago, and the Cryptozoology shop in Boston is now open! (826 National)"
August 19, 2009
Another wonderful collection of images thanks to Betty Crocker. "Hawaiian Sunset Supper," from Betty Crocker's Party Book: More than 500 recipes, menus, and how-to-do-it tips for festive occasions the year 'round, 1960. I'm pretty sure this is the ancestor of Amy Sedaris' I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence.
August 17, 2009
August 14, 2009
New York chefs have been going ga-ga about a new type of upscale pork, that is actually from a very old breed: The Ossabaw.
"The Ossabaw breed is descended from some of the 700 animals left along the Southeast coast by Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto in 1539. The idea was that the hogs would give future colonists a ready supply of meat.The swine left behind were Ibericos, which Spaniards let graze on acorns and then cured into their famous Jámon Iberico, a flavorful pink ham with droplets of fat that makes pork lovers swoon...Although many of the Ibericos in America eventually died out or assimilated with dominant barnyard breeds over the years, some Ibericos remained genetically pure. These are the Ossabaws, whose name comes from the remote Georgia barrier island where the breed thrived in the wild for centuries. (The News and Observer: High on this Hog)"
"Only a few Mennonite farmers agreed to industry-defying lunacy: raising these pigs in the open, and finishing them on acorns, beech and hickory nuts. The six-week autumn feast lays on an incredible layer of burnished yellow, nutty-tasting fat. At 250 to 300 pounds each, 40 Ossabaws are slaughtered each autumn, and the parts sent off to people ready to accord them due reverence.
The back fat was doled out to a who’s who of four-star and locally focused enclaves. Everyone from Craft and Craftsteak, Aureole, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Gramercy Tavern,Café Boulud, and Four Seasons, to Savoy, A Voce, Tao, Tabla, Morandi and Commerce got their slab. Salumeria Biellese takes the bellies for pancetta, the front legs for coppa(thanks, shoulders) and the trim for cured salami including sopressata and cacciatorini. (Time Our New York: Ossabaw Pig Legs Ready for the Eatin')"
August 12, 2009
August 10, 2009
I took two large, very ripe peaches, and smushed them up good, skins and all , with the bottom of a rocks glass. I spooned them into a mason jar, and then filled the jar with brandy to the top. I mixed it around a little bit to ensure a happy marriage of brandy and peach. Thomas recommends letting the mixture macerate for 24 hours, which means in the future this mixture could be made on relatively short notice. However, I'm going to Alaska tomorrow morning for two weeks. How could letting it sit a little longer possibly hurt? It could only improve the flavor, right??
August 7, 2009
Come join us for a full night of nineteenth-century debauchery at several of New York City's oldest bars and most notorious dens of vice.
We will meet promptly at 5 PM in front of the Merchant's House Museum (29 East 4th Street). Our evening will commence at Swift, then proceed to Death & Company; McSorely's Old Ale House; Pete's Tavern; Old Town Bar; Keen's Steakhouse; and, should we still possess the fortitude and sobriety, P.J. Clarke's.