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Alaska Food & Wine is a site for insider information about Alaska cuisine, restaurant reviews, chef news, recipes, and wine tips.

We’ll also share travel tips about Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, along with other destinations that may catch our fancy.

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There’s definitely something to be said for the warmth of a cozy, family-owned neighborhood restaurant. A place where you can find hearty portions of soulful comfort food, prepared with care by the owner and served by an attentive staff. Here in Anchorage, Little Italy Restaurante has been filling that role by crafting traditional – and a few non-traditional – Greek and Italian dishes for 30 years.

Warm tones and lighting at Little Italy

Warm tones and lighting  provide a comfortable setting at Little Italy

In a town like Anchorage, where restaurants breeze in and out like the blustery Chinook winds, family-owned Little Italy’s longevity speaks volumes about camaraderie and customer loyalty. Guests appreciate the care owner Spiros Gialopsos and his staff put into the ample plates of food – and also the attentiveness of the staff under the guidance of P.J. in the front of the house.

This is a place to go to enjoy the types of food that you might be too intimidated to try cooking at home. For me, that means diving into a large appetizer of spanakopita made with fresh sautéed spinach dotted with tangy feta, seasoned with herbs and onions, then Continue Reading »

I had the opportunity to dine at Le Cirque during a recent trip to Las Vegas. This New York City fine dining outpost is located in the lovely 5-star Bellagio Hotel and Resort, and is one of the cornerstones of the hotel’s dining experiences. My expectations for the restaurant were quite high, but both the floor staff and kitchen fully delivered with an amazing meal and a very memorable evening.

My recommendation is to definitely go with the Le Cirque dégustation menu rather than ordering a la carte, and certainly do opt for the lovely wine pairings. You will not be disappointed. Unlike some tasting menus, you will have an element of control in the selection of your dishes while still experiencing the full range of what the chef and his staff can create. The exemplary service from the wait staff and sommelier at Le Cirque is professional and attentive without feeling at all intrusive.

Amuse bouche - uni 'ice cream' with ginger-lemon grass gelee -- Le Cirque Restaurant

An amuse bouche of uni with caviar – Le Cirque

Although I ordered the snow crab as my starter, I was surprised when the waiter brought a lovely amuse bouche of uni with lemon grass gelée and a fennel puree. It was sublime, as was my actual starter of snow crab with turnip, apple, avocado and pomegranate.

Sautéed foie gras with pear confit – and a salty caramel sauce – did not disappoint. It was delicate and Continue Reading »

We were invited to watch six stellar Alaska chefs compete in the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s First Annual Great Alaska Seafood Cook Off held last evening. It was a fierce battle held amidst hoards of raucous seafood fans anxious to learn who will represent Alaska at the Great American Seafood Cook Off to be held in New Orleans in August.

Contenders for the coveted title included: chef Aaron Apling-Gilman (Seven Glaciers Restaurant); chef Kristi Skaflestad (Chipper Fish Restaurant, Hoonah); chef Christopher Vane (Crush Wine Bistro); chef Mary Helms (JBER); chef Gil Turturici  (The Chart Room, Kodiak); and chef Kevin Lane (Alaska Culinary Academy, Seward).

The winner: Troll caught while King Salmon pinwheel over a spinach cake, atop a polenta cake

If you’ve ever watched culinary competitions you know that typically the chefs are given a secret ingredient. This cook off had a different twist — contenders had to provide all of their own Alaskan seafood products and the ingredients required to create their recipe. There was no pantry to raid, no advance cooking allowed, and no prepped items could be used other than pre-washed greens or peeled vegetables. One hour was allotted for the chefs prepare, plate, and serve their signature entree to the panel of judges.

Speaking of judges, the room was lit with a panel of seafood luminaries including chef Christine Keff from the Flying Fish in Seattle, Continue Reading »

ORSO Restaurant has weekly specials based on the owner’s philosophy, “a great bottle of wine doesn’t need to cost more than a dinner.” Each week they offer one case of wine at an incredible value that won’t break the bank. But like any great promotion, there’s a catch: There’s only one case – 12 bottles – and it’s first come, first served.

This week’s the Case of the Week takes you to Tuscany, quite fitting given ORSO’s culinary influences from the region.

Ruffino Chianti Superiore
2007
$19.95
 

The Sangiovese notes are dominated by violets and ripe cherries which are well integrated with the spicy scents of vanilla and, lightly, of cloves. On the finish the fruity sensations become riper and reveal elegantly toasted sentors of plum jam. Tasting profile: Very smooth, yet fresh and lively. The mature tannins are sustained by the harmonious fruity structure, where alcohol and acidity reach an ideal balance. The long aftertaste leaves notes of mature cherries.

Recommended ORSO Menu Pairings:
Antipasto, Grilled Ribeye, Osso Buco, Alaskan Salmon, or ORSO’s Traditional Chicken Parmesan
 
Varietal:
75% Sangiovese and 25% other red varieties admitted by Chianti Superiore code production (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Canaiolo).
 
 
 
 
Please visit ORSO soon to claim your wine special!
 
Visitors to Anchorage often ask us to provide restaurant recommendations, so we’ve compiled a list of our top choices for local dining. While browsing the list you should keep in mind that it reflects some of our personal favorites and it is not intended to be an exhaustive compilation of eateries in the area. Our emphasis here is mainly on restaurants that serve dinner and have a nice wine selection.

Side Note for Travelers: Don’t be put off by a restaurant’s location. Some of Anchorage’s best eateries are tucked away in little strip malls around the city. It’s a quaint Alaskan custom. Get used to it.

You’ll find the  link for our Anchorage restaurant list on the tab at the top of this page, marked “Anchorage Dining.” We’re having (what we hope are) temporary technical difficulties with the WordPress site, as it currently isn’t accepting active links within this post.

Did we miss one of your favorite Anchorage spots? Please use the comment section below to let us know the name of the restaurant and why you think it should be listed.

Spring arrived 5 weeks ago and with it the spring fever that has been taking its toll on me the past few weeks. It’s not creating a frenetic push, rather it’s leading to a dreamy – almost delirious – state of plotting details for upcoming travels and planning opportunities to dine out at new restaurants.

Here in Alaska spring does not always translate to warmth, as temperatures easily drop into the 30s during the night. It’s nippy enough that a cracking fire helps take the chill out of the evening air. Before a leisurely dinner party, I find it’s nice to relax by the fireplace, chat with my friends, and nibble some appetizers before putting the finishing touches on our dinner. For a retro-twist, it’s fun to serve a classic cocktail to sip alongside with those appetizers.

 

Classic cocktails by the fire

Yes, I realize this site has the word “wine” in the name — but sometimes it’s interesting to shake things up a bit. Literally. Everyone should have at least one or two traditional shaken cocktail recipes in their repertoire. Here are three versions to file away for your next dinner party or “Mad Men” themed evening. Cheers!

Classic Vodka Martini (Adapted from The Spir.it)

Ingredients

2 ounces vodka (Skyy or Absolute)
1/2 ounces dry vermouth (Martini & Rossi or Noilly Prat) Continue Reading »

The best deal in Anchorage dining is the $39 3-course dinner at Simon & Seafort’s. This isn’t an ‘early-bird’ or tasting menu. Portions are full size and include some of Simon’s most popular dishes.
 
Start with their red king crab and artichoke dip, move on to rock salt roasted prime rib, finish with vanilla burnt cream — or enjoy your own combination from the selection of restaurant favorites. Simon’s special deal is available through March 31, so don’t miss out. Make your reservations today and take advantage of 4 star dining at 2 star prices.

Simon & Seafort's Restaurant March Trio Menu

Simon & Seafort’s March Trio (AKA “March Madness”) Menu: 

First Course

Oven Roasted Red King Crab and Artichoke Dip
Flash-Seared Teriyaki Tenderloins  Continue Reading »

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