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Archive for February, 2011

If you missed our Oscar’s evening buffet, you missed a chance to sample these juicy – but dainty – pork tenderloin sandwiches, each draped provocatively in feta aioli. But unlike the luxurious Oscar gowns adorning the red carpet, these luxe little creations can easily be replicated in the privacy of your own home.

As with all prime time events, advance planning is necessary and preparation of this dish should begin a day in advance. Don’t fret — the steps are easy and time itself will do most of the advance work for you. Scents of garlic and oregano will perfume the air while the marinade is prepared, aromas that – at least for some of us – are far more alluring than the most expensive Oscar-worthy perfumes.

Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Feta Aioli (From: Alaska Food & Wine)

Greek Inspired Pork Tenderloin Sliders

INGREDIENTS:

For the Pork Tenderloin:
3 lbs pork tenderloin
1/2 cup olive oil, plus additional for sautéing
2 cloves garlic, finely minced (more…)

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It’s a chilly afternoon and this listless lady’s thoughts are turning to – of all things – cake. But not just any cake — I’m craving a luscious little bacon cheesecake from the Alaska Cake Studio. Yes, a cake of my very own. That is just what I need to cheer me up on this cold, windy winter day.

Bacon Cheesecake from Alaska Cake Studio

Alaska Cake Studio is a delicious spot to make a stop no matter the season or weather. During one of my Cake Studio visits the individual dessert items on display included a Madagascar Vanilla Mousse, my favorite Bacon Cheesecake, and a Mojito Truffle dessert. Cupcakes at the Alaska Cake Studio are offered in two flavors per day, and rotate on both a daily and monthly basis. Red Velvet, S’mores, and Strawberry Champagne cupcakes are popular with both visitors and locals alike.

Owner Will McDonald and his staff at Alaska Cake Studio have been bringing sweetness and light to Downtown Anchorage and 4th Avenue since December 2009. But why locate the shop on 4th Avenue, an area of town that has foot traffic but little in the way of parking? As it turns out, a storefront was just what he was looking for, as McDonald revealed during our conversation.

“You get people with the smell, the scent of baking,” he confided. “I wanted to bring something to Anchorage that we didn’t have … a shop with a warm, comforting feel where people can browse, sample pastries and cakes, or purchase specialty items.”

He’s quick to add, “It’s all about the cake. I believe the cake should stand alone — frosting is just an accessory.”

The warm and very inviting interior of the Alaska Cake Studio

There are many delectables available in addition to cakes made on the premises. You’ll also find a wide selection of gourmet sugars and pearls for decorating your own confections; specialty sugars such as Demerara, (more…)

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Lavelle’s Bistro is pleased to present guest Chef Mimi Houston on Sunday, February 27th for a spectacular night of French fusion cuisine.

Chef Houston’s culinary aspirations took her to New York for training at the French Culinary Institute. While working under celebrated chefs such as Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto and Master Chef & Chocolatier Jacques Torres, Mimi further refined her signature style of Mediterranean and Southeast Asian Cuisine while incorporating strong, clean French flavors. 

Mimi’s love for cooking and food began as a young girl growing up in Vietnam. Between helping with the family dessert cart business and following her mother around the kitchen she developed a passion for cooking and (more…)

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Views from Seven Glaciers Restaurant are superb, as is the cuisine, so when you add fantastic wines from Kenwood Vineyards the result is a trifecta that is certain to create a memorable evening.

Seven Glaciers is the premiere restaurant at the Alyeska Resort, located just south of Anchorage in the skiing mecca of Girdwood. A tram whisks diners to the top of the mountain where a well known restaurant myth is shattered — here the quality of the dining experience is NOT inversely proportional to the view.

The next Seven Glaciers wine dinner will be held February 27, 2011. It features Kenwood Vineyards along with their fantastic Jack London collection, with wines paired with a special tasting menu prepared by Seven Glaciers Executive Chef Jason Porter.

Kenwood Vineyards creates wines from the very best vineyards in Sonoma County and they are also the exclusive producer of wines from the lava-terraced vineyards of the historic Jack London Ranch. Award-winning wines from these vineyards, first planted in the late 1800’s, have a unique character. It is quite fitting that Jack London’s wolf head bookplate logo graces the label of these fine wines — and these wines will be perfect for a wine dinner in Alaska.

 

KENWOOD VINEYARDS WINE DINNER MENU
February 27, 2011, 7:00 PM

Crab Cake
Lime Cream, Cilantro Pesto
Valley of the Moon, Pinot Blanc, 2009 (more…)

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I had a disconcerting experience last evening while dining at a restaurant Outside of Alaska. The restaurant is considered by many to be a nice Italian spot located in a resort hotel that caters to conventions and meetings. What could go wrong, I wondered?

After placing my beverage order the server brought over a basket of hard rolls which were loosely wrapped in a cloth napkin, along with a dish of olive oil containing whole cloves of garlic and bits of tomato. When I unwrapped the basket’s napkin I was shocked to see a partially filled nest, a number of bread crumbs, and – wait for it – a roll that had already been torn in half.

Now it’s common knowledge (but a quiet secret) that some establishments actually do recycle unused bread. Bread is a loss leader, so some restaurants are beginning to charge for bread service in order to cut down on waste. I certainly cannot condone the practice of reusing food that has previously been placed on another diner’s table, yet I understand the temptation do to so in order to cut costs. But, in my opinion, it is sheer audacity to bring a partially used bread basket to a guest’s table.

For heaven’s sake, if you are going to perpetrate the con, at least go to the trouble  of carrying the basket to the kitchen, toss the crumbs and partial pieces, and place the bread in a fresh napkin! At least attempt to be covert about the practice.

I pointed out the egregious error to two wait staff, both of whom seemed nonplussed. A “fresh” basket of bread was brought to my table — but by then I had serious reservations about using the dish of garlic clove studded olive oil, instead opting for fresh olive oil poured from a carafe. Was there any apology offered? No. Was there any restitution, such as an offer of dessert or a glass of wine to help compensate for the event? Again, the answer is no. Such is the fate of guests who, typically by default, have to dine in hotel restaurants.

Have you had a similar experience with bread service or another portion of your meal? If so, please log in and share your restaurant horror stories in the comment section below.

(Photo courtesy of the "Bake Me" WordPress Blog)

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Events | Indigo Tea Lounge

I find there is something seductive about little tea sandwiches. Dainty and elegant, crustless, and often with improbable fillings, they seem rather out of place here in the rugged Last Frontier. Perhaps that’s why they are so attractive to me — they speak to a sense of refinement, providing a brief bit of respite from the chaos of everyday life.

Is it even possible to feel harried while nibbling a triangle of cucumber, dill, and crème fraiche on soft white bread, sipping tea with two lumps and a spot of lemon? I think not.

An escape for a spot of high tea used to require a flight to Seattle or Vancouver, but times have changed.  Indigo Tea Lounge in Anchorage now provides a bit of respite for bustling downtown shoppers and anyone else who wants to experience a bit of refined tea culture.

This week Indigo Tea Lounge is featuring a romantic tea service that will be perfect for a bit of afternoon delight. Fresh baked scones (with Devonshire cream, I hope), assorted sweets, lovely tea sandwiches, and pots of tea will combine to sooth your spirit. Drop by and relax.

High Tea at the Indigo Tea Lounge

Indigo Tea Lounge
“A New Take on Old Traditions”
221 E. 5th Ave
Anchorage, AK, 99501
(907) 222-1619

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Snowy winter weather calls for comfort food, and at the top of my list are roasts and slow-braised dishes. If you live in Alaska, where we only half joke that it’s winter 7 months out of the year, then you can never have too many savory comfort recipes in your repertoire!

Jeff Johnson from the HomeGrown Market in Fairbanks mentioned that his special today was beef short ribs. His special prompted me to recall a dish I prepared last fall, a meltingly tender version of braised short ribs. It was yummy during those chilly autumn days — and it will be even better when staving off the biting cold of a wintry Anchorage evening.

In my kitchen right now, beef short ribs are braising in a savory broth with red wine, diced tomatoes, onion, and garlic. The house is filled with the wonderful aroma of this slow-cooking delight that is surely going to warm up this otherwise dreary winter day.

There’s fresh bread from the Fire Island Rustic Bakery standing by for duty. Beside it is a spicy Australian shiraz, the D’Arenberg Stump Jump, that I think will be a fine match for the rich beef. (See the Frozen Grape’s “Wine of the Week”  blog post.)  Salute!

Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients:

4 1/2 to 5 pounds of meaty beef short ribs
2 1/2 Tbs canola oil
Coarse kosher salt
Black pepper
3/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup beef stock
14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (sorry, but during winter good, fresh tomatoes are difficult to obtain)
2 Tbs fresh basil (or substitute 2 tsp dried)
2 bay leaves

Crusty French bread or baguette for serving

Red wine braised Beef Short Ribs

Preparation:

1) Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Pat the beef ribs dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Divide ribs into 2 or 3 batches. (more…)

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