Archive for the ‘Alaska’ Category

Lately it seems to be a rare event for me to eat out while I’m in my home city of Anchorage. These days, most of my dining seems to be done on planes or at mediocre airport hotels due to work and leisure travel that’s consumed me over the past two years. There will be more on the topic of travel to come in future posts, but for now let us focus on food.

Recently a friend and I had a wonderful dinner at Maxine’s Fireweed Bistro. We ended up sharing all of the dishes – with minimal bickering, I should point out – at least minimal bickering in regard to the food.

Our starter was tempura pork belly that was light and crunchy outside while bursting with juicy pork inside – all without a hint of grease.

Tempura Pork Belly Appetizer

Tempura pork belly appetizer

Both entrees were equally good in their own ways. The evening’s Bistro Steak was local elk loin seared medium rare, served with fiddlehead ferns and (more…)


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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 (more…)

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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, (more…)

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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

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
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!

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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.

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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  (more…)

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Last month I read a moving essay by Monica Bhide, published in Bon Appetit magazine, “Save Your Recipes, Before It’s Too Late.” In essence, it was the personal tale of how a poignant cookbook and a trip around the world taught a burned-out food writer the true meaning of cooking, eating, and family.

Burned out? In search of meaning? Yes, I can relate to those feelings.

The book providing inspiration to Ms. Bhide was “In Memory’s Kitchen,” a compilation of recipes written by women at the Terezín concentration camp in Czechoslovakia during the Third Reich. A very powerful book.

An excerpt: “These women were eating potato peels and scraps salvaged from garbage piles, but recording from memory recipes for chocolate tortes, roast goose, plum strudel, Bavarian bread … They scribbled their cooking instructions on the backs of propaganda papers passed out at the camp. Writing down their recipes gave these prisoners hope that perhaps someday life would return to normal, if not for them, then for their children or grandchildren …”

I am not a concentration camp survivor. Sure, I’ve weathered difficulties during my years. The life-changing stresses of (more…)

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