Friday, January 30, 2009

Now there's something you don't eat every day...

Duck eggs have recently entered our lives! A friend of Mr. EA's from work and his wife (the friend's, not Mr EA's) have started keeping ducks and selling the eggs. So far we have scrambled them, hard-boiled them, and made creme brulee - all have worked out fine. They are a bit more viscous, and the yolks are much bigger than chicken eggs, but otherwise they are not as exotic as I would have thought. They taste a little richer than chicken eggs, but otherwise much the same.
I don't know if they are planning to market them commercially, as they are still getting the enterprise up and running. But if they are, I'll let you know!


Acting on a tip from alert reader Feathers (thanks Feathers!) Mr EA and I recently took a detour from some business in midtown to try out Mort's Frozen Custard in the Shell station at Northern Lights and Minnesota. And we're glad we did!
They have a truly stupendous array of sundaes, frozen custard by the slice, cones, and concretes, which the girl behind the counter said were like blizzards. The variety of options was astounding, so much so that we stood there for possibly 5 minutes, unable at first to decide. Seriously, there are 13 kinds of sundae. The list of toppings is as follows: butterscotch, marshmallo, raspberries, strawberry, cherry, bananas, peaches, pineapple, Oreo's, Heath Bar, Graham Cracker, Butterfinger, M&Ms, Snickers, brownies, cookie dough, chocolate chips, sprinkles, Reese's Pieces, Andes Cream de Mint, Gummy Worms, Hot Fudge, Hot Caramel Fudge, Pistachios, Walnuts, cashew, peanuts, almonds, Pecans. Whew!
Finally we decided and each got a small sundae. I got Northern Lights, which is vanilla custard, with Raspberry and chocolate sauces and chopped nuts, and of course whipped cream and a cherry. Mr EA got a Midnight Sun which vanilla custard with butterscotch sauce, whipped cream and a cherry. Both were delicious. The custard is rich with a silky mouthfeel. The topping sauces all had strong flavors. My raspberry sauce had actual seeds in it! Good stuff. Basically, we would say it is on par with Coldstone creamery, only much more reasonably priced. In fact, it is probably better than Coldstone creamery.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The New Cauldron

Situated in the University Center on Old Seward Highway, the New Cauldron is a casual eatery leaning toward the Italian end of things, but featuring standard sandwiches and soups as well. My friends and I have ordered lunch delivery to work from then a couple of times, and been at the restaurant in person once, and it's all been good!
They do deliver, but if you call close to lunchtime, expect a certain level of charming confusion on the other end of the line. But be patient and fear not! It will get there, and it will be tasty. I have had an array of sandwiches, and soup once, and again, everything has been good. When we went to the restaurant, I even placed a sort-of-special order, and they got it exactly right with no problem. The specialness was to ask for the bacon on my BLT extra-crispy, and it came out shatteringly crisp but not burned. That's unusual enough for it to be notable. It's generally either flooby and see-through raw or black and carbonized. Bleah! Bacon is one of life's great pleasures, but one of life's great disappointments when it goes wrong. (Yes, I know. This is a first world problem.) My friend's soup and sandwich were also good, and she enjoyed them, though they filled her up. This brings me to another good point of The New Cauldron - the portions are ample, but not stupidly huge. The restaurant itself is a nice place, done up in warm tones of orange and red, but not fussy. Also, some of their tables look out on the majestic view of the mall below (it is on the second floor), which is kind of nice. Is it a palace of gourmet ecstasy? No. But you know, not everything has to be. If it was, most of us would get nothing done, and we would be hugely fat. What it is though, is a nice place which will feed you good food that will leave you satisfied to your core in the way that a good solid lunch will. Go there, you won't be sorry!
No information on the status of the Old Cauldron.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Local Food or Tourist Food?

So hard for me to tell the difference!

One of the first things I saw in the Anchorage airport -other than a row of mounted animal heads, but that is another story - was an array of unusual syrups and jams in the airport convenience/souvenir shop. The shelves contained syrup made from birch and something called fireweed, and jams and jellies made from things like salmonberries and lingonberries. I know what those things are now, but at the time, it gave me serious pause.

Since that day, I have only seen these products at touristy places - the downtown weekend market, the souvenir aisles at Fred Meyer's, and tourist shops downtown. I have tasted some of them. I like birch syrup, and like the salmonberry jelly's tanginess. However, I have yet to work my way through most of it.

Why? I kind of wonder, mostly because of where I find it - do actual people from here eat these things, or is it specialty stuff put on for the tourists? I mean, I know it's edible. But the fact that I never see them out on regular store shelves makes me wonder. Now, on the one hand, I do know it is difficult for small producers to get space on retail shelves - there is a lot of competition for that space. On the other hand, I know a lot of long-time residents do go to the downtown market. So it's hard for me to tell. Also, it doesn't really matter in terms of tastiness - things are or aren't good based on your own tastes regardless of who else likes them - or at least they should be. But still, I am curious.

So if you are longtime Alaskan, do you use birch syrup? Do you really each salmonberry jam on your toast? Is it available someplace outside tourist dens and I've just missed it? I welcome your comments!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A recipe!

On a food blog? What will happen on this crazy interwebs next!

I don't really like to do recipes too much as there are plenty of places on the net for recipes. However, this is a kind of unusual one. It is a Pennsylvania Dutch dessert, my favorite, which I always used to request for my birthday. This year, as my Mom is in Hawaii, I made it for myself. I have not seen it anywhere else on the net, and not many people make it in Pennsylvania any more either. Here it goes:

Funny Cake

2 pie crusts - deep dish, 9" The pie crusts can be your favorite recipe, or can be purchased ones - if frozen, thaw them before use.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
This recipe makes two cakes. You could cut it in half and make just one, but why would you? Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix the batter via the creaming method - mix the shortening and sugar, then add the eggs. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Alternate adding the milk and dry mixture until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla and mix thoroughly. Divide the batter between the two pie crusts. Yes, put the cake batter in the pie crusts. Next, mix all the syrup ingredients until the cocoa is all moistened and everything is well blended. Again, dividing the mixture between the two cakes, pour the syrup over the batter. Put the cakes in the oven and bake until done, which should take roughly 50 minutes. As the cakes bake, the syrup will sink through the batter and wind up as a layer between the cake and the pie crust. There will be a very light chocolatey crust on top and some light swirls of chocolate through the cake. It is unusual and delicious - as the Dutchies say "Get to know what good is!"

Glacier BrewHouse

I got to the Glacier BrewHouse twice this past week - it was my birthday on Monday and I insist everyone make a fuss. Therefore Mr EA took me there for lunch on Saturday, and my kind coworkers (of earlier post fame) took me there for lunch on Monday. Both times my meal was delicious!
Located downtown on 5th street, the BrewHouse is a warm, relaxed spot with a wood-oriented decor and a big central fireplace adding to the atmosphere. The tables by the fire are the most coveted - we got one for Monday's lunch and it was pretty neat! On my first visit I got a cheesesteak sandwich with au jus and fries and Mr EA got fish and chips. My sandwich, while not an "authentic" Philly style steak sandwich, was really tasty. The meat was really beefy and tender, the mushrooms and cheese went with it perfectly, and the roll was crusty and . The fries could be a little crispier, but they were sprinkled with what tasted like parmesan cheese. The real standout, though, was the jus. It was perfect - rich, beefy, and just tasty as all getout. By the end of the meal we were dipping everything in it, my sandwich, pickle chips, fries, it makes everything better.
On Monday's lunch, I got a small Mediterranean pizza, which was also great. It had tomato, olives, artichoke, pesto, and the rest of the typical toppings for this style of 'za. It was delicious, and was more than I can eat at one sitting. It was great for Tuesday's lunch, too!
If you are looking for a great casual restaurant, a hair nicer than a bar and grill, but not quite a fine dining spot, then the Glacier BrewHouse is a great choice.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Some Revisits

Not all that much exciting or new, just some revists to old favorites and some updates on earlier posts.
Modern Dweller's Chocolate Lounge - went back yesterday and had yet a third kind of drinking chocolate! This time it was Silky Dark, which was rich and delicious, as you might expect if you are a dark chocolate lover. I thought it was a bit less nuanced that the other flavors, but it is still incredibly good! We also bought a sample box of four truffles. They are not cheap, but they are worth the cost if -again-you like chocolate. What makes their confections worth the price is that they make somewhat unusual items. One of their truffles has a blueberry ganache and is garnished with a tiny dried anchovy. It sounds gross, yet I am compelled to try it at some point. I trust them that much! But not just yet. So far we have shared a Pistachio Passion yesterday and today's was Purple Infusion. I am quoting from their description now - "Lemon zest white ganache enrobed in a dark chocolate shell. Topped with salted pistachio nuts" is of course the pistachio one. Purple Infusion is "smooth, fragrant lavendar ganache encased in layers of delightful dark chocolate. Garnished with petals of lavendar." They are every bit as rich and delicious as they sound! Still in the box are Margarita Zing and Blueberry Patch. I'll let you know. The lounge itself has a great, arty atmosphere, it smells wonderful, and they have incredible chocolate. It doesn't get much better than this.
Raven's Brew coffee - We took the plunge and bought a few more bags of Raven's Brew coffees. Dead Man's Reach, which we bought about a month ago, is still our favorite, but it is really a matter of degrees. So far we have also tried Billy Goat (that is not the full name, but this is a family website. Check their site if you are curious), Wicked Wolf, and Killer Brew. All three are smooth and rich, no acid edge to any of them. The only (minor) drawback is the price, but we are keeping them for weekend morning coffees, when we have time to really enjoy them. The price is not unreasonable, mind you, it's just a little high for everyday use for us.
Village Inn - went back in for brunch this morning. Spurred on by a recent ADN article extolling hollandaise sauce, we needed something rich and decadent for breakfast this morning. We each got one of their famous skillets. We each left food on our plates, but that is more a function of the meal's quantity, not their quality. Village Inn, we salute you, though our arteries are paying the price.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mexico in Alaska

Last night Mr EA and I went out to Mexico in Alaska. I had been hearing about it from a coworker for a while, and we tried to visit over the Christmas weekend but found that they were closed for the holidays. Anyway, we finally got to eat there last night, and had a great meal.
The restaurant bills itself as the only authentic Mexican restaurant in Alaska, and I believe it. Although Taco King comes close, it has a more limited menu and a more fast-food sensibility. I should also point out that if you are looking for a Fiesta themed sports bar, this is not your place. Go to Gallo's instead-they have big screen TVs and not much else going for them. However, if you want a charming restaurant with absolutely delicious food, Mexico in Alaska is where you want to go.
Mr EA and I each had Combo plates, mostly because so many things looked interesting and we just couldn't decide. The phrase "combo plate", which signifies mediocrity at lesser restaurants, is elevated here to a sampling of surprisingly delicious food.
The combo plates came with the standards - salad, rice and refried beans. None of these standard items were like the tarted-up fast food versions - everything had the taste of expertly house-made food. The salad was composed of fresh greens with cilantro and a slice of buttery avocado. The beans were the most pleasant surprise - they had a very slightly vinegary flavor and a wonderful texture, not mushy and tinny like they unfortunately often are. My tamale was good as well, with a savory cornmeal dough around a nicely spiced meat filling. My burrito, which I got soft rather than deep-fried, was also good. The filling was tasty, but what really sent it over the top was the tortilla. The fresh house-made tortillas at Mexico in Alaska are one of it's glories. If you've never had a fresh tortilla, that will probably sound like an exaggeration, but I assure you, it's not. They are a bit chewier and more flavorful than mass-produced tortilla. The combination of texture and taste make them irresistable. Mr EA had a quesadilla, which was delicious - tangy cheese and sharp onion in another one of those fresh tortilla. The other item on his plate was a beef enchilada, which came with a good serving of their special mole sauce. That was all delicious too. Flavorful, tender beef and rich sauce made this another outstanding dish.
We were thinking about sharing an order of flan, but were extremely full by the time we finished that. I consoled myself with a cup of Mexican hot chocolate, which is rich and flavored with cinnamon and possibly a little cardamom, although I wouldn't swear to the cardamom.
The menu has many intriguing options, and we look forward to working our way through it!

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Anchor

This past weekend Mr EA and I were on a short jaunt through downtown, and planned to revisit the Teriyaki Box, which we had previously visited and liked rather a lot. However, as we wandered down 4th Ave, a sign for The Anchor caught our attention. It listed a few appetizers, including a baked Brie with some other stuff. We LOVE Brie, especially baked.
Well, this knocked our previous plans right out of our minds, and we're glad it did!
We got there a bit late for lunch, around 1:30, and had the place pretty much to ourselves. Outside, the place affects a sort of ship-style theme that doesn't much carry through inside. It is part of the block surrounding the Captain Cook hotel, around which there is a sort of generally nautical zone. This may well be planned, but it's kind of odd, since most of the places don't really go with the theme in any organized way - it's just sort of there. The decor inside is like a warehouse with a few tiki and sportsbar touches here and there, and a nicely appointed bar. Which, to be fair, has a big brass diver's helmet on it. Seating arrangements consist of big semicircular booths with movable tables in the middle that look kind of like a plusher arrangement of a carnival ride.
Anyway, we ordered the Brie and another appetizer - mini gyros, which were kind of like little lamb burger sliders. The Brie came out bubbling hot, with roasted garlic, pesto and pine nuts on it and bread for spreading it all on. The flavors mingled well, with the earthy garlic cutting the rich cheese and pesto. All in all, an outstanding dish! The gyros were three to the plate and were garnished with sharp greens and a yogurt sauce that tasted like it had blue cheese involved somewhere. Split between the two of us, these two appetizers made a satisfying and delicious lunch.
So our recommendation, if you are downtown and would like to try out some unusual and tasty appetizers, is to try the Anchor. You won't be sorry!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Bombay Deluxe

Guess the cuisine!

This past week we headed into midtown for an Indian food treat. Bombay Deluxe is located in a strip mall (Valhalla Center, near REI and Title Wave). But like so many modest looking restaurants here, it has absolutely great food.
Their lunch buffet has a great variety of foods and has options that will please both vegetarians and carnivores. The day we were there, a variety of different regional cooking styles were represented, as well as some staples - naan, rice, raita, sauces and pickles. Some of the dishes included chicken tandoor, vegetable korma, potato and eggplant curry, and much more. (I didn't think to write down everything they had - I was way too busy eating and saying "mmmmmm") Everything we had was delicious - between the two of us we sampled a little bit of everything on offer, and we cleaned our plates. And I mean cleaned them; we used our naan to mop up all the sauces. Everything was well cooked and expertly seasoned. Each dish had a depth of flavor with a lot of subtle layers, none of which were overwhelming. We also had Indian spiced tea, which was warming and delicious. {Mr EA comment - make sure to order the tea!}
The decor is nice - a layer of Indian stuff, some hoky and some authentic looking - overlaying your standard strip-mall interior, so I liked it a lot. The service is pleasant, and they have cosy booths that make the seating nicely private. Their dinner menu is quite extensive, and we are looking forward to going back to sample some more of their delicious fare. Normally lunch buffets are much inferior to the normally prepared meals. If that is true, this is my new favorite restaurant!