Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Eating Alaska - The Movie

For anyone who doesn't check out comments (and if not, why not?) the post about the Beartooth Local Food Movie Festival got a lovely comment from Ellen Frankenstein concerning her movie "Eating Alaska" . Here are the key parts.

Please come on by the Beartooth Local Food Festival and to the EATING ALASKA screening this Sunday. Plus on Sunday, any part of proceeds we get from a share of ticket sales or fun Eating Alaska pins and DVDS will help us travel to Cuba to show the film and do a workshop with filmmakers there. Been doing some fun educational regional screenings with kids too, getting them to talk about food and where they live!

Ellen Frankenstein

So come see an interesting movie and participate in a good cause too! The movie sounds very interesting, and Ellen seems like a great person - I'm looking forward to it very much!

Lucky Wishbone

Acting on a hot tip from the Best of Alaska booklet of earlier post fame, Mr EA and I stopped in at the Lucky Wishbone on our way to some downtown activities. From the outside, the place is somewhat ratty looking, but the steady stream of customers to both the sit-down and drive through part of the restaurant assured us this was the place that had won a stunning 5 Best of awards.
When you get inside, what you will find is a place with the classic coastal diner sensibilities. Since the place is in operation since the 50's or 60's (the menu had their history, but I did not write it down), that makes a certain amount of sense. Located near Merrill Field, the place is rife with airplane memorabilia and photos. A patron in a nearby booth was pointing to pictures of airmen on the wall and saying who they were and what they did later in life! Whether this was factual information or malarky to amuse the grandchild he was with I don't know, but it was interesting anyway.
Mr EA got the Mom sized order of their famous pan-fried chicken, and I got a chiliburger and an order of onion rings. I wasn't impressed with my chiliburger - an openface burger and roll smothered in a blanket of midwestern-style hamburger and kidney bean chili. However, my onion rings were awesome! Rings of real whole onion in a light cornmeal crust were fried just right. Mr EA's chicken, however, was astoundingly delicious! The light crust was flavorful and lightly seasoned. It was just the right balance to complement the chicken without overwhelming it. When you got through the crust, the chicken was moist and flavorful. Before trying a few bites of this chicken, I had kind of wondered what the fuss about pan-fried chicken was all about. Now I know.
The delicious chicken, which I urge you to try without delay if you like chicken at all, is available in three portion sizes - Pop, Mom and Jr, with piece types assigned ( Jr is a leg and a wing, for example). However, we hear nearby patrons bargaining with their waitress for different piece types than their portion names, and she seemed able to meet their wishes. Also, the menu does say that if available, you can get all white meat, but they don't make any promises. The menu also says that sometimes livers and gizzards and giblets are available. We didn't go there, but if you like chicken innards, there's something to look forward to. Also available are t-shirts with their retro-cool logo! But first, get the chicken.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Food Movie Festival at the Bear Tooth!

Hey, fellow Anchorites (Anchorigians?), the Bear Tooth Theatre Pub is holding a Local Food Film Festival October 2-8!
Let me unpack that for you. The movies are not locally made, except for one of them, which I will get to in a minute. Rather, they are about the Locavore or "eat local food" movement. The films are on a diverse range of topics, from how we are fishing the oceans empty to how we are wrecking the entire world. But I exaggerate for comic effect.
What I am hoping for is a thoughtful examination of how and what we eat. What I'm afraid we're going to get is 8-10 hours of shrill, thought-free screed about how everyone sucks. However, I did not notice that Michael Moore is involved, so there's hope. :)
Now, to the local movie about eating local. It is titled Eating Alaska, and has nothing to do with this blog whatsoever. Their blog is here. It looks like an interesting movie, and I very much look forward to seeing it!
The festival also seems to be connected in some unspecified way to the Alaska Center for the Environment , the website for which also has some interesting things to say about local eating here in Alaska.
So I plan to attend, and hope to get to every movie on the schedule. This will also allow me another excuse to go to the Bear Tooth, which is excellent. See you there!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Best of Alaska 2009

Well, the Anchorage Daily News just published their Best of Alaska awards booklet for this year. For those of you playing along from elsewhere, this is an annual issue where readers can vote for their favorite providers of various goods and services, and then the paper publishes what amounts to a special advertising issue with the winners. It's certainly no Michelin guide, but the Food and Drink section has much to interest the foodie - we have certainly discussed it at our house!
First off, the biggest benefit to us is finding out about places that we had no idea of - a good example of this is the Lucky Wishbone. We had not ever heard of this establishment, but it won 4 awards (!). So we will definitely need to check them out, along with pretty much all the winners from the Italian and Greek categories.
The other best thing about this publication (for my purposes) is agreeing with or railing against the winners as selected. For example, Arctic Roadrunner winning for burgers and Moose's Tooth/Bear Tooth winning for pizza are proof that God's in his heaven and all's right with the world. I'm glad sort-of local Kaladi brothers beat out Starbucks.
On the other hand...
McDonald's winning the French Fries category? And White Spot not even placing? A travesty!
Gallo's winning for Mexican while Mexico in Alaska is denied? An outrage and a scandal!
I disagree with some other categories, but can kind of see why the votes came out like they did. For example, Sugarspoon clearly beats the pants off of Glacier BrewHouse's desserts as far as taste goes, but I'm sure way more people have eaten desserts at GBH than at Sugarspoon. And Sugarspoon only came in second, so I can kind of see that.
And I wish there were a few other categories. There should be a small plates or appetizers category, and also maybe an Alaska spirits other than beer category. But at least I've got something to work with for the next year or so.
What's your opinion? If you are an AK reader and have seen the Best of Alaska awards booklet, what do you think about the outcome?

Hula Hands

Hula Hands, which has been an established restaurant in the Mountain View area, recently moved or opened a branch on Fireweed in midtown. ( Have not seen any definitive informtion on this, and my mouth was full of deliciousness almost the whole time I was there, so did not get to ask.) Mr EA and I have an interest in South Pacificiana, so we knew we needed to try it out.
Housed in a stand-alone building, the restaurant's look is cement block overlaid with a veneer of Pacificness, but in a charming sort of way. The staff is very friendly and welcoming, and were willing to explain things to us, which is really nice in a less-mainstream place. They boast a really varied menu, with something for everyone's tastes. I have been informed by sources who are in a position to know that the food is authentic to the Pacific islands, especially Hawaii and Samoa. There is a surprisingly large contingent of islanders here in Anchorage, and Hula Hands is one of the many benefits they bring to the city. The cuisine is a mixture of asian flavors and specifically island foods, such as taro products, and a very slight infusion of American food. Every section of the menu demonstrates this no-fuss fusion attitude. For example, under Burger and Sandwiches (which are served with fries or 1 scoop of macaroni salade), your options are Hamburger, Cheeseburger, Bacon Cheeseburger, Patty melt, Teriyaki Beef sandwich, Pulehu Chicken sandwich, Kalua Pig sandwich, or Grilled cheese. Pupus include Teriyaki sticks, crispy wonton, kimchee and a variety of Pokes, which I was not brave enough to try yet. Next time! We did, however, split a Spam musabi, due to Mr EA's love of Spam. It was very good, with a sort of ocean-y accent to the Spam flavor. I will say that that thing was enormous - small eaters will want to split with someone if they want to try it!
For our actual lunch, we each ordered a different combo plate, so we could try as many different things as possible. Mr EA got Lomi Salmon, Chicken Long Rice and Kalua Pig combo plate. I got Teriyaki Beef and Pulehu Chicken. As usual, we swapped bites back and forth, and really enjoyed all the entrees. Each selection had a distinct flavor, and each was delicious. Our big favorites were the Kalua Pig and the Teriyaki Beef. I like the salmon, but Mr EA was not a fan of the taro leaves wrapped around it. I thought they tasted like spinach and finished them off for him.;) Each combo plate comes with scoops of steamed rice, which we mostly ignored in favor of the deliciousness on the rest of the place, and a scoop of macaroni salad, which I loved and finished off as well. Their drinks include tropical juices, which I tried and found nicely complemented the experience.
Some things we haven't gotten to try yet include a variety of intriguing stir-fries, loco moco, and several taro-based items. Also, still working up the nerve to try a poke, but I'll get there, and then I'll let you know! The menu does include a few more mainstream burger and sandwich options, so if you have a friend of family member who is a little less adventurous, there will be something for them to eat, too. Go there and eat - you'll be glad you did!