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Showing posts from June, 2018

Fairbanks: McCafferty's, A Coffee House, Etc.

Fairbanks is in love with coffee. Coffee houses cover the landscape; drive-through coffee cabins provide fillups, presumably, when driving from one coffee house to another. McCafferty's is a hip spot in downtown Fairbanks. It is a small place but has a very complete performance stage. I didn't get a chance to try their baked goods but the menu was very complete.

Dining on the Yukon River

A bus tour of northern Alaska gave the chance to enjoy two very good meals at Yukon River Camp, lunch on the way up and dinner on teh way back. This establishment is located on the Yukon River along the Dalton Highway that runs along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. This map dates from the early days of the highway and shows the stops along the way. Alaska receives a great many Chinese visitors, which is reflected in the menu even in this remote region. My salmon bahn mi was excellent. Our guide explained that the salmon probably didn't come from the river next to us; salmon populations have gone down. But it was still excellent. I topped off lunch with a piece of cherry pie and ice cream. Great fruit, very nice crust. My dinner was this excellent salmon noodle soup. The camp has an excellent selection of high-quality Chinese sauces. I used some siracha sauce, toasted sesame oil, and some wonderfully umami-filled soy sauce.

Fairbanks: Thai House

Fairbanks is crazy for Thai food. This small town has several Thai restaurants. Thai House is consistently at the top of the list for Thai in this town. It ranks highly; a gentleman in Seattle, hearing me talk about Fairbanks, recommended it. Upon my arrival, I found the proprietor to be wonderfully welcoming and gracious. Here is my beef masaman curry, which I greatly enjoyed. The sauce hit all the right notes: savory meat flavors, nutty savoriness from the peanuts, a hint of sweetness from the coconut, and a kiss of heat.

Fairbanks, Alaska: Forget Me Not Espresso

After a long day of travel, coffee seemed like a good idea. Fairbanks has a lot of small drive-thru places selling coffee and pastry. I walked up to the drive-in window at Forget Me Not and ordered the Mayan Mocha. I enjoyed its combination of Mexican chocolate, milk, and a hit of espresso. The blue Alaska sky overhead made it taste even better.

SeaTac: Gregory's Bar and Grill

Weather in Atlanta caused me to spend an unplanned night in Seattle. Luckily, I was able to get a room. In the morning, I enjoyed a breakfast at the hotel restaurant. The buffet setup was sparse but the breakfast turned out fine. Eggs and oatmeal are two canaries in the coalmine for breakfast buffet freshness; both were quite good. I am grateful for a restful night and pleasant start to my day.

Enchilada Sauce

I have never made enchilada sauce. I enjoy its savoriness and spiciness so I decided to give it a try. The onion is not typical of recipes but I had a spare one that I wanted to use. After the onion had cooked, I added some flour to the mix as a thickener. Next came the pepper. I then added tomato paste and cooked it out for a minute. The paste was followed by oregano and cumin. Finally, I added some chicken stock and let everything simmer for a half hour. The result was tasty. I plan to make a larger batch some time for canning and enjoyment as the muse prompts me.

Peach Pecan Coffee Cake

I was in the mood to put some of my peach preserves to work in a coffee cake. I decided to try a different style, this time based on a croissant dough, as suggested by the King Arthur cookbook. The process starts with an egg yeast dough. As you can see, this is a wet, sticky dough. As the dough was rising, I worked on the butter. The croissant technique mixes flour with butter to make the butter more pliable. I also added some pecan pieces. I rolled out the butter mixture between two sheets of wax paper. (Remember wax paper? It still has its uses.) I put the sheet in the refrigerator for a few minutes to chill and harden. Once the butter was firm, I rolled out the dough and placed the butter sheet on top. I then folded the assembly once... ...and again in the perpendicular direction. I rolled out the dough to press together the folds then let everything rest. This process builds thin sheets of butter that crispen the dough as it bakes. I performed this oper…

Salt Lake City: Rio Grande Cafe

In the mood for a final dose of Mexican food on my trip, I headed for the Rio Grande Cafe for an enjoyable meal. The restaurant is located in the classic Denver and Rio Grande Western train station. The beautiful decor is mostly original. The meal started, of course with chips and salsa. The salsa featured large chunks of nicely firm, rich tomato that gave little bursts of tomato sweet/tart as well as a nice texture. For my main course, I ordered carnitas. The meat was tender, moist, and flavorful. I would have enjoyed just a few crunchy bits, though. The refried beans were rich and comforting. Overall, a very nice meal.

Salt Lake City: Bombay House

I decided to give Salt Lake City's Indian food a try. I was very pleased with my meal at Bombay House. I started with an order of papadum. They came in this folded shape that I don't think I have seen before. How does one fry them folded without sticking? My main dish was the vegetable coconut curry. I asked for hot and the server confirmed by asking "Indian spices, correct?" The result was nicely spiced but not burning. That was good because it allowed the coconut to come through very nicely, giving an extra bit of richness to the curry.

Hunger In America and the World and What We Can Do to Help

Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN reports here on hunger. His article starts with the horrifying Somalian famine, then moves onto hunger in America. He points out that many people in the U. S. do not earn enough from jobs to feed their family. He urges everyone to make better use of this nation's bountiful harvest and throw away less food. He also urges businesses to donate food and points to law that protects them from liability. I recently posted on my annual peach preserve canning process. All the peaches I bought---two half-bushel boxes---were seconds with cosmetic blemishes. They cost about half as much as the first-grade peaches that end up in the supermarket produce section. The preserves I made from them were delicious and healthy, not to mention considerably cheaper than manufactured preserves with much less flavor.

Salt Lake City: Coffee Garden

Coffee Garden is located in Eborn Books, an expansive used bookstore in downtown Salt Lake City. The coffee operation opens at 6 AM; I admire their spunk. I stopped by for a coffee and took a moment to admire their pastry selection.

Salt Lake City: The Coffee Shop at Little America

The Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City is an outpost of the Little America that has stood as a friendly stop on a lonely stretch of I-80 for half a century. The Coffee Shop is similarly welcoming. The room is decorated in photos of historic Salt Lake City. My blueberry pancakes were exemplary, fluffy with plenty of rich blueberries. I indulged with some syrup and butter. A good way to start the morning.

Wendover NV: Peppermill Casnio

I headed across the Bonneville Salt Flats for the view. Dinner at the Peppermill was a bonus at the end of the trail. Their good food and classic atmosphere is always fun. I spent 120 miles assuming that I would order my favorite french dip. Then a billboard intervened with a promise of the prime rib special. My special started with a classic iceberg lettuce salad, satisfyingly crunchy. Here is my prime rib, medium rare, with buttered corn kernels and a nicely baked potato. Satisfying meal, just add coffee.

Salt Lake City: Red Iguana

I was hungry when I got off the plane and ready to eat. The crowds waiting in line at Red Iguana had other ideas. I took the crowds as a good sign and waited. The first sign that my patience would be rewarded was the salsa. It was rich in peppers without being overwhelmingly hot. This is my mole negro, which was outstanding. The taste started with savory and some fruity sweetness. About a minute later, the heat kicked in, never enough to make me sweat but more than enough to get my attention. Mole should be complex and this was an outstanding example. My flan was also delicious. The richness of the custard matched with a bit of carmelization. It was sweet without being overly so.

Vegetable Stew

Summer is the time to enjoy the harvest. I decided to make a vegetable stew with some of the vegetables I found on my recent trip. This stew is inspired by ratatouille but makes use of what I had. It also doesn't make use of what I didn't have, notably the green peppers that are a traditional ingredient of ratatouille. This one includes onions, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, and tomato puree. The result has a good garden taste and is very filling. I must admit that I do miss the acrid note of the green peppers.

Peach Preserves

Canning two crates of peaches takes a considerable effort. The first step is to peel the peaches. The most efficient way is to put them in boiling water for a few minutes to loosen the skin. Once the peaches have been peeled and diced, I cook them with pectin and sugar, then pack the preserves into sterilized jars while everything is still hot. Processing the peaches from one crates requires three batches of canning in my pressure canner. The canner, of course, takes time to cool off after every batch.

Apple Tarts

I had enough apples in the freezer to make a pair of tarts. A tart, with only one crust, should have fewer calories per slice than a two-crust pie (although the stick of butter in the crust may alter that balance). My first step was to make a custard for the filling. I rolled out the dough, pressed it into my tart tins. I added the apples and the custard. In the oven they went. And out they came about 40 minutes later. Once they were done, one slice made a nice breakfast, the rest went into the freezer for other mornings.

Ribbolita

Inspired by my recent trip, I decided to try my hand at ribbolita, the Tuscan bread soup. I riffed off the recipe from the Silver Spoon, based on what I had available. Recipes for this dish vary widely on ingredients as well as the time required to cook the bread. The Silver Spoon recommended making the soup without the bread, then adding the bread and cooking in the oven for 15 minutes. This is a hearty, tasty soup. So long as you have the chicken stock available, it isn't hard to make, either. The combination of beans, greens, and mirepoix make for a soup that is both hearty and earthy. The bread adds a subtle texture to the soup.

Ballston VA: Market Place & Cafe

Breakfast outside of a hotel is hard to find on many trips. Ballston's restaurant scene doesn't make the task any easier. When I saw Market Place, I decided it was worth a try. They have a nice buffet... ...but when I saw they also ran the grill in the morning, I decided to order an omelet. It was a satisfying meal and I am grateful they were there to serve me.