Good Things in the Great Land

When I sail to Alaska, as I have done five or six times now, I always look forward to waking up early the first morning we have arrived in the Great Land. I’ll spring out onto the balcony at dawn — which, in Alaska, is 4:30 or 5 in the morning. You know immediately by the towering snow-capped peaks, forested isles and placid waters of the Inside Passage that you have arrived — the bald eagles carving the sky and spouting humpback whales confirming the fact.

Willa and Immy in the woods near Dewey Lake, Skagway, Alaska

Willa and Immy in the woods near Dewey Lake, Skagway, Alaska

As evidenced by its sheer mass, Alaska is a land of big things. The mountains are big, the glaciers are big, the animals are big and the sky is big. Also big is the abundance of food — if you’ve not seen a salmon run on an Alaskan stream, you have no idea why there is so much of the fish in the supermarket at this time of year. The bears become so sated and picky that they will eat only the skin and discard the rest of the fish. The long hours of sunlight enable Alaskan farmers to grow those giant cabbages and pumpkins you’ve seen in pictures. More

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The Best Salmon, the Best Way

As we prepare for our upcoming family trip to Alaska, I find myself thinking a lot about salmon. The beautiful filets of sockeye and king from the Copper and other pristine rivers I’m finding at the fishmarkets these days have my mind already north. I once saw a river in Sitka so choked with spawning salmon swimming upstream that it seemed as if you could’ve walked across their backs and never touched water. Another river near Juneau was littered with the skinless carcasses of salmon — in bumper years, the bears peel off and eat the skin, and discard the rest.

Spawning sockeye in Juneau.

Spawning sockeye in Juneau.

I’ve oft commented on this blog about how people tend to overcook salmon. And while it is still a delicious fish when cooked all the way through, it is so much better when left medium-rare to rare. Or, as I personally prefer, raw. More

The Siren Song of Summer

There’s a lot going on this week — summer nearing, the last few days of school. The calendar is full, my cooking commitments many.

Savoring my last bite of lunch before the floodgates open

Savoring my last bite of lunch before the floodgates open

As I sit here this warm afternoon eating one of my favorite summer lunches — crusty multi-grain bruschetta with ripe heirloom tomatoes, basil, olive oil, mozzarella and parmesan reggiano — I think of the next several days. It began this morning, as pal Ernie and I tried to go to the amazing, miraculous Santa Monica Seafood to redeem Groupons we’d purchased to make a seafood dinner this evening. More

Mama Annie

Some things change a lot over the years. Other things don’t change that much.

I remember coming out of my bedroom in the morning as a kid, and there was my mom — wild haired, rumpled bathrobe, cup of coffee — already cooking. Now, when we go to visit her in Sonoma, my children wake up early and find her, grandma now whom they call “Mama Annie” — wild haired, rumpled bathrobe, cup of coffee — already cooking.

Me and Mama Annie, back in the day

Me and Mama Annie, back in the day

My parents were adventurous eaters, especially for the time. As I child, I ate escargot in French restaurants and learned to say Pouilly-Fuisse, sampled sashimi and sushi at the Joy of Tempura — the only Japanese restaurant in town — and was complemented on my chopsticks skills by old Chinese women at the Twin Dragon. More

We’re Ready for You, Mr. McQueen

Hot on the heels of the coldest weekend of the Southern California winter (see Jimmy Kimmel’s segment on just how cold it got), came the warmest weekend of the Southern California winter. So we were pleased and more than ready when we got the invitation to go stay with our friends, Nadine and Andrew, at their family’s beach house in Malibu.

Immy digging in the sand, Malibu

Immy digging in the sand, Malibu

I like writing blog posts about our weekends at the Steve McQueen beach house, not so much because I’m enamored with Steve McQueen — he was undeniably cool, but so were lots of other guys. It’s because we usually eat lots of good food and imbibe good drinks. More

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