Story last updated at 2/20/2013 - 2:02 pm
Juneau a dining mecca, who knew?
Apparently someone did. Recently a Huffington News report announced that Juneau has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States. This left many Juneauites saying "What?"
The report states that there are 112 restaurants in Juneau. One hundred twelve? This means I have a lot of research to do. I'm sure I have not eaten at 112 different places in Juneau. I've been to the popular hangouts in the downtown area, but I didn't know there were 112 different places to eat.
My mission is clear: Find said restaurants and eat something at each of them. I'm open to suggestions on how to attack this project.
The interesting thing about Juneau is that many locals seem almost humble when speaking of where to eat here. We have incredible places to dine! For example, The Rockwell has great food, and the burgers are excellent. For great burgers in the valley area, I enjoy BooYah Grill or, a local favorite, The Broiler. Special occasions? Gold Room at the Westmark Baranof and the Zephyr are top notch. Quick, delicious lunch? Suwanna's in Jordan Landing. We enjoy a nice cocktail and dinner with a fantastic view at the Hangar on the Wharf. And in the summer season, let's not forget the award winning Tracy's Crab Shack, which offers amazing king crab legs and her bisque, is out of this world.
The list goes on and on. Actually once I started compiling the list I was excited about the amazing places we have to eat. Locally owned and operated. Almost no chains. Not many cities can make that boast.
In honor of this auspicious designation for Alaska's capital city, I reached out to a fun contemporary restaurant to highlight just how delicious Juneau is; The Rookery. I met with Beau Schooler, who is responsible for the amazing food now served at The Rookery. Beau hails from Anchorage, and graciously sat with me a few minutes during the busy dinner rush. He has been cooking since he was 14 and working professionally for more than 13 years. He trained in Italy and from the menu it shows. Beau shared his Coffee Spiced Alaskan Scallops recipe.
I have a confession. I hate coffee. So when Beau presented me with scallops flavored with coffee, I was skeptical. Naturally I dug in. I'm a southerner and we are never rude in someone else's house. These scallops are amazing. They are tender, have a light crisp from the coffee and the brown sugar tempts your taste buds with just enough sweetness to counter coffee bitterness. I cleaned my plate. I was also treated to the incredible Mac-n-Cheese with five-year aged Wisconsin cheddar and the shrimp with bacon jam. Yes, bacon jam.
Juneau isn't a flashy city, with flashy eateries, but we do deliver on the great eats.
This week I present to you a recipe from one of Juneau's trendiest and most delicious places to eat, The Rookery: Beau's Coffee Spiced Alaskan Scallops.
As for my mission, I will be tasting Juneau at least once a week the rest of the year. It's a tough assignment, but I'm willing to take it on, for the better of the culinary world. I encourage recommendations on your favorites, after all we have 112 of them.
Until next time...
Eat and enjoy,
Coffee Spiced Alaskan Scallops, Brown Butter Vinaigrette & Almonds
1/2 cup butter
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 1/2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons finely ground coffee or espresso beans
1 tablespoon finely chopped toasted almonds
(serves 4 - 6)
Brown butter on medium heat, until walnut color. Add, fish sauce, rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir well and cook until well incorporated.
In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and coffee. Press the scallops into the rub, sear in canola oil over high heat. Then pour the brown butter over top. Sprinkle almonds on top and serve. The scallops pair well with a simple pasta or an arugula salad.
Kelly Moore, a.k.a. Midgi, writes and cooks from Juneau. Visit her blog, www.mealswithmidgi.com, for additional stories and recipes. She may be reached at midgi@ mealswithmidgi.com.