Kachemak Bay Gourmet's Newest Recipes:

- Bacon Wrapped Cod with Littleneck Clams

Arm Chair Chef

This time of the year is a weather parade with confetti. It is the end of winter, yet there is still more to come, but spring is on the horizon. The sunlight is out more than 10 hours a day, yet it is still cold and windy. I want to be here in beautiful Alaska enjoying winter sports and the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, yet the wanderlust in me yearns for a warm sunny beach with the totally different atmosphere of swaying palm trees, brown skinned beach combers and fancy plates designed with foo-foo food. I want to ski, but I want to swim in the ocean. I want to enjoy a margarita with fresh squeezed lime juice, but my perfect cup of morning coffee with sugar and half and half is a needed daily addiction to start my day before a brisk walk in the cold, crisp air.

If I left Alaska right now and heard it was beautifully sunny and clear while I was away, I would feel bad, but yet if I wandered to somewhere outside where I knew I could go running without long johns and gloves, I would truly appreciate that as well. The dilemma here is like what to serve for that special company dinner; fish or beef, fancy or casual. There is an entire ocean of currents running through me right now. That grey zone time between definite season changes.

My answer to this tidal zone of a confetti parade is black and white though. I don't have time or enough savings to indulge in a tropical trip or jet off to sunny California vineyards, so I best buck up, kick back and enjoy the rest of Alaska in March; but it won't keep me from dreaming of far away places and dishes to try, cultures to experience and climates to compare.

The ticket to that dream vacation in my mind came in the mail this week from faraway dear and treasured friends. As is routine, I stop to check the mail at Fritz Creek. By the way, this is the only place in the world you can get your mail, buy wine, pick up an incredibly tasty dessert treat or dinner and pet the cat while checking the progress of the owner's home-grown and curing prosciutto ham hanging in the back of the mail room.

I see I have a special orange package slip and wonder what special envelope my favorite mail gal will unearth from the back room for me.She hands me an International mail package. I see it has an old PO address on it and yet somehow it still found its way to my little box at Fritz Creek. It was from New Zealand! I looked at the customs stamp and immediately knew who sent it, then felt its contents through the envelope to possibly identify what it may contain. First thought; a travel book on New Zealand from our friends who want us to come visit so badly. Ah, they are tempting us to come over! Fast forward to the 3 mile drive home and then opening the treasured package. The contents revealed - a cookbook from New Zealand, personally signed by the author and owner of her restaurant, Fleur's Place. The inscription, " Kia Ora, Mark and Teri, maybe this will entice you to come to Aoteavroa. Fleur. 2008. Nan mai haere mai!" Roughly translates to Hello, Mark and Teri, welcome to New Zealand and to wander, welcome!

What is this unfamiliar language? After discussion with friends more worldly than I, they tell me it is Maori. Aotearoa is the Maori name for New Zealand and means Land of the long white cloud. And as I am writing this and looking up Maori, I see this next statement just prior to this part of the column, as I choose to use the words "ocean currents" not having a clue until now why. No wonder I am feeling the pull of travel! Check this next statement out. "Some believe that the Maori found Aotearoa probably by chance as they were probably blown off course. But there is also evidence that the Maori had sophisticated ancient knowledge of the stars and ocean currents and this knowledge is carved in their "whare" (houses)."

Well, that pretty much settles it. The next big trip the Other Fisherman and I make will be to Aotearoa and you can bet I will look up Fleur at Fleur's Place! From her photos and her book, I think we would become fast friends. From the photos of her restaurant, it looks like a rustic model of the Double Musky in Girdwood and very casual and welcoming.Just the type of place the O.F. and I would love to frequent in our blue jeans.

The next best thing to getting this special gift in the mail was paging through it. I spent an entire evening devouring its stories and recipes. The folks of New Zealand enjoy many different ingredients in their recipes, just as we do. What do you think this ingredient would be- mutton-bird. I am guessing it would be squab possibly. A NZ web site says it is a Maori delicacy that tastes like fish-flavored chicken. How about a whitebait omelet? We would be enjoying the tiny fingerlings of native fish pan fried whole in an egg patty.

The unique and interesting recipes in this cookbook are native to New Zealand. This country is surrounded by water, and seafood dominates, just as Alaska. They do enjoy their lamb, as we enjoy our moose. The ingredients are influenced by the English it seemed to me and yet unique to New Zealand. It was interesting and not fair, to compare traditional American recipes to what I saw in this cookbook. I had to compare the recipes and their ingredients to what I know. I doubt I would be able to create many of the recipes, as the ingredients are just not available here, but it sure was fun to be an arm chair chef traveling to New Zealand for an evening!

Here is an excerpt and recipe from Fleur's Place, by Graham Warman and Paul Sorrell. "This is a fish restaurant'. says head chef Simon Peacock, 'and if it wasn't for Gavin going out everyday and catching us fish, we wouldn't be in business.' He proceeds to rattle off a list of the fish caught locally, blue cod, moki, monkfish, groper, trumpeter, skate, gurnard, tarahaki, sole, flounder, brill. Sea perch and red cod are taken mainly for smoking, as well as rig and mako shark, which is treated like tuna for its succulent steaks.

Most Thursday mornings, Susan Randell of Mean Greens,swings past Fleur's Place with a swag of edible greenery. Each day she picks to order from a wide selection of 'salady things' - fancy lettuce, watercress, rocket, mesclun, mizuna - grown in a 1000 m2 hydroponic greenhouse in Oamaru.

Our hallmarks are fresh, locally grown, good quality - Fleur emphasizes that, too. Fleur is the type of customer we seek.' And vice versa."

Sounds like someplace I would love to experience and also very familiar to our Homer eateries.

Thank you Holly and Jeff McMillan and Graham and Roz for your wonderful book to entice Mark and me to visit your incredible country! It will be the first trip we make the next time travel requires a passport.

Until next time, enjoy being an armchair traveler and chef to exotic lands of a different country, if that is all your wallet allows you to do. And if you can visit somewhere outside the 49th state, you best find some wonderful cuisine to feast upon and share your story with me. For me though, everyday in Alaska is like living a vacation!

Until next time,

Chef Teri

Teri Robl is the reigning Champion Chef in the Fish Alaska Magazine reader recipe and cook off contest. Teri was featured recently on KTUU Anchorage with Chel Al Levinsohn with her recipe for Moroccan Style Wild Alaskan Grilled Salmon. Chef Teri has been an enthusiastic cook for decades, treating her family, friends and guests to wonderful dishes featuring WILD ALASKAN seafood and other gourmet cuisine. During a recent trip to Italy, Teri completed a cooking class in Lake Como to broaden her vision of culinary excellence. The Bear Creek Winery hosts cooking classes taught by none other than Chef Teri! Contact Teri or the Bear Creek Winery for scheduled class times! Chef Teri will also teach classes for four or more people at your request.

Chef Teri will also conduct cooking classes for you anywhere you would like, your home or hers, perhaps for a birthday celebration with girlfriends, a party of friends just for something fun and different to do together.

Teri is available for personal chef services, planning, shopping and preparing gourmet meals especially for you and your guests to be served at the place of your choosing:

a private, intimate dinner party in your home with close family and friends

perhaps in her newly constructed, beautiful home with a gorgeous view of Kachemak Bay, or a barbeque on her home's large, covered deck

maybe a special picnic basket delivery to the beach, or a warm, tasty meal delivered to your B&B accommodations after a day of fishing or touring our beautiful area

possibly the occasion is just a special, intimate dinner for two delivered in honor of a birthday celebration, engagement or anniversary, or....."just because!"

Teri can arrange for flowers, wine, champagne, special touches ~ YOU name it, the sky is the limit and her #1 priority is to please you and your guests!

You name the event and place and you will be guaranteed to enjoy a meal to remember. Teri also loves to make wine recommendations and has an educated palate with a passion for fine wines and champagne.

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