Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat

by Marla on September 11, 2012 · 57 comments

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Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

You might have seen a few Facebook posts and tweets flying around about my recent adventures in Sitka, Alaska. At the end of my summer in Telluride I got the best invitation ever. Within seconds of receiving it I signed onto join the Alaskan Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) and the BEST people ever on a Seafood Culinary Retreat.

What is a Seafood Culinary Retreat? Basically you go to a private island off the Southern Alaskan coastline. You hang out with some of the worlds best food writers, photographers and chefs. You learn all about wild, sustainable Alaskan seafood and you indulge on the finest seafood known to man.

Come on and join me on the adventure…

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

That’s right friends. Picture a private Alaskan island.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

A stunning luxury fishing lodge.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

This is the Talon Lodge. It is a little bit fabulous.

It sits on a 4 acre private island. Envision chic meets rustic timber ~ perched and waiting for luxury adventure travelers.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

The owners of the Talon Lodge made sure we were 100% well taken care of. My coffee cup was always full, my belly more than well feed (more on that as you scroll) and the sights of Sitka Sound and surrounding mountains were breathtaking!

The views during the day were not too shabby.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

They were pretty awesome in the evening too.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

We had wonderful conversations at every meal…

John often took time to sketch.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | Talon Lodge | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

I am now obsessed with fishing boats and bright buoys.

I want to travel the world to photograph them…

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

There is something about bright, pop colored balloons that float in the ocean. I love the way they are tied to the dock for decor.

Thank you Béatrice for taking that photo of me below.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

The Alaskan air is so clear and there are snowy covered peaks not too far away. You know how much I LOVE my mountains and snow.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

During the day we went deep sea fishing. The catch of the day included rock fish, halibut and crab.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

This trip was made extra special because I got to experience with amazing people.

Pictured below is Béatrice Peltre: La Tartine Gourmand, John Donahue: Stay at Stove Dad, Greg Henry: Sippity Sup and Aran Goyoaga, Cannelle et Vanille.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

We were hoping for salmon catch, but they were too busy leaving the ocean to swim up stream and spawn. Had it been 2 weeks or even one week earlier we would have caught a boatload of wild salmon.

Have you ever seen a salmon run? This was unbelievable. The amount of energy it takes to fight the current, rocks and the other fish is baffling.

All to lay eggs and then die….interesting circle of life.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

In Alaska’s constitution it states that the people must preserve the natural resources. Sustainable management practices are what comes first.

Everything about this natural environment is carefully maintained, fully protected and well accounted for.

You cannot just fish for fishing sake. You must obtain a fishing license and closely regard the per person quota.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

The system works effectively and has become a world model for sustainability.

Before we dropped crab pots we had to label them individually with our names and addresses. Accountable…

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

The man below is Larry. He is the Retail Marketing Director for ASMI. He is well traveled, wonderfully educated, sincere and truly a great guy!

He was super proud of this free app he developed called Cook it Frozen! You gotta check it out. Did you know that you don’t need to thaw fish before you cook it? This is a game changer and great news for us busy folks who often need to prepare meals on the fly.

As I always say here Real food fast. Not fast food.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

Both sporting fisherman and commercial people need to obey the sustainability rules. They are closely watched ~ this helps preserve the ecosystem and protect the marine life. It also helps assure that the fish we eat is pure and delicious.

We met many really nice fishermen. Here is a commercial fisherman aptly named Steve Fish who kindly showed us around his well equipped fishing boat.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

My friend Helen was rather intrigued by the gadgets on Steve’s fishing boat. Including the auto-baiter. An auto-baiter is a high tech device that baits hundreds of fishing hooks so you don’t have too!

Steve had a certain twinkle in his eye when he talked about his fabulous hi-tech fishing gadgets. We were all very grateful for his visit to our private dock.

It was interesting to learn about the intricacies of life at sea.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

Here is a another fisherman, he just caught a Salmon Shark! He sure was proud to have his picture taken…

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

All of the fisherman were great subjects! These guys love to be out at sea…

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel They all love to get their picture taken…

Sitka-Alaska-Marla-Meridith-collage005

Here is a look at our inspiring chefs. Chef Dan Enos from The Oceanaire Seafood Room in Boston and Chef Patrick Hoogerhyde from The Bridge in Anchorage.

They taught us so much about the proper preparation of seafood, how to filet it and some great recipes using the freshest Alaskan seafood. These guys are both very passionate about high quality wild seafood and all kinds of whole foods.

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

We taste tested 5 kinds of salmon: King, Coho, Sockeye, Pink and Chum. I like them in that order.

Homemade gravlax was a favorite, so was smoked salmon….but my all time favorite was pan seared salmon with wild cranberries served over arugula (above). This dish would be perfect for anytime at all and would be make a nice Thanksgiving too!

I have a recipe for Homemade Gravlax in case you want to try it yourself at home. It is so simple. All it takes is super fresh salmon, a dry rub with sea salt, sugar, pepper and fresh herbs…

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

Wrap it up and let it cure in the fridge for at least 3 days. You flip it once per day. Simple food, simply the BEST!

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

Just remember to use the highest quality wild fish you can find. OK? It is better for your health and the environment. Besides, it tastes better!

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

For exercise (gotta exercise) we took a spooky walk in an enchanting forest. Larry kept us protected with bear mace.

He was ready to fight four our lives if needed.

Hike in Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

Thankfully the only wildlife we saw was a guy enjoying the day fly fishing…

Hike in Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

Also plenty of beautiful trees, wild flowers and berries…

Hike in Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

Did you know that Grizzly Bears (brown bears) are kinda everywhere in Alaska? Look at how close I was to one!

Oh don’t you worry, these soft, fuzzy bears were about 20 feet below me frolicking before their next meal.

Hello Bear! Sitka, Alaska | FamilyFreshCooking.com

I hope you enjoyed checking out our adventure. I am very inspired to see more beautiful Alaska some day ~ since I have been back in the OC I make sure that I purchase certified wild + sustainable fish.

What is your favorite kind of seafood? Have you ever been to Alaska? How about on a fishing trip?

Sitka, Alaska: A Seafood Culinary Retreat | FamilyFreshCooking.com #travel

People on this Trip

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Disclosure: The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) hosted me on a spectacular culinary retreat. All thoughts, opinions and views are my own. 

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