Just as the sun returns each year, Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop does too.
The bakery takes an annual break in January after the busy holiday season, but the popular South Addition shop opens its doors Wednesday. The month of closed doors allows for some rest for weary workers, but it also gives them a chance to travel the country seeking out ideas, along with repairing equipment and cleaning the bakery.
"We are extremely grateful to our loyal customers who return each February, eager to try our new pastries, sandwiches, breads and more," says Rachel Saul, co-owner of Fire Island.
"Bakers traveled as far as New Orleans, Charleston, Lake Placid, Portland, Santa Fe, Austin and Seattle to work in different kitchens and develop new skills. The French term for a short internship is 'Stage,' and Stage we did! Bakers are bringing back new ideas and formulas from across the country that can be seen on our new menu."
Saul says the new menu features stuffed baguettes with bacon and bleu cheese, potato and egg breakfast pies and a lemon blackberry mousse cake that will all be available in February.
"As fun as it was to travel the country, we really missed our customers and are looking forward to seeing everybody," she says.
Many couples will be celebrating Valentines' Day in a couple weeks and Fire Island has some great items for those shoppers, such as gift towers wrapped with a red ribbon and tag. Special order items include a Sweetheart Package ($26), a Gluten-Free Extravaganza Tower ($40), and a Romance Tote for Two ($29), which has just enough room in the French market tote to add your Valentines' favorite bottle of wine.
The bakery is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays to Sundays at the corner of 14th Avenue and G Street.
At the Center Market
The Center Market at The Mall at Sears has plenty of options available Wednesday and Saturday. Market hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
Alaska Sprouts will have a large lineup of products at the markets.
"Over the winter, we've been upgrading several parts of our process so we can scale up the tofu and microgreens," says grower SJ Klein. "Chinese new year is coming up, so we plan to have plenty of bean sprouts for everyone -- bean sprouts are said to bring good luck!"
Look for the following: live basil; fresh Romaine, butterhead and green leaf lettuce; fresh tofu; bean, clover and onion sprouts; sunflower shoots; and micro arugula, bulls blood, red radish and broccoli.
Duane Clark of Country Health Foods will have grass-fed beef, local free-range chicken, seafood, jams and breads made with Alaska barley flour.
The Rempel Family Farm will have 10 varieties of potatoes, sugar pumpkins, a wide variety of squash, beets, cabbage, parsnips, rutabagas, daikon radish and carrots.
Alaska Vegan & Gluten Free will be offering cupcakes, spaghetti sauce, split pea soup, carrot ginger soup, roasted beets and sweet potato soup, red beans and brown rice with pico de gallo, fresh pico de gallo, corn chips, fresh salad with hemp seed dressing, stone baked breads and petite baguettes.
Drool Central will be at the market Wednesday but at the Alaska Mill & Feed on Saturday.
Alex Davis of A.D. Farm will have a large selection of eggs, pork products (chops, steaks, fresh side, breakfast sausage patties, spicy sausage, Italian sausage, liver, hocks and fat), along with purple and orange carrots, three varieties of beets, French fingerling potatoes, peanut potatoes, all blue potatoes and German butterball potatoes.
Monday Mat-Su Market
Valley shoppers can find a large list of vendors at the Mat-Su Farm Market on Mondays at the Palmer Depot. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Two new vendors join the lineup on Monday. Loco Mama will be making spicy beef, chicken and green chili, and traditional pork tamales, along with chili, nachos, tossed salad, chicken vegetable soup with local vegetables, and vegetable pasta salad. Jonesers will have teas, rubs and handmade nectars.
Other returning vendors include: Alaskan Sourdough Bread Company, Alaska Sprouts, Alaska Yard and Goat Company, Bistro Red Beet, Brooke Family Farm, Bushes Bunches, Choose Food Wisely, Country Health Foods, M&M Scroll Works, Monica's Confection Connection, Tilgner's Smoked Salmon and others.
From the sea
If you're thinking Super Bowl party, then Dannon Southall of 10th & M Seafoods says to stop by your local seafood shop.
"We have some wonderful Super Bowl special this week. Fresh true cod fillets from the Gulf Alaska are available this week at $5.50 per pound," he says. "These amazing white fish fillets make a great taco filling. Also on special this week is jumbo red king crab, these lovely jumbo king crab legs will be in house for $19.95/pound. If jumbo shrimp is a guest you want at your Super Bowl party, we will have jumbo black tiger shrimp head-off and shell on at $14.95/pound."
He says Southeast Alaska fishermen have been able to land some winter king salmon, which will be available this weekend.
John Jackson of New Sagaya Markets says there are some nice options coming in from Alaska waters.
"With the pollock fishery now open we are seeing fresh Alaskan rockfish and other by catch species as well such as flathead sole, which is delicious," he says.
Fresh cod is $6.99 per pound. Peeled and deveined shrimp are $9.99 per pound. He says they will also have Hawaiian tunas and marlin.
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.