From Ninilchik to Seattle to Boston -- that's the route for the best-tasting fish around.
Tilgner's Specialized Smoked Seafoods smoked sockeye salmon was a triple winner at last week's Alaska Symphony of Seafood New Products contest. The Ninilchik-based company's Ruby Red Ol' World Scottish Style Cold Smoked Sockeye Salmon won first place in the smoked seafood category, was selected the People's Choice winner and named the Grand Prize winner.
The grand prize is an all-expenses paid trip to Boston for the Boston International Seafood Expo in March. The winners were announced Thursday in Anchorage and the judging took place earlier this month in Seattle.
"We were in competition with some of the largest seafood producers on the West Coast," says Art Tilgner. "We are just a small family operation who got to see a dream come true.
"Having a booth in the Boston Expo will give us exposure we can never get in any other way. We will be compared to some of the powerhouse cold smoked salmon producers from the East Coast and Europe. Our best way to sell our fish is to have the potential buyer actually smell it, feel it and finally taste it."
The smoked salmon is currently for sale at the Mat-Su Farm Market and Tilgner says it will be on the shelves at the new Natural Pantry location in Midtown once it opens.
At the markets
One of the regular vendors at the Center Market in Anchorage is Abeille Alaska, which offers all-natural hand-made beeswax and honey moisturizing cream and body care products that are crafted from Alaska-grown beeswax and/or Alaska-grown honey.
New this week is a lip balm, Hot Lips, that includes beeswax and essential oils of cinnamon and clove. Other items to look for this week include four fragrances of liquid perfumes: White Lilac, Rose Orient, Spicy Woods and Abeille 2014.
"Another very popular product is our 'work-horse' moisturizing cream," says owner Dee Barker. "Our moisturizing cream contains no water and is super rich and concentrated. We have many regular customers reporting that this cream has helped to resolve an assortment of skin maladies such as skin rashes, dry broken skin, eczema and psoriasis. While we cannot promise resolution of these ailments (this cream has not been clinically tested) we are rewarded constantly with anecdotal stories about how this cream works for our clients who have had these issues."
And while it's the middle of winter, Barker says the farm is still plenty active.
"Currently we have 10 hives that we are overwintering," she says. "Around each hive we have wrapped chicken wire and stuffed hay in the space in between their hives and the wire. We inserted long-necked funnels into a ventilation hole so that bees can exit and return, if they should be so inspired on warm winter days, which we have had this winter."
Alaska Vegan & Gluten Free will be offering carrot ginger soup, split pea soup, roasted beets and sweet potato soup, spaghetti sauce, red beans and brown rice with pico de gallo, fresh pico de gallo, corn chips, lemon garlic hemp seed salad dressing, petite baguettes, breads (with or without rosemary) and cupcakes.
Rempel Family Farm will have 10 kinds of potatoes, three varieties of beets, carrots, sugar pumpkins, stripetti squash, green cabbage, parsnips, rutabagas and daikon radish. They also will be selling Alaska-grown yak meat through fellow vendor Duane Clark.
"Yak meat is high in Omega-3s, almost no cholesterol and very high protein," says Mark Rempel. "The meat compares with bison in flavor and texture. Be careful when cooking! We are told it can become quite tough if over-cooked. We have really enjoyed eating it ourselves."
In addition to handling the Rempels' yak meat, Clark's Country Health Foods will have grass-fed beef, local free-range chickens, Alaska seafood, local honey, jams, breads and items from Alaska Sprouts.
Alex Davis of A.D. Farm will have potatoes, beets, carrots, fresh eggs, barley flour and cereal, and pork products, including chops, steaks, fat and sausages.
Drool Central will be at Center Market on Wednesday but is joining the Friends of Pets' Warm Mugs and Paws fundraising event from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church, 725 W. 9th Ave.
The Center Market is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at The Mall at Sears.
The Mat-Su Farm Market will have many of its regular vendors returning Monday (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) at the Palmer Depot.
New vendors this week include Warren Troy, author of Alaska Wilderness Adventures, and Melissa Dorow with her Alaska State Fair award-winning jams. She is featuring wild Alaskan blueberry jam, made with blueberries picked near Hatcher's Pass, and strawberry jam, made with strawberries from her garden.
Steve Edwards lives and writes in Anchorage. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.