In Season: Alaskan Salmon
Alaska’s summer salmon season has kicked off and executive chef Paul Marks and the Bellevue Club’s culinary team are thrilled to have one of their favorite ingredients back in the kitchen. According to Paul, “Every year the excitement and anticipation seems to grow for the first Alaska salmon shipments. The season starts with King and Sockeyes and finishes with Coho.”
There are few foods as nutritious as Alaska salmon according to the Club’s Registered Dietitian, Cindy Farricker. “It’s a rich source of protein, omega-3s, vitamin D, calcium and many other vitamins and minerals. In fact, Alaska salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fats because of the large amounts it contains—plus they can be easily absorbed and utilized by the body.”
Now that the fish have arrived, our culinary team is using its talents to create fresh, flavorful menu items. Our fantastic salmon entrées are featured in Polaris Grill and in Splash. You won’t want to miss our Salmon Bowl in Splash, a delicious blend of rare-seared salmon seasoned with black pepper and sesame seeds, served over brown sushi rice with edamame, wakame salad and miso dressing or the our nightly salmon special in Polaris Grill. Also watch for a variety of salmon dishes in Luna, ready to eat here or take home. This is just a sampling of the delicious creations the culinary team is excited to offer.
Recently, Chef Paul provided tips for cooking fresh salmon at home plus some simple-to-prepare, out of this world sauces to complement perfectly prepared salmon at one of his cooking classes. These fool-proof, chef-created recipes include hints for grilling, baking and searing fresh fish as well as recipes for roasted corn salsa and citrus salsa. Find all his tips on our blog at bellevueclub.blogspot.com/2011/06/in-season-alaskan-salmon.html.
Leave of Absinthe
Deconstructing the drink with Pacific Distillery owner
By John Kinmonth
Marc Bernhard is a safety officer for flight tests at Boeing. He also makes absinthe.
This is not a contradiction.
Marc immediately dispels the common notion that the mysterious green liquor causes LSD-style hallucinations, or any hallucinations at all.
“It’s completely false,” he says. “It was basically part of a smear campaign 100 years ago by French winemakers and the temperance movement.”
Banned for nearly a century in most Western countries, the United States lifted the ban on absinthe in 2007. Although absinthe contains trace amounts of thujone, a chemical derived from the herb wormwood, Marc says that it’s less than 10 parts per million, which is nowhere near enough to cause hallucinations.
According to Marc, the hallucination myth came about due to misinformation about chronic alcoholism and alcohol-related psychosis.
“Doctors did not understand alcoholism like we do today. Any hardcore alcoholic experiences hallucinations if you take them off alcohol,” he says. “Fast forward to the ’60s, and somebody read old papers and kind of built up an urban legend about it.”
About 10 years ago, Marc became interested in exploring the pre-prohibition beverage.
“I was in a college class and they were mentioning some of the writers and artists of the late 19th century that were into it,” he says. “It was probably one or two years later that I began small-scale experiments in making it.”
His first experiments were admittedly rudimentary.
“I basically took herbs and dumped them in vodka. It was hideous,” he says.
However, some sleuthing in chemistry archives yielded a more proven method.
“I was able to procure a 150-year-old distiller’s manual that has the instructions of how to make it properly. I copied it word for word and use a copper alembic still,” he says. “Once I had the secret, the first batch turned out to be quite drinkable and it only got better from there.”
While there’s a number of absinthe labels on the market right now, Marc says that most of them are impostors of the original fashionable Parisian drink.
“Most absinthe on the market today is basically vodka with artificial flavors and colors added to it,” he says. “Real absinthe is made in a copper alembic still. You begin by adding a specific amount of water and alcohol. Then you add the yeast, fennel and wormwood, and distill it for one to three days. It should then be aged three to six months before bottling. Freshly distilled absinthe is good, but it doesn’t have a refined taste to it.”
Founding Pacific Distillery in Woodinville in 2007, it’s one of the first licensed distilleries in Washington since prohibition. Marc grows most of the herbs used in the distilling process on farms in King and Snohomish counties.
On Thursday, July 14, Marc is teaming up with the culinary team at Polaris Grill for a special Bastille Day celebration featuring French food, French wine and, of course, absinthe. For more information, call 425.688.3384 or email email@example.com.
Inside the ‘cheese truck’
There is a non-descript box truck that occasionally pulls up to the Bellevue Club’s receiving area. No different from the hundreds of other vehicles that keep a large athletic club and boutique hotel in material goods, except that this one has a secret. A glorious, stinky secret.
The truck is filled with cheese—but don’t think stacks of processed cheddar. No, this special vehicle is closer kin to an Anthony Bourdain episode than a mere delivery truck. Cave-aged wheels of Gruyère, buttery Manchego and slightly sweet Comté line every square inch.
Every two weeks, the Bellevue Club and Hotel Bellevue culinary team gets to step aboard this slice of artisan cheese heaven.
“The Peterson cheese truck like bringing Disneyland to my front door,” says Chef Paul Marks.
The beautiful smell is overpowering, but it’s hard not to hyperventilate as your eyes greedily survey the walls filled with exotic labels and old-world textures.
The driver of the truck is no ordinary driver, either. He’s a top cheese expert recruited right out of the kitchens of the fine dining scene. You can ask him anything. A suave Peterson purchaser with a French accent sometimes rides shotgun. You can ask him anything, too.
Together, they visit the top restaurants in the region so chefs can pick out the perfect cheeses and cured meats for their rotating menus when mass-produced just won’t do.
“They bring stuff that I can’t even see at Whole Foods,” says Chef Marks.
The process is simple. Everyone crowds in the windowless cargo area of the truck to taste and talk cheese.
“Would you like to try the Chimay à la Biere? It’s a semi-soft cheese bathed in beer made by Belgian Trappist monks.”
Of course they would.
“Would you like to try the Salami Finocchiona with fennel?”
Of course they would.
“Would you like to try the truffle-infused Boschetto al Tartufo?”
Of course they would.
After tasting at least a dozen artisan cheeses, Chef Marks chooses several to grace the cheese plate of Polaris Grill—it’s so good that it’s on the dessert menu—and for Hotel Bellevue amenity gifts.
As far as personal tastes, Chef Marks tends toward the pasture.
“I prefer sheep’s milk cheese. I like the creaminess of them, but there isn’t a cheese I’ve met that I haven’t liked,” he says. Locally, he goes with a classic.
“Beecher’s Flagship is my favorite,” he says.