Dining at Our Lodges

Posted By: Jenna

January 07, 2011

Perhaps it’s just that people are reminded of food this holiday season, but my email in-box these days has a number of “Recipe Requests” lingering among the, frankly, not-so-urgent messages. While our current cookbook, A Cache of Recipes, has recipes for a good number of Camp Denali’s standbys and other recipes that will tempt you to tie on your apron and give them a try, it does not, regrettably, include any of our current entrees. Hence the myriad requests for recipes that we receive during the summer and on into the winter months.

Our kitchens turn out wholesome, flavorful, attractive meals to roughly 150 people 100 days out of the year in the middle of Denali National Park. Each day we produce sit-down breakfasts, three-course dinners, and a gourmet make-your-own lunch buffet for our guests.  In a time-honored “do it yourself; make it yourself “ tradition, we produce food from scratch, whether it’s stocks, sauces, or vinaigrettes used in dinners, or granola and yogurt served at the morning cereal bar. In addition, each day our full time baker turns out croissants and breakfast breads, artisan dinner breads, multigrain sandwich bread, fresh cookies, and desserts.

Where our food comes from matters a great deal to us. While we cannot claim much “slow food” fame in the way of locally, sustainably grown and produced food, we are trying reduce the carbon footprint of our food supply here in the subarctic. As much as possible, we buy local, seasonal and organic. Sourcing food that meets these criteria is no small challenge and takes considerable planning, effort and philosophical commitment.

Closest to home in our own green house and gardens we grow salad greens, herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes, and edible flowers. This past year we were entirely self sufficient for lettuces and other salad greens all summer long. This made for succulent dinner salads and crisp buttercrunch or romaine leaves for lunchline sandwiches. We didn’t order a single head of lettuce from California!  In addition to our garden plots, you may see staff harvesting by hand the local bounty of blueberries and lingonberries that grow on our property, which we serve fresh and preserve for sauces, syrups, and baked goods.

The concept of “locally grown” has a broader radius here in Alaska than in the Lower Forty-Eight. We’re proud of the fact that by early July, the majority of our vegetable produce comes from two organic farms (only) 100 miles north of us, Denali Organic Growers and Rosie Creek Farm. These vegetables are by far the freshest, most robust and nutritious we can supply. We also buy hams, sausages and smoked fishes produced in Alaska, and source wild Alaskan salmon, halibut and sablefish.

Here is a sample of one day’s menu from last summer:

Our Sit Down Breakfast…

Poached Eggs on a Bed of Rosie Creek Root Vegetable Hash with Fresh Fruit Side and Homemade Almond Bear Claws

Our Make-Your-Own Lunch Buffet…

Homemade Multi Grain Bread or Herb Wrap
Home-Roasted, Grass-Fed Roast Beef
Tillamook Extra-Sharp White Cheddar
Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
House-Made Pickles
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
GORP (Good-Old-Raisins-and-Peanuts with M&Ms)
Fresh Gingersnap Cookies

 And Our Three-Course Dinner…

Artisan Country Baguette

Puree of Alaskan Carrot Soup with Quenelle of Herbed Goat Cheese, Toasted Hazelnuts and Olive Oil Drizzle

Baked Fresh Alaska Halibut with Stewed Heirloom Washington State Farro Wheat, Rosie Creek Farm Baby Turnips, Baby Fennel, Radish and Pickled Shallot Slaw, and Lemon Caper Vinaigrette

Shortcakes with Home-Grown Rhubarb, Topped with Vanilla Cardamom Whipped Cream

Aaah, writing those scrumptious words makes me long for those three precious summer months at Camp Denali when I do not have to cook. Hats-off to all of our talented cooks and bakers! I’ll go fulfill those recipe requests while I’m still salivating. Looking forward to another summer of delicious meals…

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Denali Dispatch

It is our pleasure to present Dispatches, a journal of the goings on at Camp Denali & North Face Lodge. Written by members of our staff, Dispatches is an opportunity to peek into the special sightings notebook, brush up on Denali National Park issues, read about our ongoing projects in sustainability, and maybe get a whiff of what’s cooking in the kitchens. Dispatches will carry on through the winter, when we hope to share stories of snowy ski adventures, deep cold, and the events of a small Alaskan community.