Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Is Bonners Ferry Not In North Idaho???

Wow, my husband and I spent the day in Coeur d'Alene because we had errands to do, not the least of which was returning books to the NIC library. Since our arrival coincided with lunch, we decided to try out a new, for us, restaurant, the Bonsai Bistro. It was pretty good, and the $9.95 lunch special certainly filled up this hungry gal with wholesome, varied, and delicious Asian cuisine.

Up the block from the Bonsai Bistro I briefly ran into the Coeur d'Alene Visitor's Center in order to pick up the latest dining guide for not just Coeur d'Alene but all of north Idaho. I found a publication that I have enjoyed in the past, but this time I was struck by the fact that nothing, NOTHING was mentioned about Bonners Ferry, Idaho. To say the least, I was appalled.

Bonners Ferry, ID is the internatonal gateway into Canada, including destinations like the east Kootenays, the Canadian Rockies, and the International Selkirk Loop. Approximately 30 miles north of Sandpoint, ID, just north of Bonners Ferry one can travel east towards Montana and Glacier National Park, northeast towards the Canadian Rockies and directly north through the Kootenai Valley to the Kootenay Rockies (the different spellings are a Canadian/U.S. difference). Boundary County is a region of immense beauty, including the Kootenai River, the Moyie River, the Kootenai Valley, alpine lakes, waterfalls, hiking trails, and vast areas of state and federal forest land. Our recently re-vitalized downtown has tourists and locals alike visiting in droves with write-ups on many local tourist sites, e.g., tripadvisor.com.

And thus, to my complaint: Idaho Cuisine, in its 10th Anniversary Issue, has no mention whatsoever of any Bonners Ferry restaurant, including one of its newest, Papa Byrd's Bistro. As an Idaho blogger, and, in full discretion the pastry chef at Papa Byrd's Bistro, I cannot believe that Idaho Cuisine does not include Bonners Ferry in their magazine.

I love my position at Papa Byrd's but I have not been remiss in dishing out compliments to other restaurants and tourist attractions in Boundary County. The first summer of our new International Visitor's Center opening, I volunteered one day each week into welcoming tourists from around the world to our beautiful county. I also blogged about some of our local food oriented attractions. I believe in supporting local businesses and eat at all the restaurants, shop locally as much as possible, and support the reasoning that any good business is good for all businesses. The next summer I began work at Papa Byrd's, which shares a parking lot with the Visitor's Center, and became the souschef (Mark is the head chef) cum tourist advisor for out-0f-towners. We have had numerous compliments on both our savory cuisine and our desserts. Other local restaurants have also had much support locally and internationally including "Under the Sun" cafe and shopping; "Jill's Cafe"; "The Creamery"; the "Panhandle Cafe"; "Bonners Books"; "Boardwalk Boutique"; "Mountain Mike's Nutrition and Gourmet Food"; "Paradise Valley Bed and Breakfast"; the "Log Inn"; the "Northside School Bed and Breakfast"; and numerous other businesses.

Thus, for all these reasons, I am appalled that a magazine representing north Idaho, somehow forgot the crown jewel of Idaho, Boundary County. I invite all journalists from Idaho and eastern Washington to visit a county that, although seemingly hidden, remains the crown of the gem state. We're not just the friendliest, we have incredible scenery, lovely accommodations, diverse shopping, and over-the-top cuisine.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

And All Is Well In Linda's Kitchen

Ahh, as always, life has moved on. No more friends in the kitchen (lying, cheating, stealing will do a person in), another busy tourist season, and successes learned, have turned my restaurant employment into, once again, a job worth my while.

But with the extra days off (we have another cook), the appointment of pastry chef, and my own garden, my own kitchen has been a pleasure in recent months.

I had the worst oven anyone could own, and when two burner's finally bit the dust, I just told my husband that's it. New stove. A trip to Fred's Appliances in Coeur d'Alene. And lo and behold, it turned out that in two weeks after that trip, Fred's was having their giant parking lot sale in Spokane. Well, even if it meant rising at 4am, I wanted a decent stove and so off we journeyed. I didn't get my ding and dent, but I did buy, at a very reasonable price, a GE duel range, 30" stand alone (which is huge for my kitchen) and I am so happy! I'm still getting used to the very accurate oven, working with high-powered gas burners, compared to 18 yrs of electric burners, and just the overall workings of this baking/convection two-oven marvel. Indeed, I'm just now figuring out the bread temperatures, an important point to know since I bake all our own bread.

I also have my garden to contend with these days. The cutworms have been deadly to my black Tuscan kale and Swiss Chard so it's now warfare. Thankfully, Garden's Alive provides me with a pretty much organic defense, but all the rain has made this an ongoing war.... It's extra work, but I mean to prevail.

So, with my own garden produce coming on strong, I have been making endless creations with spinach, lettuce, fresh herbs, baby turnips, beets, and carrots, some peppers, summer squash, and even some early, renegade potatoes. It's all so delicious! From the first chives in spring, well into October (and even later with global warming) my garden just keeps on giving....

I did make myself, way back in April, the most marvelous birthday cake ever. After buying myself Sherry Yard's Desserts By the Yard, I made the chocolate twelve layer Dobos torte that she had once made for an Academy Awards dinner. Oh! Wow! Oh! That was incredible! One of my best birthday cakes. But that is what I do every year for my birthday - I challenge myself to make a dessert in which I do not fully understand the process but, of course, by the end, I'm "in the know." It's so gratifying, especially when it turns out so perfectly.

Ah, it's so good to be writing about food again. I can't wait to upload some photos to support more of my incredible experiences with food.