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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sushi Saki Saturday!

In preparation for an Elkhorn Inn guest dinner of  almond-crusted pan-fried trout, last night Chef Dan came home from wonderful Food City with not only beautiful trout fillets, but butter-tender, sushi-quality tuna & baby scallops- AND a bottle of Japanese Gekkeikan saki! And so, late as it was, Elisse pulled out her little bamboo maki-mat, cooked up a pot of sushi rice, and got down to some serious maki-makin'! As I wrote the first time I made maki here at the Elkhorn Inn, if ANYONE had suggested, "way back" 8 years ago when we bought the flooded, abandoned building in the middle of "nowhere" that we'd turn into the Elkhorn Inn, that we'd be dining on better sushi here than I'd ever had in NYC, (much less that I'd be making it), we both would have HOWLED with laughter! But it's true! Thanks to Food City (and the internet purveyors of 'exotic' foodstuffs, such as pickled ginger, ume (Japanese pickled plums), nori (seaweed sheets), and the like), we really can & do eat like kings & queens here in the wild and wonderful mountains of the southern WV boonies!
Although ume maki are ever on the menu in American sushi bars, when one orders them one finds they're almost never available, and so the last time I ate ume was at a fabulous Kaiseki meal in the glorious, historic Japanese Inn in Kyoto where Dan & I stayed on our 2008 honeymoon! So when, during one of my late-night internet "foodie" hunts, I found I could order jars of ume on the internet, I jumped at the chance! And thus, around midnight, while our Elkhorn Inn guest happily surfed the 'net, Dan & I quietly feasted on sashimi & Elisse's Magnificent Maki, toasting each other with saki! Who'd a thunk it?!
And maki rolls are SO easy to make! I do not say this lightly, as I am NOT a chef, much less a sushi chef, but the incredibly simple instructions that came with my mail-order bamboo rolling mat really work! The nori sheets are easy to roll, don't crack, & sticks to itself, easily sealing the rolls, and a good, sharp knife is all you need to slice them. The sushi rice (which Food City actually has!) has the consistency of fluffy, white clay, and it's easy to spread thinly on the nori or form into little "sushi balls" (Chef Dan had a lot of fun doing that!)  What you Must have is great, sushi-quality fresh fish & seafood, real sushi rice and the powdered sushi vinegar to mix with it, nori sheets, and the condiments: good soy sauce, pickled ginger, and wasabi. You really should have Saki or green tea, too! Ume plums, white & black sesame seeds, etc. are fun to have, too, & my feeling is that if you're ordering one thing, you might as well save on shipping and order the lot! While cookbooks and internet instructions are fine, as you can see from the photo above, and I actually did a good job of slicing the fish properly, if I say so myself (!), what I'd Really like for Dan & I to be able to take a "lesson" with a sushi chef at a good Japanese restaurant, so we could learn more about the proper way to cut different fish and seafood, and the "art" of rolling and seasoning and presentation... And in a perfect world, I'd like that lesson to take place in Japan, too. :-)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Upcoming fall events at the Elkhorn Inn!

We have two great upcoming events at the Elkhorn Inn this fall:
Labor Day Weekend, Sept 3-5, 2010: Our second "Dueling Dining-Car Chefs" Railfan Gourmet Weekend with James Porterfield!
Jim Porterfield, author of "Dining by Rail" & "From The Dining Car", will be joining us again as Guest Chef for a friendly (& delicious) "duel" with Chef Dan on Friday, Sept. 3 and Saturday, Sept. 4! Not only can you stay on the NS Pocahontas line and enjoy all the trains, but enjoy dinners with courses from famed dining cars around the country, in the company of the man who literally wrote the book on them: all recipes for both dinners are from Jim Porterfield's books!

Chef James Porterfield's Fri. Evening Menu:
Tangy Cole Slaw (Missouri Pacific Railroad)
Shrimp Creole (Illinois Central Railroad - served on the iconic City of New Orleans), Baked Lima Beans in a mild mustard sauce (Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad)
Baked Pear Crunch with Lemon Sauce (Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, & Pacific Railroad)

Chef Dan's Sat. Evening Menu:
Spinach salad (Tamalpais)
Oven-Roasted Red Beet & Grand Marnier Soup (American Orient Express)
Alberta Beef Tenderloin With Portobello Duxelle & Blueberry Wine Demi-Glace (Royal Canadian Pacific)
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes (Midnight Sun Express)
Apple Blossoms (Scottish Thistle) 

The cost for this gourmand railfan weekend is $499.00 per guest room (double occupancy), ($399.00 for a single), and includes two nights lodging at the Inn, Continental Breakfast each morning, and the two "Dining-Car Dinners" on Friday and Saturday evening! At the moment we have only 2 guest rooms left for this weekend, so call us as quick as you can at 1-800-708-2040 or 304-862-2031 if you'd like to attend!!

Halloween Weekend, Oct 29-31, 2010: Ghost Hunt with a Professional Paranormal Investigator at the Elkhorn Inn!
Mark Painter of "Signs of Ghosts" will be joining us at the Elkhorn Inn with his state-of-the-art ghost-hunting equipment, and guests can spend two (possibly spooky!) nights at the inn & take part in a professional paranormal investigation!
The historic "Coal Heritage Trail" Elkhorn Inn was built in 1922 as the Empire Coal & Coke Company's Miner's Clubhouse, and replaced two buildings that had burned down on the spot. LOTS of things have happened in this building over the years, and LOTS of people have worked and/or stayed here! (We've been told that in the 1920s, a disgruntled miner shot the mine company Pay Master at the "pay window", and we've seen the newspaper article about a lady who was hit by a train and carried into the "hotel" building that stood where the Inn stands now...) After we bought the building in 2002 and Dan began to restore it, we had LOTS of "interesting" experiences... which Dan took to calling "Molly"! (For more information, see the chapter on the Elkhorn Inn in Deborah L. Davis' book "Some Things That Go Bump In The Night") Mark Painter, who has recently done paranormal investigations at a number of historic West Virginia properties, spent a night at the Inn filming, and the videos are fascinating-  you can see them on the Elkhorn Inn's Facebook page under "Events". (The photo above is one Mark took of our kitchen door- cool, no?!) In addition, Elisse & Dan got to try out Mark's electromagnetic frequency meter and digital voice recorder, and scare the poopies out ourselves using Mark's "bionic ear" and "voice box" around the building! Elisse literally had conversations with the "voice box", and it kept calling our dog Bear by name and telling him to sit- and he did!

So if you've always wanted to learn about and participate in a real "ghost-hunt" with a professional paranormal investigator, now's your chance! Maybe you'll get to meet "Molly", or one of the many miners or others who've played a part in southern West Virginia's history!

The cost for this one-of-a-kind Halloween weekend is $395.00 per guest room (double occupancy), ($345.00 for single), and includes two nights lodging at the Inn, a Chef Dan Dinner at that Inn on one night, Continental Breakfast each morning, and the opportunity to "ghost hunt" with Mark through the nights! Note that only 8 guest rooms are available for this special weekend, so call us at 1-800-708-2040 or 304-862-2031 if you'd like to attend!!