Harvesting Alaska: Talkeetna cafe specializes in local food
Many people are making an effort to try and eat locally.
For Alaskans, that means consuming more of what's grown and manufactured in our state. One restaurant owner who is trying to make that easier for people is Anita Golton. Golton owns the Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe in Talkeetna.
"I like to say we have something for everyone," said Golton. "There's lots of vegetarian options and a good number of gluten-free options."
Golton opened the Flying Squirrel in 2009. Her food isn't just healthy and delicious, to the extent possible, the items on her menu are grown nearby.
"We'll put little stars on the menu, and somewhere in the corner it will say, ‘everything with a star is Alaska grown.’"
For Golton, eating local and using local ingredients is important-- and so is supporting local businesses. The sweetener in her homemade granola is Alaska birch syrup that comes from the Kahiltna Birch Works. The alder-smoked Alaska sea salt sprinkled on the avocado toast is refined in Sitka. But, some items at the cafe are found even closer to home—as a lot of the vegetables she features in her cooking come straight from the family farm.
Golton's husband, Brian Kingsbury, runs the Birch Creek Ranch just a mile or so up the road from the cafe. In addition to supplying other Talkeetna restaurants with produce and fresh flowers, he grows plenty of food that ends up in the cafe.
"She's my best customer," said Kingsbury. "Whatever we grow, she finds a way to use it."
Golton said it can be challenging designing menus around what is grown locally. Sometimes she has to get creative.
"You don't know if you are going to have tons of kale or tons of lettuce. Or, all of a sudden, the broccoli's ready and you have to make broccoli cheddar soup and freeze broccoli and put broccoli on pizza and find ways of using those things as much as you can when they're ready."
Golton said eating locally makes sense on a number of levels, including reducing the carbon footprint of having to transport food long distances. To that end, the cafe offers a discount for people who don't arrive in a motorized vehicle. Golton said she's served people who showed up at the cafe on skis, horseback and even a dog sled.
But more than anything, Golton said, using local ingredients is a point of pride.
"It makes things taste like Alaska, and I really enjoy doing that."
She's happy to share her creations with customers at the cafe.
KTVA is partnering with Edible Alaska to bring you some incredible recipes this season. This week, learn how to make a California Roll Bowl.
For all the recipes, visit the Edible Alaska website.
Questions or comments about this story? Email reporter Lauren Maxwell.
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