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Alaska Glacier Bay Discovery Cruise

by Sally Bernstein

I was looking forward to 7 days aboard a Holland America cruise ship that would sail from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seward, Alaska.  I would be teaching 3 Pacific Northwest cooking classes on board, including 2 demonstration classes and 1 hands-on class, where the students participate in the cooking.

We flew to Vancouver the day before boarding the Zaandam.  We stayed at the Pacific Palisades Hotel, one of the hotels in the boutique Kimpton group that includes 42 hotels in 19 markets.  Others include the Hotel Monaco and Hotel Palomar.  These hotels are scattered across the U.S. and Canada in many cities.

The Pacific Palisades Hotel is on Robson Street, one of the main “shop till you drop” streets of Vancouver.  Big-name retailers occupy the stores and visitors and locals cruise the strip to see and be seen.  You’ll find Zara, Banana Republic, Club Monaco, Boys’ Co, Tommy Hilfiger, and The Gap. Roots Canada, just to name a few.  And don’t miss the two kitty-corner Starbucks coffee bars at Thurlow Street.

The Pacific Palisades Hotel is in a great location, caters to dogs (you’ll see a water bowl in the lobby) and it has 230 rooms.  The 3 penthouse suites on the top, or 20th floor, have kitchens and breakfast rooms.

Pacific Palisades Hotel
1277 Robson Street
Vancouver, BC Canada

For dinner we discovered Zin on Robson, the hotel’s unpretentious restaurant located on the mezzanine level.  Zin is divided into two areas, the lounge and the restaurant.  You can eat in either room but the lounge has cozy purple velvet armchairs and a fireplace.  Whether it is a business lunch, a date night or just cocktails, Zin aims to please.  They also offer brunch served daily until 2:00 p.m. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available as is patio dining during the summer months.  Entrees the night we dined were Dungeness Crab Stuffed Rainbow Trout and Queen Charlotte Island Halibut and for an appetizer, Steamed Quadra Island Mussels.  Zin offers plenty of excellent Pacific Northwest food and fun drink choices.

Zin on Robson

We boarded the Zaandam on a Sunday.  It was to be our home for the next 7 days and nights.  Captain Sybe de Boer and 600 staff take care of the 1,400 passengers.  The Glacier Bay Discovery Cruise makes 3 stops, in Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway.   Many shore excursions are offered, such as floatplane trips, bear and whale watching, salmon and crab feasts, a lumberjack show, city tours, horse drawn trolley tours, fly fishing, motorcycle tours, helicopter, sled dog discovery, photo safaris, salmon hatchery tours, Klondike rock climbing, gold panning, snorkeling adventure.

The Zaandam also has many onboard activities, including The Greenhouse Spa and Salon, The Culinary Arts Center, The Explorations Café with a library and computers, the Casino, an Art Gallery, and a Photo Gallery.  There is nightly entertainment, plenty of food in several seated restaurants and a buffet three times a day.  There are shops onboard and Holland America has A Taste of Excellence cookbook.  Written by Master Chef Rudi Sodamin, it features 100 favorite recipes, complete with full-color photographs of food prepared onboard.

In Juneau I attended a cooking class at Chez Alaska Cooking School.  About 9 miles from the cruise terminal area, Chez Alaska teaches foods from the Southeast Waters and Lands from May through September.  Owner Annie Humphrys-Garvey offers Alaskan food including salmon, halibut, crab, scallops, oysters, shrimp, sourdough bread and pancakes served with preserved berries.  Each student receives a copy and a taste of each recipe.

Chez Alaska Cooking School
2092 Jordan Avenue # 585
Juneau, Alaska 99801


Below find a few of the Pacific Northwest recipes I taught on board the Zaandam.


Radicchio Salad with Oregon Blue Cheese & Peppered Hazelnuts

Serves 6

1 head butter lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1 head radicchio, torn into bite-size pieces
8 oz. Oregon blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
5 Tbsp. hazelnut oil or olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
Peppered Hazelnuts

Combine lettuce, radicchio and cheese in a large bowl. Pour vinegar into small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Toss lettuce mixture with vinaigrette. Season salad with salt and pepper. Sprinkle Peppered Hazelnuts over lettuce mixture and serve immediately.

Peppered Hazelnuts
Makes 1 cup
1 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
1 tsp. vegetable oil
3/4 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 300°F. Stir all ingredients in a small bowl to coat hazelnuts. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until coating is crisp and hazelnuts are toasted, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool.

© Sally Bernstein, 2008


Wild King Salmon with Macerated Cherries and Smoked Almond Beurre Noisette

Serves 4

Macerated Cherries
1 cup dried cherries (Chukar brand preferred)
1 cup port or Madeira
To prepare the Macerated Cherries, place the dried cherries in a heatproof non reactive bowl.  Bring the port to a boil and pour over the cherries.  Cover with plastic wrap and steep for 30 minutes.  Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.

Four 8-ounce Yukon River King salmon or other wild salmon filets (center cuts preferred), with skin on
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, or ½ tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled
freshly grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup smoked almonds, lightly crushed (Blue Diamond Smokehouse brand preferred)

Prepare a medium-low fire in a gas or charcoal grill.  Brush the salmon with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place the filets on the grill skin side down away from direct heat.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, turn the fish, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more (for medium rare), or to the desired doneness. 

While the fish is grilling, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook until the butter turns brown and gives off a nutty aroma.  This is called beurre noisette in French, and translates as “brown butter.”  Remove the skillet from the heat and add the chopped rosemary, orange zest, almonds and Macerated Cherries (drained and patted dry) in that order, pausing between each addition and stirring gently to allow each ingredient to render its essence into the butter.  Be careful when adding the first two ingredients, as the butter may sizzle and pop.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the salmon fillets on 4 dinner plates, top with brown butter and serve immediately.

©Braiden Rex-Johnson 2007; Pacific Northwest Wining and Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia


Berry and Peach Cobbler

Serves 4-6

1 cup fresh cleaned strawberries, blueberries or raspberries or a combination 
5 large fresh peaches, pitted & sliced thin
1/3 cup sugar
½ tsp. almond extract

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
½ cup milk

2 Tbsp. butter, softened
Cook sliced peaches with sugar over medium heat in a saucepan until the peaches soften and a
liquid forms, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add berries and almond extract.

In a bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk until just combined.

Butter a 9” x 13” pan with softened butter.  Add batter, then peaches on top.
Bake 425 degrees F. for 20 minutes.  If need be, bake a few more minutes until the crust is golden brown.

© Sally Bernstein, 2008



Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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