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What I did on my summer vacation: Sitka Seafood Festival 2012

August 17, 2012 
By: Louisa Chu

(WBEZ/Louisa Chu)
Sitka Seafood Festival elote

It's not really a vacation per se, and a lot of locals here in Sitka, Alaska would say that it's hardly been summer, what with some of the coldest and wettest weather in a decade, even for the notoriously soggy Southeast. But I've been here for the Sitka Seafood Festival, a growing event now in its third year, cooking and eating local food (and visiting local public radio station KCAW with festival organizer Alicia Olson).
This is a critical time for Sitka, having just nixed plans to build a cruise ship dock. Cruise ship passengers currently come ashore via small shuttle boats called tenders. Some say building a dock would have boosted the local economy, while others seek to establish the town as a culinary destination.
See above what I call the Fully Loaded Sitka Seafood Festival Elote. It's a roasted ear of corn on the cob (not local, though I heard about a hopeful soul who once grew tiny ears of corn in one of the community gardens), slathered with mayo (made with a yolk, lime juice, local Alaska Pure alder smoked salt and canola oil) mixed with sour cream, garnished with local salmon roe, locally grown cilantro, and sold-locally-only Alaska Pure spicy hot pepper salt). The good people of Sitka had never heard of an elote (curiously common in two places: Mexico and Chicago) but I was relieved that when I finished the festival demo, I wasn't pelted with fish heads from the bobbing for fish heads contest. 
I also made the passed apps for a VIP cocktail hour, kicking off with oysters, Caddy Ganty style: roasted oysters finished with brown butter toasted Pilot Bread crumbs and locally grown nasturtium petals. Halibut Caddy Ganty is a dish made with white wine marinated halibut; covered with mayo, sour cream, onions, bread crumbs, and paprika; then baked until golden and bubbly. What's become a homey dish was named after the woman who's credited with inventing it: Clarabelle "Caddie" Ganty, whose granddaughter's blog post reveals a sophisticated woman in rural Alaska. Halibut Caddy Ganty is best known....