A Thought For Food » where ideas are brought to simmer


I hemmed and hawed: do I write something or should I let the images speak for themselves? As a photographer, you hope that your pictures are strong enough to tell the whole story. When shooting a restaurant, it’s possible to do this. A five day trip to Alaska, however, is more challenging. While I want to give these images some context, to provide a play by play of the week’s events would result in an epic entry.  So, I’ll try to keep things concise.

Cordova is located 160 miles southeast of Anchorage. It is only accessible by plane or boat, which, surprisingly, doesn’t seem to effect tourism as much as one would expect. The population, I was told, is approximately 6,000. That number, however, decreases significantly, to 2,500, during the winter months.  Salmon fishing is their main industry, with an estimated 480 drift gillnet permits participating this summer. In addition, there are local and state organizations developed to assist the fisheries and preserve the area’s natural resources, such as the Copper River Watershed Project, which “works to foster the health of the Copper River watershed’s salmon-based communities, economies and cultures.” In addition, there’s the Department of Fishing and Gaming, which “manages approximately 750 active fisheries” and “foster[s] the highest standards of scientific integrity and promote innovative sustainable fish and wildlife management programs to optimize public uses and economic benefits.” You will also see some images of a fish and game sonar station, located near Child’s Glacier and the Million Dollar Bridge (also featured in the post), where, over the course of the season, three researchers each work eight hour shifts to track the salmon and other wildlife that pass through the river.

There are five different species of wild Alaskan salmon: King (aka Chinook), which is red in color and high in omega-3s, Sockeye, pictured below at the salmon filleting demo, Coho (aka Silver), which are a bright orange-red color, and Chum and Pink, both of which are less oily and not as flavorful (making them the least profitable).

Walking down the streets of Cordova, you’ll see folks waving at each other.  Towards the end of my time there, this happened on quite a few occasions. I’d be in town and would see someone I’d met the day before. Big hellos and hugs. Friendly. Welcoming. I’d never thought that Cordova, being as remote as it is, would be a place I’d feel connected to. But that’s exactly how I felt: like a part of a community. And it’s one that I hope to return to in the future.


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  • TieghanJuly 30, 2014 - 12:25 am

    So many gorgeous pictures. What a beautiful place! And the salmon, wow!! Looks just amazing. Thanks so much for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • MegJuly 30, 2014 - 2:34 am

    Lovely! I have never been to Cordova but have heard only wonderful things. Living in Alaska is wild and I love it. Beautiful photos!ReplyCancel

  • MeredithJuly 30, 2014 - 10:56 am

    I’m in love with the smokiness and jewled tones of your photography — you captured everything beautifully! Just gorgeous! Glad we finally had time to talk in Alaska. It was an awesome trip and I think someone needs to come up with the recipes for the salmon roe and the chia seed cookies!ReplyCancel

  • KaseyJuly 30, 2014 - 12:29 pm

    Stunning photos, Brian! I am dying to go to Alaska.ReplyCancel

  • KateJuly 30, 2014 - 3:49 pm

    Brian, thank you for sharing your experience! I caught a glimpse of some breathtaking scenes on instagram. I’d love to go to Alaska someday and enjoy some super fresh, wild salmon.ReplyCancel

  • Beautiful photos – love how you captured the essence of your trip! Alaska is on my list of places to visit one of these days.ReplyCancel

  • Laine WelchJuly 30, 2014 - 6:17 pm

    Thanks for the stunning images of Cordova and its outstanding salmon fishery. It’s a model for all of Alaska!

    So glad you made the trip to the Great Land and are sharing your story.

    Laine Welch

  • hughJuly 30, 2014 - 6:38 pm

    The images are beautiful, Bryan. Takes me back :)ReplyCancel

  • Sylvie | Gourmande in the KitchenJuly 30, 2014 - 8:01 pm

    Such magnificent landscapes, it looks like a beautiful place to visit.ReplyCancel

  • Aimee @ Simple BitesJuly 30, 2014 - 8:31 pm

    Just wow. These are incredible captures, Brian. Thanks for sharing. Loved returning to Alaska through your eyes. xoReplyCancel

  • Helene ReedJuly 30, 2014 - 8:31 pm

    Love avocados and salmon together with a little balsamic vinegar and dill. The pictures are great and it sounds as though you had a great adventure Brian. ReplyCancel

  • Carolyn KetchumJuly 31, 2014 - 7:19 am

    Wow, Brian, the trip looks amazing and your photos ARE enough to tell the story!ReplyCancel

  • KristenJuly 31, 2014 - 7:51 am

    I have been anxiously awaiting these photos and wow…you did not disappoint!ReplyCancel

  • sara forteJuly 31, 2014 - 4:13 pm

    these are so beautiful! I mean, I knew you were a great photographer, but the images and the mood in all of them is so spot on. So glad we were able to enjoy this beautiful place with you. I hope to find myself there again someday.ReplyCancel

  • Renee ReiserJuly 31, 2014 - 8:13 pm

    Brian – The pictures are magnificent and they whey my appetite to go to Alaska sooner then later. I also think that your mother should use one of the pictures to paint. I know I would love to do it in her class.ReplyCancel

  • kitaJuly 31, 2014 - 8:29 pm

    Every single image… still and breathtaking. You could have done without the words, but I am very glad that you shared your thoughts too.ReplyCancel

  • The Cordova TimesJuly 31, 2014 - 9:50 pm

    Brian, we sure enjoyed having you (and Meredith, Sarah, Hugh, Lari, Lori, Brooks and Heidi) here and would be delighted for you to return. Your photos are gorgeous and it’s great to see this amazing place that we all love through your eyes. Thanks so very much! ReplyCancel

  • JoanneAugust 5, 2014 - 7:26 am

    I can feel from these photos and your words what an amazing experience this was!!ReplyCancel

Marinated Feta + Garlic Scape Pesto

Some trips are just trips. You go, you sightsee and you eat at a few local joints. Then there are the ones that leave a lasting mark. I knew early on that my time in Alaska would be special. It was on our second night in Cordova that we had the pleasure of being fed a home-cooked meal by the wife of a local fisherman (a meal, I must add, that included the best chowder I’ve ever consumed). While our host wined and dined us, we had a chance to talk to a roomful of locals, all of whom were both curious about who we were and who were also eager to answer any of our questions (and we had lots of them).  It was as if we were being welcomed into a friend’s house and, by the end of our time in Cordova, I did feel like I had made friends. A rare occurrence on any trip, let alone one organized by a marketing company. You’ll get a lot more information (and photos) in a post I hope to share next week. But, for now, I’m just trying to digest the experience.

Garlic Scape Pesto

Marinated Feta + Garlic Scape Pesto

Marinated Feta + Garlic Scape Pesto

Marinated Feta + Garlic Scape Pesto

Marinated Feta + Garlic Scape Pesto

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  • TieghanJuly 14, 2014 - 8:49 am

    What a cool place and that pizza looks awesome! Thanks for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • NaomiJuly 14, 2014 - 11:43 am

    I love the casual feel of this place-you captured it perfectly.ReplyCancel

  • MonetJuly 14, 2014 - 11:43 pm

    Oh I love these shots Brian. From the tile floors to the beautiful light fixtures to the sweet family. Adore. Thank you for sharing with us.ReplyCancel

  • Jeanette's Healthy LivingJuly 15, 2014 - 2:21 pm

    I’ve got to make my way up to this place – looks fabulous!ReplyCancel

Cucumber SaladCucumber SaladCucumber SaladCucumber SaladCucumber Salad

It’s hard to believe that in less than a week I leave for Alaska. A few months ago, I was approached by the Copper River salmon fishery to join them on a trip to Cordova, Alaska. The idea of being on a boat with fishermen, to watch them catch salmon and then eat it fresh… well, there’s nothing that could bring me more joy.  I envision myself on the deck of this vessel, hands open, awaiting a slice of sashimi. Ok, maybe I’m getting carried away. It most likely won’t go exactly as I imagine (a boy can dream, though, right?), but I’m fairly certain that I’ll eat the freshest fish I’ve ever consumed.

I’m also thrilled to be away from the 90+ degree weather we’ve had here. I swore I wouldn’t complain about the heat, but, what can I say, this is what us Bostonians do. We can’t help but talk about the temperature, except between April and May (when we whine about the rain) and September and October. Right now it looks to be in the 60s while I’m in Cordova. Which sounds perfect to me!

I refuse to turn on the oven when it’s above 80 degrees and, therefore, we’ve been eating a lot of salads. Not lettuce-laden salads, but hearty salads loaded with grilled fish and hard-boiled eggs and cheese.  This pickled cucumber salad often makes its way onto the plate. It does the trick in cooling things down: the combination of thinly sliced cucumbers, fresh herbs and vinegar helps cut the heat and humidity in just a few bites.

Cucumber Salad

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  • TieghanJuly 9, 2014 - 8:55 am

    This looks so refreshing and is perfect for these hot July days!ReplyCancel

  • ToddJuly 9, 2014 - 12:14 pm

    That Alaska trip sounds like a dream. I can’t wait to hear all about it!! A refreshing cucumber salad has always been one of my favorites. Cheers Brian!!ReplyCancel

  • EileenJuly 9, 2014 - 3:05 pm

    This salad sounds so refreshing! Definitely perfect for the first summer cucumbers. :)ReplyCancel

  • Anne Thurman-TateJuly 9, 2014 - 7:52 pm

    Brian, your photography always showcases the food so beautifully, no matter what it is.
    A version of this salad has been gracing my family’s summer table for at least three generations. But no one else I know seems to make it, so I loved seeing this post! Ours has white onions added (sometimes my mom also adds green pepper) and an alternate version includes sour cream (this is the recipe we make most often). We love it so much that we make big batches and plan for leftovers because it tastes so much better the next day. I’ve never thought of putting it on green salad, but now it’s all I can think about. I’m definitely going to try it!ReplyCancel

  • Thalia @ butter and briocheJuly 9, 2014 - 10:16 pm

    what a great recipe… so refreshing and light. definitely will be recreating it. thanks for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Sylvie | Gourmande in the KitchenJuly 9, 2014 - 10:17 pm

    I’m the same way when it gets hot, I just want to eat fresh salads all summer long.ReplyCancel

  • MonetJuly 10, 2014 - 12:09 am

    Gorgeous. Only you could make cucumber salad look so sexy! I have also been complaining about the heat (which really isn’t fair since I live in Colorado). We’ll be trying this cool pickled salad soon.ReplyCancel

  • TidyMomJuly 10, 2014 - 7:51 am

    oh this looks and sounds fabulous! I’m a huge fan of cucumber salads!ReplyCancel

  • MarciaJuly 10, 2014 - 4:57 pm

    I am so stopping for cucumbers on my way home tonight! That looks so perfect for these hot NYC nights! And beautiful photographs.
    Enjoy your trip – sounds amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Copper River SalmonJuly 11, 2014 - 12:38 am

    That cucumber salad looks delicious and so refreshing. We are very much looking forward to having you here soon in Cordova! ReplyCancel

  • JoanneJuly 11, 2014 - 7:22 am

    Oh my gosh, ALASKA?! That is awesome! You are going to have so much fun! I can’t wait to see tons of photos.

    And how did you know I have about 5,000 cukes in my fridge? This salad is HAPPENING.ReplyCancel

  • Jen @ My KItchen AddictionJuly 11, 2014 - 3:07 pm

    I just decided to make a cucumber salad for dinner tonight and was looking for a recipe when I remembered you had just posted this a few days ago. Perfect! I’m taking dinner over to a friend’s house, and I think this will be perfectly refreshing. I might sub in some basil for the dill since we’re having it with roasted veggie pizza.ReplyCancel

  • Marnely Rodriguez-MurrayJuly 12, 2014 - 11:16 pm

    Oh Alaska sounds amazing right about now…and the salad looks gorgeous, but I have yet to start liking cucumbers. Maybe when I turn 40 I’ll love them, but for now – more for you! 😉ReplyCancel

  • DeniseJuly 13, 2014 - 10:59 pm

    We have totally been digging on cucumber salads this summer as well. Aren’t they the best? I haven’t tried pickling my cucumber salads as of yet but now am intrigued, especially with a little mint added in. Have fun in Alaska – sounds like an amazing trip. Even though I am a girl, I’d love to be on that boat hauling in salmon!ReplyCancel

  • BethJuly 14, 2014 - 12:47 am

    This was delicious and refreshing! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful and easy-to-make recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Brandon @ Kitchen KonfidenceJuly 16, 2014 - 4:14 pm

    Beautiful photography here! Makes me want to dive right in to this salad.ReplyCancel

  • ShainaJuly 24, 2014 - 11:51 am

    We do this, but without the mint. Clearly that is a mistake, as the mint sounds delightful. Your Alaska photos on Instagram were amazing. I can’t wait to see more.ReplyCancel

Blackened Scallops with Grilled Romaine + Citrus SaladBlackened Scallops with Grilled Romaine + Citrus Salad

One of the major differences between our old place and the new house is that we no longer have central A/C. So far, we’ve done pretty well… making sure to open all the windows at the end of the day as the temp cools and then closing them first thing in the morning. At this point, we do our best to avoid cooking indoors. It’s hard to fathom turning on the oven when you’re already sweating buckets.

Eric is usually the grill-master in our house, but once in a while, usually when I have a project that necessitates it, I’ll get the thing going. Earlier this year, I was contacted by Frontier Natural Products Co-op to do some recipe development and photography for their “Grill the Goodness” campaign featuring their line of organic seafood seasonings. Since we’re fully into grilling season, I hope you all enjoy these recipes. I’m fond of all of them, but these scallops, paired with a bright citrus, grilled romaine and avocado salad, is something I could eat every day and never get tired of it.

Once you make this, be sure to check out the other two recipes, Ginger and Honey Glazed Salmon and Grilled Blackened Shrimp, over at the Frontier website.

Blackened Scallops with Grilled Romaine + Citrus Salad

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  • FoodNerdJuly 2, 2014 - 4:57 am

    Those scallops look incredible. I love Summer with all the fresh fish on offer. I must give this a go!

    FoodNerd x


  • Liz @ The Lemon BowlJuly 2, 2014 - 8:51 am

    Even though there isn’t a drop of lemon juice in this recipe, I want to lick the plate. 😉ReplyCancel

  • TieghanJuly 2, 2014 - 9:20 am

    I love blackened anything and this look so awesome!ReplyCancel

  • MonetJuly 2, 2014 - 11:59 pm

    So lovely and fresh. Scallops are just meant for summer and the grill. And of course, they’re also meant for a talented photographer like you. So pretty to capture! So delicious to eat! Thank you for sharing Brian!ReplyCancel

  • JoanneJuly 3, 2014 - 8:37 am

    We have been turning on the A/C nonstop and I’m not sure how I could live without it! However, I never seemed to need it when I lived in Boston. I am pining a bit for a grill and these gorgeous scallops are not helping! 😛ReplyCancel

  • francescaJuly 3, 2014 - 10:54 am

    The first thing I did when I read you have no central AC is checked to see WHERE YOU ARE. But doesn’t Boston get terribly humid!? We don’t have it either but it basically rains 300 days a year in Holland :)
    Love that you guys incorporated tart citrus here. CheersReplyCancel

  • […] blackened scallops with grilled romaine. […]ReplyCancel

  • Averie @ Averie CooksJuly 5, 2014 - 1:30 pm

    Brian your images are always just drop dead stunning, crisp, clear, gorgeous! Pinned!ReplyCancel

  • Millie l Add A LittleJuly 6, 2014 - 3:25 am

    This looks seriously amazing! That salad looks so perfect for summer too!

  • Nancy LongJuly 6, 2014 - 1:19 pm

    yum, love scallops!ReplyCancel

  • MarciaJuly 7, 2014 - 11:43 am

    Brian, that looks so fresh & delicious! I have to make that very soon….
    The other grilled recipes too. Just gorgeous.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - A Cookie Named DesireJuly 8, 2014 - 10:49 am

    Blackened scallops are the best. They really are. And the salad is a wonderful accompaniment This plate looks like absolute perfection.ReplyCancel

  • […] and some other spice I was all like “sold.”  I also cannot stop thinking about these Blackened Scallops from one of my favorite bloggers.  It makes me want to make scallops which I literally have made […]ReplyCancel

  • DeniseJuly 16, 2014 - 9:55 am

    Brian, these scallops are perfect. Just the way I like them, golden brown on the outside. I am not a fan of scallops usually unless they are larger, and cooked this way. Great recipe!!ReplyCancel

  • LirenJuly 31, 2014 - 5:19 pm

    Brian, this is so enticing on so many levels. First off, how beautiful! Secondly, I adore scallops, especially since it cooks so very quickly. And lastly, those bright flavors from the citrus salad makes so much sense. I would love this for dinner any night.ReplyCancel