Lutefisk, Jamaica’s best, and a chilling McRib encounter

The first (and last) time I tasted lutefisk, literally “lyefish” in Norwegian, was at a supper in Mount Horeb, Wis. It is one of the world’s great food curiosities, and an acquired taste in the extreme.

It is made from stockfish (air-dried whitefish) soaked in cold water, later soaked in a solution of cold water and lye. The Sons of Norway Viking Lodge’s 13th annual Lutefisk Dinner is Jan. 29, with two seatings, at 3 and 6 p.m. The menu will be lutefisk with melted butter or white sauce, roast pork, potatoes, vegetables, Norwegian baked goods and lefse, a delicious potato flour flatbread.

If you wish to attend, mail a check to Gwen Knighton, 2156 Marstons Mills Court, Henderson, NV 89044. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope. Price: $18, $5 for children 10 and younger. There will be a cash bar that I’m guessing will be doing a lively business.

It’s a long trek from Oslo to Montego Bay. But in Vegas, we can fly through the air from Norway to Jamaica with the greatest of ease. Tasty Island (6820 W. Flamingo Road, 222-0002) is a restaurant/market that features traditional Jamaican fare such as penetratingly spicy jerk chicken wings, comforting soups made from scratch and even goat curry, all made by proprietor Owen Sutherland.

This is a bare-bones operation; your food will be served in plastic cups or containers. And if you’re in a hurry, you can always grab a Jamaican patty from the hot box by the front register. Picture a Pop Tart with a muted orange color from annatto seeds in the dough, and spicy minced beef inside. Patties are to Jamaica what the Big Mac is to this country.

Responding to public pressure, I broke down last week and tried a McDonald’s McRib, described by The Wall Street Journal as a “boneless pork patty molded into the shape of a rib slab and adorned with pickles, onions and barbecue sauce on a bun.” It doesn’t taste that bad, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that my blood was turning into tomato sauce while I was eating it. Just a thought.

So it was cold comfort when I dined later that evening at Holsteins, the burger and shakes emporium at the Cosmopolitan. I tried an array of imaginative burgers, such as New Delhi Chicken and The Big Fat Greek, made with lamb, but wasn’t terribly impressed. And then the signature burger arrived, The Gold Standard, a dry-aged beef sirloin burger of massive proportion, layered with smoked bacon, goat cheddar cheese, tomato confit and baby arugula, and suddenly, I was in the zone. This is one terrific burger. Advantage, Holsteins.

Hungry, yet?

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Photo by Anthony MairBetty McIntosh serves fresh coffee at the Omlette House. Photo by Anthony MairThe Omlet House.