Catching Your Alaskan Dinner

September 8, 2008

I still have a few Alaska stories for you, but with the nomination of Alaska’s governor as the Republican VP candidate, an avid sportswoman, I thought I’d share one story of the glories of our 49th state: fishing.  You see, pretty much anyone can catch fish in Alaska.  If folks go out and don’t catch several specimens in a few hours, well, you either have really horrific karma or you forgot to use a hook.

Anyhow, as some of you may know, we took this family vacation in part to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday.  She was an army brat, growing up in Oklahoma, spending her formative years in Nuremburg, Germany, and living in Raleigh for pretty much the past half century.  She loved to fish when she was a child, but she told us that she hadn’t caught a fish since she was a teenager.  And she REALLY wanted to catch a fish on this trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Think of New Orleans

August 31, 2008

I’m not a religious man, but I don’t mind if others pray.  And right now, if you’re the spiritual type, please pray for New Orleans as Hurricane Gustave heads toward the Gulf Coast.  New Orleans is a national treasure, and quite frankly, it’s been shit upon quite enough already.  One of my best friends in the world is a NOLA resident, and he’s had his life turned upside down several times since Katrina.  He doesn’t need any more misery, thank you very much.  He’s not alone, either.  So many people have left New Orleans in the past three years — it got to be a joke about how many “going away” parties there were that we discussed throwing one for me — when I was getting ready to leave after a 4 day visit.

But this isn’t funny.  This is the home of some of the most creative people in the wold, and that’s not just culinary creativity.  Painters, musicians, writers, sculptor.  Heck, even their street performers are awesome.  I love New Orleans and have lots of friends there.  Real people.  Real good people. And I’m scared to death.

Best Pizza in Alaska

August 6, 2008

OK, OK, I know you’ve read the title and are saying, “The guy takes a 2-week trip to Alaska — the largest state in the nation — and he has the balls to declare a restaurant as having the best pizza in the land of the midnight sun???”

Yes I do. Read the rest of this entry »

Kayak Soup

July 31, 2008

(Click on any picture for a high resolution version)

Today’s entry is about our great sea kayaking trip with Seaside Adventure Eco-Tours, a small mom and pop outfit in Little Tutka Bay, just across Kachemak Bay from the lovely town of Homer, Alaska.  You need to take a water taxi to get here, but the trip, and the entire experience, are worth the logistical difficulties.  You quickly learn in Alaska that getting from point A to point B often entails travel by means other than an automobile. Read the rest of this entry »

Ginormous Portions in Alaska

July 29, 2008

There’s a t-shirt that you can find in most Alaskan gift shops that says, “Size Does Matter”, showing an outline of the state of Alaska and well within those boundaries, Texas.  It’s a pretty funny t-shirt, particularly if you want to rib one of your Texas friends, but the notion of “bigger is better” is alive and well in Alaskan diners.

We stopped at Rose’s Cafe in Healy, several miles north of the entrance to Denali National Park.  Rose’s is a fairly typical diner, but they really like serving large portions of food.  The entrance area is filled with pictures of individuals who have eaten the one-pound burger (or burgers consisting of several of the one-pound patties — one guy ate a 5 pounder!).  OK, that’s for the crazy people, but Rose’s also has normal sizes, thank god.

My son decides to order pancakes.  The waitress informed him that one would be enough.  One pancake?  For a hungry 9-year old?  She must be crazy.  Well, the picture above shows you that the waitress gave us great advice.

Another example of ridiculous portions comes from the less-than-average, well-past-its-prime, tourist-trap Gwennie’s in Anchorage.  This is really a lousy restaurant, the worst one we visited in Alaska, but the place didn’t disappoint when it came to quantity of food.  My father-in-law decided to eat breakfast for dinner, and he ordered a waffle and a side of reindeer sausage.  We had first had reindeer sausage at our Anchorage B&B, the wonderful Alaska House of Jade, and my father-in-law wanted some more.  Well, he got a lot more.  The amount of sausage he received was so great that it turned his stomach (mine, too).  We hardly touched the stuff.

Not every place in Alaska serves humungous portions, but we didn’t find a place that skimped on quantity.  Maybe size does matter — at least when eating in Alaska.

Dining with the Bears

July 27, 2008

We’re back from our 2-week Alaska vacation, and what a trip it was!  I’ll spend the next week or two posting mostly about some unusual culinary aspects of Alaska, with some occasional scenery thrown in for good measure.

Today, I’ve provided a picture of our group eating lunch at Hallo Bay in Katmai National Park and Preserve, the area of Alaska that required us to land in the ocean surf in a sea plane to view Alaskan brown bears (also known as grizzlies or Kodiaks).  I’ll write a LOT more about this trip, which might be the single most memorable day of vacation I’ve ever experienced, but for now, this will suffice.  We packed our own lunch, consisting of turkey wraps (which minimize crumbs, as you don’t want to leave ANY food for the bears to find, as we don’t want them to establish a link between humans as a food source).

Anyhow, this is what we watched while we dined.  Click on the photo for a higher resolution shot.

What I Saw Today in Alaska

July 20, 2008

I saw 31 brown bears today (AKA grizzly bears).  What did you see?