Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

“Perfect!” The Bridge Restaurant in Anchorage

Language changes, and usage changes, and one of the differences I heard on this trip was an increasing use of the word “Perfect!”

We had eaten at Mooses Tooth (see below) and we wanted to change up the pace for our last night in Anchorage, finishing with really really good seafood in Anchorage. We decided on The Bridge, and we decided to make reservations.

“I’d like a reservation for two at seven o-clock” I said and the lady taking the reservation said “Perfect!”

She asked our name and I told her and she said “Perfect!”

Our name is perfect? That we gave her our name is perfect? That she wrote it down perfectly?

I told her we would see her at seven and she said . . . well, you can guess what she said:

“PERFECT!”

It took us a missed exit and some driving around to actually find The Bridge, and oh, what fun. It is in the downtown most part of downtown Anchorage, on the banks of the river, spanning the river.

00TheBridgeExterior

There are a lot of parking lots with limited parking, limited to like two hours because they have so many people wanting to fish in this river. At seven at night, this river was PACKED. The river was packed with people, fishing! They had gorgeous weather, and the fish were biting.

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This is the kitchen at The Bridge:
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And this is a view of a part of the interior. There are a variety of seating areas; this area was for those who had reservations. There was seating on a patio, but this is a very brightly lit place on a hot, sunshiney day, and I am glad to be inside, out of the hot sun, hot sun at seven at night – it’s the equinox.

00TheBridgeRestaurantInterior

We loved this restaurant, and while we had many wonderful experiences on this trip, this would be one of my first choices going back. It’s a little off the beaten trail, (although we saw two tables of eight reserved for Orvis fisherpeople) and the people who worked there seemed to really love working there. At least half of the people were from Anchorage.

We ordered the Smoked Salmon Pate, not realizing we would also get more pate with our bread. The Bridge is like that; it gives you more than you expect. Sorry for the high contrast photos; there is a lot of bright sun I am working with here.

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AdventureMan also ordered crab legs, not realizing they came on the appetizer buffet you get with the full meal, which we ordered. We ordered too much food for our last night in Anchorage, when it didn’t make sense to take food back with us.

The Bridge has a fabulous appetizer buffet.

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For his main course, AdventureMan had the grilled halibut, which he says was the best on his entire trip:

00TheBridgeGrilledHalibut

And I could not resist ordering The Bridge’s Alaska Cioppino – I am a sucker for Cioppino, and this was exquisite.

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They also had rhubarb crisp as a dessert, but I could not even think about eating another bite. Next time I hit The Bridge, I will start with the Rhubarb Crisp 🙂

The Bridge is only open for the summer season. It is a total WOW.

It was (you guessed it!) “PERFECT!”

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July 21, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Cooking, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel, Weather | , , | Leave a comment

Moose’s Tooth in Anchorage, Alaska

“Well the wait time is only 20 minutes right now, but it’s going to get a lot worse” the person on the telephone at Moose’s Tooth told me when I called to ask if they take reservations (they don’t). It was only 5:00 pm, and only a Thursday night. I can’t imagine what a Friday night must look like.

We were lucky, we got a parking place. There were already crowds of people waiting. It’s good to be two; Moose’s Tooth has some small 2 person booths, so we only waited about 20 minutes.

00MoosesToothExterior

Moose’s Tooth is crowded inside, too. There is a bar area and a dining area, and while we were there, we saw every table taken. Many were groups, after work groups, birthday groups – and we were amazed at how efficiently everything was handled. It could have been chaos, but it wasn’t.

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Love the Moose’s Tooth plates:
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In all our days in Alaska, this was the first time I had seen rhubarb on the menu. This is rhubarb crisp, and it was delicious. Rhubarb is an acquired taste, for many it is too tart, or you have to add too much sugar to make it palatable. I grew up eating rhubarb; it was one of the earliest crops in our garden, so I like it just fine.

Yes, I started with dessert. It was a priority 🙂

00MoosesToothRhubarbCrisp

AdventureMan’s salad:

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My main course was Shrimp Louis, a west-coast specialty, I never see it anywhere else. It is only on the Moose’s Tooth menu seasonally, and I was delighted to see it!

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AdventureMan had a pizza, which he said was really, really good.
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Get there early! Moose’s Tooth is really a fun place, very active, nice atmosphere, lots of locals and great food.

July 17, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips | , , , | Leave a comment

Summit Lake Lodge and the Sterling Highway

We hate to leave Homer, a truly wonderful place on God’s earth, and even more glorious in the full sunlight:

00FarewellToHomer

We drive along the Sterling Highway en route to Anchorage, a totally different day from the rainy day we drove from Seward to Homer. On this day, we are caught in traffic, all the fisherpeople heading to the Kenai river, lined up to catch salmon. The scenery is beautiful, and AdventureMan spots a moose and her calf (not pictured) grazing near the highway.

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We stop for gas and a pit stop at Grizzly Ridge, and the restrooms are immaculately clean:
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We start getting hungry. We actually stop at one place, but the food is all tired looking, and not fresh, so we continue on. AdventureMan spots Summit Lake Lodge and we agree this is the right pace to stop:
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After lunch, we stretch our legs a little; Summit Lake Lodge is on a beautiful, huge lake:
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There is a beautiful ice cream and coffee shop on the Lodge grounds where we enjoy a huckleberry ice cream before we hit the road again on our way to Anchorage.

July 15, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Environment, Hotels, Restaurant, Road Trips | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Little Mermaid; One of the Best Restaurants in Homer

The last time we were in Homer, we tried to get into The Mermaid, which was near the Driftwood Inn, but it was full, and worse – fully reserved. We had not made reservations. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake this year, but as they do, things had changed, The Mermaid was under new management and the people who had created it’s huge success were at another restaurant, The Little Mermaid. So we made a reservation at The Little Mermaid and hoped for the best.

Oh my.

It is about as opposite to Captain Patties as can be. While both emphasize great fresh seafood, The Little Mermaid is more experimental.

We were really glad we had made reservations. There is a bar, very small, and then there are like four booths and maybe three more bar stools at a counter in the room to the right.

This is the exterior:
00LittleMermaidExterior

This is the blackboard, posted to the left as you enter, actually in the bar area which overlooks the harbor:
00LittleMermaidBlackboard

And this is a view into the kitchen:
00LittleMermaidKitchen

A view of the interior where the booths are:
00LittleMermaidInterior

Our appetizer, Halibut Balls with Teriyaki Sauce. This was absolutely delicious, and I have never seen halibut presented this way before:

00LittleMermaidHalibutBalls

Now the sad part. When our meals came, I forgot to take any more photos. AdventureMan had Kodiak Scallops, which were very simple and absolutely delicious. I had a Brazilian Stone Bowl, a big (stone) bowl of Alaskan seafood in a coconut milk liquid, boiling hot and it stayed hot; it was novel and unforgettable and delicious. As we were waiting for our meals, the waitress came and asked me if we could wait just a couple minutes more; they had a fresh batch of mussels in and would like to throw a few into my dish, would I mind waiting?

We had seen the man walk from the harbor into the restaurant, carrying a big bag of freshly caught mussels. Of course I would wait!

For me, this was one of our best meals of the trip, and if you go to Homer, be sure to make a reservation at The Little Mermaid, out on Homer Spit. This is also where the locals go; it is a very popular place, deservedly.

July 11, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Cooking, Cultural, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Pratt Museum: A Gem in Homer, AK

It’s our last day in Homer, and we are going to the Pratt Museum

  • . AdventureMan has wanted to go there forever, it’s one of the highlights of Homer. I have wanted to go ever since I saw the book on Pratt Museum Quilts; they are incorporated throughout the museum.

    The Pratt Museum is a WOW. It is beautiful, for one thing, all woods and stone, a beautifully crafted, cared for museum. We happened in at a relatively quiet time and had time to talk with the volunteer at the desk, who sold me several raffle tickets for this year’s quilts. I really want to win it; it has blueberries all over it. I suppose I could do a blueberry quilt, but this one is already done!

    They also have a super gift shop, with lots of gift ideas, many locally produced by local artists. You know how it is with tourists, there are a lot of places that sell schlock. When you want a step up, go to a museum gift shop. I used to buy my blank cards at the Tarek Rajab museum in Kuwait, beautiful cards with silver bedouin and Arabic jewelry, or doors of old Kuwait, old Oman, etc. Lovely, artistic cards.

    This is one of the permanent exhibit quilts. It may have been on the bottom floor, with the marine exhibits. Things got crazy after our quiet visit with the volunteer; a large group of students came in, maybe eighth grade, with all the chaos and laughter kids that age engender. We hurried ahead of them to the exhibits, and there are a LOT of exhibits.
    00PrattMuseumQuilt

    This was a map of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, from which Alaska is still recovering. We learned something interesting, and that is that as horrible as the spill has been for the environment, it put Alaska on the map, raised awareness, and that is when the tourists really started pouring in, maybe like to see the splendors of Alaska before they are destroyed by oil spills or climate change.

    00PrattMuseumMapOfOilSpill

    These are some of the Alaska birds you can see on the Kenai peninsula, including, I think, a puffin 🙂

    00PrattBirds

    The Pratt has so many clever and original exhibits. I loved the film presentation on how the First Nation peoples catch, smoke and store salmon. If there is ever a zombie apocolypse and I have to survive, now I know how to prepare and keep salmon over long stretches of time by smoking it and drying it in strips. And protecting it from bears, who love salmon.

    This presentation was like a table, but the movie was on the table. There were foods, and it was like we were the people eating. Someone would pass a dish and explain a little about what it was, like whale blubber or seaweed something. As much as I like to try new things, some of what they had on the table was stuff I would cut into very tiny pieces and push around the plate so it looked like I had tried some but I didn’t. I loved the presentation; so interactive.

    00PrattMeal

    Although there were a lot of really good exhibits, we sort of hurried through once the crowd arrived. We did spend a good amount of time in the garden outside, where I laughed at myself. I learned a lot about myself this trip, why I love the colors I love (mostly greens – blues – purples and why I don’t like a lot of yellow or red in a garden. Almost everything in this garden was blue -purple – fuchsia with just a smattering of tiny yellow flowers, not a speck of red, except muted in some of the foliage, which was mostly shades of green. AdventureMan laughed, too, as it is the bane of his gardening existence that I want the bright red Turk’s Heads and the big yellow Cassia where I can’t see them.

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  • July 11, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cultural, Photos, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

    Skyline Drive in Homer

    An entire day, free to do whatever we want, and it is clear, no rain, even some sun sparkling through. We know what we want to do; we want to find Skyline Drive.

    We wouldn’t have even known about Skyline except that AdventureMan found a book in the Driftwood Inn lobby about Quilts at the Pratt Museum, and as I read the commentary from women who had worked on their annual lottery quilt, I discovered many of them mentioned coming to Homer and living on Skyline Drive. Skyline is up the hill – way up the hill – from Homer. You can see the sun glint off windows up there, but we hadn’t thought to go there.

    One of the women mentioned that people came to Homer in the 70’s full of hopes and dreams and moved into abandoned homesteads up on Skyline, and a whole community evolved, focused on self-reliance and sustainable living.

    You can kind of see it in this map:

    Screen shot 2014-07-10 at 8.12.57 AM

    The scenery was spectacular. We started on the Diamond Ridge road, which you actually catch outside of Homer, and then continued on Skyline. Most of the houses we saw had views to die for – forest and bay, endless mountains and glaciers. The drawback is that during snowy season, it could be difficult to get into town, and if you lose electricity, you could find yourself very cold and very isolated.

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    We ended up on East End Road, drove to the end, and then took the Old East End highway for a while, looking at wildflowers and scenery. I found this house which I thought would be a good house to live in – close enough to Homer, but still on a quiet road, lots of acreage, nice garden spot, and look at those floor to roof windows to capture the view. Gorgeous location, nicely thought through house.
    00HomeOnOldEastEnd

    July 10, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Beauty, Environment, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

    Back Again at Captain Pattie’s in Homer, AK

    Finally, after a long day bear hunting, we are back once again at one of our favorite restaurants in the world, Captain Patties.

    00CPTPattisSign

    There are a lot of good restaurants in the world – so why do we like this one so much? First, the location on the Homer Spit, from which every seat in the house can see out the window, beach, sky, mountains – it is glorious. The menu offers a large selection, even selections for people who don’t like seafood, and Captain Patties chef allows the food to shine. It is simply prepared, simply but elegantly plated, and the flavors are robust. Perfectly grilled halibut, salmon, local scallops, clams . . . maybe with a little side sauce, but it is your choice to dip or not to dip. The flavors are memorable.

    We started with Kachemak Bay steamer clams, steamed in wine with green onions and garlic – perfection:

    00CPTPattisClams

    Another favorite appetizer is their smoked salmon dip, which is fantastic, and their chowder, one of the best we’ve tasted.

    This is the mixed seafood, grilled. No, actually, this is the part we haven’t already eaten because I forgot to photograph when it first appeared, LOL.

    00CPTPattiesGrilledMixedSeafood

    It was a week night, so a few tables were able to walk right in without a reservation, but we learned the hard way, make reservations. If you make reservations, you will not be disappointed.

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    July 8, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Maura’s in Homer, AK

    Maura’s is across the street from the Driftwood Inn, and is only open for breakfast and lunch. I had lunch there the day AdventureMan was out bear hunting, and then we had lunch there together the next day.

    Maura’s
    00MaurasExterior

    Inside Mauras – it’s not very big; many people order to take out
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    This salad was full of happy surprises – lots of avocado, a marinated shredded cabbage, a pickled beet, it was continually surprising and delicious:

    00MaurasGoddessSalad

    Tom Yom Gai with a twist – a lot of kale, which worked. This was the healthiest, tastiest Tom Yom Gai ever:

    00MaurasTomYomGai

    As I said, it was so good AdventureMan wanted to try it the next day. They were very busy, we ordered out to eat back at our house, but we were so hungry that I totally forgot to take photos. Both days, delicious.

    July 2, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

    Dawn Sunrise in Homer, Alaska

    Our first morning in Homer is a flashback to the perfect weather we had there last August, a total change from the previous drizzly day. This is what sunrise looks like in Homer:

    00SunriseInHomer

    Those mountains and glaciers thrill my heart.

    AdventureMan was instructed to have a good breakfast; they won’t be back until late afternoon, so we head to Dunken Inn, where we had such a good breakfast last year. We get there just in time – there is no line, and there is a table waiting for us, but five minutes later, there is a line.

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    AdventureMan has stick-to-your-ribs-while-bear-hunting biscuits and gravy:
    00BiscuitsAndGravyAtDunkinInn

    And I have the 2 – 2 – 1, which is two eggs, two slices bacon and one blueberry pancake. I don’t even really like pancakes, but these blueberry pancakes are SO good 🙂
    00TwoTwoOneAtDunkenInn

    We drove around a little until drop off time; AdventureMan spotted a Sandhill Crane and this wonderful local yard art:

    00HomerYardArt

    99SandhillCrane

    July 2, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Cultural, Customer Service, Food, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

    Bear Photos From AdventureMan

    When I saw the photo of the bears that looks like they are waltzing, I laughed. They are wrestling, but oh, he caught them at the perfect moment. The second has such serenity, is such a testament to the glorious creative power of God, that I love it, too.

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    July 1, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Beauty, Environment, Travel, Wildlife | , , , , | 1 Comment