Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

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:
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This is the blackboard, posted to the left as you enter, actually in the bar area which overlooks the harbor:
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And this is a view into the kitchen:
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A view of the interior where the booths are:
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Our appetizer, Halibut Balls with Teriyaki Sauce. This was absolutely delicious, and I have never seen halibut presented this way before:

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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.

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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.
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    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.

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

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    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.

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    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:

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    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.
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    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.

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    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:

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    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.

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    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
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    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:

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

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    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:

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

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    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

    Two Sisters in Homer, Alaska

    Even taking it easy, we arrived in Homer too early to check in to our hotel, so we headed down the street to a perfect rainy-day hangout, Two Sisters Bakery. We had looked for Two Sisters our last time in Homer and failed to find it for breakfast, so we went right in for a little coffee, tea and sweets.

    TripAdvisor usually ranks Two Sisters one or two of all restaurants in Homer. The place was, consequently, jammed. There are goodies on display everywhere, eclairs, croissants, pies, cakes, breakfast rolls . . . I choose a Turtle Bar and a coffee, AdventureMan has soup and tea.

    Two Sisters is a very popular place, and a lot of fun.

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    Even the floor is quirky – I love that it has little waves painted on the floor.

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    It was the perfect place to pass a delicious half hour waiting for our hotel room.

    June 30, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Food, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

    Rainy Day on the Sterling Highway to Homer

    AdventureMan gets it. If it is not pouring rain, it is a good day. Part of this day was a good day, but we also got a lot of rain.

    The drive from Seward to Homer, AK, both on the Kenai Peninsula, is not a hard drive, only maybe 2.5 to 3 hours. Almost as soon as you join the Sterling Highway, you are on the Kenai river, and on the Kenai river, things are hopping. Specifically, salmon are hopping.

    At a couple sites, there are a lot of people, and when you look down in the river, there are people in hip boots all lined up for hundreds of yards, casting lines. I rather like fishing, but oh, no! Not like that! I’m a salmon fisher who likes to be on a boat, casting my line over the side, and waiting for a fish to bite. Stand in cold, rushing water with mosquitoes biting? (Shudder!) The thought of some amateur’s hook taking out an eye or a piece of cheek? Horrors!

    Along the route, we saw many many signs like this:

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    Firefighters from all over had flown in to fight the Funny River Fire. Alaska doesn’t usually have such a dry spring; a fire this strong and this early is improbable. The fire was also remote, and hard to fight. The fire-fighters are given hero status in this area.

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    Just before we get to Soldatna, AdventureMan spots a moose and her calf alongside the road. There are a lot of moose signs, and some of them tell how many moose have been hit by cars along this stretch of the road. Sadly, it is in the 200’s. Hitting a moose is like hitting a camel. It totals out a car and it is horrible for the moose.

    About halfway to Homer, just outside Soldatna, we took a stretch break at Tom’s Horn and Antler, where we saw lots and lots of moose, deer and elk horns, and lot of stones, many from no-where around Alaska. We found some geode stones from the Atlas mountains in Morocco. At The Two Rusty Ravens, however, I found the one souvenir I bought, a very large copper salmon mold that just fits over the door between my kitchen and dining room. While it is not a Copper River Salmon, it IS a copper salmon, and it makes me smile. AdventureMan gave me a bad time; it is large, but it just fit in my suitcase. 🙂

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    We had stopped at the Safeway in Seward, where they have a nice Deli with sandwiches and cookies, and we had our lunch with us. You just never know where you will be and if a restaurant is still open, or not yet open for the season. Here is where we had our lunch stop – an oversight with a view of volcanos – when you can see more than 50 feet in front of you.

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    And here was a sign at the pull off. Most of the signs we saw in Alaska had shotgun holes in them, LOL.

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    The drive is an easy drive, whether you are coming from Anchorage or from Seward. It barely takes half a day. There are not a lot of passing areas, and there are a lot of big slow RVs, so just take a deep breath and enjoy the experience.

    June 30, 2014 Posted by | Adventure, Alaska, Arts & Handicrafts, Environment, ExPat Life, Food, Geography / Maps, Living Conditions, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    The Driftwood Inn, Homer Alaska

    We stayed at the Driftwood Inn the last time we were in Homer, and liked it, except that our room next to the Elks Club got a little noisy on a Saturday night.

    This time we tried another room, room 29; you can choose and book for specific rooms at the Driftwood Inn. We love the view, we feast on the view. We love the cleanness and spaciousness of the rooms, and we love all the common areas – there is a fridge and microwave and stove, and a large sitting room, kitchen table, etc. There is a washer and dryer, woooo hooooo, even though we are mostly in jeans and chinos and layers of shirts, things get dirty and I like a chance to wash up.

    We also have a lovely large closet where we can stow all our gear, and we have a Keurig coffee maker, well stocked. Alaska is like Seattle, people drink a lot of coffee.

    LOL, first things first, the closet:

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    This room could work well for a family, with two beds, a double and a queen:

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    There is also a lovely balcony, and a door to the balcony, which we often kept open so we could listen to the waves.

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    View from balcony on a cloudy day:
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    January 1, 2014 Posted by | Alaska, Customer Service, Environment, Hotels, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment