Anchorage, a glutton’s delight!

As I’ve posted previously on this blog, Anchorage is full of unique places to drink and dine.  After staying here a few times in the dark and the cold I can certainly understand why, ~a person has to enjoy themselves somehow, right?

Of course maybe not all these restaurants would appeal to every palate, but I’m lucky in the fact that I can salivate over a pizza and beer equally as well as I can over a prime choice of steak and a nice glass of wine. I’m an equal opportunity glutton, I don’t discriminate against many types of foods (well maybe lutefisk and haggis), or beers or wines, and thanks to an easygoing spouse I am able to try at least a few new places every time I travel to the great white north.

Portabella mushroom, stuffed with crab meat and shrimp

Last week we found an article in one of the local rags that had a list of the reporter’s favorite Sunday brunch spots, out of 10 of these spots we had only managed to visit one! Realizing we must rectify this oversight immediately, we visited one of her favorites for lunch the very next day. (Don’t say we let grass (or ice) grow under our feet!)

Our luncheon locale? The Beer Tooth Grill. Not only had we never heard of it, we had never even been near it. Obviously by the slew of cars parked every whichaway, we were one of the few residents of Anchorage who were clueless about it’s gratifying grub. The picture above shows you what I chowed down on, a meaty portabella mushroom, stuffed with creamy combination of crab and shrimp meat. It was just as delicious as it sounds. Nanook had a ham and cheese sandwich and we both washed our meals down with beers from their very own Broken Tooth Brewery.

The owners of the restaurant, Rod Hancock and Matt Jones, own not only this restaurant and the brewery, but also their original restaurant, Moose Tooth, and a dine in theatre right next to the Grill called Bear Tooth Theatre Pub. I really want to go to the theatre on my next visit, ’cause it sounds like a great time. And I just heard last night that they are going to open yet another restaurant fairly close to our house…I guess I’m going to have to try that one too!

Alas, so many restaurants (and books) so little time!

An Anchorage Trifecta

I’m back residing in my other abode for a few weeks, and yesterday I decided to go out and explore three places on my ‘Alaska to-do list’.

Title Wave Books is a 30,000 square foot bookstore, almost completely stocked with used books. It’s huge and extremely well organized by category with a great Alaska section featuring non-fiction books, as well as local authors, and novels featuring Alaska. Unfortunately it doesn’t have very many old books of the smelly variety that I love, and I do think their used book prices are pretty darn high, but that being said I still ended up walking out of there with two titles!
Thanks to Simon at Savidge Reads for the recommendations,

Attached to the store was a restaurant I’ve been wanting to try for quite some time. My reason for wanting to try it? It’s name~ Yak and Yeti. You see I’ve already eaten at another restaurant by that name in Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, which I really enjoyed, so seeing that name here in Anchorage intrigued me. I must say the Anchorage Yak and Yeti restaurant’s food was excellent.

I had the Pork Vindaloo because it was recommended to me by the clerk at the bookstore, and she didn’t steer me wrong. It was yummy, but I know I’m going to have to go back and try something else very soon, because just reading their menu online has me drooling!

My third stop of the afternoon was Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge. The name alone sounds delish doesn’t it? I’ve been on their email list for ages, but because of my M-O-B diet during my last few times in town, I avoided the temptation. But thankfully the kid is married now and I can indulge a little, ok a LOT, so to the chocolate lounge I went!

It’s a fairly small store, but painted in lovely brown chocolatey colors, with several small seating areas, and saleable artwork and jewelry around the perimeter. I wasn’t sure what to order, but I knew that they served drinking chocolate which is something that is often sipped by characters in some of my favorite Victorian novels. When I inquired about said chocolate I was offered a sample to try, either spicy or non-spicy. Hmm, decisions, decisions. I chose spicy!

It was so rich and thick that the sample handed to me was served in a small paper cup with a spoon~~creamy, rich with a kick…heavenly!  I ended up getting a mocha latte made with their spicy Mayan drinking chocolate and took my time enjoying it. Well, I had to take my time, because it was FIERY! I loved it, but it’s not for the faint of heart…or everyday consumption 🙂
Modern Dweller’s chocolate studio not only produces the drinking chocolate, but also truffles and candy bars.

I bought one truffle, Golden Goat, a mixture of goat cheese and dark chocolate ganache, but I have yet to let myself indulge, maybe tomorrow.

Anchorage is a great place to go exploring for unique shops, and restaurants. Yes, it has all the chain places you’d expect, but there are so many hidden gems. I can’t wait until my next adventure, and you know it’s going to have to include food!

Running Wild

If anyone would have told me when I was in my 20’s that I would be running in 5K races when I’m in my 50’s I would have told them they were cuckoo bananas!  I loathed running. I liked Jazzercise (the Zumba of the 80’s), golfing and bowling~~the latter two especially because you can drink beer while participating!

But here I was today participating in my 5th 5K! It was a good one too as I got to run through the streets of Anchorage, along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, and in the midst of the 2012 Iditarod Champ, Dallas Seavey. There was also a lot of music…a real live cowboy sang the National Anthem, and a troupe of native Alaskans did a tribal dance about running and there were even some Scottish bagpipers about half way along the course. Alaskans are a very eclectic group to say the least!

I didn’t see Mildred, but I did meet Stanley

As an added bonus Nanook and I finished the race side by side, hands clasped in the air, as excited that we ran together as we were that we made it up that last incline without keeling over 🙂

Then the icing on the cake….they gave me this nice shiny medal!…

…well they gave everyone a nice shiny medal, but it’s the thought that counts!

The Beauty of Alaska

The first thing I noticed as our plane made its descent into Anchorage (besides the ring of mountains!) was the deep shades of green dotting the landscape. With most of the country suffering a severe drought this summer it’s fantastic to come to Alaska and see gorgeous pops of color at every turn. Nanook and I took a stroll downtown this afternoon and I can’t resist sharing a few snaps.

And since Alaska summers are filled with lots of daylight, plants, flowers and vegetables grow to gargantuan proportions! Next week we are heading to the Alaska State Fair in Palmer to check out the annual Giant Cabbage Weigh-Off where any veggie under 125 lbs. is considered puny!

Leavin’ on a jet plane

So tonight my little furry friend and I are leaving Alaska and heading back south to Illinois. Six weeks ago I was filled with anxiety as the pup and I prepared for our journey. There were a lot of unknowns ahead of us.

  • How would we handle Jasmine’s first plane ride~~an extremely looong plane ride?
  • How would we both handle the very cold, snowy weather after leaving very hot, early summer weather?
  • How would we entertain ourselves, especially for the two weeks we had to hold down the fort (aka condo) alone?
  • How would we survive Easter all alone?

But there were just as many knowns to look forward to:

We were very excited to head to our second home because Nanook was there waiting for us, and for the first time in 7 years neither one of us would have to make the long journey between Chicago and Anchorage for six whole weeks!  It’s quite unbelievable that Nanook’s long commute to work has been going on for that long…wow!

  • …and I really love the beauty of Alaska and the view from our little condo.
  • …and the food
  • …and the beer!
  • …and I’ve grown to love the moose (as long as they obey the restraining order that keeps them a safe distance away from me when I’m walking the pooch!)
  • and the new friends and neighbors that I’ve met

So when we get to the airport, I know I will head through that security gate this evening with Jasmine in one hand and a big wad of tissues in the other because it never gets any easier saying goodbye 😦

P.S. I’m still VERY anxious about flying tonight with Jasmine on the very looong plane ride….that part didn’t change!

Everything’s happening at the zoo!

I really love zoos and I’m lucky that Anchorage is home to the small, but mighty, Alaska Zoo. I love this zoo because of its winding, woody pathways and intimate habitats.

These, very close to the path, enclosures truly get you nose to nose, and up close and personal, with the residents. While there are quite a few native animals residing here, there are also a few that have traveled great distances to live the dream, move to Alaska, and have tourists and screaming children stare at them all day. These include 5 yaks, 4 snow leopards, 3 alpacas, 2 tigers and a 2 humped camel that’s mad (this sentence reads a lot better if you sing it to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas starting with the 5 golden rings part!)

Anyway, for whatever reason the animals were all in rare form today. I don’t remember ever being at a zoo where all the animals seemed so active and riled up. The polar bears were swimming and frolicking, the brown bears were wrestling and the wolves were howling!

All and all a lovely day at the zoo, under beautiful blue skies, but with a very funny feeling that I was being watched…..
and stared at…..
the entire day!

Eating Alaska Style

Anchorage is a city full of coffee houses and huts, brew pubs and restaurants. In other words it’s my kind of town!  Of course there are the usual blight of chain restaurants, of the Applebee’s variety, that seem to have infiltrated every nook and cranny in our great nation over the last several decades, but luckily independently owned restaurants abound as well.

hut closest to us!

Coffee, as you know, has been removed from my daily routine (although I have snuck in a cup or two…shhh!) but for those who are still able to imbibe, there is no shortage of places in town to purchase a cup of piping hot java. There are literally coffee huts on every block of Anchorage. They are stuck in parking and vacant lots everywhere you look and each has its own unique name and decor to attract customers.

This site, http://www.lastfrontier.org/coffeehouses.htm , has some great hut photos!

I am also a fan of brew pubs and alehouses….thank goodness beer has not been removed from my diet!  I have two favorites, Snow Goose and Firetap with the Glacier Brewhouse coming in a close third. All have great menus and a variety of beers that aren’t available in my neck of the woods. If available I try to pick Halibut and chips, my all time favorite meal in Alaska! Luckily Nanook is amiable to taking me out to test the grub and grab a pint when I’m here, so we’ve managed to visit all three in the last several weeks!

Snow Goose

Enjoying a caribou burger and a pint @ Snow Goose

My beer flight at FIRETAP, because I couldn't just pick one!

Lest you think that the only places we’ve eaten at have beer on the menu, we have managed to go to go to a few Asian restaurants, Yamato Ya and Tempura Kitchen. Okay, as I reread that last sentence I realized I’ve fibbed…both of these restaurants have beer on their menus! But I can say that wasn’t the main reason for dining there!

Bento Box @ Yamato Ya

There are certainly a plethora (borrowing my friend’s favorite word) of dining options in this city including one we spotted yesterday. I’m definitely going to have to try this one day when I’m not so full!

Reindeer Hot Dog Stand

(as always click on the blue highlighted areas for more info!)