There are a hundred reasons or more why I’m glad I turned to the business of political campaigning some 40+ years ago. Many of those reasons have to do with the people I call colleagues in this business. And tonight that list it topped by Maggie Linden.
We arrived in Anchorage Alaska this afternoon after 10 ½ hours of waiting around airports and flying from Victoria BC to Vancouver and then on to Alaska. Flight schedules dictated that all we had to eat all day was a bagel with cream cheese each. I had a cup of coffee and Jennifer had a hot chocolate. Neither of us was in any mood to purchase an airline sandwich or snack.
Fortunately, we came armed with Maggie’s recommendation of where to go for dinner. She’s had clients up here and said The Brewhouse was the place to go. It’s actually called Glacier Brewhouse. But after eating there I won’t quibble. They can call it anything they want. I’ll call it one great meal experience.
We haven’t had this kind of fun at dinner since we sat at the counter at Acme Seafood in New Orleans. Turns out the thing to do at Glacier Brewhouse is to grab a table in the bar area – anything on the tile floor, the hostess told us – and pass on the tables by reservation, the ones on the carpet. That’s just what we did after being told the wait for a table was between 45 minutes and an hour.
While the crowd is mostly locals, I was surprised by how many visitors we encountered. Maggie must know a lot of people.
There is no line for tables on the tile; it’s grab the first one you see that’s opened. That means watch for people who are about to finish their meal and strike up a conversation with them. No one minds being asked if they will be getting up soon. We saw one party of four volunteer to let another party of four have a vacant table because “they were here first”. We had a couple tell us they were about finished and we moved into their still warm bench type seats before the table was cleared. When we left, we flagged down two young women who were waiting for a table and we made sure they got our still warm bench seats.
The staff added to the festivities. We had a waiter, but we also had several other people pitch in to make sure we had our bread, got us replacement cutlery, deliver our beer. Jennifer’s seafood chowder was heavenly, but not as hot as she would have liked it. The waiter went to the soup caldron, tested it himself and went to the kitchen to report the deficiency. Then he brought Jennifer a second cup of chowder – this time hotter. And he refused to charge for either cup.
An Oklahoma couple was standing near our table. When I got back from the restroom, Jennifer was deep in conversation with them about their long day of travel, table hunting at Glacier Brewhouse and the quality of the meals we had just finished. They would have had our table except another one opened up for them while I was having my coffee.
In this kind of atmosphere it seemed quite natural for me to send a Perfect Manhattan to a man – a stranger – sitting a few tables away, when I saw him drinking is second regular Manhattan. I wandered over to his table, explained the drink and my history with it and watched as he passed the regular Manhattan and the Perfect Manhattan to his two tablemates to sample. From the smile on his face I would say I’ve made another convert.
As for the food – leave it to a political consultant to know where to go for a great meal. The area near our hotel is crowded with restaurants and street food vendors. Raindeer sausages on a roll, with grilled onions tops every vendor’s board. Were it not for Maggie’s insider recommendation we would have been flying blind. It’s further evidence of my conviction that political campaign folks are without peer when it comes to a pure love of anything food related.
Tonight, I went for a main course of herb crusted wild caught Alaskan halibut (pictured above). It was coated with basil pesto and spent grain bread crumbs. It was served on a bed of wild greens tossed with roasted tomato vinaigrette and accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes. Until my son John introduced me to Alaskan halibut at his home outside Seattle about a year ago, I wasn’t a fan of halibut. The stuff we get from the warmer Pacific waters down south I find flavorless and dry. The halibut I had tonight was moist, sweet, flavorful and as white as the snow that topped the mountains over which we flew to get here.
Jennifer had a wild Alaskan king salmon special that was divine. It was grilled over Kachemak Bay Alder Wood, dusted lightly with smoked paprika and served with garlic mashed potatoes in a shaved fennel sauce. She said it would have been the best meal either of us had so far on the trip if it weren’t for the one that was sitting before me on the table.
We left Glacier Brewhouse proclaiming this the best meal and the best meal experience so far on this trek. Yeah, Maggie.
Chapter Eight – July 16, 2010 – A FOOD LOVER’S TREK tracks the travels of Table Talk editor Larry Levine and his wife Jennifer as they make their way by auto, ferry, plane and train from Los Angeles to Fairbanks Alaska and back. A new chapter will be published every day as long as they can connect with the Internet. You can read the earlier chapters by clicking on Food Lover’s Trek above. If you are enjoying this series tell a friend they can follow it at http://www.TableTalkatLarrys.com