Sunday, February 22, 2015

Midnight Sun Brewing Company

We took a much needed trip up to Anchorage earlier this week because after enough time passes, the I must get off Kodiak itch starts to fester.  Like a mosquito bite that just won't go away.  The best way to scratch the itch is to take a Space A flight up there for an overnight or two. - So that's exactly what we did.  God bless Space A.

Midnight Sun Brewing Company was on our "gotta check out in Anchorage" list, along with some food spots that were recommended to me by an Anchorage local I sat next to and chatted with on a flight once.

It was a perfect, quick trip to shake off the Kodiak doldrums that had set in.  Seems to descend sometime in January or February, when there's more time spent indoors than outdoors because of the relentless rain and gloom.  A trek up to Anchorage is a pretty effective cure!  It was nice to see the sun for a change.

Look at that blue sky!  Haven't seen that in a while.

I was digging the upstairs loft of the brewery where we went for lunch and a few cervezas.  I love to experiment with new beers, so the only logical conclusion was to get a flight.  A flight, for those of you who may not know, is a sampler of several different beers, usually with a common theme.

From left to right:  Fallen Angel, Golden Ale, Snowshoe White, and the Panty Peeler.  The Snowshoe was my favorite

Mmmmm, beer

I went with a flight called "Light it Up" that showcased their Belgian Wit style beers.  They also had a dark flight with stouts, porters, and dark ales, but I opted for the lighter one this time.  Maybe next time I'll try the dark flight. 

I liked the style of the loft space, and I've decided that it's a no brainer to pair a local brewery with local artists.  They had some unique pieces displayed, but the psych major in me appreciated the state of Alaska Rorschach most.  If you look, you can see that these are outlines of the shape of Alaska arranged and flipped around to resemble the classic Rorschach inkblot test that was a pretty common psychological test in the 60's.  Kinda cool, no?

You've gotta give it to the artist for being unique

The menu was a welcome change of pace from our sad selection of restaurants on Kodiak.  Since it was the day after Mardi Gras, there were lots of cajun and creole specials on the menu, which enticed us both.  Shrimp etouffee for me and a cajun chicken po'boy for the hubby.

More art and a funky chandelier

Our waiter was a Chicago native, so I had to tap into his knowledge about the city and get some recommendations for our upcoming trip there this summer.  Apparently I need to go visit his 80-year old pistol of a grandma named Marty who's still working at the original Pizzeria Uno.  I got some other good tips, which you know you'll read all about come this summer when I post about our trip.

The bar area

So, we can check Midnight Sun Brewing Company off our list of Alaskan breweries to check out.  I still want to go to Sleeping Lady in Anchorage and Denali Brewing Company in Talkeetna.  Both are in the near future!  Just a matter of time before the mosquito bite comes back and we have an intense need to get the hell off this island again!

Ta-ta for now.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Old-Timey Cocktails: Part II

My go-to reference
Alright, time for part two!  I have to say, cocktail number two gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from me!  Let me bring you up to speed if you're not a regular here.  I'm doing an old-timey cocktail series to stretch my legs in the booze department (as if I need to do that).

My plan is to explore some of those classic cocktails that we've all heard of, but haven't necessarily tasted.  The first installment was the Manhattan.  Installment number two was the Tom Collins.  It was tasty!

My decidedly unoriginal take on the Tom Collins is that it's like lemonade with a kick - very refreshing!  It's a cocktail that's made for summer.  Made for summer, but a welcome ray of light in the dark Alaskan winter.  Easy enough to mix up pretty quickly, and a nice little departure from the gloom and dreariness of February in Kodiak.  Makes me pine for those Key West days that feel oh-so-long ago.  Those bright, low-key weekend afternoons spent puddling around in our little plunge pool in the yard, or lazing about at our favorite local haunts.  Yes, yes...whoa is me.

The recipe calls for Old Tom gin, which is a sweeter version of regular London dry gin, but I just used what we already had on hand.  I know Tom Collins mix is also an option, but I don't think the end result would be nearly as good as when it's made with fresh lemon and simple syrup.

That's basically the recipe:  2 oz. of gin, 1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon), 1 teaspoon of simple syrup, (which is basically just sugar boiled in equal parts water so it dissolves), finished off with club soda/seltzer & ice. 

 It's a different type of cocktail compared to the Manhattan, but definitely ranks high up on the scale for me.  I don't think I'd order it at a bar though, because I doubt they would use fresh lemon and simple syrup - which I suspect is a big part of why it's so tasty.  This might be a cocktail that's best made at home!

I look forward to sitting on the lounge chair in my yard with a Tom Collins, looking at the mountains and marveling at the 60 degree temps of summer in Alaska!  Sounds less than tropical, right?  Hey, if the only way to channel the pining for a Caribbean-esque existence is to mix up a citrus-ey cocktail, yearn for warmth and consistent sunshine, & pump up the island music, then I'm your gal.  I'll take what I can get until we get back to where we belong!  If our time in the great white north has shaken out any epiphanies - it's that we belong in a sunny, warm locale.  We'll be back, Key West.  We'll be BACK!

Ta-ta for now.


Monday, February 9, 2015

The Altered Book Art Show

I had grand plans to enter the Altered Book Art Show this year, but somehow neglected to get my act together in time.  I even had my idea all planned out with the supplies I would need, but managed to let the deadline slip past me.  I'm promising myself I'll do it next year!

This was the second year for the show, and there were some fun entries.  I think this craggy, funky tree was my favorite from this year:

Can't you just picture it as a prop in the movie Coraline or The Nightmare Before Christmas?  It has that quirky style and feel to it.  Reminds me of a Tim Burton-type creation.  (Just a sidebar - Tim Burton wasn't actually involved in the movie Coraline, but the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas helped write the script and directed Coraline. So both movies have the same feel.) My point being that this altered book gave me that same erratic, oddball impression.  I was digging the tree.

It's hard to say which of the other entries were my favorites, but they all have little pops of uniqueness going on.  The carved out middle with the illusion of the same design throughout the hollowed out circle is cool on this one.

And the recessed area with all the little accessories smack in the center of this carved out dictionary was intriguing.  Sort of a mystery to solve as far as the significance of each trinket the artist chose to include.

I liked the colorful layers through this next one, and the fully 3-D house in the second one was detailed and sort of cryptic.  The sign above the house door says, "It all began with a simple question that no one could answer."  Mysterious, no?

I wasn't really sure about this next one.  It was sort of a hanging, mobile type piece with a bird poking out of the front.  It was interesting, but I didn't really get it.

Just like last year, there were lots of creative pieces at the show.  Minus mine, that is!  So next year, I'll be sure to get it together and enter my "masterpiece" before the deadline. Here's to not procrastinating for the 2016 show!

Ta-ta for now.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Old-Timey Cocktails: Part I

Photo credit:  Orr Shtuhl and Elizabeth Graeber from An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails

Alright, my cocktail fiends.  That's right...fiends!  I know you're out there.  Personally, I'm more of a beer and wine gal, but I've decided to embark on a little series.  Strictly for purposes of expanding the blog, of course.  Heh.  The plan is to do an Old-Timey cocktail series.

We're talking 18th century origins.  I don't know about you, but I haven't delved in to some of those classic, old man cocktails that have been around since...I don't know, the birth of the nation?  You know the ones - those classics like the Tom Collins, the Sloe Gin Fizz, the Gimlet.

But what about some of those other lesser known classic cocktails?  Ever heard of a Papa Doble?  How about a Bronx?  Or an Americano?  I haven't decided which ones I'll experiment with for the series, but there's plenty to choose from what will become my go-to reference.

The idea came about when I was browsing through our inordinate collection of cookbooks the other day, and my eye was caught on a silly little book the hubby got at some point in our travels.  I'm 99% sure he bought it because it's about booze and has cartoon penguins on the cover.

Photo credit:  Orr Shtuhl and Elizabeth Graeber from An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails

It's actually pretty informative.  Come on, you've got to love a book that not only has a section for "How to Like Gin" or "How to Make a Blue Blazer without Setting your House on Fire," but also has historical antidotes and cartoons of pirates, pandas, and beavers.  Good stuff!

As I was browsing through the book, I realized I'd never tasted a whole lot of the cocktails described.  And that's when the idea was born.

I decided my first cocktail in the series would be the Manhattan.  The solid, classic Manhattan.  I'd never had one before, and I have to say it was pretty tasty.  You have to like bourbon, though.  If you're not a fan of bourbon - you're not going to like the Manhattan.

Most of these classic cocktails are pretty simple recipes - that's sort of the hallmark of the classic cocktail.  The Manhattan is no exception, just sweet vermouth, bitters & bourbon.

Photo credit:  Orr Shtuhl and Elizabeth Graeber from An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails

The combination of the sweet vermouth and bitters really mellows out the bourbon, and takes the edge off the strong flavor. I can see why it's considered a classic.  But I have to tell you, I was a first-timer buying the Angostura bitters at the liquor store.  I didn't even know what it looked like or where to find it!  And now that it's in our stash of booze, I guess I need to find some more drinks to use it in!

I think my series is off to a healthy start with the Manhattan!  Now...what to try next?  Gin Rickey, perhaps?  Stay tuned in the next few months for Old-Timey Cocktails:  Part 2!  (And 3, 4, and 5!)  C'mon - what better way to warm up & pass the time in the deep, dark winter??

Ta-ta for now.