It is such a long flight from the East Coast to Anchorage that I almost feel that I have to pull out my passport as I get off the plane — what country have I landed in now?
I am in Alaska for the first time, and it is so large that it is almost like landing in another country rather than the 49th state. I am here as guest of the ASMI — the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (www.wildalaskaseafood.com) — because they feel that people in the lower 48 don’t totally understand what a seafood bonanza they have up here, and those who do know may still feel a little mystified about it all.
The first evening, we walk to Crush restaurant for a deluxe seafood dinner of oysters, mussels, crabs, and salmon as well as an overview of the Alaskan seafood business. Let’s just put it in simple terms: There is more seafood here than there is coffee in Brazil — salmon, pollock, real cod, faux cod, halibut, king crab, oysters, and mussels. Salmon, of course, has the best backstory — it’s a reality show where baby salmon are hatched in the freshwater rivers, go out into the salt water to sow their wild oats, then return to home waters to spawn a family. There are a half-dozen different varieties of salmon, and three-quarters of a million pounds of them are harvested annually.
But writers cannot live by seafood alone. We have landed in Anchorage en route to a wilderness lodge at Tutka Bay. If you don’t know where Tutka Bay is, it’s just across Kachemak Bay from Homer. If you don’t know where Homer is, it’s time to hit up Google maps.
But that’s tomorrow. Tonight we drink wine and feast on Alaska seafood.
Great White Salmon
Sockeye salmon are perhaps the most prized of the species, but for our main course we are being served a rarer fish — a white king salmon. Does it taste different than other salmon? A touch milder, we are told, but as we enjoy it poached with a corn velouté, zucchini strips, and summer truffles, who can tell?
Rust’s Never Sleeps
As this is the land of the midnight sun, we sleep in late. Then we are off for Tutka Bay Lodge, luxury in the wilderness. We know that it’s a wilderness lodge because we can’t drive there, and our Uber app won’t work. Our choices are to go by slow boat or by float plane, so we call on Rust’s, which can easily land us on a glacier or, hopefully, dip down into Tutka Bay.