Catching Fish in Ketchikan

I have finally made it to Alaska and the first town on this inside passage cruise, Ketchikan. This place is mostly known for fish and my plan for the day is to head out on a boat and, hopefully, catch some lunch.20170607_163646

Once again, I am fortunate to have sunshine on my side in yet another place where it usually always rains. I’m quite thankful as the thought of going out on a boat in the rain is not something I’d be looking forward to doing.

My team and I are met at the port dock by Chuck Slagle, owner of Baranof Fishing Excursions and our boat guide/Captain Todd who is extra happy to take us as it’s on20170607_145959ly his 2nd day back in the water this Spring season. They walk us over to the boating area where I am suited up in rubber overalls and handed the coolest pair of Xtra tuff boots to wear. (I find out  later that they are a gift for me!)

The water is quite calm and it’s an easy ride to our first stop where we throw in some crab pots to be picked up later on.  As we carry on to our fishing location, we see eagles and a couple of sea lions and then Todd spots some whales. He cuts the engine and we wait  for the whales to  “bubble”, This is when whales form a circle to catch prey by blowing bubbles as they swim to the surface. The bubbles trap small fish, plankton etc. for the whales to devour. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen but we did get to see a couple of whales breaching.

As soon as we get moving again, the boat is surrounded by a family of  porpoises jumping and zipping all around us. It was really incredible but they were too fast for anyone to get any photos.

Eventually we made it our fishing location and I  was handed a rod and instructed to let the weight stay at the bottom of the ocean and as I felt it move, reel out a bit more to keep it there. My husband was also fishing and within minutes caught the first fish, a rockfish. He then caught what we think was a flounder.  I also caught a rockfish  and then an even bigger yellow eye rockfish. Since none of us were catching any halibut which is what we were hoping for we moved to another spot and with Captain Todd’s fishing rod  caught a 42 inch ling cod. We had to let the smaller fish go and then went back to pick up our crab baskets. Although full, Todd had to  measure each crab and see what we could keep, Not too many in the end.

When we got back to the dock, we were met by Paris, the Chef of Alaska Fish Company who wanted to see what we got since he was planning to cook up our catch after Todd gutted and cleaned them. He was so thrilled to see we had a ling cod that he said is one of his favorite and tastiest fish. I was really looking forward to this meal.IMG_6574.JPG

The rockfish was battered in panko and fried to perfection and the ling cod was served 2 ways. The first was with a simple dill butter sauce and the second was blackened with special spices. Although we didn’t have enough crabs for a meal, Chef Paris added some other ones so we could get a taste of those as well. I enjoyed all of this with a flight of delicious Alaskan beers.  As it turns out, Chef Paris didn’t use all the fish we caught so they planned to ship the rest home for me. I was excited to share that with all our friends and family back in Florida.

This was such a fun day and I have to admit I’m ready to get my own fishing rod and see what I can catch back home.

Cheers and all the best,

Zita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunny in Seattle

I finally made it to Seattle, Washington. It’s a city I’ve wanted to visit for a long time and so I was quite happy to hear that my cruise to Alaska would begin and end there. My husband and I flew out a couple of days ahead of our cruise so that we could adjust to the time difference and enjoy some free time before we’d get down to filming.

We chose to stay at the Inn at El Gaucho in the Belltown neighborhood since this would be close to the cruise terminal as well as a lot of the city’s main sights. What a gem of a place this turned out to be. It’s a small boutique hotel with an old world kind of vibe, quite retro really. The staff were so friendly and helpful that even when we checked in close to midnight, we were helped with our luggage, given cookies and a welcome note and they even called the restaurant downstairs to make sure we could get 4something to eat and drink. My midnight snack turned into a gluttonous rack of sticky pork ribs and a couple of glasses of the Willa Kenzie Estate Giselle Pinot Noir. I’d say a quite tasty start to this trip.

It was so fantastic to wake up and have sunshine in a city where it’s known to rain pretty much on a daily basis. My husband and I took off walking and found CJ’s Eatery, a scrumptious place for breakfast where I had the best salmon eggs benedict and delicious Seattle Coffee. Feeling fueled up, we made our way to the Seattle Center for a closer look at the Space Needle, walked around in the Armory (where a Phillipine festival was taking place) and continued on the famous Pike’s Place Market, one of the country’s oldest continuously operating farmers markets that is also one of Seattle’s most visited locations. I can see why with the 500 or so vendors selling pretty much everything. Of course the flying fish at the fish market is a must see.5

On our way back to the hotel since it was nearing happy hour, we popped into a pretty looking bar called Absinthe. The name says it all with a huge list of absinthe cocktails as well as a nice list of wine and beer. My husband and I both figured that absinthe would do  us in  for the night so we opted for a glass of house white wine with an order of pork wings to tide us over until dinner.

Dinner turned out to be a special treat at Dahlia Lounge, one of Seattle’s long established and distinguished restaurants started by renowned Chef Tom Douglas back in 1989. We enjoyed a selection of their “tastes from the sea” with black cod, Dungeness crab, tuna and rockfish.9

The next day began with sunshine again and brunch at Revel, a kind of Fusion like Korean place in the artsy neighborhood of Fremont. I had their Revel ramen with pork belly, kimchi and a soft boiled egg served hot. (They give you a choice of cold or hot.) It was a quite tasty and filling breakfast to say the least and I was glad to have a few hours to digest and unwind before filming later in the day.

Around 3PM, we were picked up by our guide James from Show Me Seattle and taken to Aqua by El Gaucho, a magnificent seafood restaurant on the waterfront. The restaurant’s lovely General Manager, Sivi arranged for me to be in the kitchen with Chef Wes while he prepared and cooked one of his special halibut dishes for me and then the three of us sat down to chat with a glass of Sancerre and this incredibly fresh fish dish.

From that beautiful location it was off to historic Pioneer Square, Seattle’s oldest neighborhood and a stop at Good Bar for some tasty cocktails and yummy food with owner Nancy Kelly. She ordered us the fabulous Commercial Bank #2 –  shochu, lychee liqueur, yuzu, shiso tincture, orange oil and the Barbecue Burns -islay scotch, campari, bénédictine, charred hickory, sparkling rosé and candied fresno pepper plus mussels, sloppy joe and a cheese plate. Oh yes- this really is a good bar!

Next on my plate were oysters! We headed to Taylor Shellfish and Oyster Bar just a few blocks away where I was given a mountain of crab and a dozen of the most delicious oysters I’ve ever eaten. Thanks Tom for this incredible tasting.

There was still one more stop that night at Saltys, another waterfront restaurant but across the bay on Alki Beach with the best views of the Seattle skyline. We were unexpectedly greeted by owners Gerry and Kathy Keegan who generously offered me their grand seafood platter full of Dungeness crab, oysters, tuna poke and prawns as well as calamari, crab cakes and their famous seafood chowder along with some Washington State Riesling. What a terrific ending to this 2nd sunny day in Seattle.

When I woke up the next day and the sun was shining yet again, I couldn’t  help but feel overjoyed. It was the perfect day to tour around and see the beauty of the city before we’d be heading to the cruise ship. But first, our stomachs were rumbling and it was time17c for a full on greasy spoon breakfast. Dave, our guide/driver for that day eagerly took us to The 5 Point Café, he said his  favorite local “dive” that has the best breakfast around. After filling up on eggs, chorizo and spicy black beans at this unusual but fun place, we spent a couple of hours just driving around the city before we were taken to the port.

Although the visit was short, I enjoyed so much about this pretty city and looked forward to one more day there after returning from the cruise.

Cheers and all the best,

Zita

 

 

 

 

Anchors Away to Alaska

Hello everyone,

Well here I am back from another amazing expedition for our show, “All the Best with Zita Keeley”. Starting and ending in Seattle we cruised through the inside passage of Alaska with some amazing stops in Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Anchorage, Homer, Kodiak, Sitka and Victoria BC. Not to mention, the beautiful Tracy Arm Glacier and Hubbard Glaciers.

I have so many photos to sort through (over 3000) and stories to write about so keep a look out. At this time, I want to shout out to all my wonderful new friends on the other side of the USA for their unbelievable generosity, kindness, fun, time and delicious food. I will acknowledge each of you in my individual blog posts.  I also want to thank Holland America Line and all the staff of the MS Amsterdam who helped us along the way.

Cheers and all the best,

Zita

 

A Miami Moment

I live in South Florida and only about an hour’s drive from Miami. But, somehow, I don’t get down there much. For some reason, the hassle with traffic to get there always seems to stop me. But, there are always great events going on and my friends convinced us to join them for this Art and Chocolate show last week that was taking place in the Wynwood Arts District.

We decided to stay overnight and make the most of our trip. I’m so glad we did. We found a terrific place to stay just 4 blocks from the venue for the show. Check in time was 3PM but we got there at 1PM. Since we were told we’d be charged an additional $39 if we wanted to check in early we left our luggage and went off to find a place to eat.

How fortunate that just across the street was Beaker and Gray, a place I had actually read about as one of the neighborhood’s best. It’s situated in an old factory and although there are outside tables, the Florida steaminess lured us in to the cool inside. The décor is basic and rustic with exposed brick walls, concrete floors and old wood beams on the 20170518_141012ceiling but it is still quite cozy.  Although they are known for amazing cocktails, it was a bit early in the day so I chose a refreshing glass of rose wine to start. The server explained the popularity of their “bowls” that can be interchanged with different proteins (octopus, skirt steak, chicken, shrimp.) I needed to eat light so chose the house salad with avocado, hearts of palm, queso fresco and the most delicious dressing (cilantro lime.) My husband and two friends each had a bowl, one with octopus that is prepared sous vide prior to grilling. Amazing. While we ate, the heavens opened up and we were happy to be inside after all.

We quickly made it back across the street to the hotel and while we hoped to spend some time at their rooftop pool, instead we sat in one of our suites and shared a couple of bottles of wine that we each had brought with us.

We had a couple of hours to relax before heading to the show and hoped that the relentless rain would stop. Thankfully, it did for the walk there. But, as we waited for the late opening of the gate, the rain began again and we had to yell to get in.20170518_200913 Once inside, we were surprised to find that there really wasn’t much happening. There was a long bar where you could buy drinks and then a hallway that led to one large room and one smaller room that had the artwork on the walls. As far as the chocolate, there were displays being set up as we walked around and a chocolate fondue fountain that wouldn’t be ready for another half hour.  It took us about 15 minutes to look at the paintings so once the rain had stopped (not too much longer), we left.  It wasn’t the type of show we expected but we figured we’d make the most out of being in the area.

Being hungry again and wanting a drink we came to Wynwood Kitchen and Bar. This is another one of the neighborhood’s gems. Our server explained the Latin influenced small plate theme and gave us some pointers for what to choose. My friend and I had their super tasty “Shot of Love” cocktail, a blend of Peruvian Pisco, Lychee, lime juice, mint and hibiscus and we ordered a whole bunch of different dishes to share. Each one was better than the one before. We had roasted beets with blue cheese, valencia orange and an incredible vinaigrette, grilled pork belly skewers with a brown sugar/soy glaze  and baby octopus skewers with lemon and garlic,  braised short ribs with a boniato mash, crispy pork with white cheddar chipotle grits and the pan seared fish with a corn salsa.  Hungry yet? This really was a fantastic restaurant and will be worth making a return trip.

The next day we had one final delicious meal sitting on the porch at Morgan’s where I had an incredible breakfast burrito filled with pork, cheddar cheese, rice, black beans, avocado, fried eggs and salsa. Good thing I shared this one with my husband or I don’t think I would have been able to move. Great fresh and natural ingredients are used here so I don’t feel that guilty. 20170519_110523

I have to admit that even though we made the trip for an art show that was quite a disappointment, we certainly made up for it with the great food and company. I now can’t wait to go back to Wynwood.

Cheers and all the best,

Zita

 

 

 

A Bit from Barcelona, Spain

Here’s a little bit (or bite) from our Barcelona, Spain segment from All the Best with Zita Keeley. We had such an amazing day filming with Yves Nicolier.

It was a great ending to our Holland America Line Mediterranean cruise on MS Oosterdam.

Enjoy and cheers,

Zita

Visiting Corsica on All the Best with Zita Keeley

One of our filming stops in the Mediterranean was in Corsica. I had a short time to discover some of it’s delicacies thanks to Olivier of Coloratour and Holland America Line and the MS Oosterdam.

Cheers,
Zita