My ship arrives in Juneau, Alaska the state’s capital city and accessible only by boat or plane. There are roads through the city that take you to the beautiful Mendenhall Glacier and Tongass National Forest but, otherwise, most sites are in the downtown area.
I was surprised to find out that Juneau has a thriving and growing food scene, and I, of course, am ready to sink my teeth into some delicious food. Who better to do that with than one of Juneau’s best and most passionate food tour guides, Kelly (aka, Midgi) Moore.
I meet Midgi at the dock and we take a very short walk down the pier to the first and most known spot, Tracy’s Crab Shack where owner, Tracy LaBarge is there to meet us. While we sit and wait for our order to come, Tracy explains that it took many years (15 or so) to make her dream of having the “best legs in town” a reality. Now, she owns the shack as well as 2 other amazing restaurants in town, Salt (that I’ll be going to) and Saffron. A bucket of huge crab legs are put down but there’s also crab bisque and cole slaw, rolls with butter and just a whole lot of food. I started with the bisque that was thick and crabby before attacking the legs. Forget the rolls although both Midgi and Tracy told me they’re great.
Further down the pier, we stop at Deckhand Dave’s Fish Taco Truck. Dave McCasland is a former commercial fisherman who cooked for his crew and developed a passion for opening up his own restaurant. For now, he has his funky food truck where he whips up the most delectable fish tacos as well as fish and chips. He gave me a sampler of beer battered halibut, blackened rockfish and panko salmon with a thirst quenching Alaskan beer that certainly hit the spot.
After all that, it’s a short walk further into town for some unique Alaskan cuisine in the modern, stylish restaurant, Salt. Chef Lionel Uddipa is there and takes me into his kitchen where he has me help him make his special king crab rissotto. Being a 3rd generation cook, he has developed his own incredible style and recipes and this rissotto includes ingredients like spruce and chive flowers. It was absolutely fabulous and I’m not surprised that Chef Lionel has since won the top award of King of Seafood at the Great American Seafood Cookoff. Well done Chef!
As Juneau is said to be one of the most beautiful capitals, I want to see some of that beauty. Although I don’t have enough time to go to the well known Mendenhall Glacier, I am taken to the very picturesque Glacier Gardens rainforest within the Tongass National Forest. This is a 50 acre botanical garden with unusual flower tower structures and diverse plants and has a great view over Juneau too.
It’s one last stop before heading back to the ship and what could be better than Juneau’s first distillery where they make their very own gin and call it Juneauper? In fact, Midgi explains they make their own tonic too and so a cocktail to toast and say thank you seems a very appropriate way to finish off this visit.
Cheers and all the best,
(more to come from Alaskan cruise on Holland America Line, MS Amsterdam)