Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Goldfish!

So I may have outdone myself this year, pulling off the perfect birthday party for Goldfish and a few of her closest friends that was also tax deductible by virtue of being an item from the Channel 8 fundraising auction a couple weeks ago.

It really doesn't do me any good to lovingly describe this event, since I would sincerely love to attend it again, but I love our Channel 8 even more and I guess it is my perverse dream to  not be able to afford to  attend next year if it comes up as an auction item, so here goes . . . .

Picture this - Margaret's Bay Cafe is completely empty except for a table set for you and 7 of your closest friends.  Rich, the executive chef at the Grand Aleutian, and Lisa, the food and beverage manager, have been collaborating for days to come up with the perfect food and wine pairings to make this a remarkable event.  Rich comes out and describes each of the 7 courses before they are served, and Lisa educates with handouts and lectures on each of the wines.  The wines are amazing, the food is amazing, and yes - they do taste better together, one and one does equal three.  The printed menus are personalized for you.  And afterwards, you are free to stay and visit with your friends, there is no hurry because there is no other seating, this is a unique one-of-a-kind event.  You are pleasantly full of perfectly prepared food, you have tried some fantastic wines, and you will look back on this evening as something special for years to come.  Seriously, if this comes up again, are you really going to let me attend three years in a row???  Because believe me, the last thing on your mind at the end of the evening will be how much you donated to a non-profit to attend such a spectacular event . . . .

Appetizer course, from left to right:  A DLT - crispy duck skin (just like bacon!), lettuce and tomato; crab salad, wonton, pickled onion and pepper nestled in avocado; and my favorite - foie gras slathered in kumquat marmalade on toast (pure genius).  Served with a sparkling J Brut Rose.

Seared scallops, covered with an Italian salsa verde on a bed of white beans, served with a 2007 Australian Massena.  Rich gave us a good talk on how to buy good scallops.

This was braised pork shoulder stuffed in a roasted mini sweet pepper, sprinkled with queso fresco and cilantro, in a very tasty pomegranate mole.  Served with a 2006 Chateau Ste Michelle-Dr. Loosen Eroica Reisling.

A classic combination - perfectly cooked sockeye salmon with black trumpet mushrooms, on a bed of lentils and onion and served with a very tasty 2008 Oregon Pinot Noir.

This was a universal favorite - Moroccan chicken served with a 2007 Argiolas Costera Isola dei Nuraghi from Italy.  Lots of lip smacking around the table . . .

Oh man . . . beef short ribs, cooked for hours until they are fork tender, in a wine and beef stock demi glace, served on polenta rounds and paired with the oldest wine available at the Grand, a 1995 Cabernet Sauvignon that is holding up well.  Astounding pairing.  Hard not to make it a favorite.

The wine line-up after Lisa got them all photo-ready.

And finally, the dessert trio of a chocolate bon bon, chocolate mousse, and a chocolate bouchon, served with a glass of 2003 Vintage Port.

Birthday girl blows out her candle - happy birthday Goldfish!  38 years young . . .

Many thanks to Joe, Lee, Ricardo, Alicia, and Elaine for attending - and Rich and Lisa for a perfect evening!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Goldfish and I had a wonderful night out on Valentine's at the Grand - by ordering different things and trading portions, we got to try almost the whole menu!  I think my favorites were probably the Smoked Black Cod Chowder and the Chicken & Artichoke Lasagna.

Great job Rich and crew!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ahhh, February . . .

We've had an interesting mix of weather this month, from snow to almost bare ground and back to snow.  This was from a particularly gorgeous day near the beginning of the month - the skies were clear, the snow cover was gorgeous, and the wildlife was out in abundance.  This is an interesting 4 pictures, I took them standing in the exact same spot on my way to lunch.  Here, I'm facing across the street . . .
Here I'm looking down the creek towards work . . .
Now across the creek at the abandoned skiff that is always a photo opportunity . . .
And finally up the creek where I kitty was catching some sunshine.  The four points of the compass with very different views!  Cheers, off to bed early tonight, we stayed up too late watching the Channel 8 Auction last night.  Great job to all the Channel 8 staff for putting on a really fun event!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Crab Season Continues

After a busy and productive pot cod season, the boats have switched over to opilio crab (marketed as "snow crab") and we have taken a few deliveries.  It sounds like the opie fishing has been very productive as well, so except for the weather the 2011 fishing season has had a great start.  Above, the F/V Arctic Mariner heads out to the grounds with a load of crab pots, taken from by the landfill a few days ago.  You can see if I rush out right after work there is still a bit of sunshine kissing the tops of the mountains before dusk descends on the island.

2011 was a slow year to start for me, it unfolded like a flower that just fully bloomed in the last couple days.  January started with my co-worker flying out for a funeral, and me trying to get caught up from being on vacation while still closing the month and generating reports by the 5th.  On top of that I was sick, so it was halfway through January before I had a chance to take a breath and think about 2011.  I didn't make any resolutions because I still have some really great ones I'm still working on.  I didn't make any changes because it felt like things beyond my control were changing so much, that maybe I should stay the same.  What I did do however, as January faded in the rear view mirror, was become supremely contented.

I paused and look back over the time since I moved out here, in June of 2007.  While I had lived in Alaska since 1988, this place is special.  I started blogging on A Sense of Place almost immediately after moving here; I had visited Goldfish out here before and I had an inking of how special it was going to be to live here.  Looking back on how we started out here, all our worldly possessions shipped out here on one pallet (and another pallet for my precious Millipede game), no vehicle (and we entertained the idea of not needing a vehicle), not married yet but definitely moving rapidly in that direction (and we did, just a little more than 9 months after moving here).  We were living in a company apartment that we loved, right on the East Channel.

Out lives have gotten much more complicated since those carefree early days - we have vehicles, we bought a house, I re-certified as an EMT and stated running with the ambulance/fire service out here, we constantly work at keeping in touch with our families spread all over.  Owning a house comes with its own set of worries, and certainly its own set of rewards.  You certainly never have to wonder what to do with your spare time after signing on that dotted line!

We have a wonderful circle of friends out here, and although we grouse about the hours, we have good jobs for a good company doing things we enjoy.  After working on the decks of boats and on the engines of boats and in processing plants in many capacities, off and on through out life, it seems a natural progression to be doing what I'm doing.  So bizarre that after going to five different colleges pursuing a broad range of degrees - chemical engineering, bio-chemical engineering, teaching, industrial instrumentation, petroleum science, and finally anthropology - that nothing that I have learned actually applies to my work, but I'll probably finish my working career right here in Unalaska, hopefully at the same workplace.

Okay, enough rambling for now, I'm off to watch a movie with Goldfish - we're working through the Oscar nominations via Netflix.  Cheers!