For the past two weeks, I’ve been traveling for work – the job that pays me, that is, giving me the resources to enjoy my prolific wine hobby. The first half of the journey took me to Anchorage, Alaska followed by a 5-day jaunt to Dallas, Texas. When I travel, I’m a huge proponent of the “when in Rome…” philosophy. Unfortunately for me, neither “when in Alaska…” or “when in Texas…” experiences involve great wine. Nonetheless, I have some great culinary experiences to highlight for you in lieu of a wine review.
When it comes to beverage selection in Alaska, craft brewing is the name of the game. The first place I enjoyed some excellent beer was Moose’s Tooth Pizza in Anchorage. With a broad selection of standards brewed in house and the best pizza in Anchorage, there was a line out the door both times I went. Price = moderate. For great seafood, Simon and Seaforts was the next stop in the dinner journey. Their wine list was mostly Californian, but their mojitos are to die for. I had a delicious (albeit a bit undercooked) cedar plank salmon, but the real winner here was dessert. When I saw ice cream sandwiches listed on the menu, it seemed a bit simplistic. The product was far from that – house-made cherry brandy ice cream sandwiched between 2 chocolate-chipotle brownies. I’d go back just for that. Price = expensive. The final stop was the Glacier Brewhouse where I had fresh-caught halibut with some wonderful beer. An Oktoberfest lager aged for a year in Jim Beam bourbon barrels hit the spot with salad, followed by an Imperial Blonde – both brewed on the property. Price = expensive.
By time I hit Dallas, I was tired of traveling and also disappointed to find uninspired wine selections at most of the restaurants I went to AND bad beer. Yep, we’re talking a city with a penchant for Bud Light. By Thursday, 8 days into the trip, I decided it was time to treat myself and I did what any red-blooded American would do in Texas – find some good steak. Located in Addison, a city with the highest per-capita restaurant to resident ratio, Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House was the winner. It was hands-down an outstanding experience from the moment I walked through the doors. As I was dining solo, sometimes service can be lacking or the experience awkward – not the case here. My server was always there at the right times, with a friendly demeanor and great recommendations. I started off with bread and a hazelnut encrusted goat cheese salad paired with Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, followed with the main course: a 22-ounce prime bone-in ribeye steak, prepared perfectly, complimented with sea scallops and grilled asparagus with hollandaise sauce. Paired with Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon, the meal was nearly orgasmic. I wasn’t going to do dessert, but the staff knew it was my first time in and offered a complimentary glass of port (King Estate), so I said why not. With the port I had a crème brulee with fresh berries. At the end of the meal I literally waddled back to my hotel and fell asleep, satiated by fabulous food, great service, and adequate wine. Price = very expensive.
So – if you ever find yourself in Anchorage or Dallas, I hope you know have some ideas about how to best enjoy the food and drink like the locals do. Oh yea, there are moose in Alaska and cowboys in Texas. Yee haw!