Last evening we visited the Forget-Me-Not Nursery in Indian, Alaska, then got a guided tour of plantings at the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood. Really, though, it was just an excuse to enjoy a sunny summer-evening drive along beautiful Turnagain Arm.
As my former editor once noted, a true ’Q place can be identified by things like:
- A smoky smell
- A cartoon oinker on the sign
- A name that is either short (J.J.’s) or funny
The Turnagain Arm Pit has a proudly gross name and a windsurfing, toque-wearing pig as its mascot. And ooooohhhh, that smell. As soon as we got out of the car we were struck by a powerful aroma that had nothing to do with olor del sobaco. No, this was the good kind of pit odor: Rich, smoky, meaty.
Speaking of proudly gross: Inside, you can buy a T-shirt that features a stick-figure chef holding a cartoon bone up for a stick-figure pooch. The caption is, “We love to meat people and bone their dogs.”
Yep, we’re keeping it classy up here in Alaska. Although I didn’t buy a shirt on the spot, I’m thinking about it.
Two of my other favorite BBQ-joint names: “Ribbed For Your Pleasure” and “Bone Daddy.” Funny, yes, and I bet the T-shirts are funny, too. Still, they can’t quite compete with the chance to say, “Let’s eat at the Arm Pit.”
However, if that first restaurant doesn’t hand out condoms along with the condiments it’s missing a great promotional opportunity.
Melting nuggets of smoky cow
Even if I decide against the shirt I’m going back to Turnagain Arm Pit BBQ to eat. It’s a little pricey (hello, Alaska gouge!) but incredibly tasty. The chopped brisket was a heap of little nuggets of smoky cow that melted in my mouth, like an all-beef version of Dippin’ Dots.
My dining companions made quasi-sexual moaning noises over their pulled-pork sandwiches (smoked pork, of course). We all loved the coleslaw, which was simply two kinds of slivered cabbage glistening with a simple vinaigrette; I couldn’t swear to it, but I believe they used cider vinegar.
And oh, my, the side of beans. Six kinds of whistleberries, diced pepper and onion, and three kinds of meat (fatback, bacon and bits of smoked meat off the cutting board), simmered to surrender in a spicy, BBQ-inspired sauce.
My friend Linda B. bought and shared a side of hush puppies: perfectly fried corn balls served with a mustardy dipping sauce. I wanted to treat to a side of fried pickles but they were sold clean out. Bummer: I’ve never eaten a fried pickle, and last night I was feeling good enough not to fret over the $5 cost. It had been a gorgeous drive in the company of three kickass women, and we were being fed royally.
Some days you just have to say “The heck with the cost” and enjoy the kind of food that comes in a plastic basket, with a roll of paper towels on the side. (We needed those. I’m a woman who wears her dinner with pride.) What’s life without a little bit of saucy joy?
Readers: What are some of your favorite splurges? They need not be expensive. For example, one of my own off-brand treats is dipping dollar-store pretzels into mustard that was free with double coupons. Small things please small minds.