Once through the boundaries of the 6-million-acre Denali National Park, the only food you’ll find is wild. At its entrance, you’ll find a diner. And along the Denali highway, were I live, you’ll find the only other options.
Eleven miles from the tiny town of Healy, with only two restaurants of its own, and two hours from the nearest actual town, Fairbanks, my isolated home of the past two months offers very few options. With no movie theater, and no real store, the small village serves tourists from May-September, and lies dormant the rest of the year.
During my time here, I’ve embraced the little things, such as time spent with friends, and beautiful views, but all the while, I’ve craved a good meal.
Tucked in between one of three places to purchase souvenirs, and the lone outdoor retail shop, from its eclectic façade, which displays “Beer” and “Brunch”, Moos-Aka’s (pronounced moose-awk-ughs) has always looked interesting, but until this morning, I’d never passed through its Ivy framed door.
As my eyes adjusted to the dimly lit dining room, empty at 11:13 am, and the strange music met my ears, suddenly I felt as if I’d traversed the globe. Sat in the last seat on the right, propped up by a dark leather booth, I browsed the walls, and the menu, in fascination.
Obstructing my view of the delicately woven umbrellas which hung from the ceiling, the waiter approached with coffee.
Served on a slab of charred mahogany, in a small smelting pot which looked as if it were stolen from the set of “Game of Thrones”, I poured my first espresso sized cup of gritty black Turkish coffee under the copper light of an Edison bulb, and began to write. With no sugar, or cream, the robust flavor of dark beans, in their purest form, put even the most premium cold brew to shame.
Half-way through my essay, the coffee kicked in. With a caffeine content akin to five shots of espresso I expected to hit my stride, but instead I found myself again, curiously inspecting the menu.
Amongst several types of Crepes, both “French” and “Flash Fried”, “Moussaka”, and “Stuffed peppers”, my watering mouth settled on “The Captain Cook”.
“These take time, as care is put into each one.” a small note at the bottom of the menu prefaced, yet not ten minutes later, the 10x10 plate was served.
A rich flaky ham, so savory I regretted ever attempting a Pescatarian Diet, creamy chunks of magnificently melted Gouda cheese, a perfect pesto glaze, crunchy ripe ropes of red onion, a freshly fried egg, and a generous serving of creamy green avocado, all wrapped in a silk blanket of warm pita. On their own, any one of these ingredients would have satisfied, but wrapped together, each bite was a revolution.
With my curser flashing at me from across the table, as I scooped at the plate for any left-over crumbs, then returned to the keys. Now on my second pot, and approaching my fourth hour, I’m sipping slower, with no immediate plans to leave. Perhaps I’ll stay for dinner.