We arrived at Icy Point Strait at 9:30am and would be departing at 8:00pm. Due to the small docking area, we anchored away from the village and were tendered to shore (the tenders are actually life boats that hold about 35 people). Since those who booked early tours would be transported first and our day’s program was not until mid-afternoon, we took our time off boarding.
Upon first observation, it was clear that this locale was an authentic Alaskan fishing village that welcomes tourists to share their culture, not just go after their wallets. No glitzy shoppes or restaurants but, rather, wood-frame barn-style buildings that housed retail and historical items within large stalls—very refreshing after Ketchikan’s over-the-top commercial layout.
About Icy Strait Point from Celebrity Today newsletter:
“This concealed retreat can be found within the Inside Passage and by air is 50 miles west of Juneau and 60 miles north of Sitka. Icy Strait Point is located near the city of Hoonah, the largest Tlingit Indian settlement in Alaska. Locals share the sea with humpback whales, orcas, Call’s porpoises, seals, otters, halibut and all 5 species of Pacific salmon. It is not uncommon to spot a humpback or an orca while walking along the shore.”
America’s Wildest Kitchen was the intriguing title of the tour we decided on for this stop. In spite of the name, it was low key, enjoyable, and very informative. The descriptor read: “Discover Alaskan seafood side with a hands-on tasting session and pallet tour given by an experienced Alaskan fisherwoman and wilderness chef. Learn the skills and cooking techniques that set Alaskan seafood apart from the others. Become versed in local Alaskan fishing, preserving and cooking methods, and observe a filleting demonstration. Then grill your sample of the catch of the day over a custom-made, alder-wood grill.”
Before the demonstration, we found a small cafe that had wi-fi (woohoo!). We enjoyed some authentic Alaskan beer, seafood chowder, and halibut salad while catching up on the last couple of days that we had been without internet access. [It’s mind boggling how dependent we’ve become on electronic communication!]. Then we wandered through the retail and museum areas until it was time for our program.
The woman who lead the class was originally from the Midwest, but had come to Alaska many years ago—she was very proud to say that she had been adopted by the Tlinkin tribe in 1996. She and her husband built and lived in a 10’x12’ cabin “off the grid” (no power, no running water) for several years. They lived off the land, and eventually started a fishery. Over the years they expanded their home as their family grew, and still live there to this day. During salmon season, that is their mainstay and she is very creative about preparing it many ways.
She shared some of her techniques and recipes with us, and gave us fabulous samples to taste: a smoked salmon dip, salmon sliders, and baked halibut. Then after watching her skillfully fillet a large halibut, we enjoyed our own samples of salmon and halibut that we prepared over an alder-wood grill. A very entertaining and tasty way to spend 3+ hours.
[INTERESTING FACT we learned about salmon: All Salmon have a parasite that can make consumers really sick. To deal with this, commercial salmon is flash frozen immediately after being caught. Salmon caught by individuals should be frozen for at least seven days to assure killling the parasite (as personal freezers are not nearly as cold as commercial ones)—take heed you salmon fishermen out there!]
As we waited for our tender, there were a group of natives demonstrating a traditional dance. We enjoyed watching them while waiting for our return tender. One the way back, we saw a rainbow reflecting down into the trees on shore – second time this trip we’ve seen such a rainbow (first was at the Clearwater Casino in Washington), seems like some sort of a good luck omen…pot of gold in our future? LOL
Tomorrow’s Port of Call: Juneau