Old Gator’s Occasional Guide to Guilty Pleasures

I’ve decided to pass the declining days of April, for  whose showers we’re still waiting so I can do my spring fertilizing of our fruit trees and banana plants, disclosing to you some of the most jealously guarded secrets of my kitchen and backyard grilling zone.

This morning I was enjoying a rare treat – LEO (that’s lox, eggs and onions for those who have not lingered long among the chosen) done the right way, with roughly chopped Georgia sweet onion, three farm fresh cage free eggs beaten with a dash of salt, pepper and turmeric and a tablespoon of heavy cream, and – most important of all – roughly cut slices of line-caught wild Alaska sockeye salmon, cold-smoked, and wild gently smoked halibut lox from Taku Smokeries in Juneau, Alaska. You saute the onions in butter (not margarine, not olive oiluntil translucent, add the chopped salmon and halibut, saute again until the fish slightly browns, then stir in the well-beaten egg mixture. Cooking over medium heat, gently stir the eggs with your beloved wooden spoon until a fluffy scramble is achieved.

Here’s an elaboration of today’s guilty pleasure. We discovered Taku Smokeries on a cruise up the inside passage from Vancouver to Alaska some 26 years ago when we docked for a day at Juneau. We deliberately chose one of the smaller ships on the route to enhance our sense of proximity to a region so beautiful that it seems impossible it produced a blithering imbecile like Sara Palin. Anyway, we bought a few flats of cold-smoked sockeye and halibut for our cabin fridge, and sampled some of their other wares right there at the smokery.

Oh boy.

We were ruined. I mean, ruined. I have been having our supplies of breakfast feesh shipped to us directly from Juneau ever since. I would no more buy prepackaged salmon or farmed salmon, or halibut, at the supermarket than I would waste good alder charcoal on Spam. I will warn you before continuing that this stuff ain’t cheap – it is not for Bernie Sanders donors. The shipping alone is expensive; they prefer to overnight ship but will two-day Fedex it to you if you insist (I never noticed any difference in how the feesh arrived either way). Our average order runs us about $50 for the shipping, but you get a credit for the $10 styrofoam package deposit if you send back the empty container. You come out ahead about $7 on each order if you do and you can feel all sorts of warm and fluffy about your environmental chops.

So what do they got? Well, it’s line caught wild salmon and halibut, for one thing. They also have king crab and snow crab which is ungodly good, but let’s focus on the salmon. They smoke their own and they do it perfectly. A word I have come to detest for its flagrant misusage in culinary discussions is “artisinal,” but Taku has been truly artisinal for thirty years or so. The cold-smoked salmon (coho, sockeye, red king or the insanely sublime white king salmon, which I bet you you have never heard of much less tasted, all available seasonally) is so perfectly and subtly transformed that you figure they used  an alembic instead of a smoker. It’s hearty, assertive, and your taste buds don’t have to go prowling for the payorf. The hot smoked white king salmon might be the closest thing to a sensation you’re more accustomed to further down your body than your mouth.

Now, if you’ve been doing the standard smoked salmon Jewish breakfast thing all your life and think you know what cream cheese, lettuce, cucumbers, onion and a lightly toasted bagel can do for salmon, no, sorry, you have no idea. If you had offered the same open faced presentation with Taku salmon to Wallace Stevens, he would have rewritten “Sunday Morning” and thrown all the gentile allusions out to make room for brunch.

They also do fresh raw salmon and halibut steaks and fillets as well as insane salmon spread, caviar and these incredible smoke salmon fins – you suck the blob of meat orf the fin, rich and oily with so much omega to fulfill the promise of Teilhard’s Divine Milieu that I call them “omega popsicles.”

Okay, so it ain’t cheap but after a lifetime of eating breakfast feesh like a devout Kabbalist I will tell you that you will not, repeat, not find better quality, tastier stuff.  Now, here’s the link you were waiting for; be advised that the color and texture of the feesh you discern from their photos is exactly the way it looks. Compare it to the way your feesh looks:


You will thank me for this, even if your accountant won’t.




6 thoughts on “Old Gator’s Occasional Guide to Guilty Pleasures

  1. Sounds great, OG. I have unfortunately developed a taste over the years for the hot smoke. I think it’s mostly a textural issue, because certainly the hot smoke masks the flavor a bit.

    I promise to reform.


  2. I had the pleasure of traveling to Alaska in 2007. I did an 11 day cruise–4 days inland, 7 days by boat. When I return, i will not make the mistake of taking a boat. I will stay inland. The tour started in Fairbanks with the purple northern lights I mentioned. In the summer, it was a cool town. I saw puppies meant for sledding. I almost stole one. Denali was my favorite stop. Talkeetna. My god. What a gorgeous little town. I saw the top of Mt. Denali. Most people who visit never see the top. I slept at night to the sound of a stream. I saw Dal Sheep. A moose crossed me while I four wheeled. I kayaked in a glacier bay and saw seal. It was my honeymoon. The marriage is over. The memories live on.

    I am sure no one wants to see my vacation pics–gawd, I hate vacation pics, but here they are:

    I rode this zip line. Cried like a baby because I am so scared of heights:’


  3. Here you are, Gator! Was wondering where you had gotten off to… And ‘burg and Stex, I see. HBT is just not the same, and even more so without you guys. But now I have a new site to peruse!
    Did a 7-day cruise to Alaska 3 years ago or so, favorite moment was an incredibly-overpriced excursion (redundant, I know), where a Humpback whale kept leaping for the sky, 40 feet from the boat, a veritable one-whale tourism board…


    1. Ah, Big G. Welcome aboard.

      Yeah, the site formerly known as Circling the Bases just plain lost me. The redesign sucks like a black hole, of course; I just got tired of inhabituating a corporate billboard with a penchant for blinking out and taking five irrecoverable paragraphs of text with it, the crappy site navigation, the elimination of the archives, and then the Scrooge McLoria-style cheapskate termination of the other bloggers was the last straw. This site is much more commodious. Most of my favorites people moved over here, and so far none of the assholes – but unlike over at TSFKACTB, we can get rid of the assholes here merely for being assholes. They don’t need to kick any tripwires.

      Make yourself at home and we can wait for the new Japanese Godzilla film together. It’s great to have you.


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