Friday morning I met Mike Anderson, owner of M.A’s Gourmet Dogs, at his regular spot on 4th ave. It was his first day of business for the year, and it was 7 degrees outside– I was cold. The reason I bring up the temperature is because M.A.’s is kind of a sign of spring here in Anchorage. Every year people lineup to get a hot dog, then sit on the old federal court house steps and eat lunch in the sunshine. This is the earliest Mikes opened and the coldest. He started his business in 1992, which means this is his 20th anniversary.
“Its the greatest thing I’ve ever done work-wise.” Anderson said, “Its like this was created for my personality. There are many people who believe I’m such a hardass but I do what I have to do to keep the line moving.”
Mike sautes his onions in Coke and has a big selection of toppings including cream cheese, pesto, artichoke hearts, etc. He’s famous for his Topping Tuesdays. You can buy 7 different types of hot dogs including reindeer, kosher and bratwurst.
By 9:30 people were already trying to order hot dogs, and all day there was a steady line.
As I sat there shivering, I couldn’t help but dream about the spring.
Last week, while working, my photographer (Mike Nederbrock) and I found ourselves with 30 minutes of free-time. 30. Whole. Minutes. In my world this means you have enough time for a hot meal, which can be eaten in at a location other than your desk. My only request to Mike, who was the driver and also the decider of our lunch spot, was that I wanted a hot sandwich. We ended up at Sara’s Sandwich Shop. There is nothing outwardly impressive with the decor or the building, (we went to the shop on Arctic Blvd.) We walked up to the counter and circled our order on the paper print out provided by the cashier. They suggested that I order a French Dip, which came with with mushrooms, provolone and a side of au jus. Mike got a cold sandwich that was loaded with meat. The bread for both sandwiches was amazing. Mike described it as, ‘melt in your mouth.’ You can also create you own sandwich. Sara’s has 11 different meats, five cheeses, nine veggies and nine condiments for make-your-own sandwiches. Lesson learned: always trust a photog’s lunch recommendation.
My first college degree is in fine art. Architecture, fine art, graphic art and pottery are all things I still really, really enjoy and try to incorporate into my daily life. So when I heard about the Empty Bowl Project I realized it’s the perfect merger of two of my biggest passions: food and art. The Empty Bowl Project is the largest fundraiser for Bean’s Cafe, which serves about 800 meals a day to Anchorage’s homeless population. For a $20 ticket you get a bowl, donated by a local artist, and a free lunch at the Egan Center. This year they’ll be serving moose stew and a black bean Chugach chili, the recipe was created by Allen and Peterson. Officials with Beans hope the fundraiser will raise about $130,000. Even if you can only afford one bowl, you can still bring your family to the Egan for lunch. Tickets are on sale at the Credit Union One on the Old Seward Highway and at Great Harvest Bread Company. There will also be tickets sold the day of the event at the Egan, about 400, but those are expected to sell really fast. The coolest thing about this event is that you can use the bowl in your home, and it will have provided a meal to people who don’t have one.
Do you have time for lunch? I almost never do, BUT, if I’m on Tudor Rd. I”ll stop for a slice of pizza at Uncle Joe’s Pizzeria. Have you ever tried it? I recently stopped by and got two slices. The traditional pepperoni pizza and a slice of chicken-ranch. The pepperoni slice was good. It had a soft crust, light sauce and it reminded me of the type of pizza I’ve ordered in NYC, the kind you have to fold in half or risk a mess dripping down your fingers, (love that!). The chicken ranch was the stand out. The ranch dressing was very light, the mozzarella cheese melted over the large slices of grilled chicken, thinly sliced onions and crunchy bacon . Uncle Joe’s has a rotating selection, but if you stop by and see the chicken-ranch pizza, order it.