Saturday Vignettes in Midtown Anchorage


       Gray May Saturday morning —  it’s perfect for walking to the Spenard Farmers Market. Along the way we bought a small loaf of blueberry quick bread ($1) from a fellow raising money for the Three Barons’ Renaissance Fair. They also had a car wash, in the Veterans Lodge parking lot, but not a lot of business.

At Pack Rat Antiques in the old McKay Hardware building, I restricted myself to buying a little guinea hen figure for Micki and candy cigarettes for Jim. The young woman who rang up the purchases said that a new Italian restaurant had opened at Metro mall; Originale. We said we’d check it out.

Antonio, the Greek baker, said that he would have a booth at the market, so we headed straight for the baklava.

Jim buying baklava from Antonio’s booth.

New this year was the Mobile Mending Co. booth that had two sewing machines set up, an ironing board and iron, and an array of threads. The owner said that she would mend anything on the spot — but had two hours of work already lined up.

Mobile Mending Co. booth at Spenard Farmers’ Market. She had more business than she could handle.

The farmers were selling plants, mainly, although some of the other Saturday markets feature greens from this year (often greenhouse grown) and potatoes and root vegetables stored from last year.

An array of plants at the Spenard Farmers’ Market.

Well-hatted woman at Spenard Farmers’ Market

Walking back, we encountered a Native guy who was sitting back by the trees at the corner of Denali and Benson with his cardboard sign. He asked us for a cigarette, and when we said sorry, we didn’t have any, he didn’t ask for money. We thought we looked more like people who would have money but not cigarettes; he took us for fellow travelers, perhaps, who would be a better touch for smokes than dollars.

At Originale, I scoped out the menu on the chalkboard and asked about vegetarian options. The young woman pointed to the column labeled “Vegetarian” and said, “That’s it. Tomato and cheese, and tuna.” “Oh,” I said, “Tuna’s not really vegetarian, is it?” “Hmph. Depends. For some people it is.” The store has neat shelves of chocolates, pasta, sauces, white anchovies, peppers, and more, all imported from Italy. The hours are 10-6, M-F; 10-5 on Saturday and closed on Sunday – pretty much corresponding to the Metro Bookstore hours through which one must go to get to the restaurant. Note – is this the new thing in Anchorage? Title Wave has replaced the bagel place with Yak and Yeti; Metro Books has replaced their organic food café with an upscale Italian place.

Our route home took us past a welcome sight — the first forget-me-nots of the spring.

First forget-me-nots, Anchorage.

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