Monday, July 6, 2009

Where's the Moose?

Welcome to Cicely, Alaska.

Fifty miles from Snoqualmie, WA (where Twin Peaks was filmed) is the town of Roslyn (where Northern Exposure was filmed). Can you imagine the bull moose slowly meandering past the Roslyn Cafe mural in Roslyn, the television home of Cicely, Alaska?

Maurice Minnifield (Barry Corbin): This is Cicely. She and Roslyn founded the town 97 years ago. Rumor and innuendo notwithstanding, they were just good friends.

We wanted to stop at the cafe for lunch, but it was closed--arbitrarily, according to one of the other storekeepers in town.

Dr. Joel Fleischman (Rob Morrow) had graduated from the Columbia University Medical School, which he attended thanks to a scholarship from the state of Alaska. He was slated to work in Anchorage, but much to his dismay was assigned to be the General Practitioner in the tiny, remote Alaskan town, Cicely, to pay for his education.

Maurice Minnifield: Tell him that Dr. Fleischman is the kind of enterprising, young professional who's chosen to stake his claim right here on the banks of the Alaskan Riviera.
Dr. Joel Fleischman: Tell him I'm being held against my will.

As we walked around town, we could easily imagine being in Alaska.

The weathered buildings seemed to reflect the effects of some harsh winters.

We could also see signs of Cicely's businesses. Here was the General Store operated by Ruth Anne Miller (Peg Phillips). Peg Phillips did not start acting until age 65.

The merchandise may not reflect the presence of Ruth Anne, but the signs behind the counter indicated that this was her territory.

The painted name in the window of his office is the identifying key to the location of Dr. Fleischman's office. The town of fewer than 1000 people seemed, perhaps reluctantly, to have preserved many of the signs of its dual identity.

The store window in which Chris Steven (John Corbett) conducted his radio show on KBHR ("Kaybear") was undisturbed.

One could almost hear Chris as he addressed the problems and issues of the day through his unique, self-taught philosophy, such as when addressing the meaning of dreams.

Chris Stevens: I can see how that can be a problem. You know, it's like Jung says, 'The unconscious is revealed through the imagery of our dreams, which express our innermost fears and our desires'.
Bernard Stevens: Jung said that?
Chris Stevens: Yeah, I think it was Jung. Or maybe Vincent Price.

Reflections on the glass created some interference when we were photographing the radio "studio." In order to block out the reflections in the plate glass windows during filming, large black curtains were placed near the street in front of the sets being shot. Cameras and lights were placed in between.

The Brick Tavern is reputed to be the oldest (108 years) licensed tavern in the state of Washington and takes its name from the fact that 45,000 bricks went into the building’s construction.

Like the Roadhouse (Twin Peaks) in Fall City, only the exterior of the building was used in filming. Some think that the interiors were filmed, as with the Roadhouse, somewhere in Seattle. So we didn’t expect to see Holling Vincoeur (John Cullum), age 62, or his girlfriend/wife Shelly Tambo (Cynthia Geary), age 18, tending bar or Maurice lusting after Shelly.

But, so we could brag to our friends and family that we had eaten inside the tavern whose exterior was seen on TV, we stopped in for a light lunch. (Are you impressed?) Under most circumstances, I (Kate) would have been intrigued by the Black Jack Burger – ground beef liberally mixed with black pepper and topped with pepper jack cheese. But I really wasn’t that hungry. When Chuck decided to order the Macho Nachos which our server said was a large plate of food, I chose something light – the half pound of steamers (steamed clams) served with a cup of garlic butter.

When my steamers arrived, I was reminded that steamers on the West Coast aren’t the same as steamers along the New England Coast. These were more like small cherrystones rather than the larger soft shell clams that come with the leathery siphon attached that can be used as a handle. (Arcane Fact: Almost 90% soft shell clams harvested in the Chesapeake Bay end up on dining tables in New England.) Despite being small they were tasty with a good quantity of steaming broth in the bottom of the bowl and a very generous amount of garlic in the butter.

Chuck’s nachos were indeed a large plate of food. So large that even with my help we finally cried “Uncle.” They were pretty standard tavern nachos--tortilla chips, ground beef (or we could have had chicken), black olive slices, and jalapeƱo peppers with side dishes of sour cream and salsa. They weren’t bad and they weren’t great.

The Brick Tavern is more of a bar, pool hall, and curiosity than a restaurant, so it’s is hard to evaluate. So a 3.0 Addie is all I can muster.

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