The Cop and The King

Homicide detective Nancy Patrick’s hand went involuntarily to the nickel plated Smith & Wesson .357 magnum on her hip as she stared in wonder at the creature in the kitchen.

Since Nancy and her husband, homicide detective Christopher Booth, had become friends with Trent Marshall and Darcey Anderson, they had been involved in one adventure after another. Most involved fast cars, criminals, guns, and fighting for their lives. So it was when they arrived in Alaska after A Shooting at Auke Bay.

More pleasant were the adventures that began “when the sun went over the yardarm” at five o’clock daily. It was a time when refreshing cocktails or fine wines were poured. Cocktail hour was always followed by amazing meals. Some as complicated as the kolety, sort of a Russian version of a burger made with pork. It was a welcome departure from the scrambled eggs, ham sandwiches, buckets of chicken, and pizza that had been the staples of the Booth-Patrick household.

Now Nancy was staring at the three king crabs who were staring back at her with their twin eye stalks, which seemed to search the room, moving independently of each other. It was little wonder Nancy was startled by the giant crustaceans. Even for a species known for its large size, these specimens were giants. Each had a carapace of nearly eleven inches in diameter. Their leg spans looked to be six feet. Monsters.

King crab & drawn butter

Later, when the confrontation in the kitchen had passed, Nancy joined the small group in the large sitting room for French 75s, Trent’s signature cocktail. The crabs were cooked quickly in boiling water and served simply with drawn butter. The “Sourdough” Alaskans showed their new “Cheechako” friend, Nancy, how to cut through the shells of the leg segments to extract the long lengths of sweet meat. Dipping it into drawn butter is all that’s necessary for king crab.

What are your thoughts on king crab? What’s your favorite way to eat it?

Don’t forget that I’ll be hosting a book release and signing party for A Shooting at Auke Bay on August 3rd at Mexico in Alaska. Let me know if you’d like to be invited. Who knows? You might even meet Trent and Darcey!

Trent’s Riddle: Go to Mexico but Don’t Leave Anchorage

Darcey Anderson was puzzled by the riddle her husband, Trent Marshall, posed as they cruised north on their chartered yacht in A Shooting at Auke Bay.

“I want Mexican food when we get to Anchorage,” she announced.

Trent smiled.

“Then go to Mexico,” he said, “but don’t leave Anchorage.”

“What did he mean?” Darcey asked Robert Monk, the retired Alaska State Trooper commander who had been a friend of Trent’s dad. “Do you know?”

Robert laughed.

“He meant you should meet Maria-Elena,” Robert said.

“Maria-Elena?” Darcey repeated. “Does she have a last name?”

“She does,” Robert replied, “but you don’t need it. Maria-Elena is a legend in Alaska.”

Maria-Elena opened Mexico in Alaska in 1972. From the beginning her restaurant was a favorite of Anchorage diners.

She is known not only for the excellent Mexican food she brought to table but for her kindness and gentle disposition. One couple tells of the time their baby was acting up a bit, complicating their attempt at lunch. Maria-Elena took the baby in her arms and walked around the restaurant, comforting the child, letting the stressed parents enjoy a relaxing meal.

“Let’s go,” Darcey said, after hearing Robert’s answer to Trent’s riddle.

Maria-Elena met them with her usual warm smile. She showed them to an excellent table and personally took their order.

Carne deshebrada taco & tamal

Robert ordered a carne deshebrada, or shredded beef taco, and beef tamal. Darcey ordered lighter fare while staying within the realm of the Mexican kitchen. A chicken salad. Mexican style.

When the large bowl was placed in front of her, Darcey said, “Now that’s a salad!”

Chicken salad, Mexican style.

Robert was very pleased with the taco and spicy tamal placed in front of him. The excellent quality for which Maria-Elena was known.

They left somewhat later, pleased with their meal, taking with them a container of hot salsa and a package of flour tortillas, both made in house.

Even better, Maria-Elena agreed to host a book release and signing party for A Shooting at Auke Bay on August 3rd. Let us know if you’d like to be invited! You might even meet Trent and Darcey!