Sunday, August 6th, 2006
Consumed on 8/06/06
What do you get when you go camping with three foodie girls? An impossibly clean, homey and delicious trip. We ended up dubbing it Camp Handi Wipe due to the large number of cleaning products we went through trying to cook gourmet in the great outdoors.
First night we had:
Grilled Steaks with Bluberry BBQ Sauce
Gnocchi with Roquefort Cream
Green Pea Ravioli with Truffle Butter Sauce
The third morning we had a huge bacon breakfast which attracted a chipmunk. Unfortunately, the little guy was too curious about the leftover bacon grease cup and tipped the entire thing onto himself. It wasn’t hot anymore, but he basically coated himself in bacon grease. Poor guy!!
Tuesday, November 1st, 2005
consumed on 8/28/05
On our last day in Oysterville we decided to stop at Oysterville Sea Farms to pick up the obligatory jar of oysters and some amazing shortbread studded with dried cranberries. The shop was small but packed with delicious seafood and dried goods from around the Long Beach Peninsula.
The rest of the afternoon we spent hiking around the salt marshes on Willapa Bay. We were the only ones out there and it was eerie and oppressively quiet except for the chirping of crickets and the dim buzz of the dragonflies. The day was oddly muggy and the air was dank and stagnant. We wound our way along the spongy mud trail through the dead and decaying grasses, trying our best to avoid all of the snakes. The highlight of our walk was when we spotted seabeans. I’d never seabeans in the wild and I was slightly unnerved to see where they came from. We harvested several handfuls and left the marsh in search of crab—with the idea of recreating Rover’s crab bisque.
On the way out of town, we drove through Nahcotta and stopped at Willapa Bay Shellfish for two, beautiful, live crabs. Unfortunately, after the long drive back to Seattle, I forgot my seabeans in the car and ended up with just a crab. I didn’t have the proper ingredients handy for the Asian dipping sauce, so I decided to steam my crab with a coating of Survival Spice. I melted butter for the crab, but I was craving something more interesting. I pulled out the container of Survival Spice again and started using it like a dry dip. It may seem like an odd pairing, but I really enjoyed the assertively sweet and spicy flavors with the crab.
Sunday, October 30th, 2005
consumed on 8/27/05
Day two in Oysterville started with a wonderful breakfast strata with sausage and mushrooms. It was hearty, steaming hot and filled with spicy sausage. (I especially love that this dish can be made entirely the night before and simply baked in the morning; perfect for a brunch.)
After a rather long walking tour through Historic Oysterville, we returned to the house for lunch. J had seen a shrimp ceviche recipe on The Early Show (with Bobby Flay) that had caught her eye. I’m generally not a huge fan of ceviche, but only because I’m very particular about it. This recipe was fantastic; well-balanced and not overly citrus-y, the tender shrimp pairing perfectly with the sweet mango.
J had also brought along a savory mango cheesecake from JW Desserts (on Whidbey Island). I’ve yet to visit JW Desserts in person, but I’ve already had several of his cakes. His sculpted cake gallery is amazing and not only do the cakes look great, but they taste great as well. In addition to desserts he also makes savory cheesecakes that are out of this world; creamy, rich and flavorful. J served the mango cheesecake with homemade rosemary crackers from The Herbfarm Cookbook.
And just for overkill, J also served fresh mozzarella from Central Market, heirloom tomatoes and basil drizzled with olive oil and good balsamic. With fresh and high-quality ingredients, the Caprese salad is sublime. We washed it all down with a nice RosÃ©.
After lunch we took another long walk, this time along the beach. And then it was time for dinner.
We decided to eat out, despite the warnings from our host that eating out in Oysterville wouldn’t be nearly as good as cooking in. We ended up at Moby Dick’s – a local “hotel” that houses a restaurant. The hotel had an odd style that’s typically described as “funky”; lots of dark paint in the slightly off colors usually found in the paint store’s bargain bin.
We started off our meal with pan fried oysters and a Caesar salad. The oysters were great—as they should be in a town called “Oysterville”. They were plump and briny with a crisp, cornmeal coating and a side of wonderful corn relish. The Caesar salad tasted fine, but since it was made with feta cheese, I’m not sure I’d technically still call it a Caesar. J had the halibut and fennel stew, but something about the dish was very off; the fish was dry and the stew had an unpleasant bitterness to it. R had the pork chops with ancho sauce. The sauce was decent, but as with most pork served in restaurants, it was very tough and rubbery. The best dish of the night was a rib eye steak coated in an olive tapenade served with mashed potatoes and green beans. This dish was solidly good, but not what I’d consider great. Overall it was a decent meal, but for the prices they were charging, I was expecting a great meal. Next time, I’ll listen to our host!
Tuesday, October 25th, 2005
consumed on 8/26/05
An acquaintance of mine recently built a new house in Oysterville, on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula, and invited a few friends over for a weekend visit. It was a long drive out to the coast (in miserable traffic) but it was worth it.
C’s house was actually built as a retreat for the Willard R. Espy Literary Foundation‘s Writers Residency Program and it’s gorgeous. The main house is meant to be a gathering place for the writers/artists-in-residence and is very open and welcoming. My favorite part, of course, was the spacious communal kitchen with shelves full of top of the line cookware and a pantry stocked to the hilt.
As we arrived rather late that evening, dinner was ready and waiting: Dungeness crab with an Asian dipping sauce and a beautiful corn salad. Now, I’ve never really thought about dipping fresh crab into anything but butter, so the sauce threw me at first. Could a flavorful, Asian-style sauce be better than drawn butter? It was. In fact, it was so much better that I doubt I will serve crab with plain butter ever again.
Our friend R had recently found work as a wine distributor for l’Esprit du Vin, so he had brought along several great bottles of white wine. Dessert was a peach and berry crumble with fruits from the coast. It was one of the best fruit crumbles I’ve ever had, so I just had to get the recipe.
Friday, October 21st, 2005
consumed on 10/21/05
During a long weekend at Ocean Shores, I discovered a smoked meats store that was next to the liquor store…. They had:
- Razor clam sausage: wanted to try this but got vetoed…
- Landjaeger: soft & slightly spicy peperoni (w/o the weird food colorings)
- Brown sugar beef jerky: tender with a great, sweet & smoky flavor
- Double-smoked bacon: need I say more?
We decided to combine the meats & liquor and made a full on appetizer cocktail!
Bloody Mary recipe:
- 92 oz v8-juice
- 750 ml crater lake vodka
- 5 oz Worchestire sauce
- 1 oz Tabasco (or more if you like spicy)
- 1 T celery salt
- 16 oz beef bullion
- 4 oz lemon juice
- 1 T pepper
Garnished each with:
- pickled asparagus
- shrimp sauteed in garlic & butter
- dill pickles
- pickled hot okra
- celery stick
- a few slices of double-smoked bacon
Sunday, November 21st, 2004
Our second day on Whidbey started out with mom’s waffle breakfast. She makes the best waffles! We ate them with syrup and quince chutney and, of course, bacon.
After breakfast we went to Coupeville and stopped in Penn Cove Antiques where I found yet another cool egg cup, shaped like an elephant.
It was so cold and rainy that when the lady from Mariti Chocolate Company handed us cups of hot chocolate on the street, we had to follow her inside. The hot chocolate was amazing—really high quality chocolate mixed with milk and spiced with cayenne pepper. I had to buy some, along with these three weird little bottles of Underberg bitters. The package said ‘After a good meal to feel bright and alert’; so they should come in handy.
We had a late lunch at my favorite restaurant on Whidbey—Toby’s Tavern! It’s a dive bar, but they have great mussels right from Penn Cove, some of the best prime rib I’ve ever had and a great crispy halibut sandwich. Mmmmm. I heart Toby’s.
I also heart Spanish chorizo, which I had for a snack dinner with apples, quince paste, Fontina and Sopressata salami. A weird mix, but surprisingly good.