Thursday, September 6, 2007
We just got back from a fantastic four-day ferry excursion in WA's Northwest Corner. The goal of the trip was to explore a new part of the state, take at least one ferry ride per day, see just how cheaply (short of camping) we could sleep, and (naturally) to eat and drink local. We started our tour off right with pastries from Larsen's Bakery up the the street, the line for which almost made us miss the 9:20 Edmonds-Kingston Ferry. We spent the first night at the Tides Inn of "Officer and a Gentleman" fame in Port Townsend. The next day we caught a ferry to Whidbey and ate our way up the island and over Deception Pass to Anacortes to catch a 6:20 A.M. ferry the next day to San Juan Island, where we ate some mediocre food and searched in vain for orcas. The next morning we had to head back home, but not before making a brief stop on Orcas Island (supposedly named for an explorer, not the elusive killer whales), to check out the view from atop Mt. Constitution (pictured).
Naturally, there was a lot of eating and drinking. Here are the highlights.
1) Spending a couple hours getting tipsy on local brew and admiring the waterfront view from the balcony at Sirens Pub in Port Townsend while waiting for a Greek pizza that exceeded all expectations
2) Eating Penn Cove Mussels at Toby's Tavern (pictured - yes, the O is a big, and inexplicably red, mussel) while pondering Penn Cove in Coupeville
3) Cooked Local "Pinks" shrimp bought at Sweet D's Shrimp Shack just past Deception Pass and devoured with a bottle of Fair Winds Aligote in our cheap motel room in Anacortes
4) Self-serve oysters at Westcott Bay Oyster Farm (pictured) on San Juan Island
5) Fish & Chips at the bowling alley in Anacortes (where we discovered Paul is a natural bowler)
6) Panini from Enzo's next to the Orcas ferry - take them to go or sit outside, enjoy the view, and get a gelato for dessert
7) WA Ferries paraphenalia featuring Oly the orca - a stylish baseball cap for me (pictured) and a travel mug for Paul that came with one free fill-up of fair trade organic Tully's coffee (yet another reason to love living in WA!)
8) Port Townsend white wines - Fair Winds 2005 Aligote smells fruity but is dry and diesely and perfect for seafood - Sorensen 2006 White Table Wine is easy drinking and fruity but nicely balanced
9) Sunshine and margaritas on the porch at Mi Casita in Friday Harbor (pictured)
1) The food at Mi Casita - I had the quesadilla del mar (which Paul described as "gloopy" and inexcusably filled with frozen seafood) and he had the enchilada suiza filled with beef that was dry, stringy, and tough. This place was recommended to us by a local (further proof the most Washingtonians have never had good Mexican)
2) The Italian place we got lunch at in Friday Harbor, the price was right, but the pasta was overcooked. So mediocre that I have forgotten the name.
3) Pink Port Townsend wines - Sorensen's first attempt at rose missed the mark. It's amber in color and tastes suspiciously like sweet pepper jelly. Fair Winds admits to making its blush by combining red and white wine. Stuff tastes as I imagine the spit barrel in Sideways did. When on the Olympic Peninsula, stay away from the pink stuff.
4) Khu Larb Thai in Port Townsend - recommended by the guidebook and packed with people, we thought it might be a good place to order adventurously. We were wrong. The mussels in the clay pot were way too large and tasteless to have been local (New Zealand?) and the thai-style barbecued Cornish game hen was sufficiently dry to suggest that it had not been cooked to order. We're not willing to write it off completely but, if you go, stick to the pad thai.
5) Loganberry pie at Greenbank Farm on Whidbey - I actually thought it was fine, but Paul felt the Greenbank volunteers needed a course on pie dough (too crumbly) and to add a little sugar to balance the tart berries. But the farm itself is worth a visit to buy their cheese, taste a variety of local wines (I am particularly enamored of anything from Mount Baker Vineyards), and chat with the farm's friendly volunteers (the wine guy told us about Toby's and we love him for it).
When Paul almost missed the ferry from San Juan to Orcas because some crappy coffee shop next to the ferry line couldn't manage to make 2 breakfast burritos in 20 minutes, forcing Paul to get 2 croissants instead and sprint for it. Turns out the croissants were inedibly doughy, requiring him to get breakfast out of the small ferry's vending machines.
If you have any suggestions for places we should have gone, please let us know! We love comments! Our fruitless whale watching expedition's "100% Whale Guarantee" means that we will be returning to the San Juans next summer in search of the elusive orca.