Behind the Feature: Island Dining

Willows Inn, Lummi Island

It all started back in March, when my husband and I, regretting our lazy lack of planning (and therefore with no sunshine-filled vacation in sight), felt desperate to get away.
So we booked a long weekend with our kids on Orcas Island. Of course it wasn't sunny that weekend, but we did manage to hire a local babysitter so that we could have dinner--just us two--at Allium. When the beacon of your life is food, that's pretty much as good as a sunny day.
And besides: I knew I'd get a chance to write about my meal.

When we're planning the food features here at Seattle Magazine (which happens many months in advance), it's up to me to figure out the logistics. If I need help writing a longer piece, I ask a local food writer to jump in. I had some help with June's Summer Cravings cover story, but for the most part it was me eating--and writing about--everything in that issue.
But for July's Island Dining story...well, there's only so much time a girl can cut out of her life to hop-skip-and-ferry around to eat lunch or dinner. I really didn't know if I could hit all the many islands I wanted to feature before my deadline hit. But somehow, I did it. And I'm so glad I did.

I managed to sneak in a night on Lummi Island to visit Riley, Blaine and the crew at the Willows Inn; I've now been twice because I was so inspired by the beaches, the views and by the meals I enjoyed there.

Then I talked my friends Lara and David into ferrying to Bainbridge Island to dine at Hitchcock. We parked, walked onto the ferry, and grabbed a cab to the restaurant. We grabbed the cab because we realized during the ferry ride over that none of us had checked to see what time the ferry returned to Seattle (just a tiny detail, after all). And so we'd have to hustle: We'd need to eat in less than two hours or risk babysitter mutiny if we missed our ferry and returned home two hours later than expected. (It's an easy 10 minute walk, though, from the ferry to the restaurant, so don't feel like you need to cab there unless you, too, are in a rush.)
We soon found out that the folks at Hitchcock are used to ferry commuters, and our waiter managed to get us out of there with a few minutes to spare (and a half-full bottle of wine stowed in my purse). And what a meal we had! It was unexpectedly earthy and marvelous.

But it all started with that trip to Orcas, where I learned that the hearty souls at Phocas Farms grow and harvest saffron in Sequim. You see, chef Nakamura uses it in her mind-bogglingly good fish chowder.

You live, you eat, and you learn. That's how the saying goes, right?