Food

Savoring Skagit

A few of my favorite things

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The fun thing about writing about food is having an excuse to try every new restaurant, including as many dishes on the menu as possible. But at a certain point you tend to settle on your favorites and it becomes difficult to order anything else. After living in Skagit Valley for 20 years, I find I have a favorite thing to order pretty much everywhere we go.

Example: the macaroni and cheese at Seeds in La Conner. I know, I know, you can get mac and cheese everywhere these days. But this one is made with sharp, delicious Cougar Gold cheese melted into a thick rich sauce so soupy it’s served with a spoon, with a scattering of toasted breadcrumbs on top for contrast and crunch. While my favorite time eating this was out of a takeout cup in a pouring rainstorm, it’s also highly satisfying eaten at the restaurant with a martini or a good chardonnay.

Oysters are, of course, a quintessential food of Skagit, and my favorite way to eat them is straight from the shell with nothing on them. If you buy them at Taylor Shellfish Farm on Chuckanut Drive you can shuck them right there on the beach and slurp them up—plus you can pick up a loaf of garlic bread to heat up on the on-site barbecues for a truly decadent supper.

Skagit’s Own Fish Market is a regular stop whenever we need a good piece of fish for dinner, and I frequently plan my shopping visits to coordinate with lunchtime so I have an excuse to order a Dungeness crab sandwich. I was recently trying to describe Dungeness crab to someone who had never tried it, and wished I could just give them one of these—a soft hoagie roll buttered and toasted and piled high with fresh crab meat, lettuce and tomato. Simple but perfect.

Speaking of crab, we often regret it if one of us doesn’t order the crab pasta when we go to Nell Thorn (although it can be a difficult choice between that, the hanger steak with frites, or whatever amazing seasonal specials happen to be on the menu that day). While it changes slightly from season to season, it’s always a delightful tangle of spaghetti tossed with dark leafy greens, crab, garlic and hot chile flakes, and a lot of olive oil and parmesan. Leftovers are fantastic with a fried egg the next day (but there are not usually leftovers).

When out and about in the valley on a nice day, one’s thoughts naturally turn to the small but food-intensive town of Edison. If it’s breakfast time on a weekend, it’s always worth trying to snag a seat in Tweets for a truly excellent cup of coffee and a plate of shrimp and grits the size of your own head. After that, you are legally required to stop at the Breadfarm for some cookies (my personal favorites are the coconut macaroons, crispy on the outside and softly sweet on the inside). You will also want to visit Slough Food next door to sit out in the garden courtyard with a salumi and cheese plate and a glass of wine, or perhaps a perfectly toasted cheese sandwich with a salad of seasonal greens. If you time it right, they might be having an Oyster Feast or Paella Party (best to get on their mailing list for these). And if it’s dinner time, wind back up to BowEdison on Chuckanut Drive for a fancy cocktail (I like the Marty’s Martini) with a plate of their smoked salmon blini.

For those days when only a burger will do, I like the pub burger at Skagit River Brewery as well as the boar burger on a pretzel bun at A’Town Bistro, but the ultimate burger experience is to be had at Skagit Valley Burger Express, located in a caboose in a parking lot just outside Sedro-Woolley on Hwy 20. These are sloppy burgers, so you may need to get out of your car and eat at one of the picnic tables, or be prepared to hose down the inside of your car. I haven’t been able to decide if I prefer the blue cheese burger or the Atomic Mushroom with bacon. Or maybe the Jalapeño Ranch? Hmm, need to try them all again…

And finally, for less decadent cravings, the Pad Ba Mee from Rachawadee Café, a dish of smoky, wok-charred egg noodles tossed with vegetables, is my go-to takeout dinner. Also the Italian chop salad from Pacioni’s, a meal in a bowl that has gotten us through many difficult work nights. Its mix of greens, salami, artichokes and chickpeas is sustaining and delicious—proof that sticking to favorites doesn’t need to be a bad thing.

More Food...
SeaFeast
An edible exploration

“Are you as excited for the next SeaFest as I am?” my first mate queried recently.

“For the record, it’s called SeaFeast,” I replied, reminding him that I’d had to make the same correction numerous times during last year’s festivities, when we spent a sunny September afternoon at Squalicum…

more »
SkillShare
A DIY smorgasbord

I’m proud of the year’s supply of garden-grown garlic bulbs hanging in our shed and the servings of beefsteak tomato sauce stacked in the freezer, but if the apocalypse ever came knocking, our household would still be sorely lacking when it came to storing up supplies for long-term…

more »
Field Fare
The dog days of corn

Sugar is increasingly viewed by the public to be toxic in amounts that most Americans regularly consume, and many people are making efforts to curb their intake. But even as we shun junk food and other sources of sweetness, sugary snacks that are whole plant parts, like fruit and real baby…

more »
Events
Today
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Vendovi Tours

10:00am|Vendovi Island

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

La Cage Aux Folles

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

The Wind in the Willows

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Brunch on the Bay

10:00am|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Edison Farmers Market

10:00am|Edison Granary

Banned Books Week

10:30am

Langar in Lynden

11:00am|Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Brunch and Learn

11:00am|Ciao Thyme

Your Vote Counts! Block Party

12:00pm|Depot Market Square

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

South Side Stories

2:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Trivia Time

3:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Waiting for the Whales

4:00pm|Village Books

Not-Creepy Gathering for People Who Are Single

6:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Moon Walk

6:30pm

Trove Web
Tomorrow
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Vendovi Tours

10:00am|Vendovi Island

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Banned Books Week

10:30am

Baker Lake Cleanup Signup Deadline

8:00am|Baker Lake

Wheelchair Gangball

3:30pm|Bloedel Donovan

Monday Night Pizza

5:30pm|Ciao Thyme Commons

Books on Tap

6:30pm|El Agave 2

Open Mic Night

7:00pm|Village Books

Guffawingham

9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

Village Books Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tuesday
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Banned Books Week

10:30am

Rainbow Reads Book Club

3:00pm| Ferndale Library

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Bellingham Reads

6:30pm|Bellingham Public Library

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Seabird Struggles

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Beginning Square Dance Lessons

7:00pm|Ten Mile Grange

Warlbers and Woodpeckers

7:00pm|Village Books

Comedy Open Mic

7:30pm|Shakedown

see our complete calendar »

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove Web Village Books Acrobat