Food

Tide Guide

A season for seafood

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Many of my favorite childhood memories feature seafood as the main attraction.

In one recollection, family and friends who had gathered on the shores of Lummi Island to share summer’s bounty devoured boiled Dungeness crab that had recently been pulled from the trap. Crouched like cave-people, adults and kids cracked crab leg shells with rocks, not needing to dip the catch in melted butter because the meat was still briny and warm from being cooked in its own juices.

Similarly, I recall epic dinners featuring sockeye salmon caught earlier that day by reefnet fishermen on the waters of Legoe Bay and baked to savory perfection by my father, as well as digging deep for clams and geoducks on our beach’s marvelously mucky underbelly, and spending hours with my siblings drifting in a rowboat with baited fishing poles and jigs at the ready.

To this day, I associate seafood with happiness, and am grateful to now live in a region where access to fresh fish is plentiful—whether I’m catching crustaceans myself or purchasing them (or oysters, mussels, shrimp, halibut, salmon and more) from local purveyors to enjoy at home.

For my own edification, and to celebrate Eat Local Month’s final event, Seafood Week (Aug. 23-29), I’m taking the liberty of compiling a list of businesses in Whatcom and Skagit counties that have this market cornered. If you’re looking for fish-focused fare for a late-summer cookout or are eager to stock your freezer with seasonal selections, read on.

Because its origins are near and dear to my heart, I’ll begin with Lummi Island Wild (http://www.lummislandwild.com). The group of reefnet fishers who have integrated their salmon business to include harvesting, tendering, processing and distributing their catch has grown since its origins in 2004 to include buying from tribal and other fishers (including additional reefnetters), with a focus on salmon, tuna, cod, halibut, prawns and caviar. If they don’t harvest it themselves, they carefully source the goods, ensuring quality control. For seafood harvested in the wilds of the Salish Sea, find their offerings at both Community Food Co-ops, area Haggen stores, and at Lummi Island Wild’s headquarters at 3131 Mercer Ave., off Marine Drive in Bellingham.

For many years, the post-it board near the phone at our family’s cabin on Lummi has included a number for Barlean’s Fishery (http://www.barleansfishery.com). The longtime family-owned market—which has been sourcing fresh seafood in Whatcom County since 1972—was our go-to when we had guests coming for dinner and no menu items on the hook. It was possible to catch the ferry, make the short drive to 3660 Slater Rd., pick up the catch of the day, and be back on a return ferry within the hour with the main course chilling on ice.

These days, Barlean’s features tanks with live Dungeness crabs and manila clams, and salmon, halibut, spot prawns, oysters and clams are processed on site—meaning the question of “How old is this fish?” is moot (because it’s all fresh). If you can’t make the drive to Ferndale, all products can be shipped directly to your domicile, or you can check out Barlean’s offerings at local restaurants such as Bayou on Bay, Skylark’s Hidden Cafe, Rock and Rye Oyster Bar, D’Anna’s Cafe, Boundary Bay Brewery, and many more.

If it’s just oysters you’re after, make a journey to get some of the best around at Blaine’s Drayton Harbor Oyster Bar (http://www.draytonharboroysters.com). The eatery on Peace Portal Drive has expanded its outdoor seating into the H Street Plaza to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions, and you’d be remiss if you didn’t fill up on raw, grilled or fried Draytons—or oyster stew, revelatory Po-boys, or tacos—before grabbing a shucked dozen (or two) with toppings to grill at home, or oyster shell stock to grow on your own beach. Since the shellfish are harvested within view of the restaurant, you can be sure the time from tide to table is minimal.

“We believe that our oyster bar and farm ties the ocean to the land, and ties the people to the ocean,” DOB father-and-son owners Steve and Mark Seymour say. “The Drayton Harbor Oyster Bar is that interface where those flowing parts can merge and mingle, sharing and jiving with each other and the product of our local tides.”

Samish Gold Seafoods (http://www.facebook.com/samishgoldseafoods) also focuses on a daily selection of live oysters and clams harvested from open commercial waters near Samish Bay, and the family-owned store at 9015 Avon Allen Road in Bow additionally sources prawns, shrimp, scallops, Alaskan cod, mussels and more. Nearby, Taylor Shellfish’s Samish Oyster Bar and Shellfish Market (http://www.taylorshellfishfarms.com) off scenic Chuckanut Drive is offering reduced seating on its outdoor patio, and all tables are first-come, first-served. To avoid the crowds, order in advance and pick up oysters, clams, mussels, a selection of fresh and local fish, Dungeness crab and scallops without waiting around.

In Skagit County, additional options on where to find locally sourced seafood include Skagit’s Own Fish Market (http://www.skagitfish.com) in Burlington, Black Rock Seafood (http://www.blackrockseafood) on the way to Anacortes, SeaBear Smokehouse in Anacortes, and

(http://www.cedarplankseafoods.com)—which focuses on sustainable fish caught in Alaska. They’re currently taking orders for halibut, black cod, rockfish and sockeye salmon, so get on the horn to place an order.

I’m sure this list isn’t complete, but if you’re looking for more ways to support local fishers during Seafood Week—and be well-fed—Eat Local Month’s website (http://www.eatlocalfirst.com) also includes restaurant specials from the likes of Aslan Brewing, Bellingham Cider Co., and Keenan’s at the Pier, as well as videos by local chefs who will guide you through recipes such as charbroiled oysters with garlic butter and Parmesan, grilled Bristol Bay salmon with corn and cilantro compound butter, and a gravlax demo from Pete Granger—a legend in the local seafood industry.

With next month’s Bellingham SeaFeast on hold due to the pandemic, it’ll be up to the community to celebrate the region’s rich seafood history by supporting the industry with their purchases. I, for one, can’t wait to show my love.

UPCOMING EVENTS

[Wed., Aug. 26]

SEDRO MARKET: The Sedro-Woolley Farmers Market continues today from 3pm-7pm at Heritage Square. Health and safety protocols are in place in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the market is still committed to bringing fresh, local food and products to residents and neighbors Wednesdays through Oct. 14.
For more info: http://www.sedrowoolleyfarmersmarket.com

[Aug. 26-31]

FOOD CRUISES: Whale-watching lunch cruises, Chuckanut cracked crab dinner cruises, Sucia Island picnic cruises, Bellingham Bay BREWers cruises, UnWINED on the Bay cruises and more take place throughout the summer aboard San Juan Cruises’ watercraft. Fees vary. Please note that COVID-19 safety measures are in place, and that capacity aboard the boats is capped at 50 percent. Masks will be required.
For more info: http://www.whales.com

[Thurs., Aug. 27]

FOOD FOR STUDENTS: Various Western Washington University entities will be offering free food pickup from 12pm-2pm every Thursday through Sept. 24 at Vendors’ Row in the Viking Commons. Wear a face mask and bring your WWU student ID to pick up a bag of nonperishables and a box of farm-fresh organic produce. Walk-through, bike-through and drive-through contactless pickup options are available, as are vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices. For any disability or allergy accommodations, contact the email listed below.
For more info: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

[Aug. 27-28]

PICNIC WITH A PURPOSE: Whatcom Council on Aging will host drive-through cookouts and resource bag distributions as part of “Picnic with a Purpose” from 11:30am-1pm Thursday at the Ferndale Senior Center and concurrently at the Blaine Senior Center, and 11:30am-1pm Friday at the Bellingham Senior Activity Center. Older adults who join the queue will not only receive a delicious takeaway lunch to be enjoyed either at the dining room table or at a picnic of their own making at a private locale or a safe public space, but they’ll also be recipients of bags filled with resources and swag from local businesses and programs in the areas of housing, transportation, health and wellness, recreation and more.
INFO: http://www.wccoa.org

[Fri., Aug. 28]

FERNDALE MARKET: The Ferndale Farmers Market continues today from 2pm-6pm in the parking lot next to the Grocery Outlet. If you’re interested in helping them grow, head over—and be prepared to follow safety standards.
For more info: http://www.ferndalepublicmarket.org

[Sat., Aug. 29]

ANACORTES MARKET: The Anacortes Farmers Market is open from 9am-2pm at the Depot Arts Center, 611 R Ave. Their rules include following and obeying all signs, markers, barriers and instructions from market staff or volunteers.
For more info: http://www.anacortesfarmersmarket.org

MOUNT VERNON MARKET: The Mount Vernon Farmers Market takes place from 9am-2pm Saturdays through Oct. 20 at Riverwalk Park, 501 Main St. Only 25 customers are allowed in at a time to peruse the goods. Check their website beforehand to find out which farmers will be in attendance each week, then get inspired to make a meal plan.
For more info: http://www.mountvernonfarmersmarket.org

TWIN SISTERS MARKET: The Twin Sisters Market continues its fifth season from 9am-3pm at Nugent’s Corner, and 10am-2pm in Maple Falls at the North Fork Library. In addition to having protocols in place to keep the community healthy, Foothills folks who are accustomed to picking up a diverse array of high-quality produce grown nearby should know they can still expect to find great prices—by taking turns having the farmers staff the market, they’re able to keep prices low for East Whatcom County residents.The markets continue Saturdays through Oct. 23.
For more info http://www.twinsistersmarket.com

CONCRETE MARKET: The Concrete Saturday Market takes place from 10am-1pm at the Concrete Community Center, 45821 Railroad St. Posted signage will direct shoppers to follow safety guidelines, and, for now, it’s a drive-in, farmers-only market. Artisans and crafters may return when safety restrictions are lifted, so keep an ear open for updates.
For more info: http://www.concretesaturdaymarket.com

BELLINGHAM MARKET: Attend the Bellingham Farmers Market from 10am-2pm Saturdays at the Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave. At the modified market, social distancing is strongly enforced, patrons are not allowed to touch the food, and a limited number of vendors are allowed on site. Entertainment, music and eating areas have been suspended until further notice, and masks are mandatory. Please stay home if you are sick, and be prepared with small bills to offer exact change to vendors when possible.
For more info: http://www.bellinghamfarmers.org

BLAINE MARKET: The annual Blaine Gardeners Market continues from 10am-2pm Saturdays through October at the city’s G Street Plaza. Due to social distancing requirements, vendor booths will be spread out.
For more info: http://www.blainechamber.com

[Sun., Aug. 30]

BIRCHWOOD FARMERS MARKET: Find locally grown vegetables, flowers, fruits and other goods from more than 10 growers and producers in Whatcom County at the Birchwood Farmers Market happening from 9am-2pm every Sunday through October at the Park Manor Shopping Center, 1538 Birchwood Ave. The cooperative single-stand market is dedicated to increasing food access in the Birchwood neighborhood by providing fresh, sustainably grown produce at a reduced prices. When attending the market, please wear a face mask and keep social distancing in mind.
For more info: http://www.birchwoodfarmersmarket.com

ALGER MARKET: Kids can vend for free at the Alger Sunday Market taking place from 11am-4pm Sundays through Oct. 11 at Alger Community Hall, 18735 Parkview Lane. The low-key, barter-friendly neighborhood cooperative features produce, plants, artisan crafts and recycled and upcycled items to reuse. Drop-ins are welcome to “sell from your truck and make a buck,” but the number may be limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.
For more info: (360) 724-0340

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