birthday weekend

On the weekend of my 40th birthday we took the ferry out to Orcas Island.

We took the pup with us. She had a great time. So did we.

The place we were staying had a fabulous kitchen, a huge hot tub and really comfortable furniture, so we did some cooking (and mixing of cocktails) and stayed in a lot instead of going out doing touristy things, which made a nice change.

We did eat out a few times – we stopped for burgers at the Lower Tavern, which wasn’t as exciting as I had hoped but still perfectly fine. And I had a celebratory birthday dinner at Allium, watching twilight fall over the water. The gnocchi at Allium are justly famous for their delicacy and richness, and I loved the plate of roasted summer vegetables with fresh mayonnaise. But in some ways my favorite outing was our impromptu lunch at Island Hoppin’ Brewery.

This place is brand new – they had just had their grand opening the previous day. Their IPA wasn’t ready and they weren’t filling growlers yet, but they seemed to be off to a powerful start. We checked with them earlier in the day and found that we could bring both food and our dog with us, so we picked up a pizza from Portofino and settled ourselves at a table on the brewery patio.

Gracie, after making the acquaintance of Lucy the brewery dog, proceeded to take possession of one of Lucy’s beds. She looked a little worried but the other dog didn’t seem to object.

We got a sampler of four of their beers: the Madrona double red, an Imperial pale, a wheat beer and a porter. They were actually all really, really good. I would go for any of these beers if I saw them on a tap list.

The pizza was also a lot of fun. I was expecting Neapolitan style, but instead it was almost more of a deep dish pizza, gooey with lots of cheese and sausage.

We took our time, hung out and listened to music, drank our beer and talked to the locals checking out the new place. It was the highlight of our weekend.

That morning we had wandered through the Orcas farmer’s market and gotten some beautiful tomatoes, peppers and local eggs, and heard all about the opening night party at Island Hoppin’. We got the impression everyone in Eastsound (maybe the whole island?) was a little hung over.

I used the veg we bought to make a scramble for breakfast the next morning.

Jon found a bakery in town that had still-warm challah for sale.

The tomatoes were some of the best we’ve eaten all summer. With the gorgeous little eggs and the warm bread we had a really fine breakfast.

The previous day we had had breakfast at Rose’s, having been told repeatedly that it was the place to go in Eastsound. Nice place, and the food was pretty good.

Jon’s breakfast was spectacular: a pillow of perfectly done hashbrowns with two poached eggs on top, and a little pile of serrano ham on the side.

I got the breakfast sandwich, which had lots of great features: good bacon, a really ripe tomato, perfect lettuce, and a egg fried just right. Unfortunately it was on bread that, while very tasty, was incredibly crusty and sharp and tore up the inside of my mouth. I had to eat some of Jon’s potatoes to soothe myself.

When it was finally time to leave on Sunday, we showed up at the ferry dock thinking we might be in time for the noon sailing. In fact, they were nearly booked up for the 3:15. We got in line and settled down for a long wait, and I wandered down the hill to the shockingly excellent market by the dock. I came back to the car bearing chive cream cheese, salami, macaroni salad and Perrier, but it could just have easily been caviar and champagne, presumably aimed at honeymooners stuck in the ferry line. We had a cheerful picnic in our car, then made another trip to the store for ice cream. It was pretty nice.

And eventually we made it onto the ferry home.

I threw together a quick supper of fancy pasta with some Aidells chicken and garlic sausage we had on hand, plus a lot of cherry tomatoes from my garden. It was a nice simple dinner for the end of a good birthday weekend.

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