island time

happy dogs

We were lucky enough to spend last weekend at our friends’ house on Whidbey Island. The weather wasn’t perfect, but it was clear enough to see the mountains, and it only rained a little on our last day (this is basically ideal spring weather for this area). And there was a beach!

Gracie in the surf

Gracie had the time of her life. We took her to Orcas Island last autumn, but weren’t able to let her off leash at the very narrow public access points, so this was her first time really getting to play in the Sound. She wasn’t entirely sure how she felt about deep water, but she definitely knew what to do with the surf.

fighting for possession

She and Barkley the Labradoodle kept each other amused.

the winner

Barkley is a great swimmer, and would go out into the water to fetch sticks, which Gracie would then take away when he brought them safely to shore. Wretch.

disgusting dog

And then she’d roll around in the seaweedy sand. Ugh. Thank goodness she wipes off easily.

tired dog

After 24 hours of beach living she was pretty well conked out and we could finally get on with other things.

oysters and granita

For our first evening, after drinking cocktails on the beach and watching the dogs go bonkers, we had oysters. Linda made a granita to go on top, which is really a wonderful idea.


ready for the grill

Mike prepared a fabulous mixed grill for us. There was a spatchcocked chicken, redolent with herbs, as well as a steak and lots of corn. The grill didn’t have room for the asparagus so we roasted that in the oven indoors.

on the grill

Mike’s grill is perhaps a little unusual but it puts out a mighty fine product. He burns nothing but deadfall madrona wood, of which he has a copious supply.


Dinner tasted of summer.

clam digging

The next day Mike took Jon and me clamming. Although I grew up in the Northwest, I didn’t remember ever having gone clam digging before. We found a lot of empty shells, two steamer clams, and a lot of enormous white butter clams. The dogs helped.

steamer clam

Not enough steamers to go around, sadly, but they were very cute.


The sun came out a bit in the afternoon, so we sat on the balcony with sweet local shrimp and Sazeracs before starting on dinner.

handmade pasta in progress

Mike made pasta for us out of beautifully orange-yolked eggs from up the road.

cutting pasta

The pasta was cut by rolling up the sheets, cutting off pieces, then unrolling them. For some reason this method has never occurred to me.

unrolling pasta

drying pasta


I bought some fresh salad mix at the farmer’s market that morning, and Linda added clementines and olives and a salad dressing of lemony brine from another jar of olives.

clam meatmixing pasta

Jon and Mike shucked the butter clams, and we concocted a sauce of spring garlic (also from the farmer’s market) with the clam meat and white wine. (I say we, but I had very little to do with any of the food preparation this weekend. It was kind of awesome.)

clam pasta

The pasta was beautiful, the only drawback being a slight grittiness from the clams. We ate it with a baguette from a local bakery and the orangey-olivey salad and felt very happy. Really, really happy.

madrona bluff

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