Today is the kickoff of Skagit Eat Local Week, sponsored by the local Slow Food chapter and the Skagit Valley Co-op. If you’re in Skagit County, now’s your chance to take advantage of all this amazing area offers. Participating restaurants will be featuring local food specials, and residents are encouraged to shop at farmer’s markets, farmstands and shops selling local products. Are you cooking at home? See how much you can do with Skagit Valley-produced ingredients. Remember, Eat Local Week happens mostly at the end of your fork.
On our way out to Larabee State Park for a walk in the woods, we stopped in the town of Edison for a bite of lunch. My original intention had been to have some fried oysters and a beer at The Edison Inn, but as we walked past Slough Food we spied a sign advertising lunch in their courtyard. Whoo!
This place is one of our favorite shops in the whole area. John DeGloria, the owner, sells an intriguing mixture of European imported foods, such as pasta and anchovies, and locally produced specialties such as duck eggs and chanterelles. He has an incredible cheese case, plus cured meats from Salumi and other sources. Most of the shop is dedicated to wine, with a special table set aside for high quality chocolates. There is no better place to build a picnic. And even better, now you can have the picnic right there in the back yard!
It recently occurred to me that we’ve lived in Mount Vernon for twelve years now and have never done a comparative study of all the taco wagons here in town. With the able assistance of my husband and two taco-loving friends, I set out to do so last Saturday.
(Mount Vernon, by the way, is a particularly good place for taco tastings, as our population is about 25 percent Hispanic. This crawl just covered taco wagons, but if you included groceries, taquerias, family restaurants, carnicerias and ladies-who-make-awesome-tamales, you’d be kept busy for quite some time. Anyway – on to the tacos.)
Our first stop: Taqueria La Bamba. This truck has been set up on College Way for at least ten years, but since we moved out of the neighborhood we hadn’t visited. Its location is prime, near both the community college and the largely Hispanic Kulshan neighborhood. It boasts a large permanent dining area, several outdoor tables and a highly dangerous looking rope swing.
We decided to order four types of tacos, getting two of each so we could all taste. We picked lengua (tongue), asada (beef), adobada (pork) and tripas (tripe). We also picked up a couple of bottles of tamarind soda pop, one of the best things to drink with a taco besides beer.
Another street fair has come and gone. This one had beautiful weather, which made a nice change after the last few years. A lot of vendors had given up on this fair after getting blown away or hailed upon, but there was still a good turnout of both vendors and customers.
As you may or may not know, April is a time of great confusion and rejoicing in the Skagit Valley, being the time of the Skagit Tulip Festival. What this means is that there are a few weeks of blissful quiet while the daffodil fields bloom (why does everyone ignore the daffodils?), then a weekend or two of complete mayhem when the tulips finally deign to show their colors and the tourists flock in, getting lost in downtown Mount Vernon in need of bathrooms and maps.
This particular weekend features the Tulip Festival Street Fair. They were setting up for it as I walked home today, and for the next three days we will continue to be very very glad that we live walking distance from downtown – because god help anyone who’s trying to park down there. We can also be grateful that the weather forecast is looking promising – a few years ago there was a howling windstorm that swept away the craft tents, and last year it hailed. A lot. We’re all hoping this year will be better.
If any of you are planning to come up and join in the festivities, you might wonder where there is to eat. We do have a few good places here in town, and it’s an interesting fact that most of them are pubs. Within just a few short blocks we have The Porterhouse, Trumpeter Public House, Empire Ale House, Draft Pics Sports Bar and Skagit River Brewery. Apparently you can never have too many places to drink beer. Continue reading
After a successful food safari out on the Skagit Flats on Saturday (including a truly amazing brunch at the Rhody – I mean, seriously, potato pancakes with sausages, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce!?! Not to mention those little cranberry walnut things – yum) we came home prepared for a cozy November evening inside.
We brought home bread and strawberry jam from the Breadfarm (we bought fresh macaroons, too, but somehow they never made it home), fresh leeks, celeriac, broccoli, shelling beans and chioggia beets from Dunbar Gardens, and a nice bag of groceries from Slough Food: multicolored eggs from Osprey Hill Farm, farro from the Methow Valley, guanciale (cured pork jowl) from Salumi, Humboldt Fog and Petit Basque cheeses, and a bag of fresh chanterelles. Dinner almost cooked itself!
Downtown Mount Vernon had its Fall Festival this weekend, so we wandered down to check it out. This is the second year for the event, so it’s still a bit casual, but I like it: the farmer’s market moves down from the riverfront and sets up in the middle of the street downtown, plus there’s a beer garden, a car show, craft booths, several bands playing, and a grill set up for hot dogs and bratwurst. It’s all very festive.
Although the weather’s starting to get colder and fall is definitely coming, the market is still at its peak. We got some beets, potatoes, summer squash, mozzarella cheese, and cauliflower, plus a rhubarb pie. I would’ve bought some delicata squash and sugar pumpkins, but we were on foot – we’ll have to bring the car next time, or a wagon, so we can carry it all home. Continue reading
After spending an afternoon playing music in the middle of a bustling farmer’s market on a hot sunny day, we were feeling the need of a cool dark room to sit in, preferably with a glass of good beer in hand. Where we ended up was Nell Thorn in La Conner, the restaurant owned by Casey Schanen, one of our very favorite chefs from Gretchens Cooking School.
It was perfect: the pub area is dark and small, but most of the customers were out on the deck, and we got some excellent beer (Stone IPA and Flyer’s porter). The menu was hard to choose from, but we settled on an oyster sandwich for me, and hanger steak with frites for J.
Finally, a beautiful day! We celebrated by going on food safari, as Jen from Last Night’s Dinner puts it (I’m adopting that phrase, it’s perfect). We had visited the farmer’s market the day before and gotten a bunch of goodies, but on Sunday we drove out Chuckanut for further supplies. We got mussels and Kumamoto oysters at Taylor Shellfish, a loaf of farmer bread from the Breadfarm (plus what may have been the world’s best macaroon), and a completely gratuitous chorizo sausage from Slough Food (hey, as long as we were in there…) We took our haul home, fired up the grill, opened up some wine and settled in to eat shellfish.
The farmer’s market is here again, hurrah! Opening day was bright and sunny, which seemed auspicious. It’s too early for much in the way of vegetables, but we did our best. Our first stop, before we got too weighed down by purchases, was the pancake booth.
Dora’s, a locally based family-run affair, does Swedish pancakes (just like white-flour crepes) with lingonberry butter, sausages, and sometimes homemade pies. Always fantastic.