Wow. Just home from a fantastic two-day book event at the Willows Inn on Lummi Island. Stacy, Skyla, Weston and I all had a wonderful time, and I can’t imagine a better place for food, books and sheer beauty. We arrived, checked into a beautiful house on Legoe Bay and had to fight off the urge to run down to the beach and fish. We were due shortly at the reading, which was hosted by author Julie Trimingham (her novel, Mockingbird, will be out in July) at her lovely waterfront farm, Loganita.
We gathered in the airy, glass-fronted meeting place with sunshine streaming in and breathtaking views of the Strait of Georgia and San Juan Islands. To be honest, it was a bit difficult to start talking about the book and reading with a backdrop like that. But the guests were enthusiastic, engaged and kind, and I think it went pretty well. And the snacks provided by the Willows Inn kitchen! Huge, sweet radishes fresh from the raised beds out back, with a creamy dipping sauce; local goat and sheep cheeses; handmade herb crackers; and some spectacular, chewy, salt-dried whole smelt (kind of like portable, jerky versions of Spanish bacalao) that I couldn’t stop eating.
Dinner was even better. The whole group dined together on all the best locally grown, caught and foraged ingredients, lovingly (and skillfully) prepared. Highlights for me were the steamer clams in herb broth, the pan-roasted local asparagus and a halibut dish that literally melted in the mouth. Oh, and the house-made bread, crusty and slathered with fresh-churned Island herb butter, that we ate with everything. Awesome. If there’s a unifying theme to the cooking here, to me it’s that they feature the fresh, intense flavors of the raw products with a light (and perfect) cooking and seasoning touch. It’s a philosophy that requires an enormous amount of skill to pull off, and they do it here at the highest level.
Next day started with eggs “benedict” made with locally reef-net caught sockeye lox, and blueberry-buckwheat pancakes, followed by a tour of the restaurant garden with culinary gardener Mary. Stacy put on her boots and did a little garden work (you can take a farmer off the farm, but…) while I stood around and talked books with the guests. Finally, the kids and I hit the beach for a little fishing. Actually, Skyla led the charge and took off with the six-weight while I was still eating lunch. I snapped this picture from the balcony, as Skyla worked a Miyawaki popper off the rocks.
Then it was off to the ferry and the drive home. We were all a little sad to leave beautiful Lummi and all the wonderful people we met there, but inspired as well. Many thanks to Julie and everyone at the Willows Inn and Village Books for their generous, thoughtful hosting, and to the guests who came to share the experience. Our family definitely felt the love. As Paul from Village Books said at dinner, “We come together here as strangers and leave as friends.” True, that.