Welcome to beautiful Orcas Island, WA
This weekend, my husband and I slipped away to Orcas Island to celebrate our friends’ Jamie and Chelsea’s wedding. We arrived just before 9pm on Friday, after a stressful six hours on the road and the ferry. (Traffic from Seattle to Anacortes during the summer season is as bad as you’ve heard!) But…look at that view! Orcas Island is simply spectacular during the summer months, and it’s our favorite of the San Juan islands.
a split of Duval Leroy NV Brut chilling
Four years ago, Henry took me to Orcas Island on our third date. We enjoyed dinner at sunset at Christina’s restaurant, which was sold and became Allium restaurant mere months ago. From what I’ve heard–both from locals on the island, and foodies in Seattle–chef Lisa Nakamura has been packing the dining room night after night. (With a pedigree that includes renowned restaurants such as The French Laundry and more recently, The Herbfarm, it is no wonder.)
fava bean cakes with Dalmatian figs and lime
My husband made a reservation for us, and was asked whether I would still be participating in Meatless Week for this meal. (I guess Lisa reads this blog–if so, hello!) He said I would be, but he was not. We came in expecting just to order off the menu, but we were pleasantly surprised when Lisa sent out two different tasting menus with paired wines.
Henry’s seared scallops with Dalmatian figs and lime
Wine pairing: Duval Leroy NV Brut champagne
Our first courses mirrored each other’s in appearance: He had two beautifully seared sea scallops on sliced Dalmatian figs. Instead of scallops, I got two crisp and creamy fava bean cakes. Hidden under the fava bean cakes and the scallops were tiny supremes of lime.
sweet corn ‘polenta’ with truffles and white truffle oil
Wine pairing: Couer de Terre 2008 Pinot Gris
Our second courses were the same: a generous portion of sliced truffles with truffle oil, over sweet corn polenta. We both really enjoyed this course even though neither of us are huge fans of summer truffles. It was that good.
Black Dog farm carrots and Maple Rock tomatoes with basil pesto
There are few things I don’t like to eat, but I’ll admit that until recently, I was not a huge fan of carrots. This changed in the last couple of years, when I found myself really enjoying the more complex, more intense flavor of heirloom varieties. (It should be no surprise that the bear little resemblance to overgrown, sacchaine ones you’d find at the supermarket.) These Black Dog farm carrots had such flavor–and not from over-caramelization. The tiny Maple Rock tomatoes were meticulously peeled, and the basil pesto was a fresh burst of summer on the plate.
Henry’s salmon chops a la French Laundry with tomatoes and basil pesto
Wine pairing: Dusky Goose 2007 Pinot Noir
My husband had the same tomatoes and pesto with salmon “chops” a la French Laundry. As you can see, one salmon yields two “chops”, cut from near the gills. Henry couldn’t stop raving about this dish. He talked about it multiple times the next day, too, to give you some indication of how much he loved it.
King oyster mushrooms, Maple Rock artichoke hearts with potato gnocchi
Wine pairing: Chateau Vaugelas 2007 Corbieres
Henry’s roasted squab breast, confit leg, with foie gras and brioche
Our main courses took a more decadent turn: Henry received roasted squab with a thick slice of seared foie gras on house-made brioche. I received a jumble of beautifully seared Oregon mushrooms with artichoke hearts, and gnocchi. The chef also sent out an extra portion of something in case I wanted to cheat on Meatless Week…
yes, that is a really nice, extra piece of foie gras on brioche *shakes fist!*
My husband couldn’t stop laughing at me trying to ignore the slab of foie gras sitting next to my plate of gnocchi. Oh, did it smell like heaven! He ate his own foie, then speared what was mine and waved it in front of my face.
“You can have a bite! Who am I going to tell? No one will know…” he said, in a teasing manner.
And he’s right–the dining room was emptying out at this point, and I could easily have enjoyed one of my favorite foods on the sly.
“Yes, but I would know,” I said.
But I thought about the readers who are following me during Meatless Week, and how disappointed I would be in myself if I slipped up. So…I passed. Which meant my husband had–for the first, and probably the last time in his life–more foie gras than he could eat.
gold-dusted chocolate and hazelnut mousse cake
Wine pairing: “Nectar” Jerez de la Frontera
My husband is not a huge sweets person, and he especially dislikes chocolate. But even Mr. Chocolate Naysayer couldn’t stop exclaiming over the lovely texture of this chocolate hazelnut mousse cake. The flavor of the hazelnuts were so intense, I was sure there was some sort of extract in it. (The server asked the pastry chef, and assured me there wasn’t.) I scraped the plate clean.
We left agreeing that this was a glorious meal that exceeded our expectations.
(And thanks to all my Orcas Island readers who emailed me with praise about this restaurant before our visit! The food was as lovely as you all claimed. Trust, I had no natural light since we were dining so late, so the photography doesn’t quite do Lisa and Anna’s food justice.)