The last few months in our world have been like no other. Work is at an all-time-busy, we're making some big life decisions and we've strung together a sequence of "best of" travel experiences that we've coined our Ultimate Honeymoon (in honor of finally having a legal marriage that is expected to stick).
Before heading to the east coast (our first stop) for some exploring and some rallying, we kicked things off with a foodie-heaven meal at foodie-haven The Herbfarm not far from our home base in Seattle.
In cobbling together the events and travel that would comprise our Ultimate Honeymoon segments, we made a list of our favorite types of experiences. Advocating and hiking/outdoors emerged as stars on our list. Only one thing came up just as often – food. Okay... it probably came up more often.
So, it shouldn't be a surprise that our most recent adventure also involved food. Immediately after returning from our last segment – a killer west coast road trip – we jumped in a rental car and set our sights and stomachs on Lummi Island a couple hours north of Seattle. This time, we were heading to Willows Inn and the restaurant that the New York Times called 1 in 10 worth flying to eat at. Since we only had to take a car and a ferry it seemed like something we should do.
Lummi Island is small and, like so much of the rest of the Pacific Northwest, verdant and gorgeous. We loved the setting of the little lodge and our cozy room.
During our stay, we went for long runs, drove around and – despite having to do quite a bit of work – chilled out as much as we could. A common area like this makes it easy to relax.
Really, though, Willows Inn is all about the food. We were impressed by the fact that the included breakfast was really substantial. It's hard not to like a French press of coffee, specialty eggs and fresh salmon (served with creme fraiche ).
Chef Blaine Wetzel's dinner is why people make the ballyhooed trek to the island. It's a set-price tasting menu that changes seasonally. Our menu had 5 courses and 10 "snack" courses. We were thoroughly impressed by the service and the attention to detail.
Have a look at these courses – pickled oysters, grilled shiitake mushrooms, toasted kale with truffles and rye and wild onions with caramelized mussels and toasted bread.
We especially liked the presentation, which included lots of rock and pottery. The first course, a baked sunflower root, arrived as a surprise in a box. Despite how it sounds (mmm, who doesn't like a good sunflower root), it was quite good.
The ultimate moment was when we were served this smoked sockeye salmon. Because we're mostly vegetarian, I rarely eat (and honestly don't even enjoy) fish. This stuff was simple and sublime.
Heading back home on the ferry, we had nothing but positive things to say about our overall experience at Willow Inn. It's been fun for us to "live it up" culinarily in a couple of uncommon-for-us ways. In the future, though, we'll spend our money on experiences that resonate more deeply. Something about a tasting menu leaves us wanting more. As is the case with every dimension of our life, we hate skimming the surface and enjoy going deeper.
We're about to jet off on the next segment of our Ultimate Honeymoon. This segment (to a repeat destination) is also largely motivated by our stomachs.