Crabbing near Anacortes, WA

An essential Northwest experience IS crabbing (and boating) in the Puget Sound.  It will be a day that you will remember.  It is fun and can be a learning experience too.  I know I learned about buoys, what makes up the food/bait, traps, and that if the crab is female or if it is under the size limit, then the crab should be returned to the waters.  I also found that others take crab that are not their own…very bad!  There is a limit on the number of crabs that can be taken per day during the season and on this day, it was five.  The season for area 8-1 (Deception Pass) currently is open Thursday through Monday and runs through September 5th.  Check out the following site for more interesting facts (and rules) on crabbing in the Puget Sound area:  http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/crab/

Go crabbing with a few friends and bring along some good food and wine (for those not driving anyway).  And if you don’t own a boat, there are services that will allow you to partake in this pleasure.  They will take you out in a boat, you’ll catch the crab (no experience necessary), bring you back to the shore and then it’s off to cooking the crab.  An example of this is U-Catch Crab Feast from Camano Culinary Creations http://camano-culinary-creations.com/UCatchCrabFeast.aspx.  In one word, feasting on the Dungeness Crab right after it has been caught – YUM!  If you are curious on how to crack crab, take a look at this – http://www.oregondungeness.org/cracking.shtml  I know I will be studying this prior to my next adventure with crab.

If you desire FRESH..LOCAL oysters or other shellfish to go with your Dungeness Crab feast, visit a Taylor Shellfish Farms retail store in Shelton, Bow or Seattle.  See their website for more information.  http://www.taylorshellfishfarms.com/

Happy Crabbing!

Anthony’s at Cap Sante Marina, Anacortes

Anthony’s Restaurants have made a hit of this location and concept on Q Street in Anacortes, WA.  Opening last year, the decor and food is all Northwest!  Located near Rose Point, Anthony’s at Cap Sante Marina offers guests an impressive view of the marina and boating activities year round.  Two different outdoor dining experiences can be had and on a Sunday in August, lunch was enjoyed by the fireplace on the covered outdoor deck.  The atmosphere really enhanced the experience (the weather was balmy, all were relaxed).  Brunch is also served on Sunday.  Choices made this day were satisfying no doubt:  Penn Cove Mussels & Fries (traditional or ginger sake) and a Northwest Cioppino & Caesar Salad.  The Cioppino consisted of Wild salmon, Manila clams, Penn Cove mussels and Alaska cod in specially seasoned tomato-basil sauce.  Order some bread to go with and top it off with a tasty beverage.

Anthony’s in Anacortes makes for a great day trip  http://www.anthonys.com/restaurants/info/Anacortes.html…stay and walk the marina, plan for the various festivals throughout the year, or enjoy the oh so many nearby recreational options that the Anacortes area has to offer.  http://www.anacortes.org/index.cfm

Mount Rainier National Park

Which National Park is most beautiful?  Well, that is a tough one as they all have something unique that makes them spectacular.  Mount Rainier National Park is one of those.  On this day, the beauty of this mountain and park shined!  The park is a 2-1/2 to 3 hour drive from the Seattle area.  There are different routes and stops to make, like Paradise on the west side, Sunrise on the east, and more.  This trip was limited to Paradise, so that is what I will be making note of.  It is best to get there earlier in the day as parking tends to fill up during the summer months.  But don’t worry, there are shuttles and other options as people come and go.  The new visitor center is a nice stop and the Paradise Inn was recently renovated.  You can go just to visit the Inn and walk the trails at Paradise or you can go for an all-day hike…like Comet Falls, Mowich Lake, or the Wonderland Trail which encircles the park.  Mount Rainier is also known as prime training grounds for mountain climbers.  You may want to stay the night, whether it be at the Paradise Inn, lodging in or outside the park, or maybe you like to camp…it has that too!  I have camped at both Cougar Rock and White River Campgrounds.  It is fun to look out for the numerous wild flowers depending on the time of year you go.  Normally, the snow levels are high enough that you wouldn’t reach snow, even at 6800′, but this year, and here it is mid-late August, there is still a heavy snow pack on much of the trail system.  Oh, and in the wintertime, there is snowshoeing.  The only wildlife seen this time were the insects (but it isn’t that bad).  Wear and/or bring the sunscreen and bug spray.  The waterfalls were rushing.  On the way “down the mountain” stops were made at both Narada Falls  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narada_Falls and Christine Falls  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christine_Falls.  Both of these allow for a quick walk/short visit.

A nice stop on the way…or way out on SR 706 in Ashford, WA, is the Ashford Creek Pottery/Gallery.  You will find photography, prints, jewelry, pottery, books and more.  http://www.ashfordcreekpottery.com/

“…the most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain-top wanderings.”  – John Muir, conservationist, 1889.  You will find much of what you need to know at the Mount Rainier National Park site:  http://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm

Palisade Restaurant

Do you have someone visiting from out-of-town?  A business dinner or special event coming up?  Or maybe a desire for an all-around pleasant experience?  If so… Palisade is a wonderful spot for lunch, dinner, brunch and more.  The quality is superb and the views of the marina, downtown Seattle, and Mount Rainier…breathtaking! You may also enjoy the player piano, the water feature in the lobby, and Dale Chihuly glass hanging above.  Deck seating is an option.  We decided on the First Seating which offers a three course meal for $29.99 Mon-Fri 5pm-6pm and Sat & Sun 4pm-5pm.  All choices made were enjoyed, including the Salmon Bisque (which was a real treat in that they place the bowl in front of you with the salmon in it and then surprise you by pouring the bisque into the bowl), the Hearts of Romaine salad and the Butter Lettuce with Roque River Blue Cheese salad.  The favorite entrée of the evening was the Washington Dungeness Crab Cakes which is rich crab cakes that are hand-formed with Dungeness crabmeat, fennel, fresh herbs, Old Bay seasoning, then pan-seared golden brown. Served with sweet-and-sour plum butter sauce and escarole-watercress salad with a charred lemon vinaigrette.  The dessert offered was sorbet or a small ice cream sundae.  For a look at their entire menu, check out their website and click Menu and click Print Menu on the left to view.   And the wine chosen? the ’07 Chateau Ste Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – perfect!  Mark, our server, was professional and provided some excellent recommendations.  Visit anytime…reservations recommended.  Palisade restaurant is located at the Elliott Bay Marina just across the Magnolia Bridge in Seattle.  Definitely worth it and definitely satisfying!  http://www.palisaderestaurant.com/page/home

Les Miserables Seattle

Les Miserables in Seattle, opening week – highly recommend it!  “Les Miz” is at the 5th Avenue Theatre, showing August 9th through the 27th….so you still have time to see it!  I was really impressed with the score and enjoyed the new updates…the “moving” backdrop for example.  It is the 25th Anniversary of Boublil & Schonberg’s legendary musical.  I saw Les Miserables in New York City on Broadway almost 25 years ago and it was a pleasure to see it once again, now in Seattle.  The musical is approximately three hours in length including intermission.  So, you certainly get your money’s worth.  I especially liked “I dreamed a dream” performed by Betsy Morgan (excellent voice) and the song “On My Own”.  The star of the show was indeed J. Mark McVey who played Jean Valjean.  The entire cast was really good, and the conductor, Robert Billig, and the Orchestra, really fabulous.   http://www.5thavenue.org/show/lesmiserables1112/

Prior to the show, we had a bite at the Daily Grill.  Sean, the manager was friendly and hospitable.  I had the Grill Chop Salad, Mac & Cheese, and a glass of Fall Line Cab Franc.  Yes, I know…not the most low-fat meal.   The Daily Grill has locations across the U.S.A.  http://dailygrill.com/locations/daily-grill-seattle-washington

Summertime in the city is always a wonderful time…go out and experience it while it lasts!

Seahawks Training Camp

Since the new VMAC (Virginia Mason Athletic Center) was built on the shores of Lake Washington in Renton, WA, the Seattle Seahawks have opened up practice/training camp to the public.  This year there are 15 practices between July 29th and August 15th.  It is a nice opportunity to see the new recruits and veterans get ready for their upcoming NFL season.  You will see a scrimmage and drills.  The practice lasts about two hours and possibly a bit longer with the signing of autographs.  You must register at trainingcampregistration.seahawks.com and only those who register will be allowed at camp.  At registration, you will be charged a $5 transportation fee.  Chairs and snacks may be brought in, with restrictions of course.  There is merchandise and also food and beverages available.  Sports Authority offered a $10 coupon for anything purchased over $25 there at the complex.  We indeed made use of this. Park at The Landing in Renton (3rd and 4th level of the parking garage) and take the shuttle buses to and from the event.  They have the process down well…you will check in at the Landing prior to boarding.  This is a nice afternoon for the kids, family, and friends!

Whether it be prior to or after training camp, check out The Landing.  The Landing is still expanding but you will find a nice variety of retail options – Regal Cinemas (entertainment), services, shopping, dining, and more.  http://www.thelandinginrenton.com/.  Today’s stop was at Vino at the Landing…always recommended.  http://www.vinoatthelanding.com/home

Gig Harbor Wine and Food Festival

The second annual Gig Harbor Wine and Food Festival, held on the grounds of the Harbor History Museum, took place on Saturday, August 6, 2011.  The festival included 35+ wine (and a few beer) participants, cooking demonstrations, classes, a celebrity chef cook-off, as well as the opportunity to bid on some very nice luxury items and dining packages.  Proceeds benefit the Harbor History Museum and the Gig Harbor Historic Waterfront Association.  http://www.harborwineandfoodfest.com/

This year, the visiting Celebrity Chef was Chef Kevin Gillespie, a 2-time semi-finalist for the James Beard Foundation ‘Rising Star Chef of the Year’ award, a fan favorite of Bravo’s “Top Chef” season 6 and executive chef and co-owner of the Woodfire Grill in Atlanta.  He took part in a cooking demonstration, the chef cook-off, and also signed books during his time here.   Celebrity Chef Thad Lyman of Brix 25 was a big part of the day along with Chefs Jasmine Biernacki (Piece of the Earth Farm), Chef Jeremy Barber (Horseshoe Lake Golf Course) and Chef Tin (Clearwater Casino).   My favorite restaurant sampling served was the Wild Boar Bourguignon from JW (Jason Winniford) and humble cook Justin Goodfellow…delicious!   http://www.jwgigharbor.com/  There were wine and beer classes along with other interesting seminars… like “What’s in your Basket?’  And the wine?  it was good to try a few of those that I had not yet heard of, although there were many more that I did not get to. 

Not that an overnight is needed, but I want to give the Inn at Gig Harbor a mention.  It is a full service hotel and event center.  The bedding is really comfortable, the service all-around is good, and breakfast at The Heritage Restaurant was enjoyed.  If you are familiar with Gig Harbor, it is located closer to the freeway than to the waterfront.   http://innatgigharbor.com/  Also, when walking around town, visit The Harbor Peddler.  It has a nice variety of gifts, personal items, home decor, etc…  The Harbor History Museum is a recommended stop http://www.harborhistorymuseum.org/ and while walking the waterfront, check out the various signage providing historical info.  www.gigharborguide.com