When you have eaten the best meal of your life, it is hard to know where the one to top it will come from and you are likely to think it will be somewhere new. Standing on the ferry dock, I looked around noticing how different it felt then it had a year and a half before. The sky was beginning to fade, slowly; the hot sun had been replaced with a misty rain and a hint that winter was closer than anticipated. Buddy stumbled out of the car and left his mark before curling back up in his bed, but Ginger decided she was in a hurry to get to our destination. She squatted on the sand to lighten her load and then made a bee-line for the dock. She ran past the cars and her tail wagged eagerly as her tall legs took her closer and closer to the waters edge.
Panic swept over me as I realized she was still faster than I was, and as you may know, definitely has a mind of her own. I ran awkwardly behind (and I’m sure we were quite a sight to the others waiting for the ferry), but I luckily caught her before she was able to plunge happily off the end of the dock. Ginger knew where we were headed, back to the Willows Inn. Best meal of my life, and a favorite puppy adventure spot.
Tom and I refreshed after hauling our things from car up the hill and then up the steps to the cottage. I’m sure to the kitchen staff in the windows nearby that it looked like we were moving in. Nothing like a little workout before a grand indulgence! We tucked the kids into their beds before heading down to the lounge for a cocktail. Stepping in from the cold, damp air, we were immediately warmed by the heat of a blazing fire and the room was filled with a wonderfully smokey aroma and the sounds of laughter and chatter.
There were only two seats open, next to a shelf filled with jars of island preserves of dried herbs and even creatures from the sea. Above the shelf was a windowless opening that looked over the bar which was tucked back in it’s own cozy room. We ordered our cocktails (two Dogwoods made with apple cider and rye) and sat back to take in the scene. Even though our dinner reservations weren’t until the next evening, we felt as if we were guests at a grand dinner party.
As the dinner hour began, we sat cozily sipping our cocktail in the parlor while everyone else was escorted to their seats. Soon plates of food came from the kitchen being delivered to the guests. What a wonderful scene, we had the best seat in the house to watch the magic unfold. Suddenly to our surprise, a warm brick with the most amazing roasted sunflower root sitting on top arrived. We smiled, what a treat to wrap up the beverages with before our lazy departure. We savored their sweetness and the accompanying sweet onion puree, was literally finger-licking good. Then, out of the blue, a plate of perfectly prepared, delicate chanterelles were set before us, and followed by two of the freshest oysters topped with rose hip granita. As yet another plate arrived, I very guiltily reminded our server that we weren’t joining for dinner until the following night. His reply “Oh I know, but we’re feeling nice.”, with a wink. “Plus, it doesn’t mean your not important.”…
Feeling as though that was enough to be the perfect dinner, we snuck out the back and headed around the island to the Beach House Cafe across from the ferry dock. Again, warm and inviting, but casually, country pleasant.
We had a sweet server and enjoyed a wonderful meal of fried cornish hen, spaghetti bolanaise and a delightful salad of apples, goat cheese and beets. We went to bed that night in anticipation of the Inn’s breakfast the next morning. On our previous visit, when we had stayed for the first time, we woke up on a Monday; no breakfast service on that day and had wondered, what if?
We, of course, were late to the dining room, sneaking in just prior to the 11:00am close. Luckily, a foursome was still there and another followed shortly after us so we were not left to dine alone. The menu was somewhat odd, I remember thinking.
Soon I would realize, each bite was in harmony with the others and I was about to eat what would be the best breakfast of my life.
As we sat in the parlor after finishing our meal, sipping the remains of our champagne, the once quiet kitchen began to awaken. It seemed like an easy melody at first, starting out quietly, slowly building up to, what would eventually end in a crescendo. The air began filling with smells that were reminiscent of the holidays. I half expected a little grandmother to come ask me if I wanted tea. We were completely alone in the room, other than the fire, yet directly behind us, merely 15 steps away, was a most elaborate production unfolding. Dinner preparation was underway and many hours of work ahead by the dedicated staff. Among them was Blaine himself, just recently returning from his book release in New York the night before.
There was a promise of rain, but for now, we had dry skies and took advantage of it by heading down to the beach where, once again, we were completely alone. The sandy shores were speckled with remnants tossed up from the ocean. Ginger and Buddy frolicked, wearing themselves out once again.
Soon it would be time for the second act, and another perfect meal…
…the best meals of our lives!
What a wonderful restaurant and fun you had. Love seeing the photo’s of those sweet doggies. Everything sounds so good.
Stacey Bender said:
Thanks, it really is a magical experience. Blaine has mastered the true meaning of Pacific Northwest cooking! Tom and I feel lucky for each day we share with our pups!
Why oh why have I not been there? Biscuit would love it. Well actually, no, because he’s afraid of water and nature. Biscuit just got his Intenational pet passport! That dog is going places. We are living in Loretto Mexico this winter so stay tuned for my expat posts. I’m always glad to see you post Stacey.
Stacey Bender said:
You should, you should go there! You of all people would fully enjoy. Biscuit is afraid of water AND nature? Such a silly one. Ginger is afraid of water but has gotten better lately. She is jealous though of her international traveling, furry friend. My Dad and Step-Mom live is Ajijic Mexico and have a B & B; you should look them up and could give you some tips. Can’t wait to hear of your adventures and hopefully they involve writing a book.
What a wonderful place and the food sounds and looks fantastic. Why we never went to Lummi Island during all of the years that we were just a ferry ride away. Darn! Who knows it may still be a possibility some summer. The pics of you4 and the surroundings are great.
Stacey Bender said:
Yes, it is fantastic. You really need to go and have a look. It only takes about 10 minutes to drive around the island which is about the same as the ferry ride.
Patty Nguyen said:
What a frightening start, but a lovely ending! Cheers to 2016, Stacey!