You’re on an island….deal with it

clams n' corn on sji    

I’m slow in writing, but I’ve been affected with island lassitude. This summer, we rented a home on San Juan Island. Ours overlooks San Juan Strait, with lots of fishing boats, various ferries, big and little yachts, stunningly beautiful sunrises, sunny days and then gorgeous sunsets bouncing off Orca and Jones Islands to the east.

Biscuit found some lovely peaches and decided to celebrate with one of her famous peach pies. Of course, you must have chunks of vanilla ice cream on top, but the little grocery store at Roche Harbor was out. “You’re on an island,” the clerk advised, “Deal with it.” So we topped the pie with coconut ice cream, and discovered a new taste treat. And a new mantra.

Joining us were our two daughters, One and Two, their husbands.   One’s family includes cute, bubbly two-and-a-half year-old grandson Cal.  They also brought Chloe, their big Great Pyrenees. Restful days are rare, but what fun to have the whole family together, even if some have to plunk down with computers and tablets to work for a while.

On our walks, Chloe is her usual celebrated self. With her big brown eyes, white fur and languorous walk, she draws attention from everyone, and on almost every walk in public, someone wants to take a photo. This is sort of annoying to jealous owners of other dogs and a little exasperating to those of us who think cute grandsons are more deserving of such lavish praise.   They both will eat anything put in front of them, so there’s none of this picky eating thing.

“You’re on an island….deal with it,” maybe isn’t so bad. We’ve dealt with burgers on the deck, tasty fish and chips, clam chowders, and fish tacos. Last night we were dealing with crab, clams and giant prawns, all of which had been in the Sound only hours before.

When our spirits ran low, we wandered over to San Juan Island Distillery, on Westcott Bay. Suzy, Hawk and Richard create spirits, liqueurs and ciders mostly from their own orchards and ingredients. The result is an almost ridiculous (in a good way) variety of bitters, brandies, gins, and ciders, all with an uber-Northwest theme. For example, Spy Hop Gin is “distilled with foraged San Juan Island barks and berries, including blackberries, Douglas Fir, lavender, wild roses and Madrone bark. “ (“Honey, before you start playing with the alpacas, please gather Granma some more Madrone bark.”)


During cocktail hour, we dealt with the deprivations of island life, with, say, Summer Gimlet (Spy Hop Gin, Island Summer Liqueur, lime juice); Red Sky at Night (gin, lemon juice, Lavender & Wild Rose Liqueur) and other concoctions. And I learned that “Spy Hop” is when an Orca rises straight up out of the water until s/he can see all around (“hmmm….sea lions over there….lunch!”). It’s all illustrated on their gin labels.   We’re often using their ciders in lieu of wine. At only 6% alcohol content, it almost keeps me from dozing off after lunch.

So we’ll try that slogan when we get back to the mainland. We can always, at least figuratively, be on an island. Deal with it.



Ol' Mick

I'm an old guy, been eating all my life. And I've been blessed with marrying a really good cook (she's an actual prize-winner) who still looks much better than do I. Two daughters, both in the food business (one in PR, the other in sales), and both married guys, who also like to cook. Consequently our family gatherings sometimes resemble a raucous cut-throat foodie TV contest on a cooking channel.

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