Welcome to the City of Subdued Excitement

If you’ve ever been to Bellingham, you know what I’m talking about. Bellingham has been dubbed a college town, a gathering place for globe-trotting hippies, and a place somewhere in the cold, wet Northwestern corner of Washington state where people just passing through seem to get stuck.
The food scene in Bellingham, however, is a bit of a joke if you’ve ever been here or lived here. It’s the place where good restaurants go to die. Bellingham has had some fantastic foodie treasures, one such being the The Prospect Street Cafe (a greatly missed jewel of a restaurant!). But none seem to fare the weather for long, which is a terrible tragedy considering the plethora of fresh ingredients that are readily available from the surrounding farmland in our backyard and the vast Pacific Ocean knocking on our door.

Of Rock and Rye…

With a seasonal rotating menu, Rock and Rye has some fresh and unique eats that keep customers coming back for more.
With a seasonal rotating menu, Rock and Rye has some fresh and unique eats that keep customers coming back for more.

Last summer, a new restaurant opened in the historic Herald building promising to bring something new and fresh to the food scene in Bellingham. The Rock and Rye Oyster House does not disappoint. It is the epitome of subdued excitement, with a quaint, no-frills atmosphere greeting you at the door. Once you pass through those doors, however, the wonderful smells and low, constant rumble of happy customers enjoying a fantastically flavorful meal let you know you’re in the right place.
Eric and I have actually eaten here a few times now, and one of the best meals we had there was a Whiskey Dinner they offered at an incredibly inexpensive price that featured craft whiskey and bourbon from High West Distillery. The meal was amazing and they were more than generous with the whiskey. It seems that each time we eat at Rock and Rye, our meals get progressively better and better, and this week’s meal was no exception.

Fresh, local Shigoku and Kumamoto oysters from Taylor Shellfish Farms.
Fresh, local Shigoku and Kumamoto oysters from Taylor Shellfish Farms.

With it being one of the best months for fresh, local oysters, we started off our meal with an exceptional sampling of Shigoku and Kumamoto oysters from Taylor Shellfish Farms. They were sweet, briny and delicious! We followed these refreshing first bites with the Grilled Sardine which was dressed in a caper and olive tapenade of sorts and drizzled with a light tarragon oil. I honestly had never had sardine before (I know, what kind of Pacific Northwesterner AM I?), but this was a fantastic and flavorful fish that made me wonder why I haven’t tried it sooner?!

Fresh, grilled sardine with an olive caper tapenade and tarragon oil drizzle.
Fresh, grilled sardine with an olive caper tapenade and tarragon oil drizzle.

By this time, we were definitely hungry for more, so we ordered another cocktail and waited patiently for our main dishes to arrive. Eric ordered the Oxtail Gnocchi which was a fantastically light, yet flavor-packed dish, and I couldn’t resist the tantalizing description of the Pork Belly Carbonara on the menu. Who could say no to house-cured pork belly and homemade pasta in a rich, cheesy, duck egg sauce? It was amazing. It had the traditional richness that you would expect with a carbonara, but with an extra kick from thinly shaved jalapeno tossed in the mix.

House-cured pork belly carbonara with a traditional creamy, eggy sauce.
House-cured pork belly carbonara with a traditional creamy, eggy sauce.

A close friend also joined us for dinner and he indulged in the Confit Duck and Cassoulet that was a perfect balance of sweet and salty duck resting atop a pork belly cassoulet. As you can see, it didn’t last long…

A deliciously empty plate that once held a savory Confit Duck & Cassoulet with house-cured pork belly and maple candied carrot.
A deliciously empty plate that once held a savory Confit Duck & Cassoulet with house-cured pork belly and maple candied carrot.

The Rock and Rye Oyster House has definitely delivered on its promise to bring something new and fresh to the foodie scene in Bellingham. It’s a great place to meet friends, enjoy a classic cocktail and indulge in some fantastic and flavorful eats. We are hopeful that it will continue to grow and develop as an iconic symbol of fresh local eats for Bellingham, and we can’t wait to taste more!

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New Year, New Me

Happy New Year!

Now that the holiday season is officially over, life can get back to normal, I suppose. We ate, we drank, and then we definitely ate some more! But with the nostalgia of another year passed fading away, I am eager for a new year full of opportunity and bright beginnings to get underway.

I have set high goals to aim for this 2015, and continuing to eat amazing food and see new and different parts of the world is at the top of the list. I’m looking forward to capturing the essence of my own hometown area of Whatcom County, along with a few other stateside destinations, like San Antonio, Texas, and Palm Springs, California. I most definitely won’t be stopping there, folks, so let me know if you have any suggestions of must-see destinations in our own US of A.

Until my next meal speaks to me…

San Francisco Treat

The main dining area at the Wayfare Tavern boasts an historical elegance that creates a comfortable, homey atmosphere.
The main dining area at the Wayfare Tavern boasts an historical elegance that creates a comfortable, home-like dining experience.

Four days of eating, walking, drinking and more eating in San Francisco and Eric and I were begging for mercy as we rolled ourselves back to Seattle. But oh, what an amazing trip! The highlight of the entire weekend, hands-down, was a feast of a meal at the Wayfare Tavern.

Opened in 2010, the Wayfare Tavern is located in the Financial District in downtown SF with Chef Tyler Florence, celebrity chef and host of various shows on the Food Network, at the reigns. This timeless representation of a true Americana eatery is established in an old Wells Fargo building with four amazing floors of turn of the century artwork and decor. It beckons a sophisticated, yet casual elegance in not only the atmosphere, but also in the food.

Eric and I heard of this amazing find from a local bartender at The Thirsty Bear Brewery, also in San Fran, and we were eager to try it out. So, on Day Two of our long weekend in the city, we set off on foot from our downtown hotel, grabbed a hot cup of black coffee from Peet’s, and made our way to the tavern.

We arrived right at opening, which turned out to be perfect timing since the bar and restaurant filled up quickly. We saddled up at the bar to be carefully ushered through an incredible two-hour lunch by our bartender and hospitality guardian, Sean. We immediately ordered a rather large smattering of items off the menu and began nibbling on the delicious popovers that the waiter brought out shortly after cozying up at the bar.

Sweet, roasted beets paired with fresh hamachi, garnished with a light sprinkling of lemon and sesame.
Sweet, roasted beets paired with fresh hamachi, garnished with a light sprinkling of lemon and sesame.

From the French Fried Oysters to the American Kobe Tartare, this place turns out some amazing comfort food at a higher level than I would have ever expected possible. The oysters are fried in a crispy, light batter and are packed with a sweet, juicy flavor that is obviously a reflection of the fantastic quality of the local seafood from the Bay Area. And let’s not forget the Wayfare Tavern Deviled Eggs. They have a sweet and tangy richness to them from the honey mustard with little hidden candied pumpkin jewels at their core, and are topped with crunchy fried brussels sprouts. Delicious!

There is truly not enough time or space for me to continue to rave about this place, but I assure you, it will be the first place we visit on our next trip to SF. Perhaps next time we will try the Organic Fried Chicken, which is actually the dish that they are most known for as they have been dubbed the “Fried Chicken Guru” by Food & Wine Magazine.

Until next time, here are a few pictures to drool over…

Creamy honey mustard deviled eggs with little nuggets of candied pumpkin and country ham, garnished with fried brussels sprouts.
Creamy honey mustard deviled eggs with little nuggets of candied pumpkin and country ham, garnished with fried brussels sprouts.
Deliciously fried oysters atop a smather of housemade cauliflower tartar sauce.
Deliciously fried oysters atop a slather of housemade cauliflower tartar sauce.
Fresh chopped beef with a French mustard dressing, topped with a creamy egg yolk and served with housemade garlic popovers.
Fresh chopped American Kobe beef with a French mustard dressing, topped with a creamy egg yolk and served with housemade garlic popovers.

Fat Girl in a Little Coat

Tis the season for the clothes to start fitting a bit more snug around the mid section. You would think this would dissuade me from planning out my next meal before I’ve eaten the one in front of me, but alas, I can’t help myself. I love food.

Eric and I have a fantastic foodie trip planned for San Francisco, and our itinerary is packed to the gills! But you won’t find sight-seeing and shopping on our agenda this time. No, we will be eating. A lot. Of course we have our favorites, like the King of Noodle Thai restaurant and Kokkari’s, but we have uncharted territory to explore┬áthis time around, so check back soon for a full report on our next culinary adventure in the Bay Area.