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specialty food sources for Bellingham area

We plan to be moving to the Bellingham area (somewhere in Whatcom county or even upper Skagit) in the Spring and would love some recommendations so we can keep our kitchen (and our pantry) supplied:

Best wine sources
Italian Delis (for prociutto, Reggiano Parmigiano, pancetta, etc.)
Middle Eastern food
Kitchen supplies
Cheese
Bakeries

Thanks!

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  1. OH, I think people just weren't looking. Bellingham is very nice but gets very cold in the winter - be prepared. This website is for the Fairhaven neighborhood in Bellingham and is a head start for the many nice things there in general: http://fairhaven.kulshan.com/ and here's a site where you can hone in on foodiness: http://www.tasteofwhatcom.com/ - click on the link for "Speciality Foods." There are some very tasty opportunities there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rcallner

      Thank you rcallner! This is very helpful.

    2. You're welcome, Toadgirl. What part of the country are you coming from?

      1. Well, sigh, shuffle, shuffle. Hmmmm.
        OK, OK. I'm from Los Angeles. Please don't hate me!!! We don't own, we rent, so we aren't moving up North to drive up your real estate prices. We don't drive fancy cars. We only use our cell phones to call the Auto Club when we're stuck in the mud in a flood situation (true story). My husband is originally from Ohio. And my father was from Montreal and my mother's family farmed in North Dakota.

        I'm just going on like this because a few weeks ago when we were up in Bellingham, a new friend advised us to LIE about where we're from, at least for the first year. And, after a day of looking at your posting, I just couldn't do it.

        1. Hm, hard to think of many places much more different from Bellingham than LA....Foodies get special dispensation from other foodies and don't even have to hear phrases like "Californication" or anything, so you're safe here, at least. You might want to lay low with the identity for others when you're in the Pac NW, though. I was asking for a food-related reason, though - the seafood and shellfish in particular in Whatcom County is spectacular, so much better than LA and other parts of the country and you must take advantage of that. Also, Whatcom County is home to people who do local, organic, artesian gardening and livestock raising, so you're in for a big change of pace and quite a treat. And the Rhododendron Cafe at the end of Chuckanut Drive is like a dream of what a country cafe could be, if things were as they should be.

          1. Being from California, you may be pleased to know that a Trader Joe's will be opening soon in Bellingham. Very good news for those of us who don't like having to go all the way to Everett for TJ favorites. Also, south of Bellingham, very near the Rhododenron Cafe mentioned in the previous post, is a great specialty food store, Slough Foods, with a nice selection of wines, cheeses,interesting deli meats. Right next door is an excellent bread bakery, never can remember the name of it though. Also on Chuckanut, Taylor Shellfish farms for wonderful fresh mussels, crab, steamer clams, oysters. And nearby on Samish Island, Blau Oyster for some of the best oysters around. And of course the Saturday Bellingham farmers market is amazing. Enjoy, and welcome to the tasty and beautiful Northwest! Susan C.

            1 Reply
            1. re: SusanC

              And keep an eye on the Western Canada section for food choices just over the border (Asian, Indian, etc).

              paulj

            2. Thank you ALL so much! Frankly, we're looking for a big change. We like cold and we're looking for space and quiet and a much slower pace. I'm an organic gardener who needs more land, so I'm looking forward to more of that sort of culture.
              The Rhododendron Cafe sounds great, and we've been to Slough Foods and look forward to going to his tastings.
              One of the attractions of Bellingham is its proximity to BC, so we're jazzed about that as well.
              The ONLY drawback (and a small one at that) was how far Trader Joe's was going to be. So SusanC's news about one opening in Bellingham is a great surprise!
              Most of all, whenever we've been up there, the people have been so friendly. That will be the best change of all.
              Thank you for your help!

              1. Best wine sources:
                The Purple Smile is supposed to be good. Also a wine distibutor in Fairhaiven is supposed to be really great. I forget the name. It's in one of the newer condos there.
                A better bet would be to find a wine or producer you love and get on their mailing list. That's a bit of a committment for some, though.

                Italian Delis (for prociutto, Reggiano Parmigiano, pancetta, etc.)
                The Panini Grill and Deli in the Public Market (on Cornwall St) has all that and other italian cheses and olives as well as paninis, wraps, salads made daily.
                There is a cheese shop that just opened in Fairhaven right across from the Chevron station on the main drag that has a LOT of cheeses (many French). A bit posh, but excellent selection.

                Middle Eastern food
                Meditteranean Specialties is owned by a Lebanese family and has all sorts of things like home-made (by their family in Lebanon) olive oil that is sensational and the best deals on pasta and bulghur wheat in town. On 34th St. by the Samish Way Haggen grocery store.

                For great falafel go to Shaharazad right downtown on Holly St. After 9 or so on Friday and Saturday nights you can get a whole sandwich for 3 bucks!

                Kitchen supplies
                Industrial: Cash and Carry on Ohio St.
                Specialty and high end: Greenhouse on Holly St.
                Pacific Chef 1210 11th St. in Fairhaiven

                Cheese
                Que Fromage - the cheese shop mentioned above.
                Panini Grill and Deli- better deals on cheese. Less choices but good cheeses.

                Bakeries-

                This will make you sad about moving here. Not many good bakeries. Avenue Bread Co. is okay, a bit too rustic if you know what I mean. You'll want to make bread pudding or stuffing with that morning's bread, it gets so tough in a day. Their rosemary bread is very good, but I can bake much better with a little forethought so I don't buy it very often.

                Great Harvest is overpriced and too sweet for my tastes.

                La Vie en Rose has some good pastries. I would reccomend that. On Holly St.

                Bagelry has very good bagels. No West Coast slackerness here. On Railroad Ave.

                One great pizza: North Fork on the MBHighway, more below. Some good pizza. A lot of (barely) decent pizza.

                Good: La Fiama ($$, crust could be thinner, sauce could taste better, too sweet) Seven Loaves ($$, they put olives in their sauce and make a sourdough crust, not for some) Rudy's ($, but bring your own spice mixture as their sauce tastes like tomato paste, nice atmosphere, though.)

                Bad: Cascade Pizza, Pizza Pipeline, Pizza Time

                Very good Japanese and sushi:
                Oskaka on Northwest St. The best in Bellingham, beautiful dining room, calm atmosphere, skillfully prepared and presented food.

                Wasabee on Chestnut (right by the Shrimp Shack). Slow but also very nice ambiance and food is delicious. Worth the wait, the owners are very nice, too.

                MakiZushi in the Public Market. Brand new but very nice sushi, cheap and fast.

                Greek: Cafe Akroteki on Commercial (I think). Very good Greek food with many vegetarian options (instead of the occasional, "hmm I think there might be chicken stock in the potatoes...and the rice and everything else."). Good service.

                Other noteables:

                Pepper Sisters on State St. Pretty good Baha-inspired food although when you ask for them to make it spicy they slather your food with this dried-chili-tasting muck that is hot, but not pleasant or balanced. Very nice atmosphere and owners, though. The food is very good too, I am just partial to spicy.

                La Gatisserie (sp?) on Northwest is a very good Vietnamese bakery and restaurant. They serve an excellent lunch salad and I think they have a vietnamese sandwich with pickled veggies, mayo and cilantro.

                Boundary Bay: SKIP IT! They are riding high on being such a hugely popular brewery and restaurant that they have lost their way. They recently changed their menu and took off the best items (a tofu cheese steak sandwich and a Thai bowl). Their beer is overrated and heavy, you can't comfortably drink more than about 2.5 of them. A much better bet for brewpub is....

                The North Fork Restaurant and Beer Shrine 20 miles East of town on the Mount Baker Highway: which has the best microbrew in town and the best PIZZA.

                The Rhodedenderon Cafe is really the best restaurant in the area, even though it is 20 minutes south of Fairhaven on Chuckanut Drive.

                For a really fancy treat, head out to Lummi Island to the Willows on the North side of the island. Expect to drop a lot of money on dinner, but be amazed nonetheless. This place made me start eating salmon after being a lifelong vegetarian.

                Another fancy treat in Seattle is the Dahlia Lounge, Chef Tom Douglas's first restaurant. It is another expensive one and the doorman gave my wife and I a nasty look as we entered, but we were treated to a luxurious meal complete with a salad that actually made me smile.

                Just one more plug, if you need any kitchen help, I am a personal chef for hire in Bellingham and (I think) cook the best vegetarian food (as well as pizza) around. My website is at

                http://www.mealsbymikkel.com

                Hope this helps. Good luck.

                1. Hey, toadgirl et al, I stumbled onto this thread while Googling for sources for Middle Eastern supplies in Bellingham, and am glad for more reasons than just chow. We will be relocating to Bellingham in just three weeks (Feb 2008) and will be ready and rarin' to eat with abandon. Thanks to all for the commentary and referrals. Toadgirl, if you're still on this forum, I'd be interested in reading your experiences as a transplant from southern Cal. We are coming from San Diego, but (we think) really aren't that bad. If you care to share, feel free to use g_hope at yahoo dot com.

                  Munch!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: ghope

                    Heya, GHope- welcome to town! I'm a B'ham local and I agree with lots of the recommendations here. I am particularly fond of Quel Fromage (cheese shop in Fairhaven) for a treat. The owner is a San Diego transplant-- and she's wonderful!

                    We have a lot of options in town for foodies, but we really need a real butcher. Other than that, though, I think you'll be pretty happy. And hey, can I recommend good dive food? Supon's for thai, on Dupont Street.

                    1. re: Vetter

                      Vetter, I agree about Soupon's! I'm in Mount Vernon but grew up in Bellingham. Whenever I'm up there to visit my sis we lunch at Soupon's. I LOVE their Holy Basil with chicken!

                      1. re: Vetter

                        Many thanks, Vetter, for the welcome and the recs! We just arrived yesterday, unloaded the truck today, and are getting up a head of steam to start exploring. The house we're renting is right down the road from Supon and I was curious, so it's a neat coincidence that you mention it. We can plan our walk to the post office in time to stop in for lunch (and try kalenasmith's Holy Basil with chicken).

                        1. re: ghope

                          If there are two of you, try the pad kee mao!

                          One more rec-- if you like salmon, you can buy top quality, flash frozen on the boat salmon at Squalicum Harbor from Desire Fish Company. And the prices are typically excellent. I bought lots of the pink last year and was really impressed.

                          If you hit Quel Fromage, tell them that Ann sent you! :o)

                          1. re: Vetter

                            Vis Seafoods on James St. is fisher-owned and has the best salmon in town. Across from Youngstock's, best prices on produce. opens in May.