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Aug 23, 2009 01:47 AM

seattle to vancouver -- looking for amazing food experiences that focus on local produce

I'm going to be driving from seattle to vancouver with my mom and sister in the first week of september and wanted to see if anyone might have suggestions for some fun food experiences in between.

I heard there were a number of farms around Bellingham and wanted to see if anyone has favorites they can suggest in this area -- farm stands or u-pick farms. Also, what would be in season now?

We're also really interested in suggestions for restaurants in the area that focus on using fresh, local produce. We love to eat (!) and are looking for places that would be able to capture and define the flavor of the region that we'll be passing through.

We will probably drive up the 5 and then take Chuckanut Drive up to Bellingham. We are definitely willing to veer away from this route, though, if there is something tempting to the side. lol, the decision about which border crossing to take may also depend on where we'll be eating directly beforehand. :-)

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  1. Before you get to Mount Vernon proper, but in the middle of the farmland, near the Shell Station on the east side of I-5, tthere's usually a truck selling fresh corn

    1. Golden Treasures farm is about 1 hour N of Seattle, and is an Organic U-pick, right off the freeway, very convenient. However, once you pick the produce, I'm not sure you're allowed to bring it in to Canada?

      7 Replies
        1. re: dagoose

          Good point on that. Check the regulations first. We once saw a big, nice looking crate of oranges sitting just outside a border booth - must've been confiscated.

          In season currently are berries. Blueberries, blackberries (not so much raspberries anymore), logan, marion, etc. We've picked this year at Sakuma bros (Burlington, Cook Rd exit - 230?) and Bjornstad in Bellingham, off of northern Guide Meridian @King Tut (yes!) Rd. B'ham has a great Farmer's Market on Saturdays from 10-3 in downtown that is fun to peruse. Make sure you don't miss the public market on Granville Island in Vanc BC. Lots of gorgeous produce plus charcuterie, bread, cheese, it's a foodie heaven.

          1. re: sasha1

            There was a nice article in Sunset Magazine about Edison and Bow, WA (outside Bellingham) with a little farm visiting itinerary. Check the website. It was maybe this time last year.

            1. re: bluedog67

              Edison is a great stop, and very handy from Chuckanut Drive. Check out the Breadfarm, Slough Food (they just opened their back courtyard for lunch), Farm to Market Bakery, and the Edison Cafe. You'll also be near Golden Glen Creamery, Samish Bay Cheese, Rockin R Bison, Anderson Blueberries, and Taylor Shellfish. Taylor has a little picnic area if you want to have yourself an impromptu oyster barbecue.

              Fresh vegetables and meat are definitely iffy for the border crossing, though, so you might want to limit yourself to tasting.

              1. re: Freida

                Thanks for the suggestions!! I almost forgot about the restrictions at the border crossing. We'll be in Bellingham for a night, so we'll probably just pick up enough along the way to last us through the day and the next morning then. The statement I found on the CBSA website seemed kind of vague. lol, it'll be all the more reason to pay a visit to the Granville Island market to replenish.

                1. re: Freida

                  There are a couple of tavern-type places in Edison that serve oysters in various different ways. I've only been to one of them, next to the slough, but the oysters were good.

                  1. re: Freida

                    Definitely don't miss Edison! A block-long town full of good food.

                    Since it will be September, consider a u-pick stop for apples at Jones Creek Orchard near Sedro-Woolley. They grow over 200 varieties of heirloom apples! They're also really nice.

                    In Seattle, eat your way through the farmers' markets. I especially like the U-District one and Ballard, on Saturday and Sunday respectively. A lot of restaurants focus on local produce.


            2. The Detroit Free Press travel writer did an article a while back about Skagit Valley, and mentioned the Snow Goose Produce Market near Mount Vernon. I've never been but it sounds like fun--I'll be in the area next weekend so I'm going to try to check it out.

              Mount Vernon has a nice little farmer's market on Saturdays downtown if that fits your timing.

              11 Replies
              1. re: coney with everything

                I've stopped by there on the way to LaConner and Deception Pass. As roadside produce stands it is one of the larger ones, but I wouldn't call it amazing. Maybe that's because I stopped by there in the late spring, before the summer abundance. The online reviews mention the ice cream cones more than the produce.

                Whether I stop at this stand or not, I like to leave I5 at Conway, and take Fir Island Rd west, and then north on 237. LaConner is a nice stop, for browsing or eating (or walking in the park by the red bridge). Further north 237 passes through Edison (and Bow), and connects to 11, Chuckanut Drive.

                1. re: coney with everything

                  Snow Goose does have enormous ice cream cones, but I'd much rather stop at the Rexville Grocery just a little further up the road. Sandwiches, beer, fresh oysters, great shopping.

                  If you go through LaConner, you can't do better than Nell Thorn restaurant. They try to source as much as possible from local farmers, and the food is amazing.

                  1. re: Freida

                    Freida, the Rexville Grocery looks like fun--have you had breakfast there?

                    1. re: coney with everything

                      Once, many years ago. I remember it was good, but the details seem to have gone. The place was packed, though.

                      Usually we just stop in for a BLT and a beer, then pick up some preserved lemons and canned octopus while we're there :) And one of these days I'm going to make it to their White Trash Food Festival.

                      1. re: Freida

                        I am intrigued - tell me more about canned octopus. Is it good? what do you do with it?

                        1. re: bluedog67

                          Well, what I did with it was give it to my father in his Christmas stocking. He loved it, so I've been meaning to get more. I think you would just eat it straight, or with bread - it's in a tomato sauce. I bet you could also toss it with pasta.

                          1. re: Freida

                            yum. will be on the look out for this delicacy. thanks!

                          2. re: bluedog67

                            Throw it onto the ice before Red Wings playoff games :)

                            1. re: Freida

                              Freida, we had breakfast there Sunday morning, and it was pretty quiet--just us and a couple other people. Pretty good, would be excellent if they gave you TWO slices of Breadfarm toast instead of only one!

                              Great little store, but there was a "for sale" sign on the property.

                              1. re: coney with everything

                                They've been trying to sell for a while, but I'm told the price is still pretty high. Alas.

                      2. For Bellingham info check out the Eat Local campaign by Sustainable Connections:

                        Also, pick up a copy of their Food and Farm Finder to find local farms to visit. You can download at the link below, or better yet pick up a copy when you get to Bellingham. We have them at the Community Food Co-op, which is yet another resource to learn about local food and farms.

                        There's be a fun farm tour on Sept. 12, if you'll be passing through Bellingham at that time.

                        There are loads of options for restaurants that feature local food. You'll find info about them in the Sustainable Connections resources listed above. We also have an awesome Saturday farmers market downtown. The market Web site has more info about local providers and BFM Web site and the Food & Farm Finder have info about what is in season and when.

                        Bow is a nice stop, as other have mentioned. Bellingham also has an excellent cheese shop, Quel Fromage, in Fairhaven and several excellent local bakeries.

                        If you have more specific questions, ask away! Bellingham is a great town for people interested in local foods. The options will be plentiful in September!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: laurachow

                          We are planning a weekend in Bellingham area mid-October. A list of your local favs for meals would be most appreciated.
                          So far, we've only heard about the Rododendren Cafe on Chuckanut Dr., and a couple ideas in Fairhaven. We like fun places with good eats...doesn't matter if it is a pub, cafe, fine dining or just a good local favorite, we are not picky about pricing, ambience, etc.

                          1. re: ljohaines

                            Here are a few of our favs. There are also some threads on this board about Bellingham restaurants, just search for Bellingham.
                            The Bagelry: downtown on Railroad Avenue, best bagels around, moderate price for breakfast or lunch only. Warning: they don't take plastic or out of town checks!
                            Mallard Ice Cream: don't miss it!! Next door to Bagelry.
                            Fiamma Burger and La Fiamma: yup, all downtown again. We don't eat meat, so can't vouch for burgers but the veg burger is good and I've heard good things about the salmon burgers. La Fiamma is wood fired pizza and most people love it. It's not my fav, but I grew up in Chicago and it's not my kind of pie. The Fairhaven Pizza Company is super popular, too!
                            Mount Bakery: excellent baked goods and yummy breakfasts or lunches.
                            Wasabee: our favorite for sushi!
                            Boundary Bay Brewery: a popular spot, great local beers, the food can be excellent but is very inconsistent.
                            Pepper Sisters: another local fav for Tex-Mex kind of food.
                            Du Jour Bistro: pricey, good wine and food.
                            Prospect Street Cafe: Heard great things about this place but haven't been there yet. It is pricey and we are on a budget!
                            There is a cute little cupcake shop that opened in Fairhaven, think it is called Katie's Cupcakes?
                            Great farmers market on Saturdays from 10am-3pm with good eats.
                            I'm sure others will chime in with some of their favs, too.