Lummi Island Willows Inn

The Willows Inn on Lummi Island

The Willows Inn has been serving guests for 103 years in a place that feels stuck in a rural island life; where eagles soar, grey waves crash, and days fuse quietly together. On this quite isle, Chef Blaine Wetzel takes locavorism to delightful and unexpected levels. If there was a book for your taste buds to read it would be found at the kitchens of The Willows Inn.

The tasting menu lasted for three hours, with each course stopping somewhere in the San Juan Islands. All of the prix fixe menu is locally fished, foraged and farmed — this means the meals are dictated by seasonal ingredients. Assistant chefs visited us table-side and described where the food came from and how they prepared it.

It’s unfortunate that I’m allergic to shellfish, but my husband reports that the oysters were sweet, the scallops tender in milk and the mussels smoky yet savory served in its own wooden box. My course substitutions complimented their mollusk counterparts: sweet beets, foraged then smoked mushrooms and umami root crop wrapped in seaweed. There was smoked salmon belly, crisp kale chips with black truffle and rye, venison tartare with wild herbs, crispy crepe with steelhead roe, nettle soup, madrona tea, caramel bites with flax seed, celery roots, and hearth bread with pan drippings and butter.

At $165 per person (drinks are extra) you are paying for a seat at a culinary theater show, not just having dinner. Kitchen is in full view, and if you stay for the weekend they’ll take you on a tour of the farm – which of course we did. They have a number of on-island sites, of which we selected the Watermark House – a well-furnished luxury house with three suites and very nice views of Orcus Island and Cypess Island, and perfectly romantic for two lazy home bodies.

Patxi's Pizza Patxi's Pizza Patxi's Pizza Inside Patxi's sausage, mushrooms pizza

Ballard: Patxi’s Pizza

A new pizza place in Ballard just opened its doors a few months ago bringing a San Fran style Chicago deep dish pizza to the Seattle area. This Patxi’s (pronounced “pah-cheese” in a Spanish kind of way) is one of 16 storefronts, the others located in mostly California and some Denver. It’s a California chain that started a little over ten years ago.

We roamed there on a whim one late week day evening after work. They touted natural and healthy ingredients, some source locally and organic when possible. They also cater to those with special diet restrictions without the extra charge that most places do. The tomato sauce is in-house made and the cheese is whole milk – a bonus in my book. Dinner for two is a 10-inch deep dish takes about 30 minutes to produce with a base cost of $16 and about $3 per additional topping.

We ordered a sausage and roasted mushroom pizza. The sausage came from Zoe’s meats and the cheese from Point Reyes Farmstead. There were four different kinds of mushrooms including portobello, chanterelle, shitaki and cremini. And for kicks, I also had a side salad of warm brussels sprouts made with diced apples, sliced grapes, pancetta and sherry vinaigrette.

Overall it was a solid pizza with a nice crust. The sauce I liked the best since it wasn’t overly sweet. Roasted mushrooms needed to have their stems trimmed – chanterelles can get annoyingly chewy. My husband loved the garlic fennel sausage. The brussels sprout salad tasted common.

They don’t serve desserts, and instead tell you to save your pizza crusts and pour liberal amounts of honey over them. They call it “honey bones” or something goofy-hipster like that.

I’m not yet certain it’s worth the above average “Ballard” price yet; I’d have to go few more times to see if they’re consistent in flavor and quality. But I do suggest heading there during happy hour (3-6pm, 7-days, bar only) and order a $3 drink with a $5 personal single topping pizza.


Sushi Tuna Lean

A Foodie’s Map

Last August, Sig and I experienced an amazing dinner at the Herbfarm with Jeff and Kate. I was asked at some point about “how many restaurants I’ve been to in the Seattle area?” and “which ones where good?” That’s a question which would result into a very complex answer, especially for a foodie like me. My solution was to create a map, this map not only contains places I’ve been, but where I want to go. I’ve also included a layer with notes. Click on the little square at the top right corner of the map to go full screen; believe me you’ll want it that way. Click on an item in the list or a location on the map to view the info. Not all items have notes because I haven’t visited that location yet.

I’ll up date this as time goes on, maybe blog about it…soon-ish.  Read more below the cut.

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Noshing in Ballard: Miro Tea


Miro Tea

5405 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107

I frequent Miro for that lovely brown elixir of goodness: Tea. Miro is the only place where we can get a Puer or Lapsang Latte; a very odd request even for Miro’s standards, but they make it for us anyways! They have over 250 loose-leaf teas to select from, so you’ll need a moment to read the Tome of Teas. If tea isn’t your thing you can try something off of their extensive crêpe menu, both in sweet and savory flavors. For $1 more, any of the same crêpe combinations come in a gluten-free crêpe. Another thing I’d like to mention, is that I’m very glad that their tea service is simple: double walled glass cups with glass teapots on pedestals housing a votive warmer – simple wonderful tea.

Noshing in Ballard: Jolly Roger Taproom


Jolly Roger Taproom

1111 NW Ballard Way
Seattle, WA 98107

Pub meets pirates’ lair, complete with a treasure map painted on the floor. Beers are from the family-owned Maritime Pacific Brewery, and the menu offers both cheap pub grub and fancy entrees. Prices are cheaper than the typical ballard fair, so I always feel like I’m getting my worth here. They are super generous with their onion rings, spicy french fries and fried pickles. And who can say no to Beer Batter Bacon!? I go for the Lil’ Mahi’s (think Mahi-Mahi sliders) while Sig likes the regular sliders.  If you have high blood pressure, you may want to skip this place since they tend to make their dishes on the salty side.

Noshing in Ballard: Po Dog


Po Dog

2014 NW Market
Seattle, WA 98107

Ah Ballard, only you would have a pub joint that serves upscale hot-doggery, but hey if you got a craving for overpriced posh dogs this is it. Now, don’t get me wrong, these are not regular wieners: you get a choice of 100% Beef Kosher, Field Roast Apple Sage Vegetarian, Chicken Apple, Polish Kielbasa or German Bratwurst. You can get shoestring french fries or deep fried pickles as a side, but that will cost you extra. Yes, expect to pay about $8 to $10 for a full meal. My personal fav is the Hawaiian with spicy aioli, pineapple relish and fresh cilantro. Sig usually goes for the Texas Dog with melted cheddar and a smokey BBQ sauce.  I’ll be honest, the only reason why I like this place is because its the closest I’ll get to a JAPADOG (, who are the hands down winner of wiener wars.

Noshing in Ballard: Fresh Flours

FreshFoursFresh Flours

5313 Ballard Ave NW
(between Vernon Pl & N 22nd Ave)
Seattle, WA 98107

Two words: Azuki Croissants. Yes, that’s a sweet red bean paste inside of a croissant. Yes freak’n way! They also have Green Tea Macaroons and Green Tea Muffins and Green Tea Pound Cake. You think that it couldn’t get better than that, but then they go and make a Green Tea AND Azuki Red Bean Pound Cake. Sig loves his “One Percent Sandwich”, which consists of brie, ham and cranberry sauce on a tasty fresh baked french baguette. And oh, did I mention that they also have Green Tea Latte made with matcha!? *sigh* Green tea and Azuki heaven!

Noshing in Ballard: Volterra


5411 Ballard Ave. NW
Seattle, WA 98107

Volterra is a shining example of what Sig and I like to call “ballard prices;” always a few dollars more than what we think it should cost. Its true for this place, especially for their dinner menu. The big surprise is the breakfast menu. Yeah each plate is $12-15, but you get awesome on a plate! Duck and Yukon Gold Potato Hash, Wild Boar Sausage Benedict (with homemade sausage) or a Challah French Toast topped with something that kinda tastes like banana fosters! Yup, good breakfast here. Try the dinner menu when you want a fancy italian meal for a date night.

Noshing in Ballard: Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen

Kickin' Boot Whiskey Kitchen

Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen

5309 22nd Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107

I hate beef brisket. I always end up with a dry slab of chewy meat, but Kickin’ Boot actually produced a brisket that was half way likeable. If you’re a BBQ snob, don’t go here — you’ll just bitch about how its not good as your mom’s. But if you’re a Yank, hippy or a geeky gal like me that’s pretty picky about BBQ, then give this place a shot. Like most ballard food holes, lunch is cheaper than dinner. If you go dinner try the Smoke Master Platter to figure out what you do and don’t like. Sig usually goes for either the pulled pork or smoke master sandwich, while I dig the small plate of beef brisket minis or the house-smoked wings. Always go for the cornbread because it comes with whiskey injected honey butter.

Noshing in Ballard: La Isla

La Isla

2320 NW Market St.
Seattle, WA

In the days leading up to our vacation in the Caribbean, Sig and I ate a number of dinners during La Isla’s happy hour. Food is flavored in Latin American, Caribbean, Cuban, and of course Puerto Rico with a nod to Italy. Happy hour menu is so well priced you can pretty much order one of everything, get a good taste of what they have to offer, and keep within a reasonable budget. My fave are the Empandillias, which comes in seven different flavors to pick from. Sig likes the Camarones swimming in a garlic coconut sauce. Always order the Medley de Platnaos, because fried bananas and plantains are always good.