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Taste. Enjoy. Repeat.
By Linda Kissam 'Food, Wine & Shopping Diva
There was a time when the Bellingham area was booming, then a time when prosperity was only a faint memory. But a quick trip to Bellingham just a few short weeks ago tells me its back bigger and better than ever. Whoever is responsible for the booming renaissance in this area deserves an award. There’s enough to see and do for even the most demanding of food and wine diva’s – which of course includes me.
Some interesting facts about Bellingham set the scene. It’s about 2.5 hours by car from Seattle. It is home to Western Washington University, so it has an authentic college town feel to it which I love. Outdoors Northwest named Bellingham a haven for paddlers. It’s also America’s raspberry capital. It is home to the largest Manila clam producer in the US. The Bellingham Mt. Baker region is #1 in the nation in milk production per cow. And…my favorite “brag” about Bellingham…Gading.com named Bellingham as one its “…top 25 greatest cities for sipping on vino thanks to its wine bars, boutique wineries, subdued vibe and stunning scenery.” Ya gotta know I‘ll sip to that!
A true foodie tour is a mix of trying the very best and local’s favorites. Foodies
love food for the experience, preparation, and promotion of it all. We want to learn
everything about food and the wines that complement it; both the unsurpassed and
the everyday, and about the science, industry, and personalities surrounding food.
A quick puddle jumper from Seattle (about 40 minutes) brings you into Bellingham
Airport. Love this airport. It’s clean, simple and has rental cars. The first
thing you’ll notice after getting your rental car – opt for the GPS – is that everything
you’ll want to see and do is no more than 15-
Excellent hotels are abundant. I tried three while I was there. Each was perfect
in its own way.
My first two nights I stayed at the Chrysalis Inn in Bellingham. Can you say, “Light, airy, elegant with a glorious spa?” The views were to die for and it was just a short breezy walk to the quaint town of Fairhaven. Bags dropped off, I was on my way to a sunset BBQ at Taylor Fish Farm. This is a working shellfish farm and a local’s favorite for its picturesque rugged Northwest location and fish market. Bring your own picnic supplies. Purchase oysters, clams and geoduck at the farm and do a scenic shore-
Perhaps the highlight of my foodie-
This is a newer concept connecting the foodie diner with the place the food came from with the restaurant it will be prepared at. Working with local wilderness guide celeb Jennifer Hahn my group went foraging for food in the morning in a near-
Switching hotels, I was off to the Fairhaven Village Inn in the town of Fairhaven,
which is just south of Bellingham. Large, well appointed, comfortable rooms, easy
access to downtown and a friendly staff make the Village Inn a great place to stay. For
breakfast, walk about 50 feet to Magdalena’s Creperie. Owner Magdalena came to Bellingham
from Poland. Her menu is certainly inspired by her Polish roots, but expect a definite
French influence as well. Any dish you order is lovingly prepared, delicious beyond
expectation, and generous in portion. I don’t think you’ll have a favorite because
everything you order will be your favorite. The espresso drinks are also killer.
This is a must stop for anyone on a quest to taste excellent local-
Fairhaven has a distinct European feel to it and is a great place to walk off the
generous breakfast from Magdalena’s Creperie. Its charming art galleries, historic
buildings sidewalk cafes, bars, and boutique dining and shopping makes it a great
place to stroll around in. It borders Bellingham Bay on the west and the Western
Washington University on the northeast. Its center is the Fairhaven Historical District,
which features a seasonal farmer's market as well as numerous restaurants and shops.
The district is a popular tourist destination. All newly constructed buildings are
required to conform in outward appearance to the community's traditional 19th-
There are innumerable places to go to dinner. The Table in downtown Bellingham might just have your number. It certainly had mine and is just 10 minutes from Fairhaven. This is an edgy, trendy, energetic restaurant. The food is served family style with a view to using locally produced products whenever possible. Known for its healthy gourmet food attitude, expect really good food served in an upbeat but noisy atmosphere. Our dinner included freshly made Beet Caprese, Fattoush Salad, Sockeye Salmon Primavera, Moroccan Chicken Linguine, and Pink Vodka Penne. Yum!
Take a breather as we did and stroll over a few blocks to Chocolate Necessities. Owner Kevin Buck treated us to a guided chocolate tasting helping us to better understand the differences in quality of chocolates and cocoa content. Best to call ahead to see when the chocolate and wine pairings are happening. You’ll thank me later.
Switching hotels again, this time to Hotel Bellwether located in Bellingham. This
After a couple of days of food, food, it was time to do some wine tasting.
Hopping on a shuttle tour with Whatcom Wine Tours the group was out for a glimpse into what the area wine scene has to offer. Our stops included Glacial Lake Missoula Winery, Vartanyan Estate Winery and Dynasty Cellars. Since there are another six to try, your tour might be different. Although not world class wineries as of yet, there is certainly potential. We had a lovely picnic lunch at Vartanyan. Owner Margarita is so passionate and visionary, you can’t help but sense success is just around the corner for her. At Dynasty Cellars, owner Peter Osvaldik greeted us with lots of charm and a dynamite food & wine pairing. Peter seems to be mixing Old World winemaking techniques with Washington varietals. My guess – we have a winner here. Watch out for this guy – he’s a rock star in the making. The reds are killer.
Last up on the Bellingham foodie tour was the grand slam of it all; a 16-
Under the quiet and confident direction of young Chef Blaine Wetzel this was a chance to indulge and delight in the foods, taste and culture of Washington cuisine. Tiny bite-
During the dinner, our group was treated to the texture, sights and tastes of exquisitely prepared and presented courses. Our server patiently explained each unique course: Baked Sunflower Roots, Crispy Crepe with Sockeye Roe, Pickled Oyster with Sorrel, Toasted Kale with Black Truffle and Rye, Wild Berries and Grasses, Albacore with Horseradish, Shitake over Fire, Smoked Sockeye Salmon, Bread with Pan Drippings, Crispy Halibut Skin with Razor Clams, Flax Seed, Aged Venison Leg, Grilled Onions, Spot Prawns, Charred Frisée, and finally... Blueberries with woodruff and malt.
Washington wine pairings at the dinner included Wescott Bay Traditional Apple Cider, 2010 Ross Andrew Winery Meadow Pinot, 2011 Mount Baker Vineyards Madeline, 2011 Lachini Vineyards Rosé of Pinot, and 2009 Brian Carter Cellars Opulento Port.
Hard to top that, so I won’t try. Goodnight Bellingham. Nice to see you’re back – and a great place for foodies. I am off to tour the San Juan and Gulf Islands with my husband in a private boat for a week. More on that trip later.
Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva' is a professional travel, food and wine
writer based out of Southern California. Through her websites and
she specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing
her favorite things about the places she visits.