Fall is our favorite time of year. The island takes on a slower rhythm and this year’s Indian summer couldn’t have been better. We never tired of each day’s spectacular sunrise followed by a sunset that was even more colorful and vivid than the next. There was a bright blue sky without a cloud to be seen. There was a winter chill in the air.
The 7th annual Savor the San Juans featured gallery walks and visual art festivals; farm parades and tours; farmer’s markets, 3 for $30 and special event dinners; and theatre, concerts and other performances throughout the islands. The first annual Bite of the San Juan Islands, the last Sunday of October, paired local chefs and restaurants with food producers under the same roof at Brickworks. For $2, 4 or $8, you could savor local bites and libation from more than 30 restaurants, distilleries, breweries, wineries and other producers. If you needed to work off your overindulgences of savoring or sipping, there were plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy – hiking, biking, and whale watching and kayaking.
Day tripping to other islands is another favorite fall pastime. You can catch an afternoon interisland ferry, have time for a hike and dinner on Orcas or Lopez before heading back to Friday Harbor for the night. We were lucky enough to spend an afternoon on Orcas hiking Turtleback Mountain in early November. The San Juan Preservation Trust has been expanding the trail system and each visit we explore new side trails. There are many new benches for a picnic lunch or to sit and take in the majestic views. The Gary Oaks restoration project is in full swing on the site as well. Thank goodness we worked up an appetite for a fabulous dinner at Inn at Ship Bay. We enjoyed a leisurely farm to fork dinner. Everything was perfectly exquisite especially the charcuterie platter featuring house made Speck prepared from Mangalista pigs they raise on-site. With a belly full of food and our soul satiated, we headed back to Friday Harbor.
The 2nd annual Friday Harbor Film Festival was another success. Filmmakers traveled from all over the world to share their films and be available for Q & A. The downtown was quite a buzz November 9-11 with filmmakers, producers, volunteers and audience members vying to screen more than 40 documentaries available each day from 10 am – 10 p.m. Due to overwhelming audience demand, the festival serendipitously extended the festival a fourth day to repeat a few more screenings of popular films. The Audience Choice Award went to Return of the River, about the Elwa dam removal and subsequent restoration efforts to the environment and salmon runs. They are already planning for 2015 and will accept submissions after Jan. 1, 2015. Throughout the winter, they will host screenings from this year’s festival twice per month on Tuesday evenings at the Grange.
We hope you agree that fall is a great time to visit!
We are saddened to learn of the passing of L120. L120 was barely 7 weeks old when he or she was not seen with her 23 year old mother L86 and was presumed dead. L86 lost her 3 year old female offspring last February, as the result of severe acoustic trauma. Her body washed up along Long Beach, Washington. With a 50% mortality rate in the first year, this news in not necessarily out of the ordinary, yet it is deeply troubling to the Southern Resident Killer Whale Population whose numbers now total 78 members.They were listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act in 2005 The passing of L120 shows we must work harder towards understanding and conserving the environment for these animals.
The San Juan Island Whale Museum has a few suggestions on how we can all help preserve the biodiversity of our surroundings:
• Go sulphate free, sulphates break down the bodies of small organisms.
• Use baking soda as a household cleaner in lieu of other harmful chemicals. It is inexpensive and efficient.
• Say no to pesticides.
• Choose reusable canvas bags instead of plastic bags that are toxic to marine life.
If we all do our small part…..
I received an e-newsletter from one of the top restaurants in the country. The article mused about the changed paradigm of doing business with the Internet. Hasn’t everything changed whether you are in business or not?
So when they first started developing a body of online reviews, they dismissed the bad ones as unprofessional scrutiny. “Wow! How arrogant! How could you not listen to your guests?” This establishment knew no other way to measure their success except by the number of Michelin Stars or AAA Diamonds they earned.
They finally made a 360 degree turnaround in their thinking. They began to see the reviews as a way to engage their customers in a constructive dialogue that would improve their service and deliver more of what their patrons wanted. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
When we started running the Inns 10 years ago, online reviews were always part of the equation. We read and respond to every piece of feedback we receive whether in conversation, email, snail mail or in-room comment cards. These comments helped shape our business and we thank you for your candor. There are times we feel beaten down by less than positive feedback and other times overjoyed when we implemented a suggestion that was noticed. We know you wouldn’t tell us if you didn’t care.
We look for that kernel of truth and reflect as a team to make your experience better. The bar is constantly raised, by our guests, our competition and more importantly by us. This time of year, we are going through every inch of the Inns and implementing many of your suggestions to meet the challenge.
In the spring we can’t wait to share all the changes we made. Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.
We had such a fabulous turn out on our first two world tours, Coho Restaurant’s third Global Cuisine tours begins in November. Instead of jet setting from country to country each week, we are planning a “Slow Food” tour. We will savor the cuisine of each country for 3-4 weeks and then travel on. This will give us more time to savor and explore the distinctive flavors of regional cooking.
Starting on November 12th in the southern Italy, we will feature dishes from Sicily. Then we will travel north to Rome, Tuscany, Liguria and Piedmonte. After our winter recess, we will pick up our tour in France. Chef Bill will offer a special 3-course prix fixe dinner each Wednesday in addition to our regular menu. We’ll also feature some of our favorite wines during our travels. Great value along with great food!
November 12 – Sicily
November 19 – Rome
November 26 – Tuscany
December 10 – Liguria
December 17 – Piedmonte
We look forward to having you for dinner.
Join Chris Primus, winemaker from San Juan Vineyards for our 7th annual wine dinner, Friday October 17th at 6 p.m. at Coho Restaurant.
Chef Bill Messick’s autumnal 6 course menu is paired with five wines – $45/person food + $25 for wine pairing. Make a night of it – the Tucker House Inn will offer $99 queen Jacuzzi guest rooms for those attending the dinner.
Lobster Summer Rolls
Napa Cabbage, Cucumber, Crispy Wonton
Ponzu Dipping Sauce
Chardonnay 2013, Yakima Valley
Crispy Veal Sweetbreads
Sweet Potato Puree, Lacinato Kale
Siegerrebe 2013, Puget Sound (Estate)
Braised Duck Leg Cannelloni
Wild Mushrooms, Baby Spinach
Sangiovese 2010, Yakima Valley & Horse Heaven Hills
Pumpkin Risotto, Caramelized Parsnips
Cabernet Franc 2010, Horse Heaven Hills
Cabernet France 2011, Horse Heaven Hills
Almond Crumb Topping, Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Riesling 2013, Yakima Valley