lummi island wine tasting november 21 ’15

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Friday Breads (email us to get on the preorder mailing list! )

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Ciabatta with Whole Wheat – A rustic ciabatta with bread flour and fresh milled whole wheat with two pre-ferments– a poolish and an italian biga, yielding such high hydration dough that is simply cut into pieces before baking. – $5/piece.

Cranberry Walnut – This is a yeast bread loaded with eggs, butter, buttermilk and a bit of sugar, and stuffed with dried cranberries and walnuts and a little lemon to enhance the flavor. A great bread for Thanksgiving- $5/loaf.

Individual Brioche Tart au Sucre – Made with a rich, buttery brioche dough that is loaded with butter, eggs and sugar, rolled into individual tart pans then topped with a mixture of demerara sugar, eggs, cream and butter. Yum!- 2/$5


Round the County Race 2015

dscn1369 (Modified)For some reason it is always a surprise that the second weekend of November brings the annual Round the County (San Juan County, that is) sailing race. Each year about eighty boats gather to begin the race in West Sound near the Orcas Island Yacht Club on Saturday morning, in turn rounding Orcas, Clark, Sucia, and Patos before stopping for the night at Roche Harbor. On Sunday they set out again on the completion leg down the west side of San Juan Island, east of Lopez, Decatur, and Blakely Islands to finish again at Lydia Shoal near Obstruction Island, a total of some 76 miles. In November. Rain or shine. (on a personal note, 50 years ago a similarly seasoned all-night race in Chesapeake Bay convinced me ever after to Devoutly Eschew hours and days on end of being Wet, Cold, and Tired…!) So hats off, lads, to these stalwart sailors, misguided yes, but in their own tragic way Heroic as well!

What all this means to us on Lummi with a view toward Orcas is an unexpected annual spectacle in the deepening autumn gloom. More often than not the weather is bright and breezy when sometime in late morning the second Saturday of November a long line of sailboats, colorful spinnakers flying, threads up Haro Strait between us and Clark Island. This year was by far the worst weather in many years, with strong winds from the South gusting over 40 kts under brooding, rain-laden clouds, making the boats fly by in Demon-Driven Droves…


Fall Color

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We pass this little tree each day on the noontime dog walk. Today it seems to have something on its mind…something about Bold Color, something about its Turkey-like geometry…






On the Mend

 Both of you regular readers of this blog will recall that two months ago our sweet little sailboat Dream Time had rather a Bad Day. Blown onto rocks by an unseasonable gale, she sustained major hull damage, not to mention serious flooding, repeatedly over several days.


dscn1371So it is with a sense of Relief and, indeed, Affection for this little boat that we can report that she is Almost Ready to come out of the Shop after several weeks of serious Rehab. True, there is still much to do cosmetically, but in the World of Boats, Seaworthy is perhaps the first and Most Enduring Desirable Quality. Stay tuned!





Second Reminder: Closed for Thanksgiving

photo credit: “Wild Turkey,” by Rodney Campbell: “A male wild turkey begins to turn blue(!) as it becomes agitated.” (…we can all SO relate!)

wildturkeyOver the years we have come to realize that Winter unofficially begins around here on Thanksgiving weekend. Though we have variously tried opening the wine shop the Wednesday before, or the day or weekend after, or even for a few hours on Turkey Day itself for the odd Wine Emergency, history has taught us that it’s a good time just to step back and take some Time Off, cuz most of you folks have Other Plans, usually with Family. Well, this year…so do we!

Therefore, please note that we will be open as usual this weekend (Nov 20-21), and then closed Thanksgiving Weekend (November 26-29). We will be open the first three weekends in December as usual. Also you Old-Timers should note that we ARE planning to continue our traditional “East Coast” New Year’s Eve Party from 7-9 on December 31. More on that later!

This week’s wine tasting

San Martino Prosecco    Italy     $11
Pale straw yellow in colour, aromatic and elegant nose (unusual in prosecco), with notes of apple and banana; pleasantly full and harmonious on the palate.

D’Orschwihr Gewurztraminer Bollenberg ’12 Alsace $18
Shows its intensity through its golden yellow color. The mouth shows aromas of peach, passion fruit with cooked fruits. Very delicate, the sweetness can hardly be felt behind the liveliness of the wine.
Airfield Estates Merlot ’13 Washington $14
Slightly muted nose with dill, red cherry and raspberry. There are flavors of red cherry, pomegranate, dill and milk chocolate. Silky texture with good balance.

Le Rote Chianti Colli Senesi ’11 Italy $14
Rich, chewy, dark fruit evolves into a smooth palate with notes of black cherry and sweet tobacco.

Betz Besoleil ’11    Washington    92+pts  $45
Grenache-dominant Rhone blend; Sexy aromas of red berries, cherry, lavender and rose petal; suave and weightless in the mouth, with bright red fruit and floral flavors with thyme, lavender and pepper nuances. Lovely and juicy with excellent intensity and saline grip.


Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting november 15 ’15

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Friday Breads (email us to get on the preorder mailing list! )

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Breton – Made with bread, buckwheat, and fresh milled rye flours and sel gris – french gray sea salt – it has all the flavors of the brittany region this is a great bread for meat, cheese or a nice fruit chutney – $5/loaf.

Cinnamon Raisin Made with bread flour, fresh milled whole wheat, and oatmeal. Milk, honey and cinnamon soften the crumb, adding a bit of sweetness and great flavor, with the cinnamon and raisins mixed right into the loaf. Makes great toast- $5/loaf.

Sweet Rolls – These delicious rolls are made with a rich, egg filled sweet dough that is rolled out, spread with pastry cream and topped with cinnamon sugar. Then rolled up and cut and baked into individual sweet rolls. – 2/$5,


Review review 

Over the last few years we locals have become accustomed to the constant stream of rave reviews of the Lummi Island’s Now World Famous Willows Inn, beginning with that iconic NY Times piece a couple of years ago about “10 Restaurants in the World Worth a Plane Ride.” Most of us have even read a few of them, but, Really, there are So Many who could possibly keep up?

So it was a point of curiosity a few days ago when a friend suggested he had just read what he considered the Best Review of the Willows so far, and, having read it, I have to agree! This is a piece by self-defined food lover (please, NOT “foodie”!) Susy Bando. It is not at all clear where she lives or how she came to this vocation of chronicling her visits to the world’s Most Trendy restaurants. All you need to know is that, Unencumbered by any need whatsoever to be Brief, through her chatty prose and suberb photos she provides the absolute Next Best Thing to actually visiting these amazing restaurants. You can find her entry on the Willows here. Happy reading!

Studio Tour Weekend

meredith 2This year’s November Studio Tour is something of a landmark for us, as it is the first year ever that we have not officially participated. For one thing, we are still showing Meredith Moench’s terrific watercolors that we put up for the Labor Day Tour. But, more important, it feels increasingly Grueling to be open all day both Saturday and Sunday to comply with the Studio Tour protocols.

Therefore, we WILL be open our regular hours (Fri 4-7, Sat 2-6) rather than the more demanding tour hours (Sat-Sun 10-6) the next two weekends, and closed Thanksgiving weekend. As the accompanying photo shows, Meredith’s work is a great Foreground for you art lovers and Background for you wine lovers! So if by some unfortunate chance you have not come by since Labor Day to check it out, this is a great opportunity to do so!


Closed for Thanksgiving

photo credit: “Wild Turkey,” by Rodney Campbell: “A male wild turkey begins to turn blue(!) as it becomes agitated.” (…we can all SO relate!)

wildturkeyOver the years we have come to realize that Winter unofficially begins around here on Thanksgiving weekend. We have variously tried opening the wine shop the Wednesday before, or the day or weekend after, or even for a few hours on Turkey Day itself for the odd Wine Emergency. But history has taught us that it’s a better time just to step back and take some Time Off, cuz most of you folks have Other Plans, usually with Family. Well, this year…so do we!

Therefore, please note that we will be open as usual this weekend (Nov 13-14…see above), and then closed Thanksgiving Weekend (November 26-29). Of course the Observant among you will notice that (OMD!) Thanksgiving this year is about as close as it can possibly get to December! And Winter! (I’m not making this up!).  But Please Relax–  this is just a first notice that after Thanksgiving weekend we will be open the next three weekends in December as usual. More important for some of you Old-Timers, at present we ARE planning to continue our traditional “East Coast” New Year’s Eve Party from 7-9 on December 31. More on that later!


This week’s wine tasting

J. Laurens Cremant de Limoux Rose    France      $14
 A longtime favorite here at AWG–Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, and Pinot Noir; shows a gentle yeastiness, effusive effervescence and rich, tangy, mouth-filling fruit. Makes just about anything Festive!

Arndorfer Gruner Veltliner ’13    Austria     $18
A touch of neutral oak gives a soft edge to “geevee’s” characteristic floral bouquet, bright acidity, appealing layers of flavor, and minerally character.

Borsao Garnacha ’13    Spain $9
Expressive aromas of blackberry, licorice and and fruitcake aromas; Juicy, spicy and supple, sweet, red and dark berry flavors; finishes fresh, focused and nicely persistent.

Antonio Sanguineti Chianti  ’13      Italy       $12
From Small Vineyards co-founder Antonio Sanguineti; friendly, approachable style that is rich and powerful, yet a great everyday wine that enhances many dishes.

Lost River Nebbiolo ’12 Washington $25
Lighter than its famous Italian counterparts barolo and barbaresco, yet showing classic nebbiolo notes of violets and tar on a smooth frame of cherry and strawberry…absolutely delightful!

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting november 7 ’15

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Friday Breads (email us to get on the preorder mailing list! )

dscn1364 (Modified)Whole Wheat – Made with about equal amounts of bread flour and fresh milled whole wheat and just a little honey to balance the grain this is a great all around artisan bread – $5/loaf.

Multi-Grain – Made with bread flour as well as fresh milled whole wheat and rye flours and a mix of flax, sunflower and sesame seeds. This bread is packed with flavor and has a nice chewy crust and crumb. A great rustic bread that goes well with all sorts of meats and cheeses – $5/loaf

Croissants – Plain and Chocolate, what more can I say. Made with a little sourdough for a nice tang and using european butter to create the laminated layers these are truly a delight. I’ve heard some say that they didn’t have croissants this good even in Paris! A delicious treat! -2/$5



The Big Seven-Zero

On the occasion this week of having enjoyed my 70th (OMD!) birthday, I am of course moved to try to make sense of this experience we call “Life.” But, So Sorry, I am pretty much drawing a Blank! I can tell you that my current fantasy about the Meaning of Meaning* leads me to “String Theory” for some illumination. Unfortunately,  the Physics I studied in some depth fifty years ago has almost nothing to do with the Profound Esotericism of Modern Physics, or the Nature of Reality which it seems to imply. Although I know practically Nothing about Modern Physics, I find that I am, at my Advanced Age, completely comfortable with making up my own Current Fantasy of Reality.

Briefly, the Ten-Dimensional Model seems to suggest that every moment in the Time-Space Continuum continually splits into an Infinite Number of Contingent Universes, and Yes,  that is Really Hard to get your Head Around. Scary, even. But the Somewhat Comforting Fantasy of the Moment (remember, I am officially an Old Guy now!) is that one Take-away from that is that we all live an Infinite Infinity of lives. There’s the infinite number of lives you have lived if the Nazis and the Japanese had won WWII, the ones you lived if you hadn’t told So-and-So to F*#k Off, the ones where you actually Died Quite Young for whatever reason, and so On and On and On…you know, it’s kind of Heavy, huh…?

SO, given that we are All Here Together in This One, Tidy, seemingly Linear Existence/Experience, I wish to place my palms together and bow to each and every one of you in Gratitude for having shared this one Very Particular Reality with you. Each moment shared with all of you in all of these Infinities is a Treasure for which I am Deeply Grateful.   See video!


Marlborough Pinot Noir

photo credit: Jessica Jones Photography, NZ

Pinot noir– you know, the starring grape varietal in the movie Sideways, is fairly picky about where it wants to grow. It likes hot days, cool nights, and a relatively dry climate. It does well, most famously, in the Burgundy region of France, which is inland along the Rhone River, relatively far north, where soils vary wildly among parcels, and growing seasons can be short. It also does well in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where it is a bit hotter and wetter, and the wines tend to be a little bigger. Head to California, with more sun and cool coastal nights, and pinot really thrives, getting rich in both flavor and texture.

Another place where pinot noir does very well is New Zealand. In particular, it does well on the north end of the South Island, in Marlborough. The South Island is very mountainous, and pinot seems to take a shine to the combination of northern sun exposure (it IS the Southern Hemisphere!) and the cooling effect of the ocean and the mountains. In each location pinot takes on a regional personality, as this weekend’s NZ pinot demonstrates– it’s definitely pinot noir, and definitely not from any of those other places mentioned above, but it’s good! Come by and check it out!


This week’s wine tasting

La Staffa Verdicchio Classico ’13             Italy       $18
Subdued aromas of stone fruits and herbs; rounder and more intense in the mouth, with marzipan and orchard fruit flavors and length, finishing with a peppery note and fresh acidity.

Coopers Creek Marlborough Pinot Noir ’10   NZ    $17
Mid-red, going slightly brick on the edge. Dark cherry and strawberry on the nose, but with definite savoury, earthy, forest floor complexities showing. Medium bodied, with tannins still very much there, but beautifully velvety.

Chateau Montfaucon Baron Louis ’11 France $18
A co-fermented blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvedre. Its dense ruby/purple color is followed by sumptuous
notes of raspberries, kirsch, spring flowers and loamy, earthy soil.

Altarocca Librato Rosso ’13      Italy     $18

Unoaked blend of canniolo and cab franc from volcanic soil; zesty, spicy, dark, and smooth, with a hint of eucalyptus on the finish. Terrific!

Lost River Walla Walla Syrah ’11    Washington    $25
Dense and peppery, with rich texture to the purple plum, currant and floral flavors, coming together against crinkly tannins on the expressive finish.

Wine Tasting

lummi island wine tasting Halloween weekend ’15

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Friday Breads (email us to get on the preorder mailing list! )

dscn1364 (Modified)Barley Rye with Pumpkin Seeds – What to do with all those pumpkin seeds? Why put them in bread of course! This bread is a nice mix of flours, regular bread, barley, fresh milled rye, and whole wheat with a little buttermilk and honey along with those pumpkin seeds. – $5/loaf.

Semolina Levain – Made with bread and semolina flours with a touch of freshly milled whole wheat and a bit of butter which softens the crumb. Semolina makes for a beautiful golden loaf and adds a nice nutty flavor. – $5/loaf

Egg Bread with Honey & Dried Apples- Aka “the best Shiksa Challah ever.” This bread is loaded with eggs, honey, butter, milk and apples. Then, instead of braiding into a large challah loaf it is made into a single braid roll and sprinkled with poppy seeds. A delicious treat – 2/$5


Reflection Reflection

dscn1362 (Modified)Again today. saw Heron on today’s walk. Again didn’t have camera ready when it spotted us, took off, landed further down the slough, so settled for a shot after landing. As you can see in the reflection, LI’s reefnet fishing boats have now been hauled out for the season, and Heron stands in their reflection amid a Monet-inspiring fall tapestry…!




Happy Halloween!

dscn1360 (Modified)Last week our friend Sam came in ready for Halloween, just a week early! Those glowing pumpkins on her head bob around merrily (or ominously, as you prefer) as she moves, reminding us that this Saturday is Halloween and we are Open for our usual hours, 2-6! Guests are encouraged to don costumes, face paint, Hallow-bling (?) and the like in celebration (yes, Friday, too, why not?).

Most original “costumes” win free tastings!*

(* yes, yes, clip-on pumpkins Are Cute, but you are gonna need Something More to get those free tastings…just sayin’!)



Lamenting the Loss of the Free Press

Okay, so I admit I am Grumpy about the Debates. It’s a Small Thing, really, and now I’ve had time to reflect on it, I do find I am more Accepting. But, yes…still Grumpy. That’s because out here on the Fringes of Civilization, there hasn’t been Free TV for a decade, since TV went Digital. Before that, we were quite content for fifteen or twenty years with the daily rituals of holding the Rabbit Ears in one hand and carrying them around the living room, holding them This Way and That Way in order to bring in one of the three or four stations available (sort of) to us. During those years our primary choices were Canadian, and we learned a lot about Canadian politics and “humor,” and that was fun. I regret to say that picture quality was never sufficient actually to follow the puck in any of the eighteen or so hockey games broadcast every day for, oh, eight or nine months of the year, so I never have figured out what exactly was going on on the ice; but, ah, I digress.

The point here is that for the last ten years or so, we have not been able to access Ordinary Television. Internet, yes, Television, no. That’s because with the Shift to Digital, it became impossible to watch television without a Cable Connection. Fast forward to Now: if you are a Citizen with a Legitimate Interest in the Next Election, and you want to watch or listen to the Candidates’ Debates, you must purchase a Cable Subscription. Just think about that for a minute, because it’s a little breathtaking, another Important Public Perk (read: “right”) that the Corporations managed to Privatize and Charge us for.

Maybe it has always been this way. Maybe we Elders happened to grow up in some Halcyon period when the technology of radio and television outpaced for a few decades our genetic predisposition to Feudalism/Oligarchy, so maybe I should be grateful for the giddy little lapse we enjoyed between WWII and Ronald Reagan. But I have to say, at some gut level, I am Very Disturbed by the fact that unless you pay, you can’t listen to or watch debates among the candidates for President of our Country. I mean, really, is this Really Happening?

Neverclear Tonic Water

According to legend, an Inca suffering from malaria some 500 years ago took a drink from a pool of water under a cinchona tree and was cured. However, the first documented use of cinchona bark against malaria was 1630, also in Peru,  and for the next 300 years quinine (kwahy-nahyn) extracted from its bark was the only known “cure” for malaria across the world. British soldiers in India, required to take quinine daily to ward off malaria, found that in therapeutic doses it was unpleasantly bitter. Informal but motivated research eventually proved that mixing it with soda water (and maybe some lime) made it much more palatable and no less effective. Thus began the evolution of the gin and tonic!

The first commercial tonic water was produced in 1858. Though it has been nearly a hundred years since quinine was used against malaria, the bitter refreshment of “tonic water” has remained popular worldwide. Unfortunately it is often sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or sugar, and the quinine itself is extracted from the bark using heavy-duty hydrochoric or sulfuric acid.

Enter our Local Hero, Jim Campbell, who, finding those techniques were Too Harsh, has developed a more user-friendly extraction technique using citric acid. He then combines the quinine with his own natural herbal extracts to make his Tonic Water Syrup: just add soda water and lime (and gin or vodka as you prefer), and Voila, the World’s Best G&T, Natural and Delicious! link

And YES, we ARE pouring samples this weekend (sorry, no gin or vodka!)


This week’s wine tasting

Mionetto Gran Rosé sparkling wine     Italy   $16
An unusual blend of Lagrein and Rabosa; Persistent bubbles with notes of pink grapefruit, pomegranate and black currant, with a hint of wild roses, with intense flavors of fresh raspberry and refreshing acidity.

Cougar Crest Viognier ’14    Washington    $14
Heady floral, citrus, and melon aromas aromas; rich texture with pear, peach and tropical fruit flavors and a smooth honey-like finish.

Anciano 5-year Tempranillo   Spain    $11
From 30-year old vines; aged one year in oak and four bottle. Dense aromas and flavors of rich fruit compote, vanilla, coconut, and licorice, and soft tannins– a great value!

Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico ’08    Italy           $14
Spicy red currant, strawberry and herbs on the nose, with tobacco and smoke nuances emerging with air. Pliant red berry and succulent herb flavors show an appealing sweetness, buffered by fresh minerality.

Lost River Massif ’12    Washington    $27
80% Malbec, 20% Cab Sauv; a big, dark red wine with dense but supple tannins, a deep mid-palate of blackberry flavors, and a long, satisfying finish.

Wine Tasting