Photo: Chef Larry Piaskowy enjoying the local bounty. King Boletes a.k.a. porcini a.k.a. cepe mushrooms.
Jim's birthday was on Tuesday. To celebrate, we went to
I used to work with Larry at Cowgirl Creamery. He's a chef by trade, having stood behind the stove at places like Indigo in San Francisco. He took several months off to learn more about the world of cheese. An opportunity came up to buy this restaurant and two years ago he and his partner Jennifer packed up a truck and left the wilds of the Bay Area and landed in Ilwaco. Jim's birthday was the first opportunity we've had to see Larry and Jenn in over two years.
The drive was easy and scenic. It took us 2 ½ hours to make it from
We stayed in the Lewis and Clark room at the China Beach Retreat, a B&B just outside of town. The room had a view that encompassed the river, marsh, wetlands, and
Photo: Clam Chowder at the Port Bistro.
Larry makes a mean bowl of clam chowder. He uses fresh, local clams. Not a can in sight. This chowder is rich and explodes with flavor. It has been getting noticed, too. The steak that Larry prepared was perfectly seasoned and so tender that I could cut it with a fork. This steer did not die in vain. Jim's salmon was just as skillfully prepared. They treated us well and Jim had a fantastic birthday dinner. It was a thrill to eat at the Port Bistro.
We had the good fortune to meet Veronica, his mushroom forager. Larry and Jennifer joined us for breakfast on Wednesday at the Shelburne Inn. A woman came out of the kitchen with a basket of Porcini mushrooms. She was going a mile a minute and wanted to show off her morning's work. Larry and I went out to her car to see her efforts.Photo: Veronica's mushrooms. Soon to be on the menu.
Her Mini was filled with crate of mushrooms. Lobsters, porcini, chanterelles, hedgehogs, hen of the woods, were all to be had, along with a bucket of huckleberries, and a big bag of pickleweed (Salicornia virginica.) I was in love. I want to be like this Gypsy senior citizen when I grow up. She was a riot.
Jim and I went to Jimella's Seafood Market and Community Store upon Larry's recommendation. Jimella and Nanci used to own The Ark (now closed,) a pioneering restaurant focusing on local, Northwest cuisine. Their oysters came from 50 yards away in
"No reservations!" she declared. "Just come in and grab a table. If you have to wait, grab a chair." She was fun to talk to. She called a local fellow, also named Larry. He has goats and used to work at Jumpin' Good Goat Dairy. He and his wife want to get licensed and make cheese, too. Nice how folks want to help us network.
Photo: Jimella's Seafood Market
We left Jimella's after eating some great clam chowder and headed up to
We managed to catch Jimella's friend Larry later in the afternoon. He was in his garage, sanding part of a spar on a sailboat. He welcomed us with a big smile, and we chatted about goats, cheesemaking, organic gardening, and oyster farming. He was an oysterman for 25 years, providing oysters to many restaurants including the
We had another excellent meal at Pelicano, another harbor restaurant in Ilwaco. We had well prepared steaks and salmon and got to watch the boats in the harbor again. The evening wrapped up at the Raven and Finch, a wine bar and café down the block from Pelicano and the Port Bistro. Larry and Jenn joined us, and we sat and chatted over glasses of red wine. It was great seeing them again. Nice to see others following their hearts and living their dreams.
Photo: Larry and Jenn see us off.
Morning came far too quickly. Time to return to the farm. Our animals need us, animals=three cats and one dog. We quietly gathered our things together, ate breakfast, said our goodbyes, picked up a fresh albacore tuna loin from OleBob's Fish Market and returned to