Native PNW Delicacies & Where to Eat Them

One of my favorite things about living on the Olympic Peninsula is the access to high-quality, local foods from region’s farmers, foragers, fishermen, artisans, and chefs.

When I drive through the Chimacum Valley, the historic farming community approximately 20 minutes from Port Townsend, I am always intrigued about what the farmers are growing because the fruits of their labor, grown with hardwork and love, will inevitably end up on the plates at local, farm-to-table restaurants.

There is no bad time to enjoy PNW delicacies but late summer is an especially great time to enjoy just a few of the native treats of the Pacific Northwest. Here are just a few of our favorite local foods and our favorite places to enjoy them.


 Photo Credit:  Washington.edu

Photo Credit: Washington.edu

Blackberries

All year Washingtonians stare at these weeds along the streets, at the park, and in their backyard until finally in late summer these weeds finally grow flowers and then those flowers become what I lovingly call nature’s candy due to their sweet, sweet flavor. Blackberries are a part of the rose family, hence their prickly thorns. There are a few local varieties including the Himalayan, Trailing, and the Highbush.

Our favorite ways & places to enjoy blackberries:


 Photo Credit:  Wildfoodism.com

Photo Credit: Wildfoodism.com

Mushrooms

One of the Olympic Peninsula’s finest treasure hunts is for edible mushrooms, you can find wild mushrooms year round but especially during the fall when rainy season begins. The region is home to edible mushrooms like chanterelles, morels, lobster mushrooms and more.

Certain varieties like morels and truffles are a luxury ingredient. Morels are grow in an oval shape with a honeycomb texture with their color can ranging from yellow to gray. Their texture is unique, it is meaty with an earthy flavor.  

Our favorite ways & places to enjoy mushrooms:

All of our local farm-to-table restaurants serve wild Olympic Peninsula mushrooms cultivated by foragers but due to the nature of foraging it is often served as a special and not as a regular dish on the menu.

A Few of our Farm-to-Table Favorites:


 Photo Credit:  Hama Hama Oysters

Photo Credit: Hama Hama Oysters

Seafood

Whether it is salmon, oysters, clams, shrimp, mussels, crab or prawns the PNW and Port Townsend is the place to enjoy local seafood. Many of our local restaurants pride themselves on serving locally-sourced seafood including Finistere in Port Townsend and The Fireside in nearby Port Ludlow.

At The Fireside expect to find dishes on the menu like Local Steamer Clams, and Grilled Garlic Shrimp. Finistere always has an oyster menu as well as snacks like smoked salmon dip and entrees including Cape Cleare Coho Salmon.

Seafood is abundant in the region and if it is what you’re looking for, I promise, you won’t have to look far and wide!

Our favorite ways & places to enjoy seafood:

  • Hama Hama Oysters is a 5th generation oyster farm you can visit and eat oysters until you can eat no more. Hama Hama is just over an hour from Port Townsend. If you’re looking to stay closer to town, Hama Hama typically does a pop-up at Finnriver on Sundays, but make sure to check the Finnriver food calendar before planning your visit.

  • Enjoy a smoked salmon sandwich and other smoked salmon treats from the Cape Cleare Salmon Wagon. You can find the salmon wagon at the Farmers Market on Saturdays in Port Townsend or on Wednesdays at Finnriver in Chimacum on Wednesday afternoons.

  • Seafood Paella with local mussels, clams, prawns, and calamari from Paella House. You can find their booth the Farmers Market (and they cater!)  


 Photo Credit: Finnriver

Photo Credit: Finnriver

Apples

Each Washington State apple is handpicked starting in August and continuing into November. Washington is the largest apple producer in the US. There are approximately 2500 known varieties of apples in the US and eight primary varieties grow locally: Red Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, and Braeburn. Pink Ladies are my favorite, They are so crisp and flavorful!

Our favorite ways & places to enjoy apples:

  • Pick up an organic WA apple from the PT Co-op and pair with a slice of Mt. Townsend cheese

  • Cider! The Olympic Peninsula Cider Route is a great way to taste ciders from three of local cideries, Finnriver, Alpenfire, and Eaglemount.

  • One of my favorite sandwiches of all time is the Farmer Ed sandwich featuring shaved apple at Howell’s Sandwich Co in downtown Port Townsend. The sandwich has Apple, Purple Carrot, Sweet Onion, Lettuce, Goat Cheese, Lively Olive Italian Herb Oil, Served Toasted on Ciabatta Bread.


 Photo Credit:  SeattleTimes.com

Photo Credit: SeattleTimes.com

Walla Walla Onions

Walla Walla Onions are one of my favorite vegetables. Raw, sauteed, or caramelized. On pizzas, salads or burgers, I just adore them! They’re sweet and delicious. Walla Walla Onions also happen to be the official Washington State vegetable. Walla Walla is a Native American word meaning “many waters” which makes sense as this onion  has a high water content and can only be stored for about two weeks in a cool, dry area. Their season runs from summer to early-fall.

Our favorite ways & places to enjoy Walla Walla Onions:

  • Stop by the Lively Olive Tasting Bar and pick up a variety of Walla Walla Sweet Onion Mustard in flavors like original, horseradish, and smoky bacon!

  • Make a salad! Pick up an organic Walla Walla Onion from Red Dog Farm or the PT Coop add it to a green salad or make an Onion and Avocado salad. Peel and chop the onion and an avocado or two. Toss both with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon or lime juice, your favorite seasonings like cumin, cayenne, or zaatar and add salt to taste.

  • And of course, the Farmers Market!

 

Sources:
UntamedFeast.com
BestApples.com
SpecialtyProduce.com
TheSpruceEats.com