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Short flight to a world-class meal: San Juan Islands

Tara Austen Weaver | May 1, 2011 | Story Travel Further Afield

I miss the coastal weekends of my childhood—small inns without phones, empty beaches, long walks in the woods—which was exactly why Lummi, the San Juan island without the tourist trade, was so appealing. A six-minute ferry ride whisked me from the coast town of Bellingham and onto Lummi’s rocky beaches and mossy hiking trails. Locals waved as they drove by, and I quickly downshifted to the island’s slow pace. that afternoon found me pedaling down roads so quiet, I was able to ride my bike like a kid—down the middle, without concern for traffic—as farmland and fishing shacks rolled by. That night, at the historic Willows Inn (Lummi’s only lodging apart from a handful of rental houses), I took in the island’s headliner: local flavors courtesy of Blaine Wetzel, one of the world’s best chefs. Fresh off a stint at Copenhagen’s famous restaurant noma, and sporting a recent award nomination from the James Beard foundation, Wetzel crafts island produce and seafood into swooninducing dishes. Salmon, oysters, and crab pulled from nearby waters are paired with foraged herbs, seaweed, and mushrooms and seasonal vegetables grown in the inn’s gardens (here local is defi ned by blocks, not miles). Sipping wine as the sun sank into the ocean, one eye out for resident orcas that might swim past, I felt that my nostalgia had most definitely been rewarded.

THE WILLOWS INN: 2579 W. SHORE DR., LUMMI ISLAND, WA, 360-758-2620, WILLOWS-INN.COM, ROOMS FROM $165



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