Where else can you celebrate the birth–the first in more than a decade–of a new Orca calf, dine at a Roman restaurant, journey to islands accessible only by ferry, attend a re-enactment of the Pig War Crisis, try the latest IPA from the only brewery in the San Juan Islands, taste the newest sparkling wine in a limited release from an island winery, and listen to a podcast by the creator of San Juan Sea Salt? I can’t think of any place by the enchanting San Juan Islands,
The romantic sounds of the ferries beckon as make their way across the waters, carrying passengers from the mainland to Lopez, San Juan, and Orcas, three of the archipelago of 172 named islands and reefs in San Juan County. Located off the coast of Washington State, four ferry service the most populous Islands: San Juan Island home to Friday Harbor, the county seat Friday Harbor, Orcas Island, Lopez Island and Shaw Island. These three offer the majority of lodging and dining options and tourism activities.
A New K…K…Killer Whale
For the first time in more than a decade, there’s a new calf in the endangered orca group known as K Pod. Recently the Center for Whale Research (CWR) field biologist Mark Malleson and his colleagues confirmed that K20 ‘Spock’ was traveling with a new calf, after previously receiving video and photographs of a possible new calf earlier this year (April and June). These captured images of K20 with her new baby traveling in a tight group with other family members. K45 is the first calf born into K Pod since 2011 when K27 ‘Deadhead’ gave birth to K44 ‘Ripple’ (male). The mother, K20 (born 1986), is part of the K13 matriline and has two siblings, K27 ‘Deadhead’ (female, born 1994) and K34 ‘Cali’ (male, born 2001). Spock is also the mother to K38 ‘Comet’ (male, born in 2004).
On the Food and Restaurant Front
Aloha to the Orcas Hotel
Owner and Chef John Cox, with wife Julia Felder, have opened a new restaurant at the landmark Orcas Hotel. Norbu’s joins the classic Orcas Café with a Hawaiian-inspired menu featuring fresh, tropical flavors using the best ingredients, including tuna direct from the Honolulu Fish Auction and a wide selection of rare rums and spirits. Norbu’s is open for dinner service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as for a special Jazz Supper Club on Monday evening. For more information, contact John Cox email@example.com or visit www.orcashotel.com/eat-and-drink
Roses Bakery Cafe, in the old fire station building on Prune Alley, was a longtime Orcas Island landmark. It was sold in late 2021, and has been reimagined as Monti, a Roman-inspired restaurant, market, and wine shop. Monti, which is named for a neighborhood in Rome, uses both handmade and dry pasta and offers authentic antipasti, pasta dishes, pizza and more as well as desserts made in house by Brea Currey of Seabird Bakery. The menu features a few changes each week and is influenced by owner Erin Gainey’s deep attachment to Rome, where she lived for periods of time in her youth. Monti is open Friday through Tuesday from 5 to 10 p.m. Reservations can be made at www.montimontimonti.com.
New Chef for New Leaf
Chef Andrew Martin and his wife, executive pastry chef Amy Nack, have been visiting Orcas Island for fifteen years. While their son attended Camp Orkila every summer, Andrew and Amy explored the island, falling more in love with it every year. When the executive chef position opened up at New Leaf Café, despite the uncertainty of COVID, Chef Andrew leapt at the chance. At New Leaf, he’s putting a regional spin on his specialty of Northern Italian cuisine, balancing flavors and textures, and incorporating local ingredients for a delicious brunch menu. One new item is a much talked about Bacon, Lettuce and Avocado sandwich on hearth bread, served with a smoked tomato jam instead of sliced tomato which gives it a sweet savory bite. For more information, contact Ayn Gailey firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.outlookinn.com/newleaf
Events & Exhibits
A Porcine Sesquicentennial
2022 marks the 150th anniversary of what is known as the “Pig War” crisis – a little-known international dispute that shaped Washington State and our country. To celebrate this anniversary, park rangers are bringing back Encampment in August – a weeklong series of reenactments, demonstrations, and other fun activities with more than 50 costumed historical interpreters who will give visitors an opportunity to travel back to the 1800s. Demonstrations that will bring history to life include loom work, metalworking, fur trade, and what life was like for members of the military and their families. In the fall, the park will hold a formal commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the San Juan Boundary Dispute Resolution. For event updates, contact Cyrus Forman email@example.com or visit www.nps.gov/sajh/index.htm
Bison grazed in the meadows of Orcas Island 16,000 years ago. Human beings harvested, butchered and ate bison meat in a meadow near Olga 14,000 years ago. Some of the most complete skeletal remains of prehistoric bison ever discovered were unearthed in 2003 in an excavation in Olga. Archeological staff identified a large male bison, with the head almost completely intact, a smaller male, and one other. A new installation featuring the bison presence and the significance of these particular bones will become part of the museum’s permanent exhibit. “This discover helps validate Indigenous tales of antiquity,” says Antoinette Botsford, exhibit chair. For more information, contact Nancy Stillger firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.orcasmuseums.org/home.html
New Products, Services, & Shops
New Layer at San Juan Brewing Company
Kulshan and San Juan Island Brewing Companies have teamed up to bring beer lovers Marine Layer Cold IPA; a crisp and clean beer with fruit forward hop aromas, a touch of soft pine, and a maritime finish. Right in time to help San Juan Island Brewing celebrate their fifth anniversary, it’s the perfect refreshment when that cold fog bubble bursts and the glorious summer sun returns to the Salish Sea.
The Marine Layer joins a lineup of award-winning beers like the Bull Kelp ESB, Black Boar Porter, and Quarry No. 9 Pale Ale. For more information, contact Sean Aylward email@example.com
Sparkling Sea Rows
The future of the San Juan archipelago is bright and sparkling. Sparkling wine, that is. An extremely limited release, local fruit was hand-harvested and fermented with little intervention to express the terroir of the islands in Archipelago’s 2021 Sea Rows Blanc de Noir. Stunningly aromatic, Sea Rows is the latest in a lineup of pet-nats that push the boundaries in this, the fringe of all winemaking regions.
Thirty-six cases were produced and are due to be released July 31. Archipelago specializes in sparkling wines made in the petillant-naturel style, with minimal intervention. For more information: Marti McConnell firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information: www.whaleresearch.com/2022-37
A Recipe from the San Juan Islands Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma
Grilled Halibut with Maple Rock Farm Greens and a Verjus, White Truffle Vinaigrette
4 each, 6 oz. halibut fillets
8 oz. Maple Rock Farm salad greens
Verjus vinaigrette (recipe follows below)
- 2 Tbs. melted butter
- 2 Tbs. toasted pine nuts
- 1 Tbs. chopped parsley
- 4 cups prepared whipped potatoes or wild rice
Season the halibut with salt and pepper.
Over medium high heat, grill four to five minutes per side (or until your preferred doneness) and set aside.
Gently toss the salad greens in enough vinaigrette to coat the greens liberally.
Plate 1 cup of whipped potatoes or rice in the center of your dinner plate.
Place the dressed greens on the potatoes or rice.
Place the grilled halibut on the salad greens and brush with melted butter.
Garnish the plate with a circle of vinaigrette around the potatoes or rice.
Garnish the halibut with pine nuts and chopped parsley.
Verjus, White Truffle Vinaigrette
- 2 shallots
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup local Mt. Baker Vineyards Verjus
- 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
- 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup white truffle oil
- 4 Tbs. chopped parsley
Place all ingredients above into a blender and process until smooth.
Add salt and pepper to taste.