In the span of two months two old friends from my law school days decided to move to the Seattle area and begin again. One of them immediately got herself a gig at a downtown law firm and a house sitting assignment on Whidbey Island.
To celebrate a weekend without her now ridiculous daily commute by bus train and ferry she swooped me up on a Friday night and brought me out for a weekend of exploring.
The sun rose on Saturday morning and we had no coffee.
So our adventure started young in the day to find that islanders really don't open until noon, unless you are the family of P.S. Suisse Pastries & Chocolates in Langley, Washington.
Where you have to order an Americano twice but it comes in a magic Santa mug. They also had other magical things like chocolate Orca cookies
and marzipan animals.
After coffee we found ourselves drawn into Choochokam Arts Festival – we misread it as Chocolate and Arts from the road but soon realized our error.
Nonetheless there were many wonders to be found from lawn art piranhas
to glassy shell-like things
giant metal chickens
and duck eggs at the Chocolate Flower Farm for 50 cents a piece.
I purchased some for dinner and then we enjoyed wine tasting with the wine maker of OM winery with a picturesque view of Puget Sound.
Now hungry we made our way back to Greenbank Farm for a picnic lunch of pickles, raw cheese and huckleberry jam serenaded by seagulls perched atop the barn.
We returned to the homestead for siesta, reading and dog time but not before procuring some clams for dinner with even more visitors from non-Washington origins.
I practiced my beach photography as little baby crabs washed up on the shore at high tide.
And hung out with the dog reading the history of the Washington state ferry system and researching inspiration for clams with red sauce and duck egg use options.
After some research and a review of the tools and spices available to me in the cabin our flavor fate was sealed and more friends were on the ferry heading our direction.
A red sauce of great flavor really just needs a few ingredients – but the richer the start the better. Bacon, butter, garlic, onion, red pepper and red wine could be your only ingredients – they are definitely your flavor buddies. I had chives and oregano on hand so the sauce went a little further than pure simplicity.
Once you have your red sauce bubbling then just add clams and wait for them to open. In our case the clams took a little while to pop so I constructed an art piece for a salad with the duck eggs in the meantime.
Dinner became a feast of taste and conversation as we caught up on opinions, life styles, left ankle and knee injuries and other serendipitous shred experience.
Guitars were played as the sun set and our night on Whidbey came to a close.
Whidbey Island Clams with Red Sauce & Spaghetti
3 strips bacon, chopped
1/4 cup butter
5 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
3 tbsp chives, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tbsp olive oil
28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
16-20 littleneck clams, rinsed
Chop everything you need to chop finely (bacon, onion, garlic and herbs)
Place the bacon and butter in a large cast iron sauce pan on medium heat. Let the bacon cook mostly through.
Add the garlic and onion and cook until onion is translucent then add red pepper flakes, 1/2 the oregano and chives, and olive oil. Mix everything together until well blended.
Pour in 1 cup of red wine, mix and let reduce (cook off) slightly then add can of diced tomatoes. Mix everything well again and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the remainder of the chives, oregano and wine, turn the heat back to medium and add your clams.
Cover the pan and cook until all the clams are open. Should take 10 minutes or less. If clams are not steamed open after at least fifteen minutes, discard those that are unopened.
Serve over spaghetti cooked al denti and enjoy with salad and friends.