Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Rose's Restaurant, Orcas Island, life delicious on the Salish...

No visit {or day, really} on Orcas Island is complete without a meal at Rose's Bakery and Café... and my waistline is suffering for that fact. During the week I spent on Orcas I went to Rose's more days than not.... it was so easy to come up with excuses to go into "town" {aka Eastsound}" which we all knew were codes for "lunch at Rose's", nobody had to be very creative.... "we need bandaids", "let's go to the market to get corn"... "are we without Swiss Army knives"

I was recently asked to name my favorite restaurants in the world, so I quickly composed a list of  dreamy dishes I've written about over the years at places like Chez Vrony, Fidlen, Switzerland, Anjuna Beach Club, Eze Bord-de-Mer, France, The Big Bamboo, Anegada, BVI'sClub 55, Ramatuelle, France, The Taco Bar, Cabo San Lucas, Le Columbe d'Or, St. Paul de Vence, France....

....and then I started thinking about my favorite, relatively local, places I frequent that I have never written about, including this shining gem on Orcas Island. Maybe it's because I'm always so lulled and comforted by the satisfying meals with a French flair I've enjoyed here over the years, but that's no excuse, since these experiences so closely fit my definition of the perfect meal "elegant food in a rustic setting". Rose's truly offers the most elegant food on this remarkable rustic rock, and arguably the entire San Juan archipelago.

The foundation for the goodness of this food is, no surprise, marvelously fresh ingredients.
Orcas is blooming with a number of organic farms which makes the path from farm to table very, very short. Local produce, cheeses, seafood and meats can be found in the heavenly offerings on the menu at Rose's. 

And then there is the wickedly talented chef Dante Miller and his team who create culinary magic on a daily basis {well, not on Sundays}.

His sinfully delicious soups satisfy the soul, lift the spirits and tantalizes the taste buds, like this chicken stew I devoured one day, served over a spread of tender polenta and dotted with briny green olives and plenty of fresh garden vegetables, it was impossible to resist. The meat from the chicken was beyond  falling off the bone tender and the crimson broth was bewitchingly earthy, flavorful and complex.

The next day, I went again, and was so torn between the chicken soup from the day before {I had been possessed by thoughts of it from the moment I woke that morning} and the fish soup {an elegant bouillabaisse}. I gambled on the fish soup {the promise of aioli may have swayed me} and did not leave a droplet of the intense, saffron scented vermilion broth behind.

One dish that is a consistent choice on our visits is one of the thin crusted pizza's made in "Dante's inferno", the pizza oven... a lovely thin, crunchy, toothsome crust, sometimes just a little scorched for extra flavor, topped with cheese, marinara, pancetta and rosemary.... seriously, this pizza shouldn't even be called pizza because it is in an entirely different category, it should be called something like 
"I think I've died and gone to..."

Other menu staples we love are any of the sandwiches, served on their fresh baked, gluten~worthy bread, especially the halibut sandwich with a remoulade sauce, the beet salad with goat cheese, clams linguine and the Salade Nicoise.

Being the shameless hedonist that I am here, I rarely manage to save room for dessert,  but the temptation of butterscotch pudding with molasses cookies was more than I could resist this day. My other favorite dessert is anything topped with their tangy homemade buttermilk ice cream.

In addition to the restaurant, an attached shop offers an assortment of daily breads and desserts fresh from the bakery, cheeses, cured meats, olives, chocolates and other deli delights, a refreshing offering of wines, a unique spread of kitchen supplies and a freezer full of take~home items, including "thou shall not lie" fruit pies, which you can take home and bake off and nobody would know that you hadn't picked all of those peaches, or cherries or apples and put the pie together yourself.... unless they'd been to Rose's.

The third factor that makes Rose's such a special place is the passion, vision and dedication of owners Joni and John Trumbull. When we first started coming to Orcas over a decade ago, they had a small bakery in town that offered the best breads and desserts outside of France. It had started as a bakery/ cafe but soon the bakery and things to go with the breads took over the space. Thankfully, the owners decided to get back into the business of pleasing the palates of local and visiting gourmands and opened this larger den of deliciousness in the islands former fire house. 

Rose's is the result of Joni and John's shared passions and combined talents. John had culinary training in Paris, and learned about wines during a stint at Chateau Montelena in Napa Valley. Joni was a talented home baker who was able to adjust her formulas to a retail scale because the couple knew that good quality, fresh breads were an intregral component for the café they had envisioned. 

This is an inspiring story of 2 people who followed their personal passions {and appetites}, did what they believed in and ended up creating a beloved institution on the island. When I spoke with John, he said they decided to do their best to create something special, with the attitude that if it didn't develop a following, it didn't belong. Stop by any day and you will see that clearly, Rose's "belongs".

The eclectic decor of the current location reflects their passion, style, taste and travels, including art, artifacts, books and even wine buckets from the great champagne houses of France, rich with patina.  

No lunch at Roses's is quite complete without glass chilled of Entre~Deux~Mer

The only disappointment with Rose's is actually a blessing in disguise, because it helps me to not have to move up a jean size each summer, they are not open for dinner. The cafe is open from 8:30 - 4 Monday - Saturday, serving breakfast and lunch. The retail store is open from 10 - 6:00 Monday through Friday and 10 - 5 on Saturday.  

But it's okay, dinner in West Sound can be an enchanting affair. 

If you happen to be heading to the San Juan's you should visit the farmer's market which happens every Saturday May - September in the Village Green at Eastsound from 11 - 2,  and then walk over to Rose's early to get a table. As a back up plan, if the wait is too long, you could buy a loaf of bread, cheese, ham, olives, a fresh baked dessert and bottles of water and wine, then picnic in the adjoining park. 

The restaurant is located at 382 Prune Alley, you can try to get a reservation by calling 360-376-5805, tell China I sent you. 

For more information on how to get closer to this delectable bowl of mussels, click on Orcas Island Chamber of Commerce.

A few off season notes: Rose's is closed for a brief respite the month of January. Also, the Farmers Market moves to the Oddfellows Hall on Haven Street for October and November. 

As a closing note, I asked John if he ever had doubts along the way and he said they were a little concerned about the "low fat" diet craze that was popular when they decided to begin selling an offering an assortment of cheeses to go with the bread, but, as it turned out, once they opened the door they found they had nothing to worry about. 

Further proof to the point that diets may come and go but we'll always have cheese. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Life on the Salish...

I'm looking forward to sharing more highlights from our trip to SE Asia, but right now I am taking the long motor home across the Salish Sea, so I thought I'd try out my mobile blogging skills and share some highlights of living on the Salish Sea.

Worthy of an entire post of its own, we enjoyed many lunches at our beloved Rose's Restaurant, a gem in the San Juan archipelago. 

The epitome of "elegant food in a rustic setting"

We also made many of our favorite meals with friends, including Flank Steak al Grecco...

Washed down with rosé our our favorite Entre du Mer, a perfect summer wine.

After a week on Orcas Island we headed north on the boat. Destination: Desolation Sound.

Where we try to live off the sea. The greatest prize is always the Spot prawns.

Island art at Walsh Cove, a favorite spot for a mermaid cocktail party.

Signs of previous inhabitants on Ballenas Island.

Type "Salish Sea" into the search box for more stories and recipes from this amazing, warm water paradise.

On the way back down we stopped on Orcas to harvest some bounty. Our peach tree produced so much fruit this year! For a fireside dinner last night I used some to make individual peach crumbles, and they were positively delicious, if I do say so myself.  I'm think of making peach jam with the rest, unless you have a better suggestion?

My neighbors garden had an abundance of tomatoes this year. They were amazing in last nights ratatouille.

These pears and apples will last through September in a cool location.

Alright, must get out of my seat now, because the only certainty while boating is that everyone is always hungry and Captain Splendid is giving me "the look". 

Making him Salade Nicoise... thanks for reading my first mobile post.... can't wait to see how it looks when I'm back on the mainland.

Uh oh, grumblings... Really must fly...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hutong restaurant, Kaloon City....

We had an exciting little evening excursion during our stay when we took one of the charming Star Ferries across Victoria Harbor from Hong Kong Island over to Kowloon City for dinner. The views of the lights of the city and their reflection in the water were enchanting, and the half hour cruise went by way too quickly.

I was surprised and a little hesitant when we arrived at our address on the other side, because it was in a very serious looking sky scraper, and I was hoping for a restaurant that was a little more "cultural"....
 Kowloon City is a famous little gourmet hub known for an international mix of casual family run eateries. 

but you know the old saying...



  "you can't judge a book by the cover".  

I was very pleasantly surprised when the elevator doors opened to the restaurant Hutong, which was rich in ambiance and patina, making me completely forget we were in a skyscraper,

until I saw the stunning views, 
and really started to appreciate life at the top.

The restaurant is furnished with materials recovered from the destruction of the hutongs of Beijing, giving the space a rich, historical air. 

Even the ladies room was furnished with a exotically, elegant vintage tri-fold mirror.

Notice the worn red floors, which compliment the intricate wooden panels.

Red fabric lanterns kept the mood deeply exotic.

If  you go, be forewarned the dishes are all intended to be shared... we each ordered a couple of courses and ended up with WAY too much food.

Did I mention there was a fun antique rickshaw perfect for photo ops??

If I had more time I would have loved to spend more time exploring Kowloon City, especially the "night market", oh well, you can't do it all; and it's always nice to have an excuse to come back. 


Zara just opened a store there...

If you like that kind of thing,

and I do....

best fitting off-the-rack blazers EVER!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Jet Set hair kit....

On a trip like this I want to spend more time seeing the sights and soaking up the culture than fretting over my hair, but at the same time I want my coif to look presentable, and not like the hairs on these crazy looking rambutan fruits we saw at the Hong Kong Market.

So, I've come up with a kit and routine that allows me keep my locks looking relatively composed, smooth and shiny with minimal time and effort. 

Here are all the details on my Kit & Processes for Lovely Looking Locks, that will last for days:

I find it hard to write how~to's on something like hair styling, but here is a sort~of~stream~of~consciousness description of how I use these products, I hope it will be helpful and make some sense to you. But, please feel free to ask me if you have any questions. 

Of course, we all have different hair, so my methods may not work for everyone exactly, just use these tips as a guideline and make modifications to find what works best for your hair. For the sake of  perspective, my hair is a little longer than shoulder length; the texture is fine, with medium thickness and some body, also it is super curly (weird!) at the nape of my neck; and I have some highlights.

There are two stages here, first the washing and then the refreshing, which is what you can do to extend your "do" between shampoos...


After washing and conditioning my hair I use about a dime sized pour of the CHI Silk Infusion and massage into my ends, then I rub my hands through the rest of my hair to distribute the product, and comb it through with a wide tooth comb .

I start by flipping my head and hair over (while sitting down) and drying the underside first. I actually learned this tip from Warren Beatty, this is how he would start the process of drying Julie Christie's hair in the movie Shampoo. For me, this works well because I can start to straighten my curlier locks, which are underneath. By brushing my hair straight down (or UP if you were sitting upright) I get some nice added volume in my roots, that makes my hair look fuller {i.e. JC below}. I also feel that heating the underside gets the drying process started, but it leaves the top wet for final styling.
While "flipped" I run the brush from the base to the ends, trying to get the underside as dry and as straight as possible, I add a little bit of a curling motion to the ends.  Next, I flip my mop upright and comb all of the hair down, combing my bangs down over my forehead. Then I take sections of the side hair and comb through them, gently pulling them straight out horizontally and drying. After a few swipes, the sections are fairly dry so I roll the section on the brush, holding it vertically for a count of 25 seconds per section. After drying I gently un~roll and drop these sections, allowing them cool as I move on to the rest of the hair (the smaller the sections the better). I keep my bangs combed forward as I dry the sides and back. When the sides are dried and curled I pull up the sections on the crown, or top of my head, working from back to front, and holding each section, curled to the back,  tight on the top of my head, again for about 25 seconds per section. I usually spend some extra time on the front section to get my bangs to lie lower and curl however I want them to that day. 

Then I brush it out. 

If I am not happy with some of the sections I go back with the brush to get it right. Take some time to experiment, it took me awhile to figure it out, but now I am able to get great results. I usually finish the coif with 1/2 dime size of the CHI Silk Infusion, rubbing it between my hands and then running my hands through my hair, especially on any frizzy portions (usually the highlighted portions). 


The great news is that this comb also works on dry hair, so I can do touch up's the next day, or the day after that or the day after that, because.....

in an effort to make this styling last longer.... between washings, I use the Oscar Blandi Dry Shampoo. A few little puffs this powder in between shampoos keeps my hair looking loose, full, shiny and smelling fresh as a lemon. To use it I squirt some of the powder into a bowl, or onto a clean, dry counter. Next I create "parts" in my hair, so I can reach the scalp. I dip the brush into the powder and liberally "puff" it along the part line, right where the hair meets the scalp. After doing this all over, I also puff some of the powder along the face line. 

Next, I lightly massage the powder into the scalp. If I am taking a shower, I put on a shower cap and leave the powder in while showering. When ready I flip my hair over and brush out my hair, to get all of the powder out.

You can also just squirt the powder directly into the hair, as the bottle recommends... but I find I get too much in spots and start looking like George Washington!

If you have thicker, fuller hair you may want to try this brush from Conair, it has longer hard, plastic bristles. 

Did you know that there is a company that specializes in selling high quality Travel Sized Hair Products ? There is, click on it and see if you can find your favorite products in miniature proportions.