An Island's Bounty (topped with lardo)
Last year the New York Time's named the Willows Inn on Lummi Island one of 10 restaurants in the world worth a plane ride. Suddenly, the tiny island with a population of just 816 became a mecca for the food obsessed. Chef Blaine Wetzel, an alum of Copenhagen’s famous restaurant Noma, uses the best local ingredients to create his tasting menus. Five courses are interspersed with a dozen “snacks” like homemade bread served with chicken drippings, sunflower roots baked in moss, and a grilled oyster with tequila and sage that smelled so good I wish I could have bottled the scent. My third course was almost too pretty to eat: a mix of Nettles Farm peas with mint, whey and lardo (photo). It tasted like spring in a bowl. I loved how the chef got creative with fruits, flowers, and herbs. One snack was a simple mix of locally foraged berries served over a green juice puree. While the wine list is quite interesting, the sommelier also offers a juice pairing alternative for those who don’t tipple. The restaurant overlooks the water and each night the sunset is so brilliant that it clears the dining room as people rush to the porch to snap photos. By now the chefs have worked sunset into the plating schedule.