The poets wrote about April—angry one day and sweet as syrup the next. A killing frost might come, along with spring’s most lavish floral displays. It may be a spring month, but winter retreats reluctantly. It’s always touch-and-go in April, but most of us are more than ready to put that RV on the road and head to some place.
And Washington State’s North Olympic Peninsula might just be the destination this year. At least the New York Times has placed it as one of the top 41 places to visit in 2011. And that is not surprising—with snow-capped mountains, moss-draped rain forests, stormy beaches and sleepy towns, it has much to offer. And besides all the Northwest beauty, there are homemade and homegrown food and beverages.
The peninsula’s lakes are filled with trout, and the strait is teeming with salmon, halibut and cod. And there are oysters, shrimp and crab, too. There are mushrooms in the forests, wild berries along the road, and local farms offering a variety of vegetables and fruits. You’ll also find homemade cheeses, and even wineries and bakeries.
It’s all here on the North Olympic Peninsula—food from the land and the sea—and so much else to see and do.
LAND AND SEA ON A BUN
1 cup of diced turkey or chicken
1 can of flaked crab, drained
1/4 cup of chopped celery
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
2 tablespoon of dry white wine
2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
12 slices of bacon, halved and cooked crisp
6 slices of Swiss cheese, halved
Combine turkey or chicken, crab, celery, mayonnaise, wine, mustard and nutmeg; mix well. Split buns. Top each half with the above mixture, bacon slices and cheese. Broil 6 inches from heat until cheese melts, 3-5 minutes. Serve open-faced.
Makes six sandwiches.
LAND AND SEA KABOBS
1 boneless pork chop, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cubes of fresh pineapple
1 plum, quartered
6 cubes of papaya
4 uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
4 teaspoons of lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons of curry powder
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon each of salt, dried minced onion, and grated lime peel
On two metal skewers, alternately thread the pork, pineapple and plum. On two additional skewers, alternately thread papaya and shrimp. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Marinate the skewers at least one hour.
A George Forman grill works perfectly, or use a barbecue. Spray grill; grill kabobs 8-12 minutes. Serves two.
SURF ‘N’ TURF KEBABS WITH CILANTRO-LIME SAUCE
1/2 cup of lime juice
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of dry sherry
1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
6 tablespoons of soy sauce
6 tablespoons of honey
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons of ginger, minced
1 teaspoon of dried crushed red pepper
Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl to blend.
1 1/2 pounds of swordfish, cut into 16 one-and-a-half-inch cubes
1 1/2 pounds of boneless leg of lamb, cut into 16 one-and-a-half-inch cubes
8 plum tomatoes, halved
16 three-inch-long scallion bottoms
1 red bell pepper, cut into 16 squares
1 pound of eggplant, cut into 16 one-and-a-half-inch cubes
3 small zucchini, cut into 16 half-inch thick rounds
ADDITION FOR SAUCE
1 stick of chilled unsalted butter, cut into 8 slices
Place fish and lamb in separate medium glass bowls. Add 2/3 cup of marinade to each; toss to coat. Chill at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Reserve remaining marinade for basting and making sauce.
Drain fish. Alternate 2 fish cubes, 2 tomato halves, and 2 onion bottoms on each of 8 skewers.
Drain lamb. Alternate 2 lamb cubes, 2 bell pepper squares, 2 eggplant cubes, and 2 zucchini rounds on each of 8 skewers.
Arrange on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Cover; chill.
Spray grill. Grill kebabs until slightly charred and cooked as desired, turning occasionally and basting with remaining marinade, about 8 minutes for fish and 10 minutes for lamb.
Heat marinade, whisking in butter, 1 slice at a time, allowing each to melt before adding next. Season butter sauce to taste with pepper and serve with kebabs.
1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of sugar
1/2 cup of peanuts
2 teaspoons of sesame oil
2 pounds of chicken breasts, cubed
Place coriander and cumin seeds in a heavy dry skillet, tossing occasionally over high heat. When seeds just start to smoke, remove from heat and pour onto plate to cool. Grind in food processor. Combine cumin and coriander with other spices, salt and sugar in a small bowl. Grind peanuts in food processor until they are the size of small crumbs. Add to spice mixture. Add just enough oil to mixture to form paste.
Rub paste on up to 2 pounds cubed chicken and marinate overnight.
Thread chicken onto skewers and grill until just cooked through. Serves four.
Besides all the culinary treats offered on the Olympic Peninsula, visitors can enjoy the Lavender Festival in Sequim in July, tour historic towns such as Port Townsend and Port Gamble, and visit the Makah Cultural and Research Center at the tip of the peninsula in Neah Bay.
HINT OF THE MONTH: Make your reservations early to partake in the culinary treats on the Peninsula. Campgrounds vary from primitive undeveloped sites at the end of logging roads, to areas with paved roads and full hookups. Some campsites have the sea beside you and others offer views of the Olympic Mountains; some are nestled in the woods, and others are close to town.
Marian Platt is a food writer who lives on the Olympic Peninsula in Sequim.