This fall I visited my younger brother, Sam, in Bellingham, Wash. Bellingham is one of the northern-most cities of Washington state, and sits right on the water. You can pick up the ferry to Alaska there, or jump in the car and be in Vancouver, British Columbia in about an hour. It is a lush, beautiful, overcast, rainy sea town, and when I’m there, or in any other coastal town, my goal is the same: to get as much seafood into my diet as possible, because when I’m landlocked back at home, I don’t have that option.
In the first 24 hours of this trip, I’ve managed a fresh salmon burger, Dungeness crab and roasted prawns. But this day we went to one of my favorite spots in Washington state – Taylor Shellfish on Samish Bay.
Taylor started out and still remains a family-run retail/wholesale business. It has been around since 1991 and now employs 30 people. Taylor sells local sea fare: kumamoto, shigoku and pacific oysters, clams, mussels, Dungeness crab and the oddball of the group, the geoduck, that is pronounced “gooey duck.” I haven’t actually eaten geoduck, because some things are even hard for me to wrap my head around in the food world. But if somebody else prepared it for me, I would give it a try.
According to Theresa Shepler, who has worked for Taylor for 30 years, the geoduck is best in clam chowder, ceviche, sashimi or “crab” strips, and I’ll have to take her word for it.
Bellingham is full of fish restaurants, but sometimes it is more fun to take the wad of cash you would have spent on them, put on some muck boots, drive out to Taylor and hand-pick your dinner. Then pick up a few lemons, garlic, parsley and butter at the market, go home and cook up a seafood storm that will require, at best, a walk after dinner and, at worst, a half-hour nap on the couch in front of a fireplace.
There has only been one sad spot on this trip, and that is when I learned about the passing of chef Marcella Hazan. Over the years I have learned so much from this woman’s cookbooks, and she will always be one of my favorites.
It was in one of her books that I learned about the traditional holiday feast of the seven fishes. So perhaps this year, you may want to think ahead, try something new, and with the help of a great fish retailer like Taylor, attempt the feast of the seven fishes, or maybe the feast of the three fishes, or at least the feast of the kumamoto oysters this holiday. For details, see taylorshellfishfarms.com.