This past weekend it was my birthday and we decided to take the day to explore Vashon Island, which is a sub-10 minute ferry ride from Tacoma. We packed up Otis in the car, jacket and all, and drove the Point Defiance to catch the ferry on what was admittedly, not the nicest of days. Chance of rain, chance of sun, guarantee of high winds – somewhat typical day here in Tacoma! Either way, while I was at The Humane Society in the morning to do a cat behavior training class, Will did some research of what we could do at Vashon all day. When I returned home, he declared we were going to the island and had made a card of all the options of things to do! It was supposed to be an “either or” type of list, but we checked off almost everything on there! It involved the consumption of many things, which is why I felt it was appropriate to share here 🙂
We started off on the opposite side of the island from where the ferry from Point Defiance takes you at a small winery tasting room called Palouse Winery. We haven’t checked out any Washington wineries since moving, since they primarily are on the other side of the state (summer weekends, fingers crossed!) so it’s been since we lived in Virginia that we’ve done a proper tasting. The tasting room felt like it had been built into the garage of someone’s house, so we were grateful for the subtle signs of wine tasting laid about on the road and the door. Even though it was a dog-friendly location, Otis is not 100% comfortable around other dogs and since we’re still getting to know him, we didn’t want to test his boundaries in a small tasting room, so he got to hang out and nap in the car (he’s a really good car doggie!). We bellied up to the bar, which was crafted from a large piece of natural wood only gently sealed, definitely by hand. The room was packed and the super friendly and quirky staff seemed surprised to have so many guests on not-the-nicest of Saturdays, though my prediction is that spring is coming, there was a sliver of sunshine and people wanted to get out without committing to outdoor activities! So what better way than to taste wine? We were served seven wines total – two whites and five reds, my perfect balance. They didn’t have Chardonnay (praise) and we were treated to both a Viognier and a Cab Franc, which both hold a special place in my heart as Virginia’s specialties. To be honest, we enjoyed every tasting poured and had we had the tech money that the Seattle yuppies in the tasting room had, would’ve easily walked out with a case of their wines. But alas, we work in higher education, had more drinking ahead of us and didn’t want to commit to a bottle of wine that would inevitably sit in our wine fridge for a “special occasion” before ultimately spoiling. 10/10 would return, armed with cash for bottles. Bonus: they had super duper tasty soft cheese for free!
After our tasting it occurred to us that I’d only had an English muffin before running to the Humane Society, so we decided to break for lunch. We swung into “downtown” Vashon and Will had expertly selected a restaurant called Pure. It’s a raw, vegan/vegetarian restaurant and was about as crunchy/hippy-dippy as you could imagine for a liberal, progressive island. A white and orange storefront lovingly designed with hand-painted bees had the obligatory chalkboard sign to point us in the right direction and we dove right in from the incoming rain and wind. We were immediately greeted by the sweetest staff members who were beyond excited to tell us about their offerings (an energy they had with every guest that entered). We landed on each trying their overwhelmingly popular Budda bowl, but with different sauces to see the difference (we’ve made our own version for lunch this week). I also decided we needed to supplement the bowls with a slice of their “pizza” which was some sort of cashew cheese and whatnot “crust” buried under a heaping pile of arugula and basil ribbons. Will was skeptical, but I dove right in – few things are better than a fresh pile of basil. Needless to say, we inhaled our Buddha bowls, despite crying from the heat of the chili paste and I personally LOVED the pizza (Will did enjoy it to, skepticism be damned). 12/10 would go back.
Of course after stuffing ourselves with a vegan lunch, we had to turn it around. We poked around some of the locally-owned shops on the stretch of downtown before the rain started to pick back up. We ducked into the Vashon Island Baking Company which was serving up well-priced “normal” and vegan/GF/etc offerings. After staring at the case for a couple minutes, I chose a gooey cream cheese brownie and Will selected the bee-sting. We ate about half of our bars before we couldn’t carry on and packed them up to head to the car for our next part of the adventure.
The next stop took us about a mile down the road to a quiet farm property to taste some ciders, another thing we have not properly done since arriving to Washington. We pulled into the small lot at Dragon’s Head Cider and once again found ourselves heading into a garage of some kind, though this one was lacking in the warmth (and door) that the winery had. We huddled up to the bar, which was more or less a tasting counter in front of what was clearly the warehouse. Other folks were there huddled up in blankets and we all alternated stepping up to the gas heat right outside the door. We had a flight of five ciders to try, each featuring different varieties of Washington apples. The owner of the cidery we later learned was from NoVA and was a UVA alum who had worked in the tech industry for many years before she and her husband decided to live a more low-key lifestyle and run their own business; enter Vashon Island into the picture and you’ll see why they left Seattle, corporate jobs and bought some farm, planted some apple trees and started making ciders. All the ciders were spot-on and each featured different palates of flavor. We enjoyed all of them and even brought a bottle home to split at a later date. The only downside of this stop was that Otis discovered our desserts in the car and proceeded to gorge on my brownie (ugh) and Will’s bee-sting like he’d never eaten before. Cue a bad dog being caught being bad and much later in the day, reproducing the desserts he had so eagerly consumed that afternoon. Not pretty.
After the cider and the brownie incident, we realized it was time to start thinking about which ferry time we wanted to catch on the way back, since most things shut down at 5 to make way for the dinner crowd, plus our friend Avery was arriving in town later that evening. We hit up The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie, which is the perfect summation of what the island is like – all about local business and people, laidback and quirky. We sipped one of their regular blends while waiting to depart for the ferry, reveling in our little mini-adventure. The rain was just starting to fall again, so it was the perfect time to wrap up our day on the island. All in all, a great birthday!