Seymour building

Saturday, September 28th, 2013 :: 12:06 am

Seymour Building, Vancouver

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The Willows Inn Restaurant – Lummi Island

Friday, September 6th, 2013 :: 4:00 pm

After fellow foodie friends posted about their experience to this amazing restaurant just an hour and half away from Vancouver (plus a short ferry ride), I knew I had to dine there some time. In fact, it was featured in 2011 by New York Times as “10 Restaurants Worth a Plane Ride” and again in 2013 as “The Top 10 Food Lover’s Hotels in The United States“. I’m pretty certain it would be rated on the Michelin guide, except they don’t do Michelin ratings in Washington state. The chef is Blaine Wetzel, who has worked at Noma, #1 on the World’s Top 50 restaurant.

When the opportunity arose a couple months ago to make a reservation at the restaurant for this past long weekend, our friends invited 6 of us to join as well – you can say it’s been a good 2 months worth of anticipation! The tasting menu consisted of 4 main dishes and roughly 10 “snacks”, and a few “dessert” dishes. The price is $150 per person, $60 extra for wine pairing, and $40 extra for juice pairing (or you can do half-half). I personally had the juice pairing which were very different than what you would make yourself at home with the same ingredients (Sorrel, Cucumber, Carrot, Currant, Elderflower). I would probably have opted for the half-half if I didn’t have to drive afterwards.

Most of the ingredients are sourced locally right on the island, with a lot of the vegetables being planted right behind the Inn. It’s always interesting to see very simple ingredients being used as enhancements for these dishes, but without them, it would taste completely different. They also had their own smoke house, which they used to smoke and prepare a lot of the meat and seafood.

The service was excellent and fast, although if you are thinking of splitting the bill in different ways, you may encounter some delays in the end. The meal itself would not be complete without foodies taking a lot of photos of the dishes itself – which were often decorated very beautifully + precisely. Sorry, photos do not convey the smell and taste of the food!

Definitely reserve many months in advance, and enjoy the rest of the island before your meal, especially if the weather turns out great!

Bright sunset

Willows Inn

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Willows Inn

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Serving a starter wine

Willows Inn Starter Wine

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Cute centerpiece

Willows Inn

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Tablesetting

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Menu and initial few words from the chef

Willows Inn Menu

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Samish Bay Smoked Mussel – the smoky smell was like nothing I’ve tasted before

Samish Bay Smoked Mussel

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Halibut skin

Halibut skin

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Crispy Crepe with Salmon Roe – “OMFG” goodness

Crispy Crepe with Salmon Roe

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Kale with Black Truffle and Rye – best kale chips ever?

Kale with Black Truffle and Rye

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Goat Tartare with Rye Bread and Herbs

Goat Tartare with Rye Bread and Herbs

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Delicious and very pretty colour coordination

Goat Tartare with Rye Bread and Herbs

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Albacore Tuna Scraped by a Scallop Shell

Albacore Tuna Scraped by a Scallop Shell

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Grilled Shiitake – “OMFG” juicy!

Grilled Shiitake

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Cucumber juice pairing – very smooth and subtle

Cucumber juice

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Ancient grains with local chanterelles and elderberries

Ancient grains with local chanterelles and elderberries

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Looks can be deceiving.. this was quite amazing.

Smoked Sockeye – smoked 5 hours over green alderwood

Smoked Sockeye

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Wild seaweeds braised with dungeness crab and brown butter

Wild seaweeds braised with dungeness crab

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Made me want to eat the bread over and over again…

Hearth Bread with roasted chicken pan drippings

Hearth Bread

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Summer salad of baisil and nasturtiums

Summer salad of baisil and nasturtiums

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Red currant juice pairing

Red currant juice

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Dried beets glazed with black currants and salted bone marrow

Dried beets glazed with black currants

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Blackberries with Wild Grasses

Blackberries with Wild Grasses

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Huckleberries with woodruff and malted barley

Huckleberries with woodruff and malted barley

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Another one of those “looks can be deceiving”. Just the right amount of chewiness and sweetness!

Flax bites with caramel

Flax bites with caramel

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Amazing sunset over the islands midway through dinner

Lummi Island Sunset

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Lummi Island Sunset

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Garibaldi Lake hike

Sunday, August 25th, 2013 :: 11:55 am

Last week a couple of friends and I made last minute plans to head up to Garibaldi Lake. The recommended hike was rated as intermediate with a 820m total elevation gain and an estimate of 5 hours to complete. The drive itself from Vancouver was just under 2 hours.

I haven’t hiked this long since my trip to Peru on the Inca Quarry Trail, so the distance was moderately challenging, minus the altitude factor. It was quite an enjoyable hike, but prepared to spend more time than what they estimate for stopovers and photo ops along the way! We walked the recommended loop through Taylor Meadows, took a small detour midway to Panorama Ridge, then down to the lake and back, taking us a total of around 7.5 hours.

Beautiful lake – the weather was cloudy/foggy, with some short spurts of sunny breaks in between, which was perfect. Glad that the weather turned out much better than the forecasted rain!

Garibaldi Lake Hike

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Garibaldi Lake Hike

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Garibaldi Lake Hike

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Garibaldi Lake Hike

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4km in, reaching the clouds

Garibaldi Lake Hike

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Garibaldi Lake Hike

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Grey Jay

Grey Jay

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Garibaldi Lake Hike

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Starting to see a bit of flowers

Purple Lupin

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Morning Dew

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Morning Dew

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Purple Lupin

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Indian Paintbrush

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Garibaldi Lupin

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Reaching Taylor Meadows – can totally imagine it being filled with flowers

Garibaldi Lake Hike - Taylor Meadows

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Garibaldi Lake Hike Creek

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Garibaldi Lake Hike Creek

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Garibaldi Lake Hike Creek

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Our first glimpse of Garibaldi Lake!

Garibaldi Lake

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Beautiful blues

Garibaldi Lake

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Garibaldi Lake Hike

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Garibaldi Lake

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Destination acquired – taking a short break on the bridge

Garibaldi Lake

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Garibaldi Lake

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Garibaldi Lake

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Look at those amazing colours!

Garibaldi Lake

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Garibaldi Lake

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Garibaldi Lake

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Glaciers in the distance

Garibaldi Lake Glaciers

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Garibaldi Lake

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Garibaldi Lake Hike Trail

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Garibaldi Lake

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Curious chipmunks

Chipmunk

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Looking down at The Barrier – gorgeous panorama

Garibaldi Barrier

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Chipmunk

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Garibaldi Barrier

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Garibaldi Lake Hike

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Curious Sea Lion

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013 :: 11:59 pm

Apparently, curious visitors too.

Smithsonian Zoo, Washington DC.

Smithsonian Zoo Sea Lion

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Smithsonian Zoo Sea Lion

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Blue

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 :: 12:12 pm

Blue

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