I have lived in Whatcom County for over 15 years now and I am continually amazed by the gorgeous landscape of the Pacific Northwest. A drive down I-5 through the winding hillsides of north Lake Samish reminds you of a haunting mystery novel filled with lush, green landscapes enveloped in fog and foliage so thick that light barely penetrates the darkness. Take a ferry ride to Port Townsend (my favorite coastal town!) and you are swept away by the panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, framed by blue ocean water dotted with bouldered islands playing peek-a-boo as you pass by on the boat. This wonderful neck of the woods is filled with great day trips that are just a quick drive or bike ride away. When you leave the house, you get to enjoy the scenery, but you also get to experience a little bit of “local” and find out what digs make our area special.
Well, the Ferry family headed out on one such adventure a few weeks ago. Two of our great loves got us on the road to Bow and Edison. I love bread and Jacob, Beckett and Tucker love cheese. I have been on the hunt for organic cheese and the nearest place to purchase some is Samish Bay Cheese in Bow. And, while sledding up at Mount Baker in late December, I enjoyed a sinfully delicious salmon chowder bread bowl in a sourdough loaf from the Breadfarm in Edison. After a little research, I found out that Bow and Edison are two blips on the map of Skagit County that blend together into a community and even better, the Breadfarm and Samish Bay Cheese are less than three minutes apart. Alas, a road trip was born!
So, all three of us loaded into the truck and took a beautifully scenic drive down Chuckanut drive. Chuckanut dropped us at Bow-Hill Road and the Bow post office. A quarter-mile to the left was Samish Bay Cheese and a mile right was the Breadfarm. We headed to the Breadfarm first. I knew that I was going to like the town when we were greeted by the Lucky Dumpster “antique and thrift” store on the corner! Edison is a small town just off the Edison Slough and Highway 237 (Bow-Hill Road) and measures the length of two short city blocks.
Let me just start by saying that I like bread the way that some women like shoes. My cupboards are full of it. And, I am picky. My favorite is a tangy sourdough with a soft inside and a crusty, shelled outside. Needless to say, the Breadfarm easily fulfills my addiction to bread. The place is like an old-world bakery from Europe. The bread is displayed up front behind a glass wall. It is perfect. It looks exactly the way that homemade artisan bread should look. And, it tastes even better.
We spent $28 on a loaf of Baker White (just the hit I needed), a loaf of Sour Cherry Lemon Bread (a seasonal delicacy that is incredibly good!), a package of homemade Graham Crackers (seriously on the greatest treats in the store) and one single Dark Chocolate Thumbprint cookie (Jacob and I embarrassingly fought over the last bite like two schoolchildren – so much for saving calories and sharing!). And, honestly, if we had tasted the goodies before we had walked out the door, we would have bought as much as Beckett’s stroller could hold and spent a week’s paycheck in the blink of an eye!
The Breadfarm is worth stopping at. You won’t be disappointed and you will enjoy the food as much as the staff. We were helped by a wonderful young man, Eric, in classic, black rimmed glasses who eagerly gave us information on how the bread is made, where the grains and flours come from* and the philosophies of the Breadfarm. The company prides itself on using local and organic ingredients that endorse sustainable agriculture and are free of any additives or preservatives. Some of the local products they use include grains from Fairhaven Mill, wheat flours from Bluebird Grains (an amazing place in itself that will be talked about in a future blog!) and eggs from Skagit River Ranch. Not only did Eric provide us with lots of information on the Breadfarm’s practices, but he directed us to our next stop. The Farm to Market Bakery was an unplanned stop, but has gone down in our books as one of the top places to eat in Skagit County!
FARM TO MARKET BAKERY
This bakery and sandwich shop is located about forty yards down the road from the Breadfarm in the crook of Gilmore Street, Cains Court and Farm-To-Market Road. There are two tables inside the bakery and a handful outside that you can enjoy if the weather is being cooperative. The inside of the place is beyond full, but has a wonderfully homey, nesting feel to it. You feel like you are sitting in your Grandmother’s kitchen and while she pulls fresh, oven-baked sandwiches from the oven, you can sip your coffee and inhale the sweet scent of cinnamon rolls and other delicacies. Well, the money we had left after the Breadfarm was gone in the blink of an eye at this place. We enjoyed ham and swiss sandwiches on sourdough baguettes with fresh onions, artichoke hearts and horseradish! And, to top it off, we filled a bag with a lime-soaked polenta poundcake, a black-bottom cupcake and a gingersnap cookie. Jacob and I made sure that there was going to be no more fighting and plenty to go around!
The Farm to Market Bakery is small and could easily be overlooked on your way out of town. But, don’t blink, stay focused and stop in here. You won’t be disappointed. The menu is limited and I like that. The owners, Jim and Lisa Kowalski, make a few things each day and they make them incredibly well. There is no scrimping on portions and the quality of service is unbeatable. And, if the weather permits, you may want to sit outside, because you are bound to find yourself moaning with delight as you bite into the goodies!
SAMISH BAY CHEESE
There are two members of the Ferry Family who are cheese fanatics. Beckett and Jacob could eat cheese all day, every day and in every way. It can be on crackers, sandwiches, apples, pears, their fingers – it doesn’t matter. I like cheese, but I don’t LOVE cheese. But, Samish Bay Cheese might have changed that for me. Samish Bay Cheese is one of the only places I have found in northwest Washington that makes entirely organic cheese. And, organic cheese is not something that I am willing to budge on, especially since my husband and daughter eat it like it is one of the four major food groups.
Samish Bay Cheese is located about three miles from the Breadfarm back towards the freeway on Bow Hill Road. It is a super-ooper-duper small cheese shop tucked into big white barns right off the road. The shop opens right up to the aging room where the cheese is kept, so any taste is just a quick step away. And, believe me, you will want to taste this cheese! We purchased a baby wheel of the Mont Blanchard cheddar and two wedges of the chili-chive Gouda (again, we had decided sharing was not in the cards this weekend). The cheese is indescribable. It both smooth and creamy with a great texture that is firm. The flavor punctuates every bite and you will find yourself unconsciously groaning “mmm” with each bite. The young lady who helped us, Claire, had a sunny personality and was extremely knowledgeable about the products offered and the practice of using organic ingredients to create high quality dairy items – like yogurt, too. Plus, she happily grabbed taster after taster until the Ferry family threesome had consumed a pound of cheese!
Whether you like cheese, bread or bakery goodies – taking a road trip down to Bow and Edison is a wonderful day trip. The scenery is spectacular and you will not be disappointed by the local finds along the way. There is nothing better than good company and good food.
5766 Cain’s Court, Edison, Washington
FARM TO MARKET BAKERY
Jim & Lisa Kowalski
14003 Gilmore Avenue, Edison, Washington
SAMISH BAY CHEESE
Roger & Suzanne Wechsler
15115 Bow Hill Road, Bow, Washington