Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Happy Seafood Place

Seafood was on the menu last week. Fabulous, buttery, fresh seafood. My sister and I took our kids to the beach for a vacation-within-a-vacation. Our first stop was Longbeach, WA. May I add that while Hwy 101 from Olympia, Wa to Longbeach looks mild and harmless on the map, it is a sinister plot to do unsuspecting vacationers in! After four small mountains worth of "this must be the last mountain we have to cross to get there", we traverse a road that could only have been laid out by a drunken snake with a twitch. Finally, we got there, with plenty of new gray hairs to accompany the old ones. After passing several postage stamp sized RV parks, we finally found one with pull-through parking and a little elbow room only two blocks from the ocean.
One of our favorite things to do was try the clam chowder everywhere we went. It is amazing to me how many different versions of one thing can come out of each chef's pot. We went to a place called Hungry Harbor for lunch and found stunningly overpriced food on the menu. Their chowder wasn't too bad, but it was more of a rich potato soup with lots of bacon and clams. I am actually OK with that since bacon makes everything better! My mixed seafood platter had the softest, freshest, most buttery scallops I have ever tasted since I finally got the nerve up to try them. It was almost a crime to bury them in breading. I had no idea, either, that clam strips grew that big and fat in the ocean! They are nothing like the puny little rubber question marks on our plates at home. Beware landlubbers! Don't try them at home, come to the ocean for the real deal. I must say we seriously considered staying forever--the bakery was hiring, and there was the cutest little cottage for sale just two blocks from the beach...........
The sweetest thing about Longbeach was this little hole-in-the-wall bakery run by a husband/wife team. Brendon got an M & M cookie the size of a generous salad plate. Jared, Ethan, Kyle, and Sophia got big cupcakes piled high with colorful icing and decorated to the hilt. We had spiders, horses, boats, and smiley faces. Rebecca and I opted to try more sophisticated fare like eclairs covered in homemade chocolate frosting, lemon turnovers oozing enough tart-sweet lemon filling for a small pie, a chocolate almond bar confection that wrapped almond paste filling in decadent chocolate, then covered it with sliced almonds for a fabulous crunch, a cherry moon pie the size of Sophia's face--cherry pie filling and whipped cream stuffed between two giant soft chocolate cookies, then everything going for a bath in chocolate that left a crunchy outer layer, and last, but not least, the confection that made them famous, the Devil Dog. This is an eclair on bakery custard steroids--almost a foot of smooth, creamy custard filling wrapped in just enough flaky, tender pastry to hold it together, then topped of with just enough chocolate to make it impossible to resist. We could hardly get our mouths around it, but of course, for the sake of the blog, we persevered and were victorious. Hooray for the hometown bakery!
Oh, yes, the beach was lovely too, except for crossing the fast lane with vacationers whizzing by in SUVs and trucks only feet from the rolling ocean. Think lovely wide stretch of soft, silky, gray sand, then wet sand, then the Indy 500 with the west's version of redneck watersports, then the freezing cold beautiful rolling tides of a coastal beach. I mean, where else can you mix speeding vehicles and playing children?! I must, however, give most of them credit, since they did slow down the rushing back and forth in our vicinity after we came down to the water.

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