Thriller set in the mountains of NORWAY
Washington State – a culinary tour by author Elena Hartwell
27th March 2018
#TalkingLocationWith…. Author Elena Hartwell, who takes us on a Foodie Tour of Bellingham, and Leavenworth, Washington State.
Seattle may be the city that people imagine when they hear “Western Washington” but that’s only a small part of our diverse and fascinating region.
I located my Eddie Shoes Mystery Series in Bellingham, a town close to the Canadian border. Although Bellingham is quiet in real life—statistically one murder a year—it’s still a great place to set a mystery series.
It’s also a wonderful place to visit. Studded with evergreen trees, perched on Bellingham Bay, and ringed in by mountains, Bellingham is a gem in the northwest corner of our state.
Fairhaven is the best-known neighborhood. Founded in 1883, it still shows off its turn-of-the-last century architecture. Victorian-era brick buildings line the six blocks of the historical district, making it a popular tourist destination.
My favorite coffee shop, The Rustic Coffee & Wine Bar, is there. In addition to the great, small batch, locally roasted coffee, the menu includes lunch items and cheese plates, which pair well with the wines provided by Coach House Cellars.
From Americanos to fancy espresso drinks, there’s a beverage for every palate. Though, if you love coconut like I do, I highly recommend the Rustic Mocha. Once you’re hopped up on caffeine, you can cruise up a cobblestone alleyway and visit one of the best independent bookstores in the region, Village Books & Paper Dreams.
Another location that appears in my series is Pure Bliss. A don’t-miss spot for the sweet-toothed among you, the downtown dessert shop promotes locally sourced ingredients and scratch-made treats. Everything is delicious, but I guarantee the Chocolate Salted Caramel cake, complete with dark chocolate ganache and salted caramel drizzle is to die for.
A visit to Bellingham isn’t complete until you drive south. Scenic Highway 11—best known as Chuckanut Drive—starts in Fairhaven and runs twenty-one miles south to Bow-Edison.
The most spectacular section of the road runs between the Chuckanut Mountains and Samish Bay. Chipped into rock above the placid waters, the highway hugs the often hairpin turns. This is the only section of the Cascade Mountains to reach saltwater. Keep your eyes out and you may spot one of the local Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, or our beloved Ospreys—also known as a “Seahawk.”
Next stop is the Oyster Bar. Tucked between towering evergreens and the distinctive, red skinned Madrone trees, the views are spectacular. Looking down to the north, a diner can see Taylor Shellfish Farms where lunch may have been underwater just a few hours earlier.
I’m especially fond of the crab cakes, made with Dungeness and Jonah crab, and mixed with mango chutney, curry aioli, and sautéed vegetables.
But you don’t have to be a seafood fan to find something delicious. Another favorite of mine is the Butternut Squash Ravioli, made with mushrooms, leeks, swiss chard, and green beans in a light lemon sage cream and topped with shaved Manchego cheese.
Once leaving the Oyster Bar, you can soon be back on I-5 heading south. But of course, if you skipped the earlier sweets and have a hankering for something now, the tiny town of Bow is home to the Breadfarm. This artisanal bakery specializes in naturally leavened breads. Don’t miss the Bow Hill Baguette and their divine cookies, like the Cranberry Pistachio or Ginger, Honey, and Cardamom shortbread. After all, you might need something yummy for the drive.
The third book in my series is set near the quaint town of Leavenworth, a two-hour drive from Seattle and the “Bavarian Village” of the Cascade Mountain Range. Modeled after Solvang, California, the community got a facelift in the 1960s.
Though my protagonist, Eddie, stays in a fictional resort not far away, she visits Leavenworth to enjoy Bavarian cuisine and locally made beer. The outdoor patio at München Haus, beckons visitors with bright flower baskets and the tantalizing aroma of sizzling sausages. There are even “field roast” dogs for the vegetarian travelers.
Eddie and I both love the Hans’ Jalapeno and Cheddar Sausage, which goes great with their specialty mustards, I recommend the München Haus brown ale.
Although most well known for Oktoberfest and the Christmas Lighting Festival, when over half a million holiday lights brighten the night sky, those are only two of the many events in town. Over a million visitors to the area enjoy the picturesque architecture and a vast array of street performers, events, and festivals throughout the year.
So, the next time you plan to visit Western Washington, make sure you include time to get out of the City of Seattle. From Bellingham Bay to the Cascade Mountains, our natural beauty—and delicious delicacies—will make you glad you did.
Thank you so much to Elena for this wonderful culinary trip… more places to add to our “Must Visit” list!
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Loved being here on your marvelous blog. Thank you for having me!