Culinary Adventuring Along the Olympic Peninsula

June 22, 2012

Wining and dining along the Olympic Peninsula is a rewarding adventure

Do you remember the stage play or movie, “A Trip to Bountiful,” which was based on the 1953 televised play by Albert Horton Foote, Jr.? It was about an elderly woman who yearns to return to her roots in the small town of Bountiful, Texas.

A recent press release reminded me of the movie version I saw years ago starring Geraldine Page, and pitched “a new kind of ‘trip to bountiful'”–the Olympic Culinary Adventure.

Winding through four Olympic Peninsula counties, the Olympic Culinary Adventure route leads foodies on “a trip to bountiful” in the true sense of the word–to a region alive with farms, produce stands, fisheries, creameries, bakeries, wineries, cideries, and authentic farm-to-table experiences.

I’ve written about my experiences wining and dining on the Olympic Peninsula for The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest magazine, for the Northwest Notes blog, and profiled Camaraderie Cellars in Pacific Northwest Wining & Dining.

So I heartily recommend a visit to this unique region of Washington state. And with the weather warming (we hope–enough of “June-uary already!”) as we head into summer, now is a great time to take your taste buds on tour!

A project of the Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau, the Jefferson County Tourism Coordinating Council, and the Olympic Culinary Loop Association, the Olympic Culinary Adventure is designed to put culinary travelers in touch with the people who grow, harvest, catch, and serve fresh Olympic-Coast cuisine.

With a rich Native-American heritage, pioneering farm families, and a new group of young farmers putting down roots, the Olympic Peninsula is a fascinating area to explore.

The cuisine reflects the diverse microclimates, coastal proximity, and history of the region. Farm-to-table experiences are everywhere offering sustainable locally-grown and foraged fruits, vegetables, herbs and berries; the freshest local seafood; artisan cheeses and breads; and handcrafted wines, beers, and hard ciders.

Each of 30 destinations along the self-guided Olympic Culinary Adventure tour route — from the Hama Hama Seafood Store in Lilliwaup to Finnriver Farm & Cidery in Chimacum; Mt. Townsend Creamery in Port Townsend to the Alder Wood Bistro in Sequim; Harbinger Winery & Brew House in Port Angeles to the Olympic Peninsula Dining Room at historic Lake Crescent Lodge; and the Creekside Restaurant at Kalaloch Lodge to the Grays Harbor Farmers Market — offers a true “sense of place.”

Travelers can talk to producers and find out how they make their cheeses, wines, and other food products or ask a chef who creates delicious dishes from locally sourced ingredients about what’s in season. Stopping at a local festival while en route, such as Sequim’s upcoming Lavender Weekend, July 20-22, is an opportunity to learn about the history and heritage of the area.

The Olympic Peninsula is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by the Hood Canal, on the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and is anchored by the Olympic Mountains. There is no other place in America that matches the diversity in terrain and weather in such a compact physical area. You’ll find lakes, waterfalls, rivers, valleys, mountains, beaches, and rainforest.

Exploring the Olympic Culinary Adventure route in several trips ensures the opportunity to enjoy a variety of foods in season, to try different kinds of outdoor excursions, to experience seasonal events and activities, and to absorb the natural scenic beauty in different light.

Download your Olympic Culinary Adventure route map and get started on your own trip to bountiful!

Photo courtesy of the Olympic Culinary Loop Association

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