As foodie tourism goes, Orcas, the jewel of Washington's San Juan islands, is one of the West's most enchanting options. Settlers have farmed the island since the 1870s, but only recently have they begun to organize themselves for visitors ― setting up on-site produce stands, perma-culture classes, even an informal petting zoo.
Orcas Island is reached via a 1-hour ferry ride from Anacortes, WA (80 miles north of Seattle). Check with Washington State Ferries (206/464-6400) for schedule and fare information. You can also take a seaplane from Seattle's Lake Union (with free shuttle service to and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport) to one of three destinations on the island. Contact Kenmore Air (866/435-9524) for more information.
COTTAGES TO RENT
Orcas Island has plenty of vacation rentals. Most of them rent for a minimum of one week during summer months, but become negotiable the rest of the year. Ask about off-season rates.
Cherie L. Lindholm Real Estate. Ken and Karen Speck's 45 rental properties range from a one-bedroom near West-sound ($850 per week before Sep 17) to a four-bedroom waterfront house with a hot tub ($1,900 per week). www.orcashomes.com or 360/376-2204.
Orcas Island Realty. Diamond Hill Waterfront House ($1,800 per week) overlooks Rosario Strait; Grindstone Harbor estate (about $5,000 per week) is lush. www.orcasislandrealty.com or 360/376-2145.
The Place at Cayou Cove. Four cottages at a tasteful turn-of-the-century inn overlooking Deer Harbor have well-equipped kitchens and barbecue grills. From $305 per night; www.cayoucove.com or 888/596-7222.
FARMS TO VISIT
Download a copy of the Farm Products Guide.
Coffelts Farm. Sheepskins, fruit, lamb, and beef for sale on almost 200 acres just off one of the island's most scenic roads. Closed Sun; 1071 Crow Valley Rd.; 360/376-4357. Also Sat May-Oct; Orcas Island Farmers' Market (see below).
Lone Cow Farm. Stock up on fresh eggs, flowers, orchard fruits, and Linda Wales's apricot-amaretto jam. By appointment; 1969 Orcas Rd.; 360/376-3705.
Maple Rock Farm. Specimen maples and a wood-fired outdoor bread oven make this an especially picturesque spot. 3-6 Fri or by appointment; 845 Pinneo Rd.; www.maplerockfarm.com or 360/376-6080.
OTHER LOCAL FOOD STOPS
Christina's. Island regional cuisine. $$$$; 310 Main St.; 360/376-4904.Emily's Orchard stand.
Orcas Island Farmers' Market. No fewer than 44 farmers and food and crafts vendors, including Morningstar Farm (local organic vegetables and flowers). 10-3 Sat through Oct 7; Eastsound Village Green, N. Beach Rd.; www.orcasislandfarmersmarket.org or 360/376-4594.
Roses Bakery Cafe. Killer garlic-parsley-walnut bread and cult Northwest wines. $$; closed Sun; 382 Prune Alley; 360/376-5805.
Here are three market-fresh dishes inspired by the bounty of Orcas Island.
Grilled leg of lamb with yogurt-mint sauce
Christina Orchid ties her lamb; we like leaving it untied too, so it cooks faster and gets nicely charred ― and we add a tangy sauce.
Israeli couscous with fresh peas and mint
Also known as pearl couscous, Israeli couscous has an appealing tender-chewy texture.
Deep-summer tomato-basil salad
More an arrangement than a recipe, this salad couldn't be simpler ― or taste more like summer.