Thomas J. Story

Rent your own little cabin by the water and savor the farm-fresh bounty with home-cooked meals ― recipes included

Irene Edwards  – August 9, 2006 | Updated March 3, 2020

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.

GETTING THERE

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 extensive rental properties range from an artist studio ($60/night) to a lavish four-bedroom waterfront house ($1,200 per night). 360/376-2204

Farms to Visit

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.; 360/376-6080

Other Local Food Stops

Orcas Island Farmers’ Market. Dozens of farmers and food and crafts vendors. 10-3 Sat May-Sep; Eastsound Village Green, N. Beach Rd.; 360/376-4594

Roses Bakery Cafe. Killer garlic-parsley-walnut bread and cult Northwest wines. $$; closed Mon and Sun; 382 Prune Alley; 360/376-5805

The Recipes

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.