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Veg Out: Bellingham, Bow, and Edison

September 27, 2011

Today I find myself pondering one of life’s deepest questions: Why does a bread basket for two people almost always have three pieces of bread in it? Why not two, or four, or some other multiple of two?

I’m sure there is a perfectly logical explanation based on sound cost-benefit analysis, and believe me, I am fully aware that one can always request more bread. But I like to think that the reason is this: An even number of pieces is boring. Without odd-numbered bread, there is no please, please, you take it, I insist. There is no hand grazing hand as you both reach in for the last roll. Or, if you are dining with me, there is no my hand slapping your hand out of the way as we both reach in for the last roll.

Here is one of many things I love about my Jules: He knows that I want the third roll, that I have been seeking it, always seeking it, like the Bread Roll Eye of Sauron, ever since it came out of the oven. And he leaves it there for me, gently, patiently, and slightly bemused.

Last weekend was our anniversary, and Jules was scheduled to run the Skagit Flats Marathon. We decided to stay overnight in Bellingham to make a mini-vacation out of it. I really wanted to make it to a Ciao Thyme Incognito Dinner, but we missed their first fall dinner by a week. On a fluke, we ended up at The Fork at Agate Bay. There, we toasted our three years together with warm brioche rolls topped with crunchy sea salt. The butter they came with tasted slightly sweet, which was a nice contrast to the salt and eggy breadiness. Or was it bready egginess? I ate them too fast to decide.

The Fork gets mad points for its clever name. It is at a fork in the road next to Lake Whatcom, on a gravel-flanked triangle where you would expect a gas station with 99-cent slurpies. The interior is simple, farmhouse chic. I am such a sucker for dark wood floors and crisp, white tablecloths and artfully placed twinkly lights. Here is a close-up of the twinkly lights that does absolutely nothing do illustrate The Fork’s interior:

Where was I? Oh yes. The food that followed. Salad with local stone fruits and cherry vinaigrette, wood-fired bruschetta topped with fava bean puree and fennel, broccolini and roasted garlic pizza, and a risotto that Jules deemed most excellent. You know how at some places, risotto is clearly the Afterthought Vegetarian Entree? Not so at The Fork. The dessert options sounded a little ho-hum, though, so we stopped at Mallard Ice Cream on the way back to the hotel instead.

Kind of an unfortunate place for a Bikram Yoga studio, yes?

The line at Mallard was long, but it moved pretty fast, and we two, having spent many a summer evening waiting on Molly Moon’s, did not falter. In the end, I was holding an ice cream cone, and so was Chuck Norris. (I collect photos of tip jars. This one is a winner, don’t you think? Not the photo, but the tip jar.) I had a scoop of local Cloud Mountain Farm berry, perched upon a scoop of Cookies & Kremlin, a riff on cookies and cream that had a subtle coffee flavor, if I’m not mistaken. Or maybe that was just the taste of being monitored by the KGB. Jules had strawberry-mint sorbet, one of 5 vegan selections.

The next day we set out for Bow and Edison, two tiny towns just off of beautiful Chuckanut Drive. There, Breadfarm bakery, Tweets Cafe, Slough Food specialty food shop, a handful of art galleries, and The Lucky Dumpster spring out of the surrounding farmland like pastoral pop-up shops. I think this is one of my new favorite places in Washington. Bon Appetit featured Bow and Edison a few months ago in this article about a Seattle-to-Vancouver foodcation, if you want more details.

We opted for sandwiches and lemon-verbena iced tea at the lovely, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Farm To Market Bakery. Two of their three daily sandwiches were vegetarian (that’s me squishing eggplant and hummus on Breadfarm baguette, below). They also had a vegetarian pasta salad that we did not try because we were saving room for dessert: a black-bottomed cupcake the size of a softball, and a polenta mini-bundt cake drenched in lime syrup. For me, the polenta cake was the star of the meal, a slice of lime yogurt cake colliding with a corn muffin colliding with my belly.

Jules thought the polenta cake was too sweet, and wanted to get on the road, seeing as he had just run 26.2 miles and all. But I could not resist a stop at Breadfarm.

“Didn’t we just eat a Breadfarm baguette in sandwich form?” he asked as we walked into the shop.
“Yes. Yes we did. However, I am wearing my French stripey shirt. This requires me to buy a baguette to go, and sling it over my shoulder.” Sound logic, I thought.
“If it makes you happy,” he said.

It did. And I am.

The Fork at Agate Bay
2530 N Shore Rd.
Bellingham, WA 98226

Mallard Ice Cream
1323 Railroad Ave.
Bellingham, WA 98225

Farm To Market Bakery
14003 Gilmore Ave.
Bow, WA 98232

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