What kind of compromises to do you make while traveling?
To make travel with a child more simple and convenient, we’ll stay in a more central location even when we’d really rather stay off the beaten path a bit. At times we splurge on our destination, when just flying to the place is a huge expense, and then stick to a tight budget on food. Other times, when we know the accommodations are going to expensive, we’ll make sure that all of our activities and excursions are free or very low cost.
While we love to experience a locale’s culture through their food, we’d don’t often overdo it in this category of travel. We specifically seek out ways to save on our meals. However our trip to Skagit County Washington’s Bow-Edison was different. This agricultural community that we’d only been able to enjoy in quick passing was calling us to take part in their farm-to-table, slow food, eat local (insert newfangled foodie term here) movement. And by going the budget route of staying in a state park cabin, we had some room for a little indulging!
For our first meal in town, we decided our dining spot should be on the fancier side since we were still relatively presentable after just a short hour and half or so journey in the car from Seattle to the Bow-Edison area. The Rhododendron Cafe serves fresh and local Northwest food with a few surprises. They take pride in having and strive to use suppliers directly from the Skagit Valley region, and it certainly shows in the taste and style of what we found on our plates.
We started off with Penn Cove mussels, which were paired with plenty of delicious crusty toast for dunking into the white wine sauce. Then the three of us shared a duck quesadilla (Bergen’s choice), mushroom risotto (my husband Slaed’s choice), and the lamb shank (my choice). Needless to say, we were pleasantly stuffed by the end of our meal.
The Rhododendron Cafe’s atmosphere is casual and relaxed, not at all fussy. We felt comfortable dining with our 2 year old, but at the same time loved that we could enjoy food that was a little fussy and upscale.
For breakfast the next morning, we went with a wholesome standby (it’s been around since the 1930s) spot that serves up hearty, and also local, food: The Edison Cafe. Both Slaed and I ordered plates of eggs, bacon, and toast, and Bergen ended up with the biggest pancake he’s ever seen!
I loved all the little touches that the Edison Cafe offered from what seemed like homemade (no name-brand little packets here) jam for our toast, a big glass of orange juice for Slaed, and bottom-less coffee for me. The staff was friendly and attentive, despite some of that large pancake Bergen was busy devouring ending up on the floor. This is a spot where locals just pop in for cup of coffee and a chat.
With such a huge meal to start the day (and a little later than our usual dining hour), we decided that lunch should just be little snacks here and there throughout the afternoon. Some of our main staples for this munching came from the Breadfarm bakery. We picked up a selection of their to-die-for and also adorable little cookies as well a big loaf of crusty pumpkin bread.
Breadfarm goodies can be found in many restaurants, shops, and farmer’s markets throughout the region. Their unique style and one of the kind products gets me every time I stop in, and those cookies sure came in handy when we needed motivation on the trail later in the day.
Remember that lunch we skipped in favor of little bites here and there? Well, after exploring the area for a few hours, we were ready for something more substantial. Slough Food was our happy hour spot for the evening.
Slough food is a delicatessen or alimentare as the owner calls it, channeling his days of living and studying in Rome. It’s a place where you can shop for meat, cheese and wine and take it home, but there is also a menu full of scrumptious items like paninis, soup, and salads. There is beer on tap, wine can be ordered by the bottle or glass, and there are plenty of sweet treat options too.
We opted for a simple cheese plate accompanied by pints of Island Hoppin’ brown ale, and headed to their back patio area that as the name implies looks out onto the Edison Slough. Bergen thought the cheese (jack and gruyere) was pretty tasty (as did we), but he was more interested in collecting shells from the surrounding area and lining them up on the table.
Wanting to enjoy the sunset on the bay and spend a little more time at our cabin, some local takeout was in order. Since we knew we couldn’t hangout at the famous Edison Inn (no minors), getting burgers to- go was the next best thing.
After much debating, I chose the Bow Burger, Slaed decided on the Gourmet Burger, and we ordered clam strips for Bergen. Fries and coleslaw were delicious additions to each meal as well. The burgers were good, but can dare I say, mine was a little too big (and little too under-cooked for my liking)! Slaed thoroughly enjoyed his, but the contents did fall apart.
Would we go back? Absolutely. The best part of the meal was just getting to take it easy, watch the sun go down, and savor the quiet. And the clam strips. You can bet I was stealing plenty from Bergen’s plate!
Last but certainly not least, especially for Slaed as this was his most favorite spot, on our culinary adventure in Bow-Edison was Tweets Cafe. This was our last stop before heading out of town, and boy were we glad that we squeezed in the time to eat here. At Tweets, you order at the counter, and the friendly staff brings your food to you. It’s also serves coffee (and other treats) to go.
I guess we were ready for another hearty breakfast because before our main plates even came, we started off with a piece of blackberry brioche to accompany our expertly made coffees. We nibbled on the brioche for a while and had a chance to get situated. Although Tweets is welcoming to all, including kids, at the time of our visit, they didn’t yet have a highchair. No problem, we improvised.
In the meantime, a wonderful thing happened to make our experience even sweeter—live music started. It’s not everyday you get to sit and enjoy breakfast (dinner, sure) while a talented musician sings, plays guitar, and entertains your toddler. Then our plates arrived: A biscuit sandwich for me, and a frittata with greens for Slaed with Bergen taking his fair share of bites from each. We were not ready to leave Bow-Edison, and Tweets wasn’t making things any easier!
Have you spent time in Skagit Valley, Washington? What did you see, do, AND most importantly eat?
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