My friend Kim’s text couldn’t have come at a better time.
She lives in the cool climates of the Pacific Northwest and, having grown up in Tucson, she is all too familiar with the blistering heat we endure here in the summer.
“You have to come up here in Washington,” she exclaimed with her thumbs up. “We have amazing food, we have lots of places to suggest for local exploration, and we’re best seen in July and August.”
While those views of Evergreen State looked pretty good, especially with summer temperatures in the 70s, Kim had me at “amazing food.” Which begs the question, what about Pacific Northwest cuisine calling for flight booking?
Eager to solve this mystery, I turned to Jeff Azersky of Kingfisher Bar & Grill. Its homage to the Pacific Northwest, anchored by a special menu that runs June 14-25, is part of the restaurant’s 29th annual Summer Road Trip that makes virtual stops in the country’s most delicious regions.
“Owning what is primarily a seafood restaurant and loving all kinds of fish and shellfish, I would say that in itself would be a good reason to go,” said Azersky, co-owner of Kingfisher, 2564 E. Grant. Road. “They grow everything up there, the climate is so nice on the coast and inland, and they have beautiful vineyards.”
Part of Azersky’s inspiration for his 12-day Pacific Northwest menu came from a book he just finished, called Trask, which chronicles “a mountaineer’s quest for new opportunities” along the Oregon Coast in 1848.
“This guy colonized his own land, and he fished and killed elk and deer to eat them,” Azersky said, likening those mountain adventures to the adventurous style of cooking that represents the region, further noting “there’s still a lot of wild country there.”
The menu adventure begins with a selection of entrees, including smoked salmon belly bruschetta with softened, whipped Oregon blue cheese and peach-apple chutney, as well as braised and grilled octopus served on rice noodles with green onions, green apples, cucumbers, chili peppers, poppy seeds and a dressing of lime, mint and lemongrass.
Entrees include a smoked elk sausage paella, made with a homemade shellfish broth, clams, Penn Cove mussels, fennel, tomatoes, chives, garlic and saffron, all topped with a hazelnut Romesco sauce.
A warm blackberry and apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream should satisfy the sweet tooth at the end of this memorable meal.
In addition to the cuisine, a Pinot Gris from a biodynamic winery in Oregon will be available, as well as a craft cocktail inspired by the scent and flavors of the region, with a piney gin, fresh lemon, simple syrup and a blackberry liqueur called Crème de mure.
Sounds like my kind of adventure.
After the Pacific Northwest, the Kingfisher Summer Road Trip will continue with special menus for Down South (June 28 – July 2; July 19 – 23), Great Plains/Midwest (July 26 – August 6), Back East (9 august). – 20) and California/Hawaii (August 23 – September 3). The restaurant’s regular menu will also be offered for those who are not making the virtual trip.
If I do end up flying to Washington this summer, my friend Kim will surely be impressed with my newly acquired wisdom about her region’s culture and cuisine. But one question remains: should I bring my mountain outfit or wear it on the plane?
Contact Matt Russell, whose day job is the CEO of Russell Public Communications, at [email protected] Russell is also the publisher of OnTheMenuLive.com as well as the host of the Friday Weekend Watch segment on the “Buckmaster Show” on KVOI 1030 AM.