Northwest Palate

“The Greening of San Juan Island”

May/June 2010

The appeal of as-fresh-as-it-gets food is hardly new at Duck Soup Inn. Chef Allison has for years relied on produce from her personal orchard and garden near her West Side home.

As she clips herbs and picks strawberries in her garden, Allison excitedly tells me about her new food find: sea kelp, which she hand-harvests, dries, and uses to encrust finfish and scallops.

“We collect the kelp and other seaweeds each spring [from the rocks near False Bay] and wash it off, cut it into smaller sizes, and put it into a dehydrator,” Allison explains. “Then we run the dried kelp through a hand-crank mill, and put it in an electric spice grinder to pulverize it. It’s a fun process.”

Allison also enjoys having goat cheese on her seasonal menus. And she especially loves that the island has its own farmstead goat cheese maker, Layne Sundberg. “Her chevre is wonderful. She’s been perfecting it for a long time,” Allison says.

Sundberg, who does business under the name “Qyail Croft,” produces fresh chevre and a mold-ripened aged goat cheese with a marvelously bloomy rind, made from the milk of Saanen goats. “I believe their milk makes the best goat cheese, and they are such sweet goats, not as ornery as some of the other breeds,” Sundberg says while watching her well-behaved white flock at her small farm overlooking Griffin Bay.