BOW-EDISON — My cousin says that life is the sum of one’s food memories. That’s arguable, but if so, then perhaps all journeys lead to food.
One thing is certain. A day trip to the Samish River valley of northwest Skagit County is a foodie’s delight.
Harley Soltes, owner of Bow Hill Blueberries, calls the area a food trail. No matter which route you take, you can meet many producers of organic, local food.
To get to this fun, relaxed, centrally isolated mecca, get off northbound I-5 at Highway 20 and head west. Turn north at the perfectly named Farm-to-Market Road. Enjoy the view of Samish Bay as you descend into the valley.
If you take this trip in the fall, stop to buy Merritt orchard apples at Rosabella’s (8933 Farm-To-Market Road, 360-766-6360) at the bottom of the hill.
If you go today, be sure to pull into Edison by 11 a.m. so you can take advantage of the open house at the Breadfarm bakery (766 Cains Court, 360-766-4065). People who attend this sixth annual event will get to see bread production in its various stages, learn about specially grown wheat that is being used in the Breadfarm’s loaves and about the company’s plans to mill their own grains.
Many people credit the Breadfarm with the establishment of Edison as a hip destination.
I would argue that this was a pretty cool little burg even before Scott Mangold and Renee Bourgault started their wonderful bakery back in 2003.
The Rust family ran the Edison Eye (5800 Cains Court) art gallery, the farmers ate breakfast at the Edison Cafe (5797 Main St.) and the Edison and Longhorn taverns brought in the party crowd on Friday and Saturday nights.
Bow and Edison have been a hub for the surrounding farming and fishing communities for a long time.
In the late 1890s, it also was the short-lived headquarters for a national utopian social project called the Equality Colony, backed by the Brotherhood of the Cooperative Commonwealth. Colony Road, northeast of Edison, is one of the few remnants of this interesting period in history.
The parents of famed broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow were attracted to this valley as well. Murrow graduated from Edison High School, where he was on the winning debate team and basketball team. (Washington State University’s communications school is named for Murrow, one of its most famous alums.)
Evidence of Murrow’s presence can be found around town, including photos of him hung at the Edison Cafe and Jessica Bonin’s mural along the side of the Lucky Dumpster shop (corner of Main and Gilkey, 360-766-4049). The mural depicts the young Egbert (that was his given name) in his basketball uniform along with a quote, “anyone who isn’t confused doesn’t really understand the situation,” which supposedly is a part of a statement he made decades later about the war in Vietnam.
Taken out of context, the quote is a good one for quirky Edison, which hosts the annual Chicken Parade in February, has closed off its streets for outdoor memorial services and easily triples its population on most weekends with people coming in for art shows and food.
I like to tell people to stop first at Taylor Shellfish Farm at Oyster Creek, 2182 Chuckanut Drive, north of town (360-766-6002). The farm has been there since the late 1890s and has been owned by Taylor’s since 1991. Take the small road down to the shore and shop for oysters and other seafood. The staff will put it on it ice for you. It’s a good place to picnic, too, complete with table-side grills so you can eat those oysters right away if you want.
Heading back south toward Edison, you will pass a place that sells bison meat (not often open) with the buffalo grazing right outside. Turn left (east) toward the Bow neighborhood and stop at Bow Hill Blueberries (15628 Bow Hill Road, 360-399-1006). Started decades ago by the Anderson family, it was one of the first big blueberry farms in the region. You won’t be able to buy fresh blueberries this weekend, but look for them during the coming Independence Day weekend. It’s going to be an early season again, owner Harley Soltes said. Right now the farm shop also sells sweet pickled blueberries, preserves, syrup, juice and blueberry ice cream.
On the way back to Edison, stop at Samish Bay Cheese (15115 Bow Hill Road, 360-766-6707). Owned by Suzanne and Roger Wechsler, the certified organic farm has a mixed dairy herd, mostly shorthorns, that provide the milk for cheese, yogurt and kefir. Pick up some ladysmith cheese with chives. Eat it with eggs, tomatoes, avocado and the Breadfarm’s Samish River potato bread, made from the spuds that grow all over the valley.
Back at the Breadfarm in Edison, along with a loaf of bread, be sure to buy some shortbread cookies. Tasty, satisfying and crunchy, you can’t go wrong with any of the flavors. (Breadfarm products also are available on Sundays at the Everett Farmers Market.)
Owner Renee Bourgault agrees with the adage that a bakery can build a community.
“Edison has became a charming destination,” she said.
No arguments here.
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; email@example.com.
If you go
Other notable restaurants in the area:
Old Edison Inn (5829 Cains Court, 360-766-6266)
Slough Food (5766 Cains Court, 360-766-4458)
Farm-To-Market Bakery and The Rhody (adjacent to each other, 5521 Chuckanut Drive, 360-766-6667)
BowEdison Fine Food & Drink, coming soon across from the Rhody.
Chuckanut Manor (3056 Chuckanut Drive, 360-766-6191)
Other stuff to do besides eat:
Hike up to Oyster Dome just off Chuckanut Drive.
Hike near Padilla Bay.
Other notable galleries and shops in Edison:
Smith and Vallee Art Gallery (5742 Gilkey Ave., 360-766-6230)
The i.e. gallery (5800 Cains Court, 360-488-3458)
Also visit the new Hedgerow kitchen shop on Cains Court, the Shop Curator next door and the Indigo Dreams fiber studio in the old fire station.