Updated! Epic Summer Meals Worth Traveling For

The gorgeous view of the bay from the oyster beds at Jones Family Farm on Lopez Island

Summer's a time for soaking it all in, eating every single thing at its absolute peak freshness, staying out late to watch the sun set after nine, the air still warm, cold drink in hand. To help you max out your summer supper plans, I've rounded up four special dinners that caught my eye. They're the kind of dinners that take a little extra effort, a little extra money, but that promise to pay you back in vivid and spirited memories. Reserve soon, though, as they'll surely sell out.

Willows Inn on Lummi Island is hosting their second annual Harvest Dinner July 24th and 25th, and it is a Big Damn Deal. If you want to eat food cooked by some of the best chefs in the country, surrounded by some of the most serious diners in the country, here's your chance. Christopher Kostow of the three Michelin starred Restaurant at Meadowood is the chef whose food I'd be most geeked to taste, followed closely by Virgilio Martinez of Central Restaurante in Lima, Peru. Of course this all sounds silly because Alinea chef Grant Achatz will also be in the kitchen, cooking alongside Dominique Crenn, Justin Yu and Willows' own young genius, Blaine Wetzel. Dinner, with wine (or Wetzel's incredible juice) pairings included, is $500. If the price doesn't make you wince, you shouldn't hesitate to go. (Read this report from last year's dinner if you're on the fence.) 

Need a good excuse for a little San Juan island-hopping this summer? Frank's Oyster House chef de Cuisine Kym Goheen is cooking a summer afternoon meal on Shoal Bay on Lopez Island on August 4th (you'll dine while taking in the stunning view from Jones Family Farm's oyster beds, pictured above). There'll be oysters, of course, along with: Herbed goat cheese, house-made crackers and roasted summer peppers with brut Crémant; oysters (raw) and clams from the grill, accompanied by Washington Sauvignon Blanc and Picpoul de Pinet from Languedoc; smoked Jones Family pork loin, seasonal fish and produce accompanied by Oregon Pinot Noir; and strawberry and herbed shortbread with a house-infused strawberry and tarragon eau de vie.

The meal begins with drinks and snacks at 1:45pm and will go unil 6pm or so, making it convenient for those who must leave the island that evening (although, why would you?).  The price is $120 per person inclusive of wine. Call Frank’s to reserve a spot, 206.525.0220.

Or reserve at table at the lovely Allium on Orcas Island (pictured left) on the 4th of July, when chef Lisa Nakamura will serve a four course prix-fixe menu: smoked salmon spread on dill focaccia; corn and bacon chowder with fresh corn and roasted garlic dumplings; a Surf and Turf of Painted Hills beef tenderloin and Dungeness crab cakes with potato salad, mac and cheese and summer veggies, and, of course, pie! A la mode with caramel sauce. And just in time for the fireworks, viewed from Allium's waterfront deck? Hot chocolate and cookies. Dinner's at 7:30 and is $95 not including wine/tax/gratuity.

UPDATED: And lastly, Delancey pizza maestro Brandon Pettit is guest cheffing at an Outstanding in the Field farm dinner on Skagit River Ranch, Tuesday, July 9th. Pettit told me via email that, "We're still working on it but so far we have: Some sort of passed grilled  toasts; braised wagyu brisket seared directly on the coals; One Leaf Farm chicories with a charred tomato vinaigrette and sheeps milk feta; smoked and glazed pork rib roast; berry Eaton mess." He says they'll be brining their own amaro, and that Delancey sous chef Ricardo will be making his  flake sea salt  from scratch, too. And that everything will be cooked over apple wood. Sounds damn good.

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