I have been living in Seattle for nearly two months, renting a new house with my girlfriend since the beginning of August. Last weekend was the first time I put the responsibilities of moving aside and relaxed with old friends at a wedding celebration on Vashon Island.The party was scheduled from noon Saturday until noon Sunday, and was nearing its end. We were packing our belongings, thinking we would soon head back to the ferry, when my friend (and our host) Clark came to us and said “so guys, we were thinkin’ of going to the beach for a little while…”
The first thing I noticed upon stepping onto KVI Beach was endless patches of sea beans. In spite of my penchant for foraging, I would sooner climb a mountain than lay out on the shore, so I had not seen these salty morsels in their native habitat.
Miniature geysers squirted from the sand, and someone indicated they were clams. Ever since reading Hank Shaw’s entry on digging for geoducks, I had been waiting for this moment. A little help from Clark and two sore arms later, I was out of breath and sipping a Syrah from Waters Winery alongside some sea beans as Clark filled a bucket to hold the four large horse clams—at the time we thought they were geoducks—we had dug from the sand.We all gathered on a blanket for a picnic after the dig.
“Guys,” Clark said, “this is Molly and my wedding cake.” He opened a large button of soft goat cheese covered in lavender, rose petals, and coriander. “It’s called River’s Edge True Love Chevre.” Since they had such a small group of people with them when they got married a year ago, a traditional wedding cake was not what they were after. They had instead chosen something special they could revisit and re-taste. I cut off a knob using a chunk of bread, and topped it with some smoked salmon and sea beans, then sipped my plastic cup of Syrah. I could say the marriage of saltiness, lush juicy concentrate, creamy fat, and flowers was an indescribably beautiful taste sensation. But I tend to believe such ideal pairings achieve greatness because of their setting. The cool, crisp air and bright, vast landscape of solitude with many of my most cherished companions made a quiet afternoon into a rare weekend’s memorable end. A cup of Washington’s finest grape is merely the final piece of the puzzle, the one that completes the image so you may begin piecing together the next set of flat jigsaw blocks.