by Allen Cox | photo by Roger Ward Fans of fresh seafood know the name Xinh (pronounced “sin”) Dwelley. She has practically earned a cult following at her unpretentious restaurant in Shelton, Washington. People regularly make the pilgrimage from Seattle, Tacoma and Olympia to dine at Xinh’s Clam and Oyster House, but also come from all over the country to get a Xinh’s seafood fix while in the Northwest. Even celebrities have sought Xinh. Julia Child, Anthony Bourdain and Mike Rowe (of Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs”) have tapped her expertise at shucking oysters (she is a blue-ribbon champion shucker) or preparing geoduck (aka King Clam), usually overrunning her kitchen with a film crew. Xinh sources most of her seafood from Taylor Shellfish Farms and cooks up a typhoon of dishes daily to showcase Taylor’s seafood. At Xinh’s, east meets west with mouth-watering renditions of Northwest seafood classics alongside fresh seafood dishes with the lively spices and flavors of her native Vietnam. Although Xinh is a Lifetime Honorary Member of the American Culinary Federation, she dismisses the notion that she’s a celebrity. The real stars, in her opinion, are oysters, Manila clams, mussels, Dungeness crab and geoduck—all fresh from South Puget Sound waters. With a background in quality control and product development at Taylor’s, she eventually began developing recipes to demonstrate the seafood’s quality and versatility for buyers. Opening Xinh’s Clam and Oyster House was a natural evolution and the fulfillment of a dream. Xinh’s Clam and Oyster House is located at 221 W. Railroad Ave., Shelton, Washington; 360- 427-8709; xinhsrestaurant.com.
Meet the GeoduckCleaning and preparing the king clam, or geoduck (pronounced “gooeyduck”), is a needlessly intimidating prospect for the uninitiated. When cleaned properly, this too-big-for-itsshell clam has a fresh, surprisingly sweet flavor, and, when served raw, a clean taste and resilient texture that is not at all rubbery. Its color ranges from cream to orange; the males, according to chef and geoduck expert Xinh Dwelley, bear the more colorful meat. Once cleaned, the geoduck has two parts: the siphon and the body. This versatile clam lends itself to chowder, panfrying, fritters, stir-fries and sautés. Its texture is delicate and tender when cooked rapidly, but if left on the heat too long the meat toughens. For stepby- step instructions on how to clean and prepare a geoduck for recipes, visit the State of Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife’s website, wdfw.wa.gov/ fishing/shellfish/geoduck/clean_prepare.html.
by Allen Cox | photo by Berryhill & Co. Restaurant Great food is a Boise tradition. The distinctive flavors from Basque kitchens and traditional Western recipes have kept Boiseans sated for generations. While diners can still order a mouthwatering prime rib with loaded Idaho baked potato, Boise fine dining has reinvented its identity. Creative chefs and savvy restaurateurs have been bringing new ingredients and culinary experiences to Boise restaurants, with delicious results. John Berryhill, chef and owner of Berryhill & Co., has been a recognizable name in this capital city’s food scene since the 1990s, when he began a catering business. He is a man who likes to evolve with the times, and his downtown restaurants today are as fresh as his local ingredients. How can you go wrong with eight types of cured-in-house bacon made from Idaho pigs? “In 1998, I opened the first Berryhill location as a tasting venue for catering clients,” says Berryhill. The idea evolved into a restaurant that continues Berryhill’s values of using ingredients from Idaho ranches and farms whenever possible.The menu at Berryhill & Co. offers dishes from heart-smart choices, such as an Herb Citrus Chicken Salad, to toss-your-cares-away indulgences. On the sinful end of the spectrum, critics have dubbed Berryhill’s Baked Macaroni and Cheeses the best mac & cheese in the U.S.A. With such a covetous award (imagine the thousands of mac & cheese recipes U.S. restaurants serve), it’s difficult to dine at Berryhill & Co. and not choose this elevated, gooey concoction of penne, four cheeses, mushrooms, tomatoes and Berryhill’s own bacon. Next door, Berryhill’s cleverly named Plan B Lounge gives Boiseans a “leather and liquor” den to indulge in fine craft cocktails and lighter fare, a perfect overture to dinner at Berryhill & Co.
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Columbia River Spring Chinook Salmonby Katherina Audley | photo by Mike Duley Here in the Northwest, it’s easy to buy locally caught wild salmon at your neighborhood supermarket. But no fish tastes as succulent as one you pulled out of the water that morning. Every spring, the Columbia River and its tributaries, including the Willamette, become peppered with little boats in pursuit of the tastiest salmon of them all: the spring Chinook, known by local fishermen as “springers.” Just in from a winter of gorging on small cold-water fish in the Pacific, springers have firm flesh, a vibrant pink color and a lip-smackingly high fat content. If you’re a fishing novice, or if the area you are fishing is new to you, book a trip with a licensed fishing guide. They know how to locate the hot spots. You’ll learn from an expert, and your chances of catching dinner will be much higher. Early in the season, only about a third of the boats get a bite. But by the end of April it’s not uncommon to catch the daily limit. Spring salmon travel an arduous journey, sometimes hundreds of miles, to their spawning grounds as far away as the headwaters of the Columbia. To conserve energy, they tend to stay close to the bottom where the current is lighter, take advantage of incoming tides and rest behind mounds and in holes. Savvy fisherman usually fish close to the bottom around incoming tides, and they favor locations where the bottom suddenly shifts. Once a fisherman has dropped the line in a nice fishy spot, there are two things he needs to do to catch a fish: Get its attention and make it bite. Spring salmon fishermen use flashers that spin in the current for the attention-getting part. The most popular flashers are 4-inches long, diamond-shaped and decorated with colored metallic tape. However you decide to fish for spring salmon—from a boat or the riverbank, or with a guide or on your own—you’re in for a memorable (and hopefully delicious) day.
What to bring:Bring rain gear, warm clothes, lunch, a camera, waterproof shoes and a cooler to transport your catch. Before you go, purchase a fishing license with a salmon tag. In Oregon, buy licenses online or check vendor locations at dfw.state.or.us/ resources/licenses_regs, or in Washington at wdfw.wa.gov/licensing.
Fishing guideservices: >> Total Fisherman Guide Service 360-430-2521, totalfisherman.com/seasons.htm >> Washington State Fishing Guides, 253-389-0359, washingtonstatefishingguides.com >> Colombia River Fishing Adventures, 503-490-3099, columbiariverfishingadventures.com >> Marvin’s Guide Service, 503-314-5087, fastactionfishing.com
by Allen Cox | photo by Hotel 1000 A year ago, Hotel 1000, one of downtown Seattle’s premier luxury destinations, took on culinary heavyweight Peter Birk as executive chef of BOKA Restaurant + Bar. Given Birk’s extensive expertise and solid reputation in the restaurant industry, landing him was quite a coup. Birk brings more than 31 years of culinary experience to his position at Hotel 1000. He attended the Western Culinary Institute in Portland, and, over the duration of his career, he has traveled extensively, studying various cooking techniques. He has led culinary teams of well-known restaurants throughout the Pacific Northwest as well as in Los Angeles and other cities. Birk was the executive chef at Seattle’s Harborside and, prior to that, at the city’s iconic Ray’s Boathouse. Throughout his career he has developed a reputation for his leadership, creativity in menu development and kitchen management. href=”http://www.nwtravelmag.com/category/taste/Birk believes in giving back to an industry that has been so good to him. When he is not running BOKA’s kitchen, he donates his time to charitable events for Auction of Washington Wines, FareStart (which provides culinary job training to people who are homeless and disadvantaged), March of Dimes and Long Live the Kings (a salmon conservation organization). A year after taking the helm at BOKA, how has he transformed a restaurant that was already known for offering an outstanding dining experience? The new BOKA menus showcase Peter’s vision for the restaurant, which incorporates Northwest-sourced foods. If you would like to link this article from your website, use this link: