Tapas Time in Poulsbo

You may have noticed a gap in my posts??? Blame it on 2.5 months of travel in India and Spain which I cover over here at my other travel blog Peregrine Woman. Since my return a week ago, I’ve been trying to recapture the essence of Spain with food and have found it surprisingly easy to to eat comida espanola in my hometown of Poulsbo,  a community known for its Norwegian roots.

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Central Market has a large selection of made in Spain items including chorizo and Iberian ham, Spanish cheeses, quince paste and wines. In Valencia, Spain I took a class on making paella with a fellow blogger who specializes in food. His blog posts about paella (how to make it, information about paella pans and rice) can be found here. Central Market has all the ingredients for making Valencia’s specialized paella including Bomba rice shipped from Valencia, Spain to the pasta section of Central Market.

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You can always count on World Market in the Silverdale Mall for a global selection of groceries, but I was pleased to find an entire section of wine from Spain and Portugal at prices comparable to what I could buy them for in Spain. Why can’t its neighbor to the north (….France, that’s you I’m talking about) do the same thing?

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If I don’t feel like cooking Spanish, I can walk 10 minutes to Poulsbo’s popular downtown Spanish restaurant, Paella Bar for tapas, sangria and paella. I loved this addition to Poulsbo’s growing restaurant scene before I traveled to Spain the first time three years ago. I appreciate it even more now. On a warm, sunny evening sitting at it’s tiny outdoor patio, a glass of sangria before me, I can close my eyes and and imagine I’m in a village on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

 

Poulsbo: Public Art Under The Bridge

 

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On my walks I’ve been watching the slow progression of Poulsbo‘s newest public art, the mural under the Lindvig Bridge bordering Fish Park. Did you know Lindvig Bridge is named after Maurice Lindvig, the Mayor of Poulsbo from 1970-76? The progress has been slow because it was originally proposed as a mural of trolls but the artist ultimately decided that it was more appropriate to paint outdoor scenes to complement the adjacent Fish Park scenery.

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Work has been suspended temporarily because the rains and winds this winter make painting (even under a bridge) uncomfortable.

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However some graffiti artist has been at work in the interim using the blue plastic tarp as their medium.

 

 

 

 

Kingston: Mossback Restaurant

I’m not a foodie but nearly everyone in my eclectic circle of local friends had asked if I’d eaten at Kingston’s relatively new Mossback Cafe. “No,” I’d reply but then never made a point of going. This week I met one of the owners while we were both hanging out in the waiting room of our mutual esthetician. We talked about my upcoming trip to India. I decided to try out her restaurant.

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Mossback is a small place. Housed in a 100 year old farmhouse, it’s been part of Kingston’s food scene since 2014. The restaurant features locally sourced food made from scratch and a regularly changing menu. Limiting hours and days of operation (its only open Wednesday – Friday from 4-9pm) allows the staff to focus on quality, experimenting with wild edibles and building relationships with local providers.

We showed up on a Wednesday when Happy Hour runs from opening to closing. The restaurant’s cozy bar, Rabbit Hole, is reached by exiting the back door of the restaurant. And because I’m not a foodie I’m going to describe the far more interesting food and drink ordered by my surprisingly food experimental son who joined me for dinner.

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He ordered their special cocktail of the night; a drink so newly designed it didn’t yet have an official name. Made of beet juice and balsamic with vodka, the drink was surprisingly refreshing and worthy of a second round.

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His main course choice was a savory piroshki; beef, cabbage and radicchio kraut in a pastry with a side of horseradish creme fraiche for dipping. And desert was a rich rosemary cream brulee. My salmon cakes followed a cheese and chutney plate all sourced from local farms.

On Sunday Mossback offers an economic three course dinner for $25.

 

 

Poulsbo: What? We Have Mass Transit?

If you read last week’s post you know I’m a Kitsap urban dweller who walks to almost everything. Two weeks ago I found myself sans auto for three days while it was in the shop (I was even able to walk round trip to the auto body shop). Now I’m an avid traveler who relies heavily on mass transit wherever I find myself and so it was with some surprise that I found myself feeling a tad abandoned and desolate without my car. I came up with all sorts of out-of-walking-radius errands that couldn’t wait for three days.

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I was on my daily walk to the post office when I noticed this sign.

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I was on my way back when I spotted this one.

I counted the steps back to my house. 240. Within 240 steps I had my choice of stops for four Kitsap Transit bus routes! I’d vaguely noticed the signs before and paid even less attention to the green Kitsap Transit buses that made their way around the county. I got on their website, downloaded the schedules and routes for 32, 33, 43 and 44 and walked 240 steps to wait for the #44 just to see where it went.

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For a $2.00 fare I can take a bus to Olympic Community College, Office Depot, the medical plaza, my favorite out-of-walking-radius grocery store and it travels my daily walking route through downtown Poulsbo. It also stops at the Poulsbo Transit Center where I can catch buses to Bainbridge Island, the ferry to Seattle and to Jefferson County across the Hood Canal Bridge. The #44 is Poulsbo’s newest route and the bus running the route is painted distinctive blue with Viking characters instead of Kitsap Transit green to identify it. It runs every 30 minutes.

Since I was the only rider for much of the round trip, the friendly driver and I had a great chat. When I told him I was now noticing all the bus signs on our route, he told me it was reticular formation which I had to Google when I got home. Britannica Encyclopedia says its a neurological function that, as an example, rouses a sleeping cat to alertness.

As I disembarked the bus after riding the entire route, the auto body shop called to say my car was ready. I walked to get it, but I could have taken the #43 now that my cerebral cortex is in a general state of wakefulness about local mass transit.

 

 

 

 

 

Seabeck: Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve

“People really live out here?” I found myself repeatedly muttering on the drive to find Guillemot Cove Nature Reserve for my post on the Shire of Kitsap. (I’m a Kitsap urban dweller. I walk to the grocery store, the dentist, the post office, three local brewpubs, restaurants and the monthly art gallery walk.) Then I’d round a back roads narrow corner and there would be a guy in a Seahawks jersey walking his poodle or a woman out for a run (they all waved) or a large home set back in the trees. Getting to Guillemot requires turning west off the highway, following the road to Seabeck and taking two more turns on increasingly narrow roads til you can go no further or drive into Hood Canal. Its the kind of place mostly trod by the US Postal Service, Puget Sound Energy and intrepid Kitsap adventurers.

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It didn’t help that the sky was colored Northwest Gray or that it was the first dry day in five. Everything seems longer and more primeval when its wettish and darkish. It also seems much more Hobbitish – like Mirkwood in Middle-earth.

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Originally called Frenchman’s Cove after Henri Querrette, who had a cabin on the cove, the nature reserve was renamed Guillemot after the ubiquitous small black seabird by the Reynolds family who homesteaded the original 80 acres of the now 184 acre park.

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The reserve still has remnants of it’s former human inhabitants including a barn built in 1940 by the Reynolds family out of wood milled on the property. The barn was destroyed in a 2014 windstorm.

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In 1946 the Reynolds family built a summer beach house known as the Nest House which is slowly giving way to vines and weather.

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Off trail its easy to spot other vestiges of human habitation such as the rusted remains of this vehicle.

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But its Mother Nature who plays the starring role here. The Reserve hosts a rare old growth stand of cedar maple. In addition to being a bird habitat, there are beaver dams everywhere. Boyce Creek flows downhill through the property and after rainy spells the reserve becomes noisy with water flow coming making its way to the creek or downhill to Hood Canal. It’s a mandatory galoshes kind of place if you want to explore it in the winter or spring seasons.

It’s also evolving trail-wise as the creek seeks new tributaries and bridges get washed out. There’s a trail map on the Guillermot Cove county parks website that may not be entirely accurate or to scale. It’s best to print it out and bring it along if you want to explore the reserve or find the Stump House.

 

 

 

Volkswalking in Kitsap County

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I lost my virginity in Nepal in 2007. My status as a Hash House Harrier Virgin ended after a Hash sponsored 10K walk through rice fields when I managed to slog down the required Hash urn of beer before the end of the ceremonial group initiation song. I even have the t-shirt to prove it because if you’re going to lose it, there’s no better t-shirt to boast about it with than the Kathmandu Himalayan Hash House Harriers. The U.S. Ambassador to Nepal was an avid Hasher (he was a runner; I was a walker) and helped with the initiation. It turns out there’s a Kitsap County Hash Club which requires further investigation on my part because as the tagline goes for all international HHH Clubs – “Hash House Harriers – “A Drinking Club With A Running Problem.” But I digress. It’s really volkswalking I want to talk about in this post.

I was grabbing a latte at the Port Gamble General Store when I noticed the plastic box next to the front door. “Kitsap Volkssporters Walk Box”. Inside were maps, registration logs and information about the Kitsap Volkssporters. It sounded like a significantly tamer version of the Hash House Harriers.

Volkswalking, also called volksmarching, originated in Europe as a way to encourage fitness by offering non-competitive biking, swimming, walking and other activities in scenic or historical areas. Volksmarsch is a German word that literally means “peoples’ march”.  Kitsap County has a Volkssporters Club that offers a full array of volkswalking (and some biking) activities from one time traditional walks to year round walks. This coming 2016 summer, the Kitsap club will be offering a Tuesday Night Guided Walk Series all over the county.

The group sponsors regular group walks on the first and third Saturdays of the month. The 2016 schedule can be found here.

If you don’t have the time to participate in the guided walk series, the club has walk boxes in eleven locations throughout the county. Inside each box are specific directions and descriptions of local walks between 5 and 10 kilometers. Each walk is rated from 1-A (easiest) to 5E (hardest) and the description advises whether it’s appropriate for strollers, pets and if it has bathroom facilities. I checked out two other walk box locations in addition to the one in Port Gamble. Located in coffee shops, stores and medical facilities, I found that employees in the locations often didn’t know there was a walk box there. Ask around. They’re generally located in a visible location in the front of the premises.

The traditional group walks often end with group refreshments, though I suspect not with drinking songs and virgin initiations. And while I’m not sure if there are t-shirts, there are club sanctioned achievement awards based on mileage and number of walks completed.

 

 

Poulsbo’s Teeny Tiny Tearoom

 

This little gem of a place has become my new favorite local indoor sketching nook. Who can resist a sidewalk sign declaring “The earth without art is just “eh”?

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Located in Liberty Bay Art Gallery in downtown Poulsbo, the gallery has been an institution on the Poulsbo art scene for years. Before the historical building housed the current gallery, it housed another gallery. Before that it was an appliance store and prior to that an annex for the Olympic Hotel.

The current owner, who was fond of the town’s now shuttered tearoom, decided to convert a space in the back used as a classroom to a cozy tearoom with an open invitation for visitors to make art and sip tea. She also offers classes in the space.

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There’s a supply of art tools on the table but I bring my own. I like spreading out my markers, watercolors and pad of paper surrounded by the work of professional painters, weavers, sculptors and photographers. Their art silently reminds me to up my game. I find I spend more time on a sketch lulled by the tea and the music that wafts through the gallery.

The gallery is located next to Sogno di Vino Restaurant (formerly the main Olympic Hotel) and the picture window in the tearoom overlooks the restaurant’s patio and comely magnolia tree. I can’t wait for the weather to get warm enough for the tree to bloom and the patio to get populated with people to sketch.