Mossback. It’s a slang term for anyone who prefers the gray drizzle of the Pacific Northwest to its elusive, sunny days. And we all know what happens sans sunlight — moss grows.
Except in Kingston. There, Mossback is a restaurant with an ever-changing farm-to-table menu, a supportive community of local family farmers and producers whose organic handiwork inspires the kitchen, and a trio of hardworking owners who don’t mind pulling on a pair of overalls and boots to weed and prune in the rain.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Finding the Bainbridge Halls Hill Labyrinth and its Community Tibetan Prayer Wheel is not so easy if, like me, you don’t know the island’s backroads, but I’ve been there a few times now.
It’s stunning in the summer when the Asian inspired landscaping fully complements the labyrinth and prayer wheel and it’s stunning in the winter when rain highlights the varied colors in the four quadrants of the labyrinth. However, I never remember how to get there and so on my most recent foray I asked The Google for directions and he revealed four more Bainbridge labyrinths also on private land (all of them churches) but regularly open to the public and another one in a public park. How many public labyrinths are there in Kitsap County?
It turns out there are two more – one in Kingston and one in Silverdale, both of them on welcoming church property. And the south end of the county lends its own unique contributions to the county labyrinth culture. A Port Orchard couple who have a semi public labyrinth belong to a state network of labyrinth events and consult on building labyrinths. And a Bremerton based artist makes finger labyrinths.
I set out to walk them all and discovered each is unique. While most of the county labyrinths accessible to the public are on church property, labyrinths are not part of any specific religion. The earliest ones are from the Middle Ages and were intended to be used as both a meditative and spiritual practice.
The labyrinth at Grace Episcopal Church on East Day Road, Bainbridge is one of two walking meditative features. The architecturally stunning church is located down a long driveway and the labyrinth is on a small north rise above the parking lot. Made of gravel and lined with stones, this labyrinth was built in the Chartres pattern of two circuitous paths to the center. Beyond the labyrinth is a meditation trail that winds through the trees.
Bethany Lutheran Church on Finch Road, Bainbridge maintains a seven circuit stone and gravel medieval labyrinth on the southwest part of their property. Since the church also hosts a large park and ride parking lot, I wondered if the labyrinth also provided stress reduction for the island’s significant Seattle bound daily commuter population.
The Eagle Harbor Congregational Church labyrinth in downtown Bainbridge was nearly indistinguishable from its surroundings when I visited. Covered with needles, the seven circuit brick lined labyrinth is on the south side of the church just off the parking lot.
Eagledale Park on Bainbridge has a large, well-signed hilltop labyrinth with a view of Mt. Rainier. The park was once part of a Cold War Nike missile complex which made me wonder how many of THOSE we have in Kitsap County – a future blog post.
In Kingston, the United Methodist Church on Shorty Campbell Road has a small three circuit labyrinth behind the church. While open to the public the church asks that it not be visited on Sunday mornings while services are in progress.
It was one of our recent cold, frosty days when I found the Silverdale labyrinth located at the Silverdale Lutheran Church on Ridgepoint Drive. I like that walking the pathway leads to a contemplative bench.
And for anyone not wanting to brave the elements of an outdoor labyrinth, Brian Watson, a Bremerton artist and woodworker makes beautiful finger labyrinths. The above photo is from his website.
ADDENDUM: Readers of this post informed me of two more labyrinths on Bainbridge Island; one at Sakai Intermediate School and another at Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church. Check out this link from the Smithsonian for more information about labyrinths.