The Farm Kitchen near Poulsbo offers a special monthly breakfast that draws crowds from near and far. After breakfast, scenic towns and attractions abound.
KITSAP PENINSULA — A half-hour ferry ride, followed by a 25-minute drive to get to the barn. That’s a long way to go for breakfast.
But I was told Seattleites make this trek every first Saturday of the month. I was told Farm Kitchen was worth it.
The apples plucked from the trees outside the barn to make Hollis’ rosemary-apple sausage patties. The raspberries and cherries, too, for summertime brioche.
So they come, as early as 8 a.m., foodies and followers of Michael Pollan’s slow-food movement. Sitting along the back windows for a view of the pitchfork life. Or at the communal tables, with coffee and green tea, talking about the Winter Olympics, or that new Mayor McGinn. And food. Always food.
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Farm Kitchen, in a red barnlike structure on a rural road between Poulsbo and Kingston, offers a slice of farm life for city slickers, a chance to take a cooking class at the barn or stay overnight. But its most popular venue remains its monthly eat-local theme breakfast, with pears, apples and berries plucked in season at the farm, or veggies from local organic producers.
“Farm-to-Table” dining has become popular. Fairburn Farm, on Vancouver Island, and Plate & Pitchfork, in Portland, for instance, have turned slow-food feasts into major events and destination dining.
Farm Kitchen is similar in scope, but more modest and less expensive. (In comparison, that ferry ride and drive don’t look too far after all.)
Its special breakfast costs $9.75. Last month was scrambled eggs with organic veggies, roasted potatoes and a baked apple in pastry. This Saturday: brioche French toast stuffed with citrus cream-cheese filling, thick-cut bacon and fresh fruit.
Simple but fresh. And fast, this time of year when lines are short or nonexistent. You arrive. You park. You eat. (No reservations — it’s first-come, first-served.) Then, depending on the season, there’s more to do: Peek at the organic gardens and flower beds. Take pictures. Grab some grapes from the vineyard to munch on. Or grab a handful of apples from the barn to feed Jack, Jiggs and the other Percheron-Morgan draft horses in the back pasture. And you’re done. On to Port Gamble. Or Poulsbo. Or Point No Point Lighthouse. Or whatever you’re planning the rest of the day.
Weddings and tarts
Hollis Fay owns these 18 acres, six miles north of Bainbridge Island. She turned this former cow pasture with a butcher shop into an organic farm. Neighbor Anne Thatcher became her business partner.
The idea was to host weddings. Why not? The majestic setting. Summer beds of white roses, dahlias and sunflowers. Flanked by birch, evergreen and aspen. Gentle breeze rustling the leaves. Birds chirping. Throw in catered farm-to-table theme wedding banquets. There’s a Northwest sensibility to it all.
The breakfast part was unplanned. Fay, former owner of Bainbridge Bakers in Winslow, had a following for her pastries. So she continued to bake her signature eight-grain pullaparts, orange rolls and fruit tarts in the barn 10 years ago.
Folks came early for her fresh pastries. Early also meant breakfast time. Eggs, why aren’t there eggs for breakfast, too, regulars asked?
Next thing the owners knew, they went through 900 eggs every Saturday. The breakfasts used to be an every-Saturday event, but the business partners scaled back to a monthly breakfast to focus on the more lucrative wedding events.
The season dictates the breakfast menu. Frozen berries from their farm for the pastries during winter. Eating here, spring is fresher than winter. Summer better than spring.
But summer is also when the line gets long for Hollis’ fruit tarts filled with Bings, Rainiers and raspberries picked out back. They supplement their menus with produce from farmers around the area.
About 450 to 500 diners come for summer breakfasts.
On my February visit, the figs were covered in frost and spider webs. But the air gets warmer now — shorts and sandal weather on some days even. Spring feels less hectic than summer.
Walking the farm
Roam the farm to check out the draft horses and the yellow iris. The daffodils and tulips should bloom soon.
“When (people) come for breakfast they like to walk the farm. It’s a very country experience,” Thatcher said. “They have a real interest in seeing land in the Northwest that is still being farmed. And it’s that farm-to-table dining experience. People appreciate the fact that when they come here, it’s food made from scratch, food from local producers, as much as possible.”
Thatcher of Seattle and Hollis of Alaska moved here more than a decade ago for the same reason folks visit here: to get away from the city, to a quieter setting, to eat locally — because there’s nothing like walking out and plucking a Gravenstein or a Golden Delicious and smacking into it.
The two don’t tend the farm but lease it to Leapfrog Farm and Butler Green Farms, who grow corn, kale and other greens.
For breakfast, to get hundreds of diners in and out efficiently, the owners streamlined the menu. There’s always a main dish such as scrambled eggs or French toast, some sides, including the signature rosemary-apple sausage, and whatever is ripe on the farm. Plus lots of fresh pastries, a la carte.
Making a day of it
Then you have the rest of the day. Some head to Port Townsend. Others hit the nurseries around Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island.
There are several nearby small towns to stroll around and burn some calories, such as Poulsbo, with its downtown Scandinavian motif, or Port Gamble, a New England-style hamlet modeled after the founders’ hometown in Maine.
Both towns are on water. Rent kayaks. Or hire Bill Archer to give you a tour on his motorboat around Liberty Bay, off Poulsbo, to complete a lazy Saturday.
Among the most popular options is Point No Point Lighthouse, the first lighthouse built on Puget Sound, located at the tip of Kitsap Peninsula. The barking and the Frisbees in the air? Coming from the back of the lighthouse, where the beach has transformed into a dog park of sorts.
Nearby, quieter, sits the Hansville Greenway, a nature preserve and wildlife sanctuary, with seven miles of flat, dirt trails. Thatcher loves the feeling that she can “hike on a nearby trail or jump in my car and hike in the Olympics in 45 minutes… ” or be in Port Angeles and then Victoria in two to three hours.
First, there’s breakfast to prep this Saturday, though. “We gotta make the brioche bread for the stuffed French toast,” she said. “And some pecan sticky buns.”
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @tanvinhseattle