Looking to the Stars

Star gazing
Rather than heading to the Methow Valley and the Rolling Huts this year for our summer vacation, we gratefully accepted an invitation to join the Wright's and friends at a spectacular house they rented on Blake Point at the northern bend of Orcas Island's horseshoe. Credit for this gorgeous time-lapse exposure of the sky belongs to the talented photographer, Eric Wright.


During the week, I was the butt of many jokes from Ken, as mythological stories about my days living on the island seem to belie the fact that I lived on Orcas for BUT a year. So much happened that shaped me, as a young English graduate from NY who was first discovering my destiny to live in the great Northwest. In my defense, I would have stayed an islander, had not my romantic interest of the time chosen to attend graduate school in Bellingham. And so I packed up my island life and followed my heart to another city.


Going back, I always encounter some familiar faces, but Orcas is new in so many ways. A barn tucked off the bay I used walk along (with thumb out as I hitch hiked into work--don't read this mom) now houses Buck Bay Shellfish.  Head here for succulent small clams spooned out of their "Exclusive Flow-Through Saltwater Tanks", weighed on an old-fashioned hanging scale, and scooped into a bag of ice. They also sell whole Dungeness Crabs that are boated over live from Lopez. We wanted them uncooked, and scored the last live dancing Dungies from Buck Bay's tank shortly after they opened on the 5th.


We all took turns cooking dinner, and Ken's contribution was his phenomenal Cataplana Clams and a Lamb Tagine with artichokes and favas, cooked outside on live coals. The cataplana has to be my favorite functional cookware--a copper clamshell designed for steaming shellfish, on the stove or on the beach. Until some culinary research this evening, I had no idea that Moroccan tagines and Algarve cataplanas were related, but the connection makes lots of sense.


Tonight my husband finally transcribed his Cataplana Clams recipe which was inspired by a trip to the now defunct winebar 750 ml in Portland, and it is my pleasure to share his secrets with you.

I'm so blessed to have been married to a chef for seven years, don't you think? BOM PROVEITO!

 Cataplana clams




1/4 cup chopped shallots

1 Tbs chopped garlic

1/2 cup chopped linguica

1/2 Tbs orange zest

1 pinch saffron

1/4 cup fino, manzanilla, or Vinho Verde

1-2 lbs fresh manila clams

2 Tbs chopped parsley

2 Tbs chopped cilantro

Olive Oil


Heat olive oil and add shallots, occasionally stirring until transluscent. Add linguica and garlic and cook until sausage has colored the oil, becoming slightly crisp, and garlic becomes fragrant.  Stir in orange zest and saffron threads, then add the clams. Add sherry or wine, stir and then cover or clamp your cataplana shut at this point. Steam until the clams have opened, then toss in the parsley and cilantro. Taste for salt, but the linguica and clams naturally season the dish. Serve with crusty bread to sop up the delicious juices. If you're on Orcas, head to Rose's Bakery.