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Christmas on the West Coast

I realize the holidays may feel like ages ago, but really they only ended a few weeks back! This year (last year?) I took a long flight to the other coast to spend Christmas with my family in Washington.

My brother was nice enough to host us, which I’m sure he won’t be doing again after I accidentally set his house on fire (no… not kidding… sorry Josh! At least it’s fine now and we can laugh about it, right?… right??).

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It was wonderful being surround by trees and water and air that didn’t smell like exhaust fumes and unwashed bodies. Washington is gorgeous and is unassuming in its natural beauty.

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Because we weren’t at home doing our normal holiday customs, I made a puzzle for our family to put together composed of pictures of our favorite Christmas traditions.

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The picture of my mom and me baking cookies is one of my favorites. You can see the childhood version here.

And every year my dad builds us a fire so we can enjoy its warmth while we sit by the tree and watch the twinkling lights. Who would have thought that this year I would be the one making the fire?!

(Too soon, Josh?)

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On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we mostly ate at Josh’s house, with the three of them making our favorite family meals. (I provided the Christmas music. Everyone has their skills).

But on one of the other nights of the trip we went out in Anacortes, an adorably quaint small town right along the water, about two hours north of Seattle.

We ate at A’Town Bistro (I have no idea why there’s an apostrophe after the A. It’s driving me crazy!). But regardless of the name, the restaurant is warm and inviting and the food is delicious.

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We were joined by Josh’s friend Kate, who we all liked… better than Josh.

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While the others browsed the menu my mom and I ordered drinks. We already knew what we wanted for dinner. Josh had raved that A’Town Bistro has the best clam chowder that he’s ever had, and as a family of clam chowder sommeliers we couldn’t wait to try it!

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For an appetizer we ordered a Scotch Egg for the table. My family had never had a Scotch Egg before, and I had had them in London so I was given the perfect opportunity to start my sentence with “Well when I lived in London…” which Josh always loves hearing.

A’Town Bistro’s Scotch Egg is a soft poached organic egg wrapped with seasoned pork sausage and bread crumbs, then fried and served with ale mustard and pickled red onions. It basically tasted like breakfast so of course we all thought it was fabulous!

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Kate selected the Wild Boar Burger for her dinner, which is topped with German butterkäse cheese, pickled red onions, ale house mustard, garlic aioli and leafy greens and served on a toasted pretzel bun with truffle fries and yellow curry ketchup. She loved the curry ketchup and we loved her truffle fries. Thanks Kate!

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My dad ordered the Frutti di Mare in his best Italian accent. This dish has fresh clams, mussels, squid and fin fish sautéed in a spicy tomato broth then tossed with fresh handmade fettuccine and served with grilled crostini.

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Josh chose the Cornish Game Hen and Waffles, which I have to say is the classiest version of chicken and waffles I’ve ever seen! This dish is served with a maple bourbon syrup and sriracha butter which combined to make a really unique mix of sweet and spicy.

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And my mom and I had the best dish of all. A’Town Bistro’s Made to Order Clam Chowder has local clams cooked in the shell with house cured bacon, cream, fumet, celery, onions, potatoes and black pepper and is served with a warm baguette.

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Once the clams were out of the shells the soup was delicious. However, I didn’t enjoy having to do all of the work myself. I know, total first world problems, and rest assured that my family gave me a hard time when I complained about having to do the “cooking!”

But still, when you order this dish I would recommend asking that the chef remove the clams from the shells for you. It may be a less beautiful presentation, but at least that way you won’t spend the first five minutes of your meal de-shelling.

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But like I said, the soup tasted wonderful. Definitely one of the best that I’ve ever had, and trust me, when it comes to clam chowder I get around!

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Kate snapped this picture so that you can see what goes into a foodie post on this blog! One phone for the flashlight and one phone to take the picture equals the perfect shot that’s not too grainy in dim restaurant lighting.

(As an aside, while I love my Canon G7 X for taking pictures of people and things, I’ve found that my iPhone takes the best pictures of food).

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We all loved our meals at A’Town Bistro, and I absolutely recommend it next time you’re in Washington. It is the perfect restaurant for family bonding (as my mom always says), especially during the holidays.

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I have the best family, and I’m so glad that I was able to travel to the West Coast to spend time with them.

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Oh and did I mention my favorite part of the trip? Oh, sorry mom, second favorite part?

Seeing my first snow of the season!

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Wishing you wonderful food, memories, and of course family, in the new year.

~A

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I am #traveling across the #world for the next few weeks to #celebrate my #30thbirthday! Since I doubt there's wifi on the back of a #camel, I won't be posting until I get back on July 5th. Stay tuned for some amazing #travel stories!

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