Do not let its size deceive you: there is much to be consumed on the 37-square-mile isle of Vashon, the heavily wooded, rural island just a 20-minute ferry from West Seattle’s shores. Days could fly by touring the small farm stands alone, but some of Vashon Island’s most celebrated purveyors are the farmers whom are fermenting, brewing and distilling, and the eateries supporting the local craft.
Indulge in all the brunch at Snapdragon || Come hungry to this bakery and cafe — deciding which pastry (or how many) to get might be the hardest decision you make all week. Inescapably alluring scents waft out the front door, inside handmade delicacies are baked daily, including seasonal Irish soda bread scones, butter croissants in varying flavors (available weekends only), the namesake Danish cinnamon roll and a decadent chocolate fudge cake, all on display in glass cases at the counter. For larger dishes, the herb scramble and East Indian Stuffed Savory Pancakes (plump with peas, potatoes, peppers, cilantro and zucchini) are popular savory plates.
Sample heritage ciders at Dragon’s Head || Twenty-five acres of island property are devoted to the cultivating of over 3,000 cider apple trees, plus the land also holds the home and tasting room of this husband-and-wife-run operation. Small-batch, traditionally minded ciders are produced largely from the fruit grown on the estate, like the robust Traditional, made from a blend of 20-plus English and French cider apple varieties, and the Wild Fermented farmhouse-influenced cider. Taste the whole lot — including some fortified cider-based sippers, soon to be released — in the modest tasting room; $5 will get you samples of your choice of four, plus a logo glass to take home.
Get to know perry and Bouvier des Flandres pups at Nashi Orchards || After purchasing a striking Japanese-inspired home on the island, Cheryl Lubbert and Jim Gerlach decided to start fermenting the Asian pears found on the 27-acre plot. Fast-forward six years, and the married couple’s label is one of the louder proponents of understanding and producing perry, cider’s cousin that is 100 percent fermented pear juice. The new tasting room — complete with a mural of the estate’s sheep herd, a beautiful counter top and welcoming outdoor farmhouse table for 20-30 guests — is humble and brightly lit, suitable for tasting Nashi’s multiple perrys and ciders in between ball throws for the three massive and affectionate Bouvier des Flandres dogs that reside there. Need more cider? Embrace the small-scale farmer and cider — fresh and fermented — at this Saturday’s Vashon CiderFest.
Sample Eastern Washington vineyards at Palouse Winery || Another inviting husband-and-wife-operated island business, Palouse Winery should be one of the first stops when off the ferry for the weekend. The winery makes i4 single-varietal, single-vineyard wines, many of which are available only to the house’s wine club, plus two red blends. Try the brambly and savory Dynamique Cabernet Franc from the Rattlesnake Hills AVA, and end with the Portage, a Port-style take on brandy-fortified Petite Sirah grapes.
Espresso break at The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie || A centenarian, old growth fir-built structure, The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie and Minglement was established in 1979 as an organic health food store by Fair Trade coffee pioneer Jim Stewart, better known as the original man behind Seattle’s Best Coffee. Today the building sports a coffee museum with roasting antiques, local art, music and seating for the caffeinated watering hole. House roasts, tea blends, herbs and spices are all available for purchase, the coffee touting prestigious certified organic beans harvest from high elevation, shade-grown sites.
Coffee by way of vodka at Seattle Distilling Co. || From scratch, by-hand and produced on-island, Seattle Distilling Co. makes just four spirits: a vodka, gin, whiskey and coffee liqueur, the latter a brown sugar-and-coffee-infused vodka using the Orca blend from neighbor The Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie. Visitors can taste all of the elixirs, Thursday through Sunday, at the tasting room — book a tasting and tour for two for $25, including a “close-up view” of the handmade still, tasting and logo glasses to take home.
Southern-inspired Supper at Gravy || Close the day out with dinner at Gravy, the island’s newest restaurant helmed by yet another happy island couple. Eats find inspiration in French and Southern fare, featuring Vashon- or Northwest-grown ingredients. If you can’t make it out for Sunday BBQ for the Combo Platter — ribs, sausage, pulled pork, braised greens, potato salad and house-made cornbread to the tune of $35 — savor the fried oyster sandwich with jicama-apple slaw and Chef Dre Neeley’s thousand island dressing, the caramel-brined pork or the sumptuous Trifecta burger.