Thursday, October 31, 2013

To Eat or Where to Eat…

those are the questions.

It was our final day in Sequim, WA, a town that has become a popular retirement spot for old people like Chuck and me. Why? From what we understand, Sequim lies in what is called the Olympic Rain Shadow. When you condense the meteorological jargon down to simple language, it means that “(t)he Olympic Mountains act as a wall that protects the northeastern Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Islands from the bulk of the rain that moves into the Pacific Northwest.” ( And this means less rain and more sunny days. And we have been fortunate to have seen our share of such sunny days.

So what should we do on this sunny day? Should we go somewhere scenic? Unfortunately, Olympic National Park was still closed due to the government shutdown. So dining out seems to be the best option. But where?

On our trips in and out of Port Townsend, we passed a this quirky joint—Fat Smitty’s—and thought that the chain saw art was calling our name.
After a quick “Google” I learned that you either loved or hated the food which was mostly burgers. I also learned that many diners thought it could be cleaner and that the owner—a former Marine—had less than a warm and fuzzy personality. But Fat Smitty’s was still calling to us.

But that wasn’t the only thing calling to us. What else, you are asking? You’re not? I’m going to tell you anyway—it’s bacon. Not just any bacon. The bacon at the Oak Table Café. So the Oak Table Café it would be…again (see yesterday’s entry).
When we entered, we were immediately greeted by John, our server from our previous visit. “You’re back again,” remarked John.
In response, I told him that I would like to say we came back to see him, but it was really for more bacon. In addition to being an excellent server and the source of those immortal words “We’re famous for our bacon,” John has a sense of humor. As will be seen later in this blog.

We knew that each of us wanted our own order (four slices) of bacon. I briefly thought about the café’s Apple Pancake that is described on the menu as “Made in the tradition of a soufflé, baked in our oven until it's at least three inches high, filled with fresh apples (peeled and cut in our kitchen) and generously covered with a pure cinnamon glaze. A pancake you'll talk about forever!” This sounded a lot like the Munchener Apfel Pfannekuchen (pronounced fan-e-koo-ken) that I had eaten at Magnolia Pancake Haus in San Antonio. Only this one sounded bigger. It’s a good thing I resisted. I saw John bringing one to a sturdy looking young man sitting in the booth behind Chuck and halfway through this young man admitted defeat and called for a “to go” box.

Instead I ordered the Silver Dollar Pancakes which was a plate of ten cakes about three inches in diameter. Somewhat larger than a silver dollar. The café makes their pancakes from unbleached hard wheat flour, cream, eggs, and their own sourdough starter.
Aside from being delicious, what set them apart was the paper thin crust that kept the syrup from completely soaking into the cakes. This might not be a plus for you, but it is for me. And I should mention that the café makes its own syrup which is neither too sweet nor too viscous.

Chuck selected French toast which might sound humdrum, but is anything but when prepared by this café’s kitchen. The bread was thick sliced sourdough and the egg mixture developed a crusty surface.
How do they do this? John explained that the kitchen clarifies butter daily and anything cooked on the flattop is cooked in this clarified butter. Wonderful.
And the bacon? Perfect. Maybe we should have ordered a third plate to share.

As we were munching away, John brought over one of the café’s 49'ers Flapjacks for us to sample.
This was similar to a Swedish pancake but served flat and not rolled and was delicious when eaten with the whipped butter and house-made syrup.

Now I told you earlier that John has a sense of humor. I wasn’t long before he returns to our table and presents the Corn Dog Platter—two lavender and one chocolate.
At first I thought that they were some kind of pastry in corn dog form. I picked one up and discovered that it weighed a ton. Plaster of Paris. I wonder how many unsuspecting diners actually tried taking a bite from one of these. Fortunately for John, we also have a sense of humor.

This is one of those rare 5.0 Addie restaurants where everything we tried was first rate. I would reorder any of them in a heartbeat. But then you don’t get to try anything new.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Oak Table Café…

in Sequim, WA, is one of the best.

We were out in The Big White Truck one day heading for—well, I don’t remember where we were heading, and it really doesn’t matter—when Chuck suddenly asks, “Would you be able to put together a list of the ten best restaurants we have eaten at during the past five-plus years? Oh, and they have to be outside of Louisiana.” This latter was important because we could make a list of ten and then have overflow from that state alone.

As we began to talk, it soon became apparent that what we were listing were specific menu items that we liked (e.g., the Asian Shrimp at Asian Noodle Bar in Albuquerque), but couldn’t remember much of the menu beyond those. Sure, there were a few exceptions. The one that immediately comes to mind is Andreoli Italian Grocer in Scottsdale, AZ, where everything we have eaten could be considered a favorite.

And in the Oak Table Café we have found another.
“Mary and Billy Nagler opened the original Oak Table Cafe in Sequim, Washington in 1981. Together with their three children, Nikki, Kory, and Casey they have won the hearts and appetites of the folks in this beautiful river valley. In 1982, Mary’s brother, Billy Zuzich, joined the crew, and is now general manager. Kory, Casey, and Nikki all contributed to the success of their parents' business” (

“The Oak Table started out as a run-down little homestead…and over the years morphed into its present Thomas Kincade cottage. The lobby feels like you walked right into the Nagler family home. I have the ‘collecting disease,’ so I especially love the vintage plate collection on the walls and the shadow boxes filled with militaria—a tribute to the Nagler family service to our country (you'll find them hung just outside the restroom area).
Kids will be happily preoccupied in the play area until they have food in front of them. The 3D map of the Peninsula highlighting points of interest must be very helpful for visitors—and I know this dining establishment gets plenty of those during the season; it's on the list for residents to take visiting family members” (Shelley Taylor at
“Carefully crafted breakfasts and lunches, made with high-grade, fresh ingredients, are the focus of this well-run, family-friendly eatery.... Thick-sliced bacon and eggs are a top-seller, but the restaurant is best known for its creamy blintzes, golden-brown waffles, crepes, and variety of pancakes, particularly the cinnamony sweet soufflé-style apple pancake. Egg dishes include eggs Nicole—a medley of sautéed mushrooms, onions, spinach, and scrambled eggs served over an open-face croissant and covered with hollandaise sauce…” (

I would describe the décor more as Victoriana meets craftsman’s cottage and not something from Thomas Kincade. But that’s just me.

And I can imagine the dining room being full of happy diners in-season. But this is October, when the tourists have gone home and left much of the Olympic Peninsula to the local residents.
The café’s very extensive breakfast menu was posted on their web site, and we both had painstakingly studied the offerings. But we hadn’t counted on the list of breakfast specials that we received along with the main menu. That day’s specials included a Dungeness crab omelet, house-made corned beef hash, and eggs scrambled with smoked salmon. But the minute I saw the Dungeness Crab Eggs Benedict I knew that my decision was made.
There was nothing about this dish I didn’t love. The poached eggs were perfect with firm whites and runny yolks that ran like a mountain stream onto the plate. The hollandaise had just enough lemon to bring a fresh and bright flavor to the dish and offset to some extent the richness of the crab. And the crab. Oh, the crab. First, there was no scrimping on the crab. And the crab wasn’t just shreds but included large lumps of body meat.

With the Eggs Benedict came a large portion of the café’s Homemade American-Style Potatoes. While I am not a big fan of home fries these were superior to most and were nicely browned with lots of crunchy edges.

After numerous changes of mind, Chuck finally decided on the Fresh Potato Pancakes made with grated potatoes, cream, and a blend of nutmeg and other seasonings and served with applesauce and sour cream. I don’t know if you can see, without clicking on the photo to enlarge it, all of the airy little holes on the surface of the pancakes.
The interiors were almost creamy. These were kind of a cross between Jewish latkas and the potato pancakes our Thrifty German Mothers made from left over mashed potatoes.

Chuck wanted something to go with the potato pancakes and asked our server for some advice. The suggestion was a side of eggs with bacon. “We’re famous for our bacon” our server said.

Truer words may never have been spoken.

This was outrageously great bacon—not quite thick-cut, but thicker than your usual restaurant bacon. It was crisp, salty, and smoky. Just what bacon should be. Chuck described it by saying “one bite is like eating a whole slice of other bacon.” We learned that is comes from Wilson Meats in Seattle and—drat—is only available to restaurants.

This was a great breakfast. A real 5.0 Addie breakfast.
And now we have a decision to make. And what might that be, you are asking yourself? Tune in tomorrow.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Totems at 7 Cedars Casino

Yesterday's entry about the totem pole being repaired at the House of Myths (Carving Shed) at the Jamestown S'Kallam Tribe complex in Blyn, WA, ended with the photo below. The space in the center identifies the space the totem will occupy when it is repaired and returned to the 7 Cedars Casino.
At the base of the totem pole on the left is an early head chief, T'Chits-a-ma-hun, who stood for peace between the S'Klallam and the white settlers. He is credited with keeping the settlers of Port Townsend from massacre during what historians called the Indian Wars of the 1850's.

The chief is shown holding up his hand in greeting to the early settlers, and in his other hand, he holds the blanket with which he signaled the settlers of danger.
Above the chief is the figure of Thunderbird, a powerful guardian spirit associated with the S'Klallam people.
Lord James Balch, a great leader of the S'Klallam, is shown at the base of the totem pole on the right in photo #1 above. When settlers finally drove the S'Klallam from most of their lands, Lord James led his people to buy land which could not be taken from them. The settlement was named Jamestown in his honor.

Along with Lord James, are Salmon and
Eagle, two crest figures chosen by the Tribe.
Four other totem poles complete the 7 Cedars outside the 7 Cedars Casino. These four speak of connections between the natural world and the spiritual world, a view shared by other tribes of the Northwest. Master Carver Dale Faulstich designed each of these four poles in the style of a different Northwest tribe.

These four poles consist of two pairs--two 32-foot poles at either end of the building form one pair. The humanlike forms in the pole below entitled "Natural Elements" represent natural phenomena. At the base is Fog Woman. Above Fog Woman is the personification of Rainbow, then Cloud Woman (a human with birdlike features), and Cumulus Clouds (three small figures) at the very top

Fog Woman

The second 32-foot pole is entitled "Elements For Success," referring to the elements necessary to operate a successful Casino. The bottom figure, an Eagle holding a salmon, represents the guidance of the Tribal Council. The next figure is the Financier, holding a copper shield, a symbol of wealth.
Above the Financier is the Gambler, grasping the Financier's hat and hoping to acquire some of his wealth. At the top is the final ingredient for success--the necessary evil of government oversight, portrayed as a mouse, the little rodent that eats at every man's table.

The final poles are a pair of 35-foot poles directly on either side of the central group of three totem poles. The pole below is the "Supernatural World," representing each major realm of nature and the corresponding fearsome supernatural being--the Forest World (Dzonuk'wa) on the bottom, the Sky World (Thunderbird) in the middle, and the Undersea World (Tcama'os).
And the other 35-foot pole also show images of the Forest, Sky, and Undersea Worlds, but these are natural beings. At the bottom is the Forest World's giant, the Grizzly Bear (strength), then the Sky World's Raven (hero and trickster), and at the top from the Undersea World is Killer Whale, also called Blackfish.
Other totem poles that were positioned at sites around the Jamestown complex are shown below.
Bear Totem

The Salmon Bringers

Rulers from the Land Above

The Guardians

The information above was obtained from Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, Totem Poles of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, The Art of Dale Faulstich, 2007.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Work in the Jamestown "House of Myths"

We continue our visit to the "House of Myths" or Carving Shed at the center of the Jamestown S'Kallam Tribe in Blyn, WA. Shown below is the work on two poles, one new and the other a repair and repainting project.
In a 2012 interview with Jeff Chew of the Peninsula Daily News, Master Carver Dale Faulstich said he and his crew have carved at least 50 poles there. He has worked in the carving shed since the tribe first contracted him when it built 7 Cedars Casino, and it is the totem pole at the entrance to the casino that is being refurbished in the shed today.

Asked why the shed is called the “House of Myths,” Faulstich said, “Well, that's what we do here: We make myths.”

In his book, Totem Poles of the Jamestown S'Kallam Tribe, Faulstich identifies the figures in this pole. At the bottom of the pole is the figure of a whale (below), head down as if to dive.
Below is the view from the head of the whale at the base of the pole to the top.
This small human face (below and in photo #1 above) just above the whale's head represents the "blow-hole" of the whale.
The whale hunter sits above the whale's body, his arms and legs wrapped around the dorsal fin (the long black piece).
The face of the hunter is shown below.
Above the hunter is the Sun (photo below). "In old Salish myth the 'Chief Above,' or 'Old One' created the Sun to be father to all people, as the Earth is their mother.... From Earth's flesh, mixed with her tears, Old One shaped clay figures, and Sun's warmth brought them to life. These were the first, the animal people. Last of the mud-balls shaped by Old One were human beings, the most helpless of all creatures."
Shown with his beak around the Sun's corona in the far right of the photo above and to the left of the area that Faulstich is painting in the photo below is the Raven, a cultural hero in many Northwest Coast Native legends..

"An incorrigible supernatural trickster, the Raven is able to transform himself into anything at any time. The Raven helped the people by putting the sun, moon, and stars into the sky, fish into sea, salmon into the rivers, and food onto the land."
Raven, Sun, Whale, and Hunter represent S'Klallam cultural history. The paddler, at the pole's top, commemorates the Tribe's participation in the annual "Paddle to Bella Bella," a contemporary canoe journey that encourages awareness and pride in tribal heritage.
This totem pole will return to its position in the central group of three poles in front of the 7 Cedars Casino on the Tribe's property.
Tomorrow we will look at the six other totem poles at the Casino.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Jamestown S'Kallam Tribe's Totem Poles

One of the reasons for traveling is to “learn things we didn’t learn in school.” Many of these lessons we learned revolved around groups who lived in this country long before Jamestown or even Columbus.

The latest lesson comes from the Jamestown S’Kallam ("the Strong People") Tribe in Blyn, WA, west of Port Townsend:
“For ten thousand years, a Nation of people lived and prospered on the lands now known as the Olympic Peninsula in the State of Washington. These strong people of the S'Klallam Tribes had a system of governance, engaged in commerce, managed natural and human resources, and exercised power over their homelands.

“…After 1870, white settlers in Washington Territory began to bring pressure upon the Bureau of Indian Affairs to move all treaty Indians to reservations. Many of the Indians merely squatted on the land, and without a clear title, were easily and frequently dispossessed. By 1874, a band of S'Klallams under the leadership of Lord James Balch…raised enough money to pay $500 in gold coin for a 210-acre tract near Dungeness, Washington Territory; thus began the Jamestown S'Klallam community.
“…Characterized as a "progressive" Indian community, (the Jamestown) Tribal citizens sought new educational opportunities and aggressively integrated into the non-Indian community and its economy. A major factor in the stability and continuity of the Tribe was the land base purchased when it was formed in 1874. This provided a geographical center for group identity and independence.
House Posts (a type of totem poles) outside the Administration Building

“The Jamestown S'Klallams received services from the Federal government until 1953, when the government no longer "recognized" them.

“(But as) the Jamestown Tribal membership…saw that fishing and hunting rights were denied them due to the lack of federal recognition…, (t)he Tribe soon realized that only through Federal recognition would they be able to provide for basic (health and educational) needs. This effort began around 1974 and was established after a long struggle on February 10, 1981.

“With the acquisition of more land and, since 1988, their involvement in a national Self-Governance Demonstration Project…, the Tribe (has achieved) more autonomy and control over Bureau of Indian Affairs funding. The Project has resulted in the Tribe being able to provide more Tribally-specific programs, services (a social services building, a dental clinic, a family health center), and activities to better meet the needs of the membership” (
The House Posts commemorate the united action between the Founding Fathers of the Tribe (left pole, photo above) and the legends and history unique to the Tribe (right pole).

As the Tribe continues to build facilities and businesses for its community, the leaders have commissioned carvers, under the direction of Master Carver Dale Faulstich, “…to design additional totems to remind our Tribal citizens of their history and heritage and to create a memorable experience for our visitors and guests” (W. Ron Allen, Tribal Chairman in the Foreword to Totem Poles of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe).
Dale Faulstich

To see how these totem poles are created, we stopped at the "House of Myths," known locally as the "carving shed," where we met Dale and his son.
Before the carving begins, Faulstich submits to the Tribal Council his concept drawings, which show both front and side views of each totem pole. The detail in these drawings was striking.
After the drawings are approved, Faulstich orders the logs for the poles. Green wood is used because it is easier to work with. Once the ends are squared off, a long notch is carved down the back of the log to relieve stresses that occur as the finished totem pole begins to dry.
Once the drawings are scaled to the length of the log, Faulstich then snaps a chalk line down the log's center front to ensure the symmetry of the finished totem pole.

He then pencils in the first broad guidelines of the shapes to be carved.
If an extension is needed to carve a beak, for example, a piece of wood is glued to the totem pole.
Faulstich carves one side of each totem figure. At each stage, another skilled carver uses a large compass to transfer key points of Faulstich's work to the uncarved side of the log. Then begins the work of matching Faulstich's model.
Tomorrow's entry will show an example of this process.