Eiko Vojkovich

Best Rancher

Tokyo-born Eiko VOjkovich of Skagit River Ranch never dreamed she'd become an organic farmer. She and her husband, George, started farming more than 15 years ago, in order to spend more time together. (Eiko used to log 100,000–150,000 airline miles per year as a marketing exec for a seafood company.) Now, in between caring for their grass-fed cattle and other animals, the Vojkoviches drive to sell meat and eggs at six Seattle-area farmers markets. Sure, their days start at 5:30 a.m., but the toil is worth it, Eiko says, because it positively affects the environment and influences the way people eat: "We all go back to the soil, we might as well take care of it . . . you can't just take, take, take from the land."—Molly Lori

Eiko Vojkovich's Picks:

Best Bread: "I buy my bread exclusively at farmers markets." Bread sticks from Ballard-based Tall Grass Bakery are a favorite, as is sour cherry bread from the Bellevue farmers market. "I make a French toast with it; it's unbelievable with maple syrup, a bit of butter, and cinnamon."

Best Place to Unwind: "We have a camping spot on a river bend by our farm. The three of us [Eiko, George, and their 12-year-old daughter] go there to relax and hide away from the phones." Recently, they put up a canvas sheepherder tent that's outfitted with an old cast-iron woodstove.

Best Authentic Japanese Food: Chiso restaurant in Fremont (www.chisoseattle.com). "The chef/owner, Taichi, is a really personable and down-to-earth man that George and I really like. When my daughter did a project on Japan, I said she should interview Taichi."

Other Best Seattle Eats: Earth & Ocean, the Pink Door, and La Medusa ("the co-owner/chef, Julie Andres, is an advocate for local food. We'll go here after the Columbia City farmers market").

Best Romantic Getaway: "There's a fabulous little restaurant on Lummi Island at the Willows Inn (www.willows-inn.com). It's like an expanded bed-and-breakfast . . . quite a Northwest experience. They serve reef-net salmon and truly local food."

Best Indie Grocer: Rexville Grocery in Mount Vernon (www.rexville grocery.com). "It looks like a 1940s gas station from Route 66." Among other things, it offers cheeses, wines, bread, and local produce. "I do coffee there, to try to wake up."

Best Bookstore: Scott's Bookstore in Mount Vernon. "I don't read farming books anymore! But, I do read cookbooks. I love to cook at home. Right now, I'm reading The Omnivore's Dilemma. [Author] Michael Pollan speaks for us farmers that don't have time to say anything."

Best Movie Theater: Capitol Hill's Harvard Exit. "I'm not much of a foreign-film person. I don't want anything depressing. I like simple, heartwarming story lines. There's enough tragedy in the world—I want a happy ending."

 
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