It seems like island bites are the big thing right now, with foodies flocking by plane and ferry for their culinary pilgrimages. Nowhere is the boom bigger than the San Juan Islands, especially after The New York Times singled out Willows Inn and Allium as top dining destinations.
Online, Allium is receiving a lot of adulation lately. Chef Lisa Nakamura, formerly at The Herbfarm, bin vivant, and Qube, has smartly kept contact with the Seattle food community to offset being stranded on a "deserted island."
She presents fine island fare at a fantastic location on the water at Orcas Island's Eastsound. While many rave about her gnocchi of the day, my favorite dish after doing a recent tasting menu was the roasted duck breast. I'm not usually a fan of wild rice, but this combined well with shiitake mushrooms for an earthy base (with pecans providing crunchy texture), and the pickled grapes and orange demi-glace added welcome acidity and punch. But the star attraction was the duck breast, delicately cooked to a perfect pink color, presenting lots of meaty flavor.
So what does Allium's roasted duck breast teach us about sex?
It's all about embracing and enjoying a little fat.
I've had too many duck dishes that were too lean, too dry, too overdone. As with pork belly, some chefs seem to like to cook their meats to a crisp. (One of my biggest pet peeves is when a chef actually cuts away the pork-belly fat.) The soft texture of the fat is what makes dishes like Allium's duck fantastically tasty, as chewing turns to melting which turns to a cholesterol cocktail well worth any downside.
Some fat can be a good thing. The same with people.
I'm all for diversity, and have long advocated that we're all sexual beings, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, age, etc. That list includes body shape and body size.
We face a lot of societal pressure, though, that says people must be thin. And by people, I mean both women and men. Women have long faced the stereotype that thin is in. Just pick up most any magazine, or turn on fashion television. Or check the rates of eating disorders. And it starts young. I once read that half of 9-year-old girls say they're on a diet.
Men face similar body image pressure, playing out differently, with a need to be muscular. As a result, even young boys report eating disorders, and there's also rampant steroid use with severe consequences.
Yes, obesity is a big issue (including an economic one) in this country. But we shouldn't worship the other extreme. Besides, sexually, it's nice to have some meat on the bones--fat and all. More of a person to love, right?
There's a lot to love at Allium, including the excursion out there, the setting, and the food, including the fat of that duck breast to enjoy.