Sunday, July 31, 2011

Beautiful summer evening at the shellfish farm

Just a great photo of Nick Jones and children rowing the lagoon at the shellfish farm on one of the first warm nights this summer.

Monday, July 11, 2011

On July 5, 2011, we prepared a five-course dinner for eight fellow Lopezians and served it at the clam farm. Our dinner guests prepared a photolog of the evening and were gracious enough to share it with us. We enjoyed the photos and narrative so much that we are posting it here

 This year during the annual Woodmen Hall Auction ( a fund raiser for one of the last remaining historical buildings on Lopez Island, put on by The Friends of Woodmen Hall, of which Connie is President) we were the successful bidders (along with three other couples in cahoots with us) for a very popular item know as “Dinner on the Beach”. This is a five course gourmet dinner provided by Nick and Sarah Jones, owners and extremely hard operators of Jones Family Farms on Lopez island. All of the food provided is from their local farm and waters here on Lopez, including the raw oysters and clams which come from their unique “aquafarm” which they have developed out of a lagoon and beach tidewaters they own on Shoal Bay. While on the face of it this may appear to be a small mom-and-pop operation, The Jones’s oysters and clams are being successfully marketed to many restaurants in Seattle (under the name of Sweetwater Oysters as well as Jones Family Farms) and have even gone international lately, showing up in such diverse places as Hong Kong.  This is truly a fine example of two  American entrepreneurs, and the timing of this dinner, on the day after one of the most glorious 4th of July’s (especially weather wise) in recent memory, was very fitting.
This unusual lagoon and beach area, where the dinner is conducted, happens to be adjacent to the summer cottage property of our good friends Gary and Patty Bergren, who also were part of this dinner with us. Two other couples and good friends Bruce and Pat Johnson as well as Gary and Karen Alexander rounded out the group for this year’s gorging. The Kysers and Johnsons arrived Shoal Bay via their boats (SeaFROG and Sounder, respectfully) having traversed the treacherous waters from their home port of Fisherman Bay. This was an experience unique to Lopez Island and, much like our annual fireworks display on Fisherman Bay, most likely unique to the state if not the country. In case you are wondering already, yes, you too could participate in this experience if you were perchance to come up and visit us. Make it in the summer however, as even more than timing, weather is everything around here!

The Kysers and Johnsons dingy in.....................

Prior to our seating for dinner we are given a deluxe tour of the lagoon side of the aquafarm, including a very interesting and informative narration by owner Nick Jones (seen here in the first photo on the far left). The unseen complexities of this operation are simply astounding.

Bags of Sweetwater (Jones Family Farms) oysters ready for delivery to Seattle restaurants and beyond.

In the meantime, Bruce is found coveting one of the farm’s delivery trucks. This is a VW something-or-other (which Bruce could not even identify, and he is a bit of a VW expert) and may very well be the only one of its kind in the state, if not the country. Upon sighting it, Bruce went into somewhat of a trance and I believe may well have driven off with it (as the keys were in it). But we are on a small island here and that has never proven to be a good idea (which is why the keys were in it, as they are most vehicles on the island)

Next we are treated to our first course of the dinner, FRESH as can be raw oysters on the half shell. Turns out this was a first time experience for several  of our party!

After all this excitement we finally settle down to our meal, which kept coming and coming and coming. More fresh oysters and clams, fresh and wonderfully prepared vegetables, cooked smelt, halibut and pork chops, fine wines. Perfect.

All of the cooking and preparation is done on site by Nick, his lovely wife and co-owner Sara, their young son Francis and staff.

All too soon this lovely afternoon draws to a close as the sunset reminds us we must say our goodbyes to the Nick and Sara Jones Family Farms.