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Seafood in Port Townsend

Culinary adventure couple Cheryl and Bill Jamison try out seafood in Port Townsend, Washington.

“The fish and chips, please,” Cheryl says.

“Two?” our seasoned waitress asks.

Three of us are dining today, so it seems most likely that she’s asking about how many pieces of fish Cheryl wants. Cheryl responds, “I guess, is that about right?”

“Well, most of my girls have two,” she says, then adds, “unless they’re my dockworker girls, and then they have three or four.”

So begins a delightful lunch at Sea J’s, a pint-size joint hard by the dock in Port Townsend. We’ve come this far to visit our longtime friend Lynn at her new retirement home, near the northeastern tip of Washington’s rugged Olympic peninsula.

Lynn asked if we wanted to check out a real locals’ lunch favorite, one where dockworkers can get their fill of freshly caught, value priced seafood, fried crisp and served with slabs of griddle-cooked garlic bread and mounds of tangy coleslaw.

While waiting for the fish, we take in our odd but honest surroundings, pink walls slathered in local business cards and bumper stickers, and, sandwiched between them, serviceable communal picnic tables. Most travel materials on Port Townsend focus on its vibrant literary scene and Victorian-era charm, worthy pieces of the town’s heritage. We feel privileged to experience another slice of local life as well.

Our other top meals in Port Townsend were at Lynn’s home. Our last morning we had a breakfast of handpicked, frozen blackberries from the past season with freshly shucked oysters right out of local waters. If it doesn’t sound like a tempting breakfast to you, just try it the next time you’re in the Northwest.

Dinner the same night featured seafood pasta, with fresh Dungeness crab and local clams, asparagus, oyster mushrooms, tarragon, Washington wine, and parsley from Lynn’s garden. Two of Lynn’s friends joined us, and all of us worked together on the shopping, cooking, and clean up.

It was a glorious day to cap a glorious visit to a remotely romantic corner of America.

Cheryl and Bill Jamison write about food and travel, always with mouthwatering results. Among their best-selling books are Smoke & Spice, American Home Cooking and The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking & Entertaining. They are also frequent contributors to Cooking Light and Bon Appétit. Married 22 years, they live just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Jamisons’ newest book, Around the World in 80 Dinners: The Ultimate Culinary Adventure, regales readers with a tasty account of their global travels in search of great local fare—from Bali to Brazil.

Learn more about Cheryl and Bill at cookingwiththejamisons.com. You can sign up to join them on a future trip by clicking on “culinary adventures.”

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