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I just returned from 6 days visiting friends in Washington state. It was the perfect vacation - a balance of town and country, old friends and new, sun and rain, and lots of delicious food. I ate my way through Seattle, Port Townsend, and Woodinville, and enjoyed every last bite. One of my favorite things about traveling is food. Trying local specialties, checking out farmer's markets, cruising through co-ops, eating at independently owned restaurants - these are my favorite ways to see the heart of a community and satisfy my never-ending food curiosity. Washington is perfect for this. In addition to amazing restaurants and natural grocers and co-ops, the prevalence of road side produce stands and wild edibles makes this state like a big buffet. I saw slews of blackberry bushes and wild fennel growing along a sidewalk in Seattle for goodness sake. And unlike the gardens here in Minnesota (which were covered in snow this morning), the gardens around Seattle are already yielding beautiful produce.
I am resuming the planning process for moving to the Pacific Northwest.
One of the most interesting food items I saw for sale were bunches of rutabaga raab for sale at the Port Townsend Food Co-op. Rutabaga raab is nothing more than the flowering tops and tender leaves of the rutabaga plant. I laughed when I saw the bunches being sold for $1.99 each, because I generally pick the tender leafy flowering tops from my kale and mustard plants and use them right along with the greens. But you never see these in stores, and I never thought of using rutabaga greens! Rutabaga greens are not often used, or even available, and when you do find them, they never have the tender flowering tops. Because the rutabaga is better stored without the leaves, they usually get discarded before the rutabaga even gets to market. So, rutabaga raab is really something you'd only have access to if you were growing rutabaga yourself or, apparently, if you live in Port Townsend.