Tag Archives: Coupeville

Treat Yourself at Ciao

With a little help from my friend Sherrye, I discovered a new restaurant in Coupeville on Whidbey Island. Mark Laska, the owner and chef at Ciao, likes to use local ingredients and the freshness they impart makes food taste so much better than if it’s shipped to the eatery in a bag or a box.


Laska learned how to cook from his grandmothers and previously used his talents at four star hotels in Los Angeles. Thankfully, he and his wife decided that was not where they wanted to raise children so they moved to Whidbey Island.

Now he blesses islanders and visitors with authentic Neapolitan pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven. Staff at the restaurant makes their own mozzarella everyday. Many of the meats used in the dishes come from the nearby Three Sisters Farm.


I’m having trouble describing how tasty this pizza is. It’s not the thick, doughy crust slathered with tomato sauce and covered with tons of cheese to mask the flavor that you might be accustomed to. Instead, the crust is very flakey, with plenty of fresh ingredients and dotted with slivers of the homemade mozzarella. It was two weeks ago when I had that pizza and I still remember how much I enjoyed it and savored it.

For dessert, the gelato is phenomenal. Although it comes from Seattle, that’s still very close to local. Try the coconut or the hazel nut. A dollop of hazel nut in a cup of espresso is phenomenal.


Did you know pizza taste better if it is served unsliced? But if you prefer the convenience of sliced pizza, the staff will gladly accommodate you.

Spectacular food, unparalleled service and a lovely view — you can’t go wrong at Ciao.

Captain Whidbey Inn Delivers on Its Promises

The lagoon where many weddings take place at the Captain Whidbey Inn on Whidbey Island

The brochure calls this inn “rustic sophistication.” After finally getting the opportunity to spend a night at the Captain Whidbey, I call it a “haven in paradise.” Lush grounds, a cozy cottage, no TV and nature’s beauty all around make this Penn Cove lodging one-of- a-kind.

More than 100 years ago, in 1907, Judge Still and his men cut and placed the first timber and laid the stone for the inn. When the Captain Whidbey (then it was called the Whidbey Island Inn) was first built, guests arrived by boat. Nearby, the town of Coupeville became a place for sea captains to settle.

Over the years the inn changed to a general store, a post office and a girls’ school, but it always returned to being a respite for travelers.

Accommodations include suites like the Captain’s Suite inside the Historic Inn that boasts a four-poster feather bed, a lagoon room with a balcony, private bath and view of the lagoon or a cabin with a deck, working fireplace and hot tub access. The lagoon rooms and cabins all have private baths.

The inviting lobby of the Captain Whidbey Inn.


The lobby invites you to make yourself at home – with the fireplace, a luscious view, a computer just in case you need to check your e-mail and comfortable places to lounge, read or just savor your down time. I even welcomed the rain as it added a kind of cloak of protection around the area that blocked out the stress of city life.

The chef takes advantage of locally grown foods including produce, seafood and meat for the entrees he creates for lunch on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m., Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner on Thursdays through Sundays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Penn Cove Mussels, oysters, Sockeye Salmon, Dungeness Crab, pork chops, lamb and beef tenderloin are just some of the fare served in The Dining Room. Captain Still’s Tavern offers lighter fare like burgers, hummus and a cheese plate plus scrumptious sounding desserts like chocolate silk tart and blackberry crème brulee.

How I’d love to attend a Whidbey Island Writers’ Workshop here and take advantage of this place to engage in relaxed creativity. It has all the elements to foster productivity, originality and some really awesome writing.

For more information, visit www.captainwhidbey.com.

Ferry Around the Islands

From one ferry you see another, courtesy of the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

I love riding on a ferry. One of my past e-mail addresses was ferryprincess. I even have a collection of ferry boat memorabilia. My husband and I even got married on a Washington State Ferry.

This all stems from my childhood. When we went to visit my grandparents in Port Angeles, we took two different ferries because the Hood Canal Bridge hadn’t been built yet, so I associate those big vessels with the wonderful times grandparents show their grandchildren.

This past week-end we attended a Ukulele Fest on Vashon Island and I had the pleasure of riding the ferry from Pt. Defiance to Tahlequah. Although it was only a 15-minute crossing those fond memories quickly came back. My grandfather always had black licorice for me and Nehi soda.

Should you want to take advantage of one of the largest ferry systems in the world, here are some ideas of where you can go in Washington State.

With no traffic to worry about, visitors can leave their stress at the ferry dock, relax, enjoy a cup of coffee and scan the waterways for marine life during the length of the vessel’s cruise.

Although only 12 miles long, Vashon offers a wide variety of scenic countryside and outdoor activities like squid jigging (a method used to catch squid), clamming and beachcombing.

Also accessible by car-ferry from Vashon Island is Port Orchard, a city that celebrates the Kitsap Harbor Festival and a Seagull-Calling Festival.

Situated north of Vashon and just a short ferry crossing from Seattle is Bainbridge Island.  Anchored by Winslow, a quaint town filled with boutique gift shops and restaurants, this island also features 17-acre Fay Bainbridge State Park, a park ideal for camping and picnicking and the Bloedel Reserve, a beautiful 150-acre nature preserve and garden.

Two highways, 20 and 525, serve as the main roads on Whidbey Island. Rural historic areas rule most of Whidbey, with Oak Harbor offering more of a city feel. Langley, on the southern end of the island, captures spectacular views of Saratoga Passage and bountiful shopping opportunities. Coupeville lies in the north central portion and exudes small-town charm.

The Keystone ferry (reservations suggested) on Whidbey sails to Port Townsend, one of only three registered Victorian seaports. The town’s film festival held in September warrants a visit and who wouldn’t want to see where “An Officer and a Gentleman” was filmed.

Last, but definitely not least, the San Juan Islands are Washington’s northernmost islands and reachable by a ferry from the town of Anacortes. Travelers can also start their island journey here and work their way south. Filled with shops and galleries offering art made by locals, Friday Harbor on San Juan Island is known for its whale watching.

Just a short ferry hop from Friday Harbor is Orcas Island, a picturesque framework for Mount Constitution, the highest peak in the islands. While driving up the mountain, vistas include the Cascade and Olympic Mountains, the rest of the islands and the recreational opportunities below like kayaking, hiking and photography.

For Washington State Ferry information, visit:  www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries