Saturday, April 28, 2012

Clams,Mussels and Iron Springs Resort

J and I wanted to get away this week and we headed to a place we had passed a little over a month ago-Iron Springs Resort.  At that time, we stopped to check out the property and fell in love with it. It wasn't until this past week that we could co-ordinate our time off  with availability of the cabin we wanted to rent. Cabin #2 at Iron Springs.  When we first entered the cabin it felt like home, the sun was shining through the windows and lit up the space with a warmth and comfort that felt so familiar.  There was a king size bed with a fluffy down comforter that looked so inviting and you could see the ocean and Boone Creek from the bed.

Cabin #2 in the glorious sunshine-it's the one on the far right end

We both knew immediately we wanted to come back and spend some time here. This past week we finally did, and we were not disappointed.  The week-end that was forecast as cloudy,cold and grey,turned out to be sunshine,blue skies and perfect ! We sat back and relaxed,caught up on our reading, walked and walked on the beach and just stared out the windows watching the eagles soar above the hills. We had a resident Kingfisher who would visit periodically during the day and the frogs would sing us to sleep at night with the ocean playing it's unending song in the background.

 Iron Springs Lodge circa 1950 from the Iron Springs Website

 Olive Little bought the original cabins and lodge in the 1940s, adding a restaurant where her cinnamon rolls and clam chowder became famous.  She would deliver the chowder and cinnamon rolls in her Model T Ford. Olive ran the place for over 60 years. She lived to be 91 and recently passed away in 2007.  She was an amazing woman, according to her obituary, and a little cantankerous according to her history.  She had a private pilot's license and she studied to obtain an amateur radio operator's license . She was a single woman when she took over ownership and operation of the Iron Springs Resort in 1947.  She married at the resort  9 years later.  I'm sure she would have been one of those fabulous women who have lots of good stories to tell !

Cabin #2 our little retreat from the world

  In 2010 , a family who had been visiting the resort for years purchased it-the True family.  They undertook a major renovation and remodel . You will find little touches like  warm and cozy Pendleton blankets and pillows  along with local artwork; doggie bowls and doggie towels for the pet lovers; comfy beds with fluffy down duvets; completely stocked kitchens (just bring your food or pick up something at the little store on the property);a clam cleaning station and an outdoor fire pit with a gorgeous view of the creek and ocean. According to the history of the resort,Olive selected the location for each cabin to provide a stunning view of the water with the trees surrounding the cabins and providing privacy to the guests.  It's very obvious from the restoration that the new owners love the resort and did a beautiful job of restoring it physically -their restoration kept what I feel was the spirit of the resort. They re-purposed so much of the material from the old cabins and the downed spruce trees-you are surrounded by the history and spirit of the original resort. It's one of those places you go to and it feels good all around you and makes you want to return time and time again.

It was fun reading the notes left by previous guests,even more amazing was how many started with : "our family started visiting in the 50's and  we have returned every year; or my husband (or wife ) grew up here visiting every summer since he or she  was 8years old" .  This wonderful little place seems to be woven into the memories of so many lives. And now we can start our own memories,because we definitely will be back.
(Beautiful photos and a little more about the resort can be found at a blog called "Unlikely Places")

What better meal to enjoy at the beach, but clams and mussels. We sat at the wooden dinner table enjoying the clams and mussels,dipping the crusty bread into the spicy broth ,sipping a cold crisp Washington Chardonnay and gazing at the spectacular view of the ocean-who needed dessert ! 

I have a new "go to" recipe for clams and mussels.  It's Langdon Cook's recipe, that I discovered on our recent shellfish foraging expedition.  I adapted it ever so slightly, using spicy Italian sausage; adding 1 pound of the sausage instead of 1/2 pound; and a little more of the red pepper flakes.
Steamed Shellfish with Wine, Tomato, Sausage & Herbs
Adapted from Langdon Cook
3 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 dozen mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 pound spicy Italian sausage, crumbled
2 yellow onions, chopped 
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup white wine
2 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 handful mixed fresh herbs, chopped (e.g. thyme, oregano, parsley)
1 1/2 tablespoons red pepper flakes (reduce this to your own taste if don't like the kick from the pepper flakes)
  •  Heat olive oil in deep saute pan or heavy-bottomed pot and brown sausage.
  •  Add onions and garlic; cook until soft.
  •  De-glaze with white wine, making sure to scrape all the brown bits from the pan. Mix in tomatoes with juice, chopped herbs, and pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat.
  • Raise heat to high, dump in shellfish, and cover. Steam until shells open, several minutes.

Good bye ocean ,good bye Iron Springs -for now

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