Christina's: True Northwest Cuisine

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It’s my last night on Orcas Island.  I’m sitting at the computer trying to decide if I should call Christina’s white gazpacho creamy.  It was smooth, but light in the way a vinaigrette becomes emulsified as you whisk in the oil.  Pure olive oil was drizzled over the green grapes in the summery puree.  It was surprising, refreshing and cool.

The first time I ate at Christina’s, it was still owned by Christina.  I can still remember what I ate:  A single ravioli… two sheets of pasta measuring three inches by three inches filled with caramelized onion and smothered in a sauce of soft French cheeses, garnished with crispy sage.  Perfect in every way.  It’s different now.  Owner Maureen Mullen has a little way to go to reach the level of service and cuisine that Christina had built, but I can see glimmers of hope in her gazpacho.

This time I ordered an empanada with local greens.  The empanada pastry was filled with cannelloni beans and summer squash served with house-made tomatillo sauce and cojita cheese.  The greens stole the show though.  They had a fruity or citrus-like quality.  The waitress said they were sauteed in oil, shallots, white wine and vegetable stock.  There was kale, red cabbage and kohlrabi (green turnip) picked young, so they weren’t too bitter.

A non-cheesy mint risotto transformed roast chicken into Arroz con Pollo.  I’m not sure if that was intentional.  There were some of the tiniest carrots I’d ever seen in orange, purple, white and green.  Hubby’s medium steak came out still mooing, but they quickly fixed that and brought it back out lightly charred on top, rich brown on the sides with pink running through.

The service… We couldn’t decide between four of the wines, so they brought out four glasses and gave us a taste of each.  I was impressed with their effort.  The waiters were attentive.  They smiled at the baby.  Something was a little off though.  My suspicion was that they were tired.  It was the last seating of the day.  My husband thought they might be having trouble with his accent or having a culture clash.  Either way, the overall experience was relaxing and delicious and we’ll return next time we’re on the island.

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