Into the fog, against the pristine backdrop of Hood Canal, and armed with a French press of coffee, Renee Erickson led Carrie Omega, Sea Creatures esteemed Beverage Manager, to a large patch of samphire. The two of them quietly picked sea beans for the first annual Tide Dinner at Hama Hama oyster farm.
The Tide Dinner was born from a desire to commune with nature. What does a meal look like when you have the "dining room" with the tide? What does food taste like when you enjoy it where it grew and lived. Can you have a dialogue with nature? Lissa James from Hama Hama oyster farm and the crew at Melusine wanted to find out.
The morning of the event, the team waited for the tide to retreat far enough out to begin the work of setting up tents, tables and chairs, building a fire, and creating a makeshift kitchen. After some effort, it became clear that the wind was too strong to place the kitchen on the beach, so the kitchen moved to shore thirty minutes before guests were due to arrive. Barely in time, the table was set with rock formations instead of flower arrangements. The rocks held down the tablecloth and kept the wine glasses from blowing over.
Guests arrived to champagne, which in 20mph winds creates a spray similar to that from the sea as it flies out of the glass. But this didn’t stop anyone from drinking it as they walked the beach and collected oysters. At the lowest tidal point, Jeremy Price, owner of Sea Creatures, shucked guests' beach-collected oysters and encouraged everyone to throw the empty shells on to the sand. Guests gave pause. Jeremy explained that this was a helpful sort of littering, the discarded shells create a substrate for new oysters to grow upon, and everyone tossed shells with abandon.
As time passed and the tide crept in, guests moved toward shore for dinner. Renee, Bobby, and Lauren created a five-course meal, paired with wine. Guests laughed, told stories, peeled and ate spot prawns with their hands (as though there’s any other way).
The staff ran from shore to table with food. At one point someone said, “This is so fun! It is extreme cooking. We’re running a race each course against the advancing tide.” The day prior, the Melusine team had met with Lissa to talk about the tide. “If the tide is in at 3:00 today, it will be in at 3:30 tomorrow,” she suggested. This was not the case. Evidently, tides work with the gravitational forces of the moon and th sun AND with atmospheric pressure. Sometimes it just comes in faster, and at 2:30, it came in--almost as fast as the wind.
It turns out that, when you ask people to dine with nature, they bring adventurous spirits. Guests grabbed their chairs, and more importantly their wine, and moved safely ashore to enjoy dessert and Calvados.
Afterwards, Lissa said that her only regret was that she didn’t say to the guests, “When the tide is out, the table is set.”
Learn about upcoming Sea Creature events like the Tide Dinner by visiting our events page, or by signing up for our newsletter.
What's next? Lamb + Rose at The Whale Wins, featuring applewood fired katahdin lamb raised on Sea Creatures' island farm and paired rosé! July 24th, 6pm.
Interested in planning a visit of your own to Hama Hama? Find information here.
Photos courtesy of Jim Henkens