Mussel Relaxant

Last week we visited Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, and an important part of that reserve is the town of Coupeville, the county seat of Island County, Washington. Today we’ll take a look Washington’s second oldest town and the home of world famous Penn Cove mussels.

Founded in 1852 by Captain Thomas Coupe, a ship’s captain and early settler of Whidbey Island, Coupeville sits on the south shore of Penn Cove. Encompassing a mere 1.23 square miles (3.19 km2), its economy is fueled by the administration of Island County, Whidbey General Hospital, and tourism.

Gillespies Livery, Coupeville, Washington

The entrance to this group of shops sports a life-sized figure of a ship captain. Could it be Captain Coupe? Located in Coupeville, Washington.

This quaint little town of under two thousand residents has plenty to keep the visitor to Whidbey Island busy, including eleven restaurants, cafes, and coffee shops, stores including art galleries, gourmet food, clothing, souvenir, and home decor retailers. Most are locally owned mom & pop establishments. And don’t forget the ice cream shop I mentioned last week!

Knead & Feed, Coupeville, Washington

The Knead & Feed Bakery and Restaurant, in Coupeville, Washington.

A nice touch for those of us who (unfortunately) need to stay connected: the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association offers free Wi-fi in the most popular areas of town along the waterfront. Don’t let spotty coverage keep you from bragging to your friends on Facebook about your cool vacation!

Not the Address, Coupeville, Washington

This Coupeville residence proudly displays its year of construction, in Coupeville, Washington.

Any discussion concerning the best mussels in the world is certain to include the famous Penn Cove mussels. These mussels grow naturally here, but there is still a “farm” at the western end of Penn Cove that consists of 42 rafts from which hang some thirty thousand lines. The mussels, being very accommodating, attach themselves to the lines where they grow until harvested.

Fresh Mussels, Coupeville, Washington

A sign advertising fresh mussels decorates the facade of a building on the Penn Cove waterfront, in Coupeville, Washington.

And what do the growers feed the mussels? Nothing! Two fresh water rivers systems bring nutrient rich water from the mountains, and the climate, situated in the rain shadow of the Olympic Range, is relatively warm and dry. This promotes algae growth, and mussels just love algae, so they thrive here, growing to maturity in only one year. A young mussel is a tender mussel, so you won’t find chewy ones here. And, to insure that they’re fresh when you enjoy them, the mussels are not harvested until ordered. That’s right, Penn Cove mussels are on-demand mussels!

Fine Food, Coupeville, Washington

Toby’s Tavern promises fine food and party ice, in Coupeville, Washington.

The Penn Cove MusselFest is a March tradition in Coupeville. In its 29th year, the festival offers cooking demonstrations, a mussel eating contest, a tour of the mussel farm, beer and wine gardens with live music, and lots more. While it’s already over for 2015, now is a good time to put it on your calendar for next year.

Morning at the Pier, Coupeville, Washington

The early morning sun lights the Port of Coupeville pier, in Coupeville, Washington.

Coupeville is about a two hour drive from Seattle over the bridge at Deception Pass, or you can take the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry. So consider a relaxing weekend getaway in Coupeville and the surrounding beauty of Whidbey Island. Visit in March, and maybe you can even enter the mussel eating contest next year!

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2 Responses to “Mussel Relaxant”

  1. Jim says:

    Alright then… I’m sold… Im going to Coupeville! Nice Shots too…