Gourmet Glamping: a Chef, a Meal, and a Whole Lot of Fun

May 21, 2014

Add this to your summertime bucket list: Gourmet Glamping. If you’re wondering what “glamping” is, think camping but without the roughing it. Sleep in a comfortable bed in a wood-floored canvas tent and eat really, really good food that you cook over an open fire with a guest chef as your guide. Food truly does taste better when it’s cooked outdoors, especially when paired with exceptional wines and an amazing group of people.

Here’s a look at our recent gourmet glamping trip to Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes on beautiful San Juan Island, Washington, featuring Chef Kyle Nicholson, chef/owner of the island's Duck Soup Inn and Annette Bergevin of Bergevin Lane Vineyards. The forecast called for rain but what we had was a glorious nary a cloud in the sky day filled with canoeing on the lake, long walks throughout the resort’s 82 acres, and lots of great food and wine under a clear and starry sky. 

The stunning view from the Anacortes ferry as we made our way through the majestic San Juan archipelago is enough to make you weep I’m so lucky tears of joy. This is an area deeply rich in history and resplendent in Mother Nature’s beauty; it never ceases to amaze me just how close I live to this wonderland. We arrived at the charming port of Friday Harbor then made the short drive through farms and forest to Lakedale Resort, a serene spot located on three small spring water lakes. The resort boasts a variety of accommodations, including a 10-room lodge complete with a sprawling deck overlooking the main lake and both indoor and outdoor fireplaces, log cabins that sleep small to large groups, canvas tents for glamping, a beautifully refurbished 1972 Airstream trailer, and over 60 campsites perfect for pitching a tent or parking an RV. Rent a canoe, kayak or a paddle boat and try your luck at fishing, or enjoy a leisurely row around on the lake and pick out the lakeside campsites you want for your next trip (like we did).
There’s even a cute little General Store to pick up some necessary left behind or why didn’t I think of bringing that items ranging from sunscreen and kick boards to wine and gourmet shish kebabs that beg for the grill. Oh, there’s a nice supply of Whidbey Island Ice Cream, too. Remember, there is no need to rough it here.

After canoeing we checked in to one of the resort’s custom-built, 225-square foot canvas tents (see their other sizes here). Their canvas cabins feature a queen bed with pillow-top bedding, cotton sheets, pillows and a flannel duvet, a table and four chairs, a lantern, storage, and bath linens, as well as a full-size futon that sleeps two. Enjoy their Toasty Toes turndown service where each night they deliver two fleece-covered hot water bottles to toast your toes. It was like having our cat with us on our camping trip!

Lakedale's glampground is open from May 1 through September 30 and features 16 glampsites. Your canvas tent also comes with a "front porch" complete with four chairs, a picnic table, umbrella and a fire ring (stocked with logs and kindling) perfect for toasting marshmallows. There's no electricity, internet service, or running water, however, it's just a short walk to the shower facilities. Complimentary wireless Internet access is available at the General Store, but we recommend shutting down those devices to fully enjoy your digital detox in the woods.

We headed to the site of our gourmet dinner where three fires were going strong. Chef Kyle Nicholson of Duck Soup Inn walked us through the evening's local menu, pointing out its focus on foraged ingredients like Miner's lettuce and the hard-to-find sea beans. Annette Bergevin of Bergevin Lane Vineyards in Walla Walla paired her wines (a Chardonnay, Viognier and Syrah) with our multi-course menu. Noticing our collective drooling she began opening bottles and Kyle passed around an amuse-bouche of a smoked tuna and Castelvetrano olive pâté served on a slice of raw turnip and garnished with chive blossoms. The cooking was to commence, so Kyle pointed us to the various stations (you can be as involved in the cooking process as much or as little as you'd like, it's all about fun here!).

We toss some asparagus and baby fennel fronds over one of the fires and sat back to enjoy a glass of wine and our fellow guests. Once our greens had a nice char to them we plated them on a bed of Meyer lemon crème fraîche and garnished the dish liberally with thinly shaved radish and rose petals. This paired beautifully with Bergevin Lane Vineyards’ 2012 Love-Struck Viognier.

Chef Kyle heated up two skillets into which he poured a rice flour-based batter for Vietnamese Crepes. The crisp and lacy crepes were filled with fresh local Salish spot prawns, smoked Jones Family Farms pork belly, sweet bull kelp pickles, and foraged Miner’s lettuce. We drizzled a little sweet and spicy Vietnamese dipping sauce over the warm crepes and sipped our 2012 She-Devil Chardonnay, a splendidly crisp and well-balanced no-oak wine.

On another fire our glamping mates were grilling up Snake River Farms Skirt Steaks which they thinly sliced and served over a bed of Blue Bird Grain Farms farro spiked with lemon and herbs. Local and hard-to-find sea beans, a salty and edible succulent from the sea, were chopped up and mixed with herbs, becoming an Argentine-style chimichurri with a local twist. What a springtime treat these sea beans were! Out came the Bergevin Lane Vineyards 2010 Princess Syrah, a lush and velvety red that does a sultry dance on your tongue.

When you camp, you must always leave room for s’mores. Our gourmet s’mores consisted of layers of sliced Washington Honey Crisp apples that we pan roasted over the fire, Benedictine-spiked dark chocolate truffles, and carefully toasted Douglas spruce-infused marshmallows that we nestled between homemade gingersnaps. Yes, I shed another gratefully tear, especially when Chef Kyle told us the tender spring tips of the Douglas spruce were used to infuse his simple syrup. (Check out our short and fun video of this event here).

I could definitely get used to this gourmet glamping stuff.

Book your Gourmet Glamping Experience this summer!

Lakedale Resort is kicking off a spectacular 2nd season of Gourmet Glamping beginning this July. Be sure to book your experience with one of these amazing chefs soon (contact the resort for more information):

July 19 with Chef Rachel Yang of Joule and Revel
August 23 will bring Chef Matthew Lewis of Restaurant Roux and Where Ya At, Matt  
September 20, Chef Kyle Nicholson of Duck Soup Inn will be back to round out the series as a local favorite.

Our meal!

Toasting a homemade Douglas Spruce-scented marshmallow.

Beverly, Annette, and Michi.

Chef Kyle cutting up pork belly for our Vietnamese crepes.

A bowl of freshly foraged Miner's lettuce.

Apples for the S'mores.

Karl and Mary Ann, the dynamic duo behind this amazing resort.

Me making S'mores.

Wines from Bergevin Lane.

Kim and Annette.

The inside of our cabin.

The King-sized canvas cabin....

...with it's own bathroom!...

...and this as your view. Pretty darn nice, huh?

The AirStream trailer.

One of the log cabins.

View of the lodge from our canoe.

Water lilies on the lake.

Editorial disclosure: Foodista was generously hosted by Lakedale to preview their 2nd season of Gourmet Glamping.