How have you been, dear readers? Keeping well? I've been out of the loop for nearly two weeks now, and it feels strange getting back into the swing of things. Like putting on an old pair of jeans that you don't quite fit into as well as you used to. I suppose this sense of feeling not-quite-present will pass in a few days, once the rosy glow of my vacation wears off. That's where you come in! I figure that if I tell you about my vacation, it'll help get it out of my system (you probably think that's odd, but trust me, as much as I'd like to live in la-la land forever, I have things to do around here that just aren't getting done because I can't focus!). So hang tight, I'm diving in.
It would be presumptuous and pretty silly of me to try and paraphrase the essence of Seattle in a single blog post. It's a large city, though relatively new-ish (settled by Europeans around the mid-19th century), and it deserves more time and text dedicated to it. All I can do is talk about the little bits that I enjoyed. So, to begin, being an adopted New Yorker, I thought I could handle walking around any city. That's arrogance for ya! My unfit self soon felt the strain of walking up and down the steep inclines that are the streets of Seattle's downtown area. No wonder people in Seattle seemed healthier - all those uphill walks and fresh air from the mountains probably do the body good. And if any of you think I'm about to make snarky comments about the constant rain in Seattle, think again! It didn't rain once while we were there. Not even a sprinkle. We were blessed with gorgeous sunshine every single day. See, already this vacation was better than I expected!
The first morning, after a hearty free breakfast (those are the best kinds!) at the hotel where we stayed, DH and I headed off to the Seattle Waterfront and on to the Olympic Sculpture Garden. After trying to absorb the beauty and majesty of the Olympic mountains on the horizon, we traipsed on over to the bustling center of the city that is Pike Place Market. Surrounded by all kinds of vendors, selling things from fish to flowers, from piggy banks to piroshkies ... what's not to love?! Being the organized foodie that I am, I had already narrowed down my "must-taste" destinations, so herded the DH straight for it. Beecher's. Mmmmmmmm. Just saying it brings back the smells and flavors. Famous for their handmade cheese, this place is also home to the "World's Best" Mac N Cheese. A bold claim, that I wasn't afraid to test out! So DH and I soon found ourselves perched on empty milk cans, overlooking the area where fresh cheese curds were being made, and digging into their "World's Best" mac n cheese as well their "Mariachi" version of the same. The latter was less cheesy and more vegetable-y than its more famous cousin, but it was pretty good nonetheless, thanks to the heat from green chiles and the contrasting textures of the other veggies. The original mac n cheese though ... well, now that was a work of art. What looks like simple penne in cheese sauce, was a really the most divine combination of the two that I've ever had. Instantly addictive. If I didn't already have a list of other goodies to try, I'd be gorging myself on it!After DH tore me away from Beecher's, we found ourselves in front of the famous Copper River fish stall, where the guys behind the counter are reknowned for their fish-tossing-and-catching capabilities. We did get to see their skills in action, but really the highlight was them handing out free samples of high-quality smoked Pacific salmon. I'm not the biggest salmon fan, but DH gave it his thumbs up - it was his first time ever trying smoked fish. He's become as bold as I am when it comes to trying new foods. I think I've created a monster! After a few more delicious nibbles here and there, we knew we had to give Jack's Fish & Chip shop a go. It wasn't a difficult decision - that place was packed, with locals and tourists. A friend had suggested we try the halibut, so that's what we got, and it was incredibly fresh. Honestly, the best fried fish I'd had. So good, that it didn't need anything, not malt vinegar, not tartar sauce, nada!
We were on such a roll, that I felt no food vendor in Pike Place could let me down. Alas, my over-confidence got the better of me. While DH stood out the world's first Starbuck's and enjoyed the live music being played by the bluegrass band there, I sneaked into Le Panier bakery and got myself a few macarons and a meringue (for DH - he loves 'em; remember his proposal to Claudia from the North Fork Table & Inn episode?). I only have one word for all my Le Panier buys, dear readers. Cardboard. I was shocked. This I wasn't expecting. This bakery had only good things said about it on the all the review sites. So when the vanilla and espresso macarons turned out hard and disgustingly sweet (I almost spit 'em out!), I knew it was time for us to wrap up our day at Pike Place Market.
Things got worse (food-wise) that day before getting better. I hadn't been to a tapas place in a while, so for dinner DH and I decided on this restaurant called Brasa. The menu looked promising, although pricey. And while I enjoyed the veal marrow bone, which came with a quince and pistachio marmalade and crostinis (fat is flavor, remember that!), that was really the only candle in the dark for that restaurant. The service was silly. Honestly, our waiter appeared to have his head in the clouds, and kept messing up our order, even though the restaurant was barely half full (that should've been my first clue! Aaaargghhhh!). The experience wasn't worth what we paid for, which always makes me a little sad. Luckily we did go to Dimitriou's Jazz Alley after, where we were treated to the sexy vocals and piano skills of Karrin Allyson - ah, it did me good to hear her!
I'm glad my choice of Lola for dinner on our second night turned out as a much more successful venture. One of Tom Douglas' slew of restaurants in Seattle (I saw him once, you know, when I was dining at Anthos in NYC - I think he had four waiters hovering around him and his party! Culinary royalty indeed), this one had a Mediterranean inspired menu, heavily Greek. The service was really friendly and helpful. The lamb kebabs with caramelized onions were probably my most favorite item, but the rest where only a hair behind. That curried goat tagine with yams and spicy peanuts was just hot enough and deeply satisfying. And although the dessert menu looked pretty tempting, we went for our waiter's recommendation for something that was off the menu - a slice of mile-high coconut creme pie. With shavings of toasted coconut and white chocolate ... uh .. sweet heaven! I didn't mind the calories either (I rarely do) because just that morning DH and I had paddled a kayak around Alki Beach for about 8 miles. If you're even remotely impressed, please don't be - only DH and I know how we managed it, and it wasn't pretty, folks. We both passed out on shore once we made it all the way back. But we made it, and pushed our physical limits to beyond their breaking point in the process. So snicker if you wish, those of you who are more fit and run miles every day to prove it, but I'm proud of our kayaking debacle! And yes, we gobbled up every last bit of that coconut creme pie!
More to follow. And next time, I'll be handing out a new blog award that I received from another kind reader! Weeeeee!