Sunday, March 27, 2011

Yearly Seattle Trip

I realized while looking back through my old blog posts that my pal Katrina and I took our last Seattle trip nearly one year ago to the day. It wasn't planned that way, and honestly we might need to rethink our timing next year. If you know anything about Seattle it is probably that it rains a lot, but did you know that it isn't even one of the top 10 rainiest cities in the U.S.? However, this fact does not make you feel better when you are poured on every time you visit. So imagine our surprise when we emerged from the gigantic rain cloud stationed over our home state of Oregon and found ourselves instead being soaked by blazing sunshine on Seattle's waterfront.

I of course had only packed warm sweaters and a rain jacket for the trip because I expected to be cold and wet as we trooped around the city so I had to improvise to be comfortable in the sun's heat. Due to it being the last spring break weekend, and such a beautiful one, the tourists were out in full force leaving Pike Place Market jam packed.

As you know from my last trip, Katrina is a chef at a top restaurant in Portland Oregon. She is a through and through foodie and always has a specifically planned out food tour for us whenever we travel. Her list is usually very ambitious for the inherent limitations to how much a person can eat. Regardless, like any challenge, we rise to it and do the best we can to stuff ourselves. The first stop on the list was a place in the heart of Pike Place Market. To Katrina's disappointment the market was being renovated and she was upset that one of her favorite places, and our first stop, seemed to be closed as we couldn't find it. But then we spied a long line and realized it was still open!

Image found here.

Piroshky-Piroshky is a little Russian bakery that sells all kinds of savory and sweet treats. Katrina's favorite is the sauerkraut, carrot, cabbage and onion but I went for the smoked salmon pate. Served piping hot, the bread is soft, chewy and a little bit sweet. I thoroughly enjoyed the flavor of my piroshky but I think if I could do it over I would pick a different flavor. The pate was awesome but there was quite a bit of it and it's richness was a little much for me personally. The experience was beautiful though, as the we sat on a bench near the waterfront and enjoyed the sunshine and people watching.

As we attempted to take a picture of ourselves a slightly awkward man offered to help. He was adamant that we have the ferry in the background so we weren't exactly ready when he decided to snap the picture. Therefore he took another one which was even worse than the first. Incidentally you really can't see the boat well anyway. Awwww memories!

Next we did a little walking and shopping and I finally was able to visit a store that I know well but was closed last time we went to Seattle. As you know I am in the business of plush dolls and you can't be in the business and not know about the shop and gallery Schmancy. The owner of Schmancy holds plush gallery shows each year as well as stocks a tiny shop full of artist made plush and other designer toys. I had already promised myself that I could purchase one piece on this trip and after carefully searching the entire store I decided on a very familiar piece by my pal Becky of Scrumptious Delight. I have had my eye on him for quite a while and was not disappointed to see, and purchase, him in person. I snapped a picture of him in our large, bright hotel window.

If you come from a rainy city or state you know that it is important to enjoy the sunshine when it presents itself because it is generally a short lived treat. This was the case on our trip and near the end of our shopping we saw the dark clouds finally catching up with us from the south. After a quick drop off of our bags to our room, and a change back into our warm clothes, we headed off to first dinner.

Both restaurants we ate at this trip specialized in Italian food. The first was Tavolata in the Belltown neighborhood. As always we order what looks good and share everything in order to sample more of the menu. We ordered the wild watercress salad, chicken meatballs, and grilled flatbread because we had resolved to make first dinner all about appetizers. Everything was delicious with a few little unexpected surprises. Included with the meatballs were corona beans which I had never had and the hint of garlic on the flatbread was perfect. I wish I had more to say about the food because I don't want to leave you thinking it wasn't amazing, because it was, I guess I am just not moved to say much about it.

Image found here.

Next we hoofed it up to Spinasse located on Capital Hill. We hadn't planned to walk because it seemed far but it felt good to work off first dinner and it turned out to not be a bad walk at all. Spinasse could not be more different than Tavolata. The atmosphere quickly changed from large, modern and hip to cozy, traditional and old school. Here we ordered 'Pio Tosini' prosciutto di Parma with marinated apple, ravioli di topinambur and a radicchio salad. The adorable waiter, who seemed to have been transported straight out of Italy and to our table side, brought us some rabbit pate to sample as we waited. I watch a lot of Bizarre Foods and Anthony Bourdain (actually both of them are on a shared episode on t.v. as I write this) so I like to pretend I am one of them when offered something I might not normally have the chance to eat. In the spirit of these shows I took a giant bite of the thin toast the pate was spread on. I will say it was not the worst thing I have ever tried but one bite was enough. It was sweet, and also bitter, and my idea of what Andrew Zimmer must mean by "gamey". In fact the interesting flavors didn't really stop there as the rest of our food arrived. I definitely would pick Tavolata over Spinasse, not because of quality, but just because some of the flavors at Spinasse, were not my favorite.

First, the prosciutto came on a large plate and was literally the most prosciutto I have seen in one place at one time. We weren't even able to finish it which was a shame to waste. The radicchio salad was typical and delicious but the ravioli was a bit different. The pasta was amazingly thin and delicious, as only homemade pasta can be, but the included herb had an interesting flavor I can't say I was altogether wild about.

Image found here.

Finally wee hailed a cab back to our hotel and passed out in a food comma.

The next day started with a wonderful experience at a place called Eltana. I knew nothing about the fact that traditional bagels are boiled in water but learned all about it as we ate our truly amazing bagels. I had a plain bagel with a date walnut cream cheese spread. It was sooooo good!

Image found here.

Next we spent an hour or two in the amazing Elliot Bay Book Company and then a couple more hours eating in the Uwajimaya food court and roaming their bookstore. Both of which I highly recommend only if you have time to browse and enjoy being assaulted on all sides by goodies of all kinds. I left Elliot Bay with a zine called Afterzine, which I haven't read yet, and I left Uwajimaya full of sushi and strong green tea. It was certainly a pleasant way to leave such a fun city and head back down the freeway for home.

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