Category Archives: Seattle

Seattle: The Waterfront

On the weekend I was in Seattle with the weather being as fabulous as it was, the waterfront was such a sight to behold. It had cheesy restaurants and souvenir shops, a big arcade and of course, piers for the boats and cruise ships.

The ferry and Space Needle in the background!

Since Saturday was my day for sightseeing, I decided to use my Seattle CityPass for an Argosy Harbor Cruise. On this one-hour cruise around the harbor, I learned a bit about Seattle’s history and soaked up the rays from the decks of the boat. I didn’t know that this was such a busy port city! They receive goods from our friends in Japan and China, and distribute them across the United States. As our guide, Robby, put it – it’s the greenest way to ship imports. Watching the actual process of the cranes unloading the big barges and loading up the trucks was one of the best parts of the tour.

The biiiig cranes that unload the shipping barges

After the cruise, I walked about 5 minutes to the Seattle Aquarium. This aquarium packed a big punch into a space that spanned two full buildings. I saw cute little seahorses, an array of sea urchins, watched the fish and harbor seals swim above me and even touched some of the marine life – creepy!

While there were little ones running around me and strollers abound, this was a fun stop as a grown-up to indulge my inner child and bring back memories of my first visit to an aquarium. Touching the starfish, sea cucumbers and sea urchins was the best part!

Adorable sea horses

Fun facts: Puget Sound Hall’s heating and cooling system operates 25% more efficiently and the entire aquarium’s green practices include recycling, composting, solar water heating and feeding sustainable seafood to the marine animals. It’s always encouraging to see these positive steps forward and makes you feel better about supporting organizations like these. Thumbs up!

Beautiful pink sea urchins: sea strawberry, strawberry anemone, short red gorgonian

Check out more photos on my Flickr album of the Harbor Cruise and the Aquarium here.

Xo.

1 Comment

Filed under Seattle, Weekend Warrior

Seattle: The Underground Tour

The Underground Tour was one that I learned about while doing product research for my trip to Seattle. This amusing tour of Seattle’s underground sidewalks and former store fronts was a lesson in the founding fathers’ perseverance for this city to survive!

If you can imagine it...the streets now start at the SECOND floor of this building!

The tour began in Doc Maynard’s Public House, a 1890s saloon, with a 20-minute introduction to Seattle’s history. Tours run every hour and you can actually grab a drink at the bar and bring it in for the intro. It was here that we learned how Seattle was founded. In a nutshell, the United States was giving chunks of land away for free to young men who moved to the Pacific Northwest — “Go West ye young lads!!”

Well, if it isn't Doc himself!

Seattle was named after Chief Seattle (shocker), who guided the young bucks to the land that the city sits on today. However the land was too close to sea level and when the townspeople tried to fix this by pouring saw dust into the muddy roads, well – let’s just say the streets closely resembled a consistency of oatmeal.

It smells all musty down here!

This lead to issues with the sewer system and waste disposal – along the tour there were many references to the original “Crappers” that were sent over from England. Finally the city decided to start over and build on top of the streets and store fronts, however while they were building, the existing businesses continued to operate until the project was complete. This underground area was actually condemned due to disease and infestation until a man named Bill Speidel spearheaded the preservation of Pioneer Square and founded The Underground Tour of Seattle.

Seattle..way back in the day.

After the intro, we were split into smaller groups with individual tour guides who took us down into these still-intact former streets and store fronts, now turned “Seattle’s underground”. It was pretty amazing to see  photographs of what the city used to look like and gawk at all of the disposed wares. There were things like bed frames, crappers (he he), signs and furniture just strewn all about!

Excuse me...I think you dropped something.

In total, we walked through three different underground sections, while learning about Seattle’s sordid history from our playful guide – her sense of humor really made the tour so memorable! We ended the tour in Rogue’s Gallery, where you could pick up a copy of Speidel’s book entitles “Sons of Profits”, which peels back Seattle’s dirty historical layers, or purchase other gag gifts.

I have no clue what this is...but it looks old...and somewhat important.

If you are ever in Seattle, YOU NEED to take this tour! I recommend booking ahead by clicking here, because the tour sells out – and hey, it’s worth that extra $2.50 surcharge!

Check out the rest of my pictures in my Flickr album.

In the meantime, I will be searching for a San Francisco equivalent…

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Seattle

Seattle: Cocktail Culture

The cocktail culture in San Francisco is an institution and I shoulda known that Seattle would be close on its heels. We gotta represent on the West Coast!

Based on recommendations, I went to Bathtub Gin & Co. and Zig Zag Café. Bathtub Gin & Co. reminded me of a mini speakeasy and was located on Gin Alley. There was one bartender on deck to serve up inventive cocktails to two floors of patrons, so he certainly had his hands full. However, not enough that he couldn’t draw me a little hand-written receipt. Loved it — such a personal touch! Here I had the Sting Like A Bee with Fernet, gin and Cocci di Torino. Could he tell that I was from San Francisco? Yes. Did I mind the complimentary Fernet shot because of this? No.

After dinner, I hit up Zig Zag Café. I had heard stories about Murray, the legendary bartender who eerily remembers your name, what you drank and what day you drank that drink,  but sadly he is off to bigger and better endeavors. However I did enjoy a drink with my new companion who deemed himself “where’s Waldo meets the Hamptons”. Whatever works, right? These were two fun bars to check out in the Pike Place neighborhood!

Cocktail at Zig Zag

@tallnoe took me out to Capitol Hill, which is the equivalent of San Francisco’s Castro district. The first stop in this neighborhood was Tavern Law, where I got a Dr. Girlfriend made with gin, grapefruit, Aperol, St. Germain, lemon and lavender bitters. This was an awesome watering hole, serving good classics — and I loved how the drinks were broken down per drink type (i.e. sours, punches, etc.). You can totally tell that to bartenders focus on their craft, with tinctures, freshly squeezed juices and house made syrups.

My Girlfriend.

The next stop was Ba Bar, a new cocktail-focused bar serving Vietnamese street food. Here, I had a Caiprihnia from mixologist/bar manager Evan. I know it’s a pretty standard Brazilian drink, but it was nice and refreshing — just what I needed! Also, I thoroughly enjoyed watching House of Flying Daggers on the wall behind the bar.

Capitol Hill housed a great mix of chic bars and restaurants, including a restaurant/food truck that caught my eye at the SF Street Food Festival called Skillet Diner , so I would highly recommend hitting up this little neighborhood for some fun action with a local vibe just a short distance from the downtown/Pike Place area. I was certainly impressed by Seattle’s cocktail culture!

Leave a comment

Filed under Seattle

Seattle: Tom Douglas’ Restaurants

Tom Douglas, appears to have an empire in Seattle. Seems fitting for someone who has authored 3 cookbooks, owns 12 restaurants, is the chef for Teatro ZinZanni and even defeated Morimoto on Iron Chef America! There’s Palace Kitchen, Serious Pie, Seatown, Lola and Dahlia Lounge (to name a few). Since the later 2 were so close to my hotel, I decided to make them my lunch destination of choice on Thursday and Friday.

Dahlia Lounge

On my first day, Dahlia Lounge served as a welcome oasis from a 4:30am wake up call. Over a business lunch, I savored the Albacore Tuna dish. The tuna sat on a bed of green beans, baby tomatoes, fingerling potatoes and a dill-cream sauce. The smokiness of the tuna was perfectly offset by the sweetness of the tomatoes and the green beans served as the standard vegetable. I loved the various colors of the potatoes, which satisfied my starch craving. And the dill-cream sauce wasn’t too heavy but provided a complexity to the dish – I actually had to force myself to leave some on the plate. I just love that dill!

Dahlia signage

Dahlia Lounge | 2001 4th Avenue, Seattle | 206.682.4142

Lola

Lola, a Greek-inspired restaurant, was by far my favorite of the two. Sitting solo at the bar, I was waited on by an unbelievably friendly, accommodating bartender. Who ever said Seattle service was subpar?! I was going to go for the Lamb Burger or the Shawerma, but he kindly steered me in the direction of the Squid Kebab and boy was I glad that he did! This squid kebab was topped with a Chermoula sauce, which I’m told is a blend of cilantro/cumin/chile/lemon juice/olive oil/parsley. Yeah, talk about flavor central!

Squid Kebab

The little things were great here too. Jackie’s Greek salad? Just like I like it – no lettuce, only black olives, cucumbers, tomatoes, mint and a sprinkling of feta cheese. And the whole wheat pita bread was doughy and was perfect with the garlic-yogurt sauce. I heard that the made-to-order doughnuts are to die for, so it would be a cool place to check out for breakfast/brunch if and when you find yourself in Seattle.

Lola | 2000 4th Ave, Seattle | 206.441.1430

Verdict: thumbs up Tom Douglas, we will meet again.

2 Comments

Filed under Food, Restaurants, Seattle

Seattle: Tàvolata & Le Pichet

Tàvolata

Craving an Italian reso to qualm comfort food cravings, I settled on a recommendation for Ethan Stowell’s Tàvolata. Located in Belltown (and a convenient 5 minute walk from my hotel), Tàvolata serves up Italian eats in a simply chic setting. On this particular evening I posted up at the bar, where I was able to gaze in the dozen or so mirrors behind the watering hole and peak at my fellow diners enjoying the large, wooden communal table.

Ethan Stowell is a Seattle fixture and a 2009 Rising Star Chef. Naturally, I read up on this place before I moseyed on over and learned that the pasta is made in-house and is a menu must. Unfortunately I was still a little full from that Beecher’s mac ‘n cheese, so I went with the Crispy Semolina Gnocchi from the Antipasti section of the menu. I figured this would cover the [pasta] bases and not leave me feeling overly carbo-loaded. I loved the subtle hints of anchovies, the dusting of parsley and the fresh marinara dipping sauce, but I felt that the dish was a little heavy on the salt and believe me, I have a tough time saying that as I usually enjoy more salt than most.

Crispy Semolina Gnocchi

I was feeling like I needed a little meat on my bones, so I settled on the Smoked Pork Belly, also from the Antipasti section. I learned that the preparation of the pork belly began with grilling and pressing the belly into the meat, however I felt myself saying “where’s the belly?” The dish was a bit dry, but the apricot puree, fennel, red radish and white balsamic provided complexity to the dish.  Lastly, for some greens I went with the Rapini with chile and garlic, however I felt this dish needed some lemon to offset the bitterness of the rapini.

Smoked Pork Belly

Rapini

Tàvolata | 2323 2nd Avenue, Seattle | 206.838.8008

Le Pichet

I wandered over to this neighborhood French bistro based on the recommendation from the bartender at Bathtub Gin & xxx (more on that later). I was glad to sprinkle in some French cuisine with Le Pichet. I began with an Amuse of radish and white bean toast – very nice. Then I moved on to a combo of cheese plate and Merguez sausage. Normally I don’t like to order cheese from a resto because it’s difficult to judge based on that, but I was seriously full from my previous [food] endeavors – so give me a break! I was balancing it out.

Radish and White Bean Toast

Anyway, absolutely LOVED the spicy lamb-beef sausages, served on a salad of summer plums, cucumber, celery and a pomegranate molasses vinaigrette. Very delicious – and I think we are noticing a theme here with salty/savory paired with sweet.

Lamb-beef sausage

Stilton, le chevnot and a sautratus (though I don't think I got the spelling right on the last one).

Another thing I loved: the Demi Pichet. Eight dollars and fifty cents got me a mug of Sauvignon Blanc – what’s not to like?! And last word of advice: I heard the Fallafels aka crispy chickpea fritters are AMAZING so get in on that if you are ever in Seattle and stop by Le Pichet.

Le Pichet | 1933 1st Avenue, Seattle | 206.256.1499

Leave a comment

Filed under Food, Restaurants, Seattle, Wine

Seattle: Pike Place Market

As I mentioned in my last blog, I just recently visited Seattle for business trip. Of course it could not be all work and all play! I’ve decided to start my series of blogs about my travels with the historic Pike Place Market. Naturally, I’d like to give you a little history: Pike Place Market was originally started back in the 1907 as an outcry to the outrageous prices that the middlemen were charging for fresh fruit and vegetables. Basically they were acting like greedy Americans, purchasing the produce and marketing it up to make big bucks on the margin. Umm…I wonder where they learned that?! Anyway, luckily these farmers wisened up [and listened to the people], and Pike Place Market became the bustling mecca that it is today!

The famous "Public Market" sign

Sure…we all know Starbucks began in Seattle and seriously, for someone who doesn’t even LIKE this java chain (sorry!), I still had to get a picture of the original Starbucks in Pike Place Market. Yep – we all know why their house blend is called “Pike Place”.

I would never wait that long for a coffee!

Of course I’ve heard of the “flying fish” at the Pike Place Fish Market and I quickly learned that the reason why the owner began this policy of encouraging his fishmongers to throw around the fresh catch and chant along with each other was to inspire a business that was on the verge of bankruptcy – who knew? You can read about the story in John Yokoyama’s book entitled When Fish Fly. If you’re really ambitious, buy some fish to take home because they guarantee no leaking or stinking for 24 hours (though I’d hate to be sitting next to the person on the plane if that claim failed).

Walking through the market was quite a zoo and filled with slow moving tourists, so I recommend getting there early to browse the unique wares. Among the items for sale were paintings, scarves, jewelry, honey, lotions, flowers and so much more!

Beautiful flowers!

Naturally you must take a pit stop to rub the nose of the golden pig for good luck!

I didn’t even know about this infamous gum wall until I checked in on Foursquare (thanks tipster!), but I stumbled onto this colorful wall of ABC gum, which is simultaneously disgusting and breathtaking at the same time.

It's the Space Needle and an Argosy ship!

Wandered onto this European-inspired cobblestone walkway

Seeing as it was 80 degrees the whole time I was there, I didn’t know if I could handle the heat from the Pike Place Chowder, so I am saving the pleasure of indulging for the next time I venture up to The Evergreen State. I did, however, enjoy a cup of the “World’s Best Mac ‘n Cheese” from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese (definitely best I’ve ever had) and devour an Onion-Potato-Cheese Piroshky from Piroshky Piroshky (there’s something about the carb-carb-cheese ratio that just gets my engines goin’).

Mac 'n cheese with a glass of vino

Massive, warm piroshky

Another culinary treat I indulged in? Ice cream. But not just any….Pomegranate Cheesecake from Snoqualmie Ice Cream, a local purveyor. They did have some ice cream from a San Francisco vendor up there, but I just had to get the local stuff, yaddamean! I was glad to see SF representing to the fullest, though.

I tried to capture a photo pre-lick, but it was already melting!

Last but not least, I’ve got to include the random tidbit in here. Sure, it’s not in Pike Place, but Top Pot Hand Foraged Doughnuts had to make it in somewhere, right? I held off for 2 whole days, which was a struggle given that this outpost of sugary goodness was only 1.5 blocks from my hotel. The build–up came to a finale with the Raspberry Old-Fashioned, which satisfied my cravings and effectively made the happy places in my brain *sing*. If I ever go back, I would bring a friend (or 5) to break bread with and share in these doughnuts as featured on the Cooking Channel!

Top Pot is in top form!

Pike Place Market felt like a huge version of San Francisco’s Ferry Building, so I felt right at home and in my element. Rich with history and filled with tons of vendors, this is a must on any Seattle itinerary, and plan on spending AT LEAST a few hours browsing and exploring!

2 Comments

Filed under Seattle, twenty-somethings, Viator, Weekend Warrior