better late than never! seattle 11/14/08-11/16/08

Those of you who read this somewhat regulary and read my posts about my trip to Portland may have been wondering, “Didn’t she say she went to Seattle as well? Did she not have any blog-worthy experiences while she was there?” I didn’t want to keep you in suspense any longer lest anyone die while holding their breath waiting, so here’s my Seattle post (with one last little bit of Portland thrown in for good measure).

pnw-etc-107The day I went to Seattle (a Saturday) I had intended to take an early-morning train, but it was sold out. Another excuse to go out for breakfast in Portland! Kathy took me to a place called the Screen Door, which she tells me is one of the breakfast hot spots in town. Iscreen-door-menus-cropt was almost (unseasonably) warm enough to sit on the patio, but not quite.  Fortunately, in spite of the restaurant’s popularity we didn’t have to wait too long for a table, and best of all, they offer self-serve coffee while you’re waiting. The restaurant defines their cuisine as “Southern-style”, and apparently their screen-door-breakfastsignature dish is a huge piece of battered and deep fried chicken atop a sweet potato waffle. I wasn’t quite brave enough to deal with that much food (someone nearby had ordered it and it was ridiculous) so I got a scramble with bacon, cheddar and spinach and it hit the spot. I felt a little guilty for not going out of my comfort zone food-wise, but sometimes you just feel like sticking with what you know and love.

The train ride to Seattle was lovely- an uncharacteristically sunny day, and the train conductor obliged my request for a window seat. I miss taking trains; I used to get around almost exclusively by train when I was in Europe, and it’s so nice to be able to read or nap or watch the world go by rather than have to stress about traffic or directions. I was visiting friends from college, and the priority was to spend some quality time with them, but I did manage a couple food-related pilgrimages my last day in town while my hosts Fred and Lori were at work.

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top-pot-sign-color-adjustedMy biggest priority was to visit Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, but before I did anything I wanted to fuel up for the day. Lori had recommended a coffee & doughnut shop called Top Pot that was downtown near Fred’s work, so that was my first stop. I have to confess, I’m not much of a doughnut person- I’d usually rather consume my excess calories in the form of cheese or pig fat than carbs or sweets, and doughnuts are pretty far down on the list of sweets I would reach for. But, this being recommended as a “local food landmark”, I had to check it out in the spirit of food journalism. I probably should have ordered top-pot-coffee-donut-cropa few flavors for comparison’s sake, but I just decided to go seasonal and ordered a pumpkin glazed doughnut. It was pretty good- not too much glaze and therefore not sickly sweet, and didn’t leave that weird film on your mouth that you get with most glazed doughnuts. It was very moist as well and had just the right amount of spice. I can only muster a certain amount of enthusiasm, but if you’re a doughnut lover, you’d probably be in ecstasy at this place.

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market-neon

After strolling aimlessly for a while around the Pioneer Square area and the waterfront, I made my way to the market, where I wandered through the stalls snapping lots of photos and wishing I had either more money to get things shipped home, or a larger suitcase. Fortunately I was there on a Monday morning, so I didn’t have to fight the weekend crowds and was able to photograph and check things out at my leisure without feeling claustrophobic. The market was a feast of colors, smells and the sounds of vendors hawking their wares… Even though I wasn’t in a position to take anything home, I enjoyed the sensory experience.  I can only imagine the fever pitch of activity during the busier times, but I’m glad I got to explore without feeling rushed, pushed or crowded.

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mushrooms

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oil-vinegarIn addition to all the vendor stalls, Pike Place Market houses dozens of regular shops as well. When Fred found me, I was busy wandering around one of these shops, an Italian specialty foods store called DeLaurenti.  Although I could probably find similar items in the Detroit area at Papa Joe’s, I was “on vacation” and wanted to splurge a little on something I probably wouldn’t buy at home.  I selected a spicy Spanish chorizo (unlike Mexican chorizo, the Spanish variety is like a dried salami, so I was able to travel with it  no problem).  I was tempted to buy some salt-packed anchovies as well, but at almost $30, they were a little outside my budget.

anchovies-sharpened

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crab-cocktailFred’s wife Lori had told me there were places at the market where you could walk up and order fish and seafood and eat it there at a counter, so I wanted to check that out since I’m all about street food and it seemed like it would be more of a local experience than sitting in a restaurant to eat.  I ordered a crab cocktail and Fred got some fish & chips and we sat on stools at the metal counter to tuck in.  If I’d had more time and a bigger stomach, I could have spent hours walking around sampling the various offerings- in addition to the fish specialties, there was a place touting their “famous” chili, a crêpe place, a place selling deep fried chicken livers, and much more. 

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obama-blendThe one thing Seattle is most famous for food-and-drink wise is obviously its coffee, which I didn’t get around to sampling (except for the coffee I had at Top Pot, which was fine but nothing extraordinary).  However, I was intrigued by this sign advertising “Obama Blend” coffee.  I’m guessing it’s a blend of Kenyan and Kona (from Hawaii)? 

Next time I come to Seattle, I’m definitely going to set aside some money in the budget to take advantage of the many vendors offering to ship fish and seafood to your house. This time around, though, I was pretty satisfied with my experience; my only regret was passing up those chicken livers!

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8 responses to “better late than never! seattle 11/14/08-11/16/08

  1. Hi Noelle,

    I really love your blog – great writing and photographs!

    A friend in Indianapolis sent me a link to your pot stickers post (her family recipe I think) and I’ve been hooked since…

    Thanks from A2!

    -b

  2. I’m loving the picture of the seafood stand – “We will CLEAN your CRAB for FREE” just strikes me as funny for some reason 🙂

    My sister lived and attended culinary school in Portland. I’m not sure if she ventured over to Seattle much but she always talked about all the great restaurants in that area.

    I’d like to try that Obama Blend – it sounds delicious!

  3. If you want to try a Michigan company’s Obama blend, Mighty Good coffee has a version. Free delivery if you live in Ann Arbor! I think Plum Market has been carrying it too.

  4. I wish I didn’t love doughnuts. I can easily say they are one of my favorite foods. They sell Top Pot doughnuts at Starbucks and I’ve had that pumpkin glazed one and it was delish! 🙂

    The olive picture is my fave. It reminds me of this olive bar that my Aunt took me to in New York and I fell in love with those tiny little green and black olives.

  5. Love the pictures!!! And of course, the inspired writing. The only time I ever eat doughnuts is at a cider mill in the Fall, or occasionally if a friend brings them to work.
    I’m curious…what would you make with the salted anchovies? A few things come to mind…:)

  6. Mmm… cider and doughnuts, now that is something I can get into once a year. Kate- I had no idea about the Top Pot/ Starbucks thing (probably because I never buy doughnuts), but it makes sense.
    Amanda- I put anchovies in many savory dishes. If you use them sparingly, they punch up the flavor quite a bit without tasting “fishy”. They’re also used in many Mediterranean dips and spreads, like tapenade. Salt-packed anchovies (as opposed to the ones that come in oil) are supposed to be superior quality, but I’ve never actually used them because they’re expensive and more difficult to find.

  7. This blog rocks. Thanks for the great photos- the doughnuts look amazing…my kryptonite.

  8. Roos Roast is a great coffee, as well. It’s pretty much all I drink 🙂

    From the semi-food and semi-beer blogger,
    Patti 🙂

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