seattle 1.2 - eating my way through the city

the sign to the left says "time to eat." little did i know that what they meant by time was all day.

we all woke up early. the bear and the turtle went to hit the slopes at snoqualmie. i decided to go into the city to consume calories (constantly) rather than burn them, as it turned out that baby surprised me by taking a half day off work to hang out with me. i rode the bus into seattle with dj dech. we caught up a little on the ride. i'm happy to see he's enjoying his life and job up there for the most part. although, selfishly, we'd be happier if he and v moved back down here.

i hopped off the bus just up the hill from pike place market. after a quick breakfast at le panier, very french bakery, i explored the market and its environs before it started bustling.

my amandine. yum.

the view from my counter seat. lots of baguettes being loaded.

the calm before the crowds.

some of the vendors were set up before i got there.

since most places weren't open yet, i took a quick stroll to see the water. just seeing water is so healing for me, somehow. i highly doubt i would last too long living anywhere landlocked.

OH! and i forgot to mention it was probably the second most gorgeous day in seattle out of the whole year. the most gorgeous day was the following day. we felt extra blessed since we knew it was raining back at home.

i love love love markets and have since i experienced my first real one in korea when i was eight, so needless to say i was giddy while wandering around. there are a few problems with them, however. there are always the hidden gems that aren't so easy to find if you're not a local who has a chance for repeat visits. and then the worst problem--there is so much to eat and such limited funds and stomach space. however, i found a solution. well, for pike place market, at least. enter the savor seattle food tour!

i am usually not a fan of group tours, but i HIGHLY recommend this one. the $39 is worth it as you sample 10 places' wares, get a friendly guide who is obviously passionate about both food and the market, and learn just enough background and history to enrich the walking/tasting/sightseeing without boring non-history fans to tears. the samples are great because as i said, limited funds and stomach space usually disallow you from sampling too many places during one two-hour trip, but the sample portions are just right with enough walking in between to keep you just hungry enough for the last place.

oh, and in case you asians are afraid of being mistaken for one of those crazed fob group tours with a shouting guide carrying a yellow flag while wearing a bright red cap and neon green jacket with the tour company's name emblazoned on all sides, don't be. i totally understand as this is what makes me leery of any and all group tours, even if they definitely are not like that. you may be lucky enough to be part of a small group of four + the guide allowing for normal talking voices and walking through together as an inconspicuous group, like i was. if you aren't as fortunate and go on a busier day, they give out discreet headsets so that the guide doesn't have to yell and so that you don't have to collectively block all traffic while huddling around the guide like chicks around a mother hen to catch what he/she is saying.

i won't list all our stops as you really need to experience this for yourself, but i'll definitely list my favorites and personal highlights:
  • cheese. watching the cheesemaking proccess at beecher's handmade cheese. their flagship reserve cheese and "world's best" mac 'n' cheese samples were so so good. i would marry cheese if i could, and this visit further reinforced that for me.

    [cylinders] cheese. milk jugs as stools.

  • spice. spices that you can buy in any quantity, small or large at market spice. they have pretty much anything you can think of, house blends, and also a dizzying array of loose teas and coffees you can buy by weight as well. oh, plus their famous house tea, which tastes a lot like celestial seasonings' bengal spice, albeit a little more mellow and not so cinnamon-y. their prices for spices (hee hee) are very reasonable, and i love that you don't have to buy that much more than you need, unlike at the grocery store.

  • get thee to the confectional. so i have something to confess. i broke my lenten fast during this tour. how could i not? there were two stops in particular where consuming chocolate was absolutely necessary. i paid good money for these samples! anyway, i sinned at, ironically, the confectional. too bad i'm not catholic and don't practice the type of confession that happens in a confectional or confessional. anyway, we started with a shot of creamy, sinfully rich, slightly spicy, perfectly balanced bitter and sweet european-style drinking chocolate. we sampled their seattle new york style cheesecake, too. yum. like i said, i'm a sucker for anything mini. the next day, we returned to use my 10% discount (courtesy of the tour package and redeemable at all visited vendors for up to a week). the bear had a white chocolate strawberry cheesecake truffle, which was heaven in ball form. yes, that's right - a ball of cheesecake dipped in chocolate. the mint chocolate cheesecake was really good, too. that time, i totally forgot my no chocolate until after i had already ordered and the sucker was all packaged up. bad, bad potato.

  • gendered veggies. learning the difference between boy and girl eggplants. and yes, one does taste better. just noting this as i know i will otherwise soon forget.

  • fish + pastry. smoked salmon pate piroshkis at piroshky, piroshky. that word is really hard to type, for some reason. the excerpt from the founder's memoir posted outside of the store was surprisingly very touching and poignant, despite my initial adverse reaction to such blatant self-promotion. anyway, pastry + salmon = YUM.

  • drink. we ended up in a tasting room/wine store in post alley, where we sippped washington wines as the two friendliest golden retrievers snuggled against our legs. it was a nice end to an amazing two hours of running about.

    nifty, uber-informational placemats

  • faux. oh, and the OG starbucks? we learned that this location isn't really the original, although the original business license has been transferred to the current supposed "original" location. notice the siren's risque boobies. they had to nix that version of the logo when they went national.

  • community. with its humble + organic (as in structure, not produce) beginnings, multi-generational, family-owned businesses, philosophy of "meet the producer," and selective leasing of space to sustainable, local-community-benefiting businesses, the market did embody this word.
the day after eating dinner at the first red robin, after walking by the supposed first starbucks, i met baby at the first seattle's best coffee so we could find lunch together (yes, right after my food tour), and we later passed the first nordstrom while doing a little shopping together.

we walked across town to lunch at salumi, which is owned by mario batali's father. baby hadn't been yet either as she doesn't work in seattle, and this place is only open tuesday through friday 11 am - 4 pm. i so need a gig like that. anyway, we caught up while in line forever, which was nice. i bought a pound of agrumi, some salami with slightly citrusy flavors and green peppercorn. they fed us samples in line. yes, i am a sucker for meat, too. they were pretty much out of everything they're famous for by the time it was our turn to order, so we settled for sharing a prosciutto sandwich on olive oil bread with provolone and a grilled lamb sandwich on the same bread with the same cheese. the prosciutto was quite good. the lamb was good as well, but it was a little too gamey. the olive oil/garlic mixture they spread on the bread soaks into the bread giving it a nicer texture and flavor than when just bread.

after lunch, we got coffee while making our way to the central public library, of rem koolhaas/OMA-designed fame. but of course. we were in seattle, after all. i told you i didn't stop putting something in my mouth for very long stretches that day.

so the library. pictures? um, yeah. we were too busy gossiping about baby's meh-but-now-somehow-engaged-to-his-new-gf-of-10-months ex, whom i kind of helped set her up with way back when. so instead, here's a photo of mr. koolhaas himself, taken at a lecture a long time ago.

like most rem projects, the concept, volumes, and space itself are pretty cool. however, the execution and detailing aren't the hottest, and we kept interjecting our boy talk with, "all you need to fix that detail is some schluter," "there is definitely a disconnect between the function and crazy form here, even if you are setting out to transform social interaction and behavior," and dorky, hyper-critical comments of that sort. it's so much easier to be a critic, really. again, like most rem projects, you either love it or hate it. me? i was actually truly on the fence. i think i need to see the fun graphics and random facts that are undoubtedly part of the methodology, research, and concepts backing the design to push me one way or the other.

we finished our coffee at some point while wandering the library, so we decided to do a little shopping to get hungry for dinner. we drooled in a different way at barney's and anthropologie. we bypassed the first nordstrom, as the nordstrom in bellevue is supposedly much better. i bought $5 t-shirts at old navy instead. baby, who can be quite the brand whore due to her upbringing (her real mother considers prada handbags inexpensive), came out unscathed. we talked some more while shopping, which was good for our wallets as it distracted us from really looking at things in earnest.

finally, we walked over to trendy belltown for dinner at queen city grill. nice ambiance. awesome conversation. delicious seafood. yummy, tender scallops to start. delicious prawns (not too tough) & bouillabaisse (saffron, need i say more?) for our entrees. glasses of riesling to help us remember the amazing german, super dry riesling we always splurged on back in our college days after a big review (we can't find it anywhere out west!!! and now our haggy brains have forgotten the impossible german name as well!). sourdough bread pudding as the indulgence to end an indulgent day.

sorry, no photos from the whole second half of the day. i was way too busy talking and stuffing my face, and apparently my hands don't work as well when my mouth is multitasking.

due to some bad timing and a too-quiet cell phone ringer, we had to get baby's friend to kindly give me a ride to p + t's place in BFE where all my travelmates and hosts had gone after their dinner for some guitar hero and to see their digs. once there, we realized that everyone else had been eating sushi just two doors down from queen city grill. figures.

it was good to see p + t again. we caught up in their huge house over guitar hero, drinks, and some poker. yes, i now know how to play texas hold 'em. i have succumbed. since p had been up for about 22 hours straight at that point, it was time to get back to roxy the puggle and our air mattress.

will she continue her gluttonous ways? find out...next time!


  1. So which eggplant tastes better?

  2. I love, love, love Seattle. Seeing some of those pictures makes me wish I was there!

  3. starbucks and nordstroms?!

    [adding seattle to the list of places to visit]

    that food tour sounds awesome! glad you got to catch up with your college buddy -- love days like that where you just wander around and eat and drink :)

  4. i loved the photos of the market and your tour! i totally know what you mean by the annoying tour guide with the flag... I went to Europe in high school with my mom and a Korean tour compay. Never again! (p.s. i'm also curious about the eggplants; do tell...)

  5. alright, i'll give it up. the boys are supposed to be tastier.

  6. I had no idea Seatlle had so many firsts! And what a great tour!

  7. ohhhh, this post makes me miss the emerald city! sounds like a great trip!

  8. Ok . . . so how do you tell which ones are the boy eggplants?

    I'm fascinated by your food tour. So much food, so little time.

  9. hey, if you're gonna be sinful, might as well make it worth it ;)

    love the market! i also love that you chose to do the market tour after all. food wins!

  10. And I'm jealous. I've never been there, but it looks great.

  11. I wanna see cheese being made! That's awesome!!!

  12. A whole day of eating and talking with a good friend. Sounds like heaven.

  13. I LOVE Seattle. We would love to have a vacation flat there one day. Beecher's is amazing! I can taste the mac-n-cheese now...


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