A 4-Day Food Reunion in Seattle

IMG_9983One of my besties, Raquel, moved out to Seattle, Washington with my nephew at the end of last year to a vat of my tears. I know it is the best for her and her family, but I miss my girl and I could go no longer than a couple of months without a laughing/crying sesh with her. I hopped on a plane and off I went to the Evergreen State (named for its abundance of evergreen forests).

Raquel took a couple of days off of work so we could hang. My arrival to, I must say, the cleanest air I think I have breathed in a long time (and unprecedented sunny weather ) fell right on time for a post work reunion at SeaTac Arrivals. Raquel wasted no time on our drive towards home pointing out all of sights, downloading me on all of the goings on and planning our schedule of events…which if you know us means some damn good food.

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Without even dropping my bags at home first, Raquel beelined the Subaru to Ballard Avenue in Ballard. We were going to a restaurant we heard about from the chef of Houseman on our final NYC day out. She had already been and loved it. It would the the appropriate bookend as our first meal in Seattle. We arrived to The Walrus & The Carpenter with smiles on our faces.

The small but cozy and homey space of The Walrus & The Carpenter is nestled in the back of the building. Raquel and I sidled up to he bar with a pole position to view the kitchen at work and the bushels of fresh Pacific Northwest oysters on ice awaiting their fates.

And this is where we would start…

…two varieties of Hama Hama Oysters and some Deep Bay from Vancouver, BC. Their perfect mignonette, a couple of eye rolls and voila, “WELCOME TO SEATTLE!” I’d tasted the fruit of their waters!

We progressed to the rest of our meal starting with charred leek salad with tonnato (a tuna mayo) and pickled red onion. Blew our minds! I am adding that sauce to my repertoire. We returned to oysters but cornmeal battered and fried this time with cilantro aioli. Hot, crisp and juicy as all get out!

We became the Thelma and Louise of eating, “just keep going…” And we did with scallop crudo with creme fraiche, sauce vert and steelhead roe, Yorkshire pudding filled with pork ragu and grilled sardines with walnut, parsley, shallot vinaigrette.

We pushed away from the bar and, as if making up for lost time, we took a brisk constitutional walk to one of Raquel’s favorite sweet spots, Hot Cakes. IMG_9791.jpg

 

There at the molten chocolate cakery, we patiently waited for a fresh baked hot chocolate chip cookie topped with a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream, sea salt caramel sauce and chocolate crumbles to share.

DAY 1 – MARCH 17

My first full day we would go to all of the iconic Seattle locations starting with the Space Needle, but not before a mid week brunch at a spot Raquel says she can’t get into on the weekend for the long wait. As New Yorkers, a line never deterred us. The Fat Hen would have to be ready for us.

The quaint country like corner location was just what was in order. We started with lattes while we waited for a seat. And when we settled at the communal table, we settled on one of their egg bakes, alla boscaiola, cooked in tomato sauce with sausage, mushrooms and mozzarella. Perfect shared with a green salad with local lettuces and hazelnuts.

We were ready for the day’s excursions. First stop was the Space Needle. With ticket in hand we coiled our way to the elevators past the history of its construction. So many interesting facts, but the one that jumped out was testing the restaurant turntable. So cool!

Next up was the famous Pike Place Market. We started strolling the floors looking at all the gorgeous produce, flowers and food purveyors. I was waiting to reach the heart of the market that I imagined to be the roof of a large warehouse.

Though much smaller than that, I did manage to see the famous fish toss, taste some of the best greek yogurt I have ever had, a sniggedy-snack from Jack’s Fish Spot of NW clam chowder and fried oysters, and picked up some delicious dark chocolate covered Washington State cherries from the Chukar booth.

We ended the day at Golden Gardens Park overlooking the Puget Sound and Mount Rainier. Simply gorgeous!

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DAY 2 – MARCH 18

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Started with brunch at Portage Cafe. Your standard brunch of all your favorites, but seasonal, local and sustainable. Glad I got up in the special fancy breakfast sandwich – 2 scrambled eggs, prosciutto di parma, manchego, house-made fig jam, organic arugula, on housemate rosemary bread!

Then we were off to Discovery Park for a long hike and hang out in the unexpected gorgeous weather. What a nature city. I continue to be in awe of how beautiful Seattle is.

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Soon it was 5pm and that meant cocktails and hopefully oysters somewhere. We tried to go back to The Walrus & The Carpenter for their oyster happy hour, alas (note to all), no happy hour on Fridays!

IMG_9930Raquel, the notorious non-drinker, ironically said she knew a great plan B. We walked down Ballard Avenue to Percy’s & Co. Apothecary Bar & Restaurant.

Early to service, I got to take in the exposed brick, high ceilings, old world, prohibition style space from our large leather banquette. The menus fell right in line.

IMG_9911I really couldn’t decide on my first cocktail in Seattle at Percy’s though after a little support from our plaid-clad server (this place could have been in Williamsburg) I started with Awakened One. That’s lemongrass infused vodka, lillet blanc, fresh pineapple juice, lime, ginger, and cilantro. A really delicious cocktail, it’s more about the flavor than the alcohol content. I would have to have a few of them to feel anything.

We must of been starving because we ordered a meal of appetizers and one entree of shrimp and grits (had to do it). We called our NYC friend Leah to join us for a proper catch up. Of the lot I mostly enjoyed the fried pickled okra and corn hushpuppies with bacon aioli.

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The next round(s) of cocktails had me and Leah moving on to proper bourbon Old Fashioneds. Great service and mood at Percy’s. I am looking forward to my next visit.  Thank you!

DAY 3 – MARCH 19

Regardless of the return of normal wet Seattle weather, we decided to go to Bainbridge Island. The ride over on the ferry reminded me of the trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Once we arrived we drove around a bit and stopped at a playground so the munchkin could run around while we did a search for the best places to eat. We found one popular place by the water only to discover, once we arrived, Seattle law that no one under 21 can physically be in an establishment that serves alcohol. This includes everyone from infants to 21. I respect it from a “night out without kids” POV, but during the day with a 3 year old? Come on! IMG_9955We settled at Fork & Spoon not a moment too soon before a crush of people arrived. Ironically it didn’t stop our simple soup, sandwiches and salads from taking almost 45 minutes to come out. Good for them my rueben with local corned beef and turkey, freshmade thin sliced purple slaw and tangy hot housemade tomato soup was delicious and right on time!

IMG_9960Before we hopped back on the ferry we all wanted a little something sweet. Little did we know some critically acclaimed ice cream was just feet away. We all sauntered into Mora to taste, taste, taste most of the unique, fresh and delicious flavors. Raquel went to town when she discovered a dulce de leche mecca in their BA flavor. I did my best to resist my banana and chocolate obsession but that friendly staff wooed me over with a split-scoop of their clean banana and chocolate mousse flavors. We all couldn’t stop talking about it on the way back.

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That night Raquel and I would go out to dinner at a sushi spot on Ballard Avenue she wanted to try. It was the worst…WORST…sushi we ever had. My new sushi mantra: “When the rice ain’t right, say goodnight!” We were crestfallen. A bad fish meal in the Pacific Northwest?! Escandolo!

Raquel knew just the place we should go for redemption. Thanks to a little “slice” of heaven called The Pie Bar the night would see vindication at the step up “Pie To Go” window. One piece of  hot pecan pie with the requisite scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and two forks? Priceless…

DAY 4 – MARCH 20

East or west coast, the final full day, a Sunday, means only one thing…DIM SUM!!!! The Klugman clan, kids and all, and I headed out to Seattle’s International District (aka Chinatown) to Harbor City.

Just like NYC we put our name down and waited to be called. Just like NYC as soon as we sat down the food starts aflyin’. Boom! The table is filled with delicious dumplings, buns and bites. Just like Seattle, some mondo sized oysters almost breezed by before my hungry eye caught them. Filled with toasted garlic, scallions and butter, they had to get got.

With the dim sum reunion checked off the list, we were now free to roam the city to see more sights and for some sweets. I had a place on Capitol Hill on my list to try a meyer lemon shaker pie. Alas they didn’t have it, but one of their large peanut cookies reminded Raquel of a place she wanted to try and so the cookie crawl began.

The next, and turns out the last, stop on the cookie crawl was to Hello Robin for cookies hot out of the oven. Lemon glazed poppy, birthday cake, chocolate chip and Mackles’more lay before us while we watch more batches going in and coming out of the oven. Next time I will definitely put some small batch ice cream between these cookies to make one of their unique sandwiches.

A stop by The Troll for a Seattle farewell, a homemade pasta dinner and a sunset drive back to SeaTac and my first trip to see my girl and nephew was complete. Until next time!

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