a photo of seattle

The Food Lovers Tour of Seattle
October 1999

Wednesday, October 27

The houseFly into Seattle - a very long day. Up at 4 am to make the 6:20 am flight. Ah well, at least we get to watch a wonderful sunrise over the wings. Connection through Pittsburgh works and we arrive in Seattle at 11:15 am. Just in time to be greeted by clouds, some rain and LOTS of wind (up to 65 mph). We thought we left hurricane season behind. Pick up the rental car and head for the Bed & Breakfast, Chambered Nautilus (800-545-8459). Given our history of getting lost on trips around the block, we are amazed that we get through the maze of construction and arrive without a problem. This is a first and it can only have happened because Chambered Nautilus supplies explicit driving directions on their web site (http://www.chamberednautilus.com). Since we are early arrivals and the room is not ready, we drop our luggage, grab our umbrellas, and head out to a neighborhood place for lunch which was suggested by the B&B owners, Joye Schulte and Steve Poole.

Flour Power - Nice neighborhood place. Not only do we have a great lunch, the employees supply directions to Eddie Bauer so that we can find clothing more appropriate for the anticipated weather. This shopping event was necessitated by the Charleston "Slicker Police" who refused to sell us outerwear because we obviously did not look, act, or talk like the serious outdoor types required (valid photo proof required) to own their outdoor clothing. When it was apparent that we didn't require the heavy-duty stuff with a lifetime guarantee (and the lifetime payment options to match), she insisted that we should head for a department store and buy raincoats. Oh well, thanks to Eddie Bauer, we are ready now.

Back to the B&B. Great room (the Crow's Nest) on the top floor. Lots of space with sitting areas and a fireplace. Collapse for a bit; have a drink and head out to our first Seattle dinner. The pick for the evening is Dahlia's Lounge (206-682-4142) - terrific meal! The space is beautiful. A long, narrow, colorful room with a small upstairs area. The interior is painted red; lots of mirrors, and fish sculptures randomly placed.

We share a salad of mixed red greens, tart sliced apples, and a hazelnut vinaigrette. Allen tries the pork shank which is seasoned with oriental five spice powder and braised until the meat is falling off the bone. The pork shank comes with a dark sauce and is served over goat cheese mashed potatoes, topped with braised swiss chard.

I go for the ravioli stuffed with a seasoned acorn squash puree, topped with caramelized onions, pistachios, and braised bibb lettuce - wonderful. The Chinook Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect match for the meal. We eyed some of the desserts being served at other tables, but as beautiful as they were, we passed. The two that stood out in terms of presentation were the coconut cream pie and the pear and almond tart - maybe next time.

Random thoughts on day one. People watching is awesome. Odd combinations of grunge; people of undetermined gender; and an unusual number of people talking loudly to themselves as they walk down the middle of the streets. We also notice that no one says hello when you pass them on the streets (as opposed to Charleston where saying hello, or at least nodding a greeting is probably mandatory). And the bread ... after only a couple of meals, we once again realize how bread-deficient Charleston really is.

Thursday, October 28

Up to rain and driving wind. Who cares - we have our slickers now!

Breakfast at the B&B is served 'family style' so we share space with another guest while Joyce supplies us with info on the local attractions. Breakfast includes a dish of red and green grapes tossed with sliced bananas and yogurt, house-made granola, and bread pudding with blueberry sauce - all excellent. As we finish breakfast, an unexpected guest hops onto the table to inspect things. Magic is the new resident cat who has decided to start expanding his personal space. Joyce is not pleased with this display of autonomy and Magic is quickly shown the door.

Pike MarketAfter breakfast, Allen downloads e-mail. Nothing to worry about (and no storms on the east coast), so we head into town. We luck into a parking space right by the Pike Peak Farmer's Market, so we tour the entire thing. The quality, quantity and sheer size of the veggies and fruit is impressive. Piles of chantrelles, leeks, asparagus, greens, etc. Beautiful seafood. We make an unplanned stop at Piroshky Piroshky (the smell was too good to resist) and share a small apple pastry. More wandering followed by a little driving around trying to decide on a place for lunch. Once again we get lucky with the parking space and visit Cafe Campagne which is located across the street from the Pike Peak Market (their upstairs restaurant is where we will be dining this evening). We try a bottle of Bourgogne Pinot Noir and enjoy the wonderful bread. Allen has the quiche special which is a quarter of a quiche filled with chantrelles, asparagus, and onions. His entree is served with a salad of mixed greens. I try the soup which is a puree of tomatoes, carrots and turnips. Definitely something we will make at home. The soup was followed by a cheese plate with apples slices. Five types of cheese, all excellent. Another "win" and excellent service.

Drive around town, head "home" to read and then take a walk in the neighborhood. It's still cloudy, but it's NOT raining! Back to the B&B for a drink and into town for dinner at Campagne (206-728-2800). A table by the window with a great view of the water. As we read the menu and learn about the specials, it once again becomes clear that Alice Waters has made fennel a national trend (or affliction for those of us who don't like the flavor of licorice - when will it end???). Anyway, fennel aside, we make our choices. We do the Chinook Semillion again and Allen starts with a mixed salad. His entree is monkfish surrounded by chantrelles (this is beginning to sound like the mushroom tour), watercress, and a potato pancake. I have the sturgeon which is served with sauteed radish slices, green beans, and braised greens over gnocchi. Another excellent meal which turns us into sturgeon fans. Our waitress, a transplant from Atlanta less than a year ago, confirms our theory about people not making eye contact or speaking on the street. She said that locals tell her that the crime rate in Seattle is so low due to the fact that the commission of a crime would require social interaction with a stranger. Wow!

Friday, October 29

Up late (for us) and the last ones to the breakfast table; we find a larger group today. Two men from Norway who are working on a project at the University, and a couple from upstate NY. He is a sculptor who has been invited to Seattle to lecture at the computer science department at the University and at Microsoft. Very interesting people, as was the man we talked with yesterday who is a professor visiting from Virginia Polytechnic. Joyce says they get a lot of university-related visitors during the academic year. We've certainly enjoyed meeting everyone who is staying here. Breakfast for today is granola, melon balls with barley sugar, and individual apple pancakes in ramkins. We could get used to this!

The Troll Weather cloudy and chilly, but still not raining. We get suggestions from Joyce and head to Fremont, the self-proclaimed "Center of the Universe" where you are requested to set your watch back 5 minutes as you enter town. Great area to walk and check the shops. We grab a paper and have coffee before wandering. We visit the Fremont troll lurking under the bridge - all 18 feet of him, clutching a VW Beetle in his hand (of course, Allen has to buy the troll tee-shirt).

A stop by the Triangle Lounge for lunch. We both have soup. Allen does the black bean and I try the spinach-zucchini. Allen's entree is roasted veggies over baked polenta with corn while I have a roasted veggie sandwich on foccacia. Good options for the weather.

After lunch, we find the Seattle zoo is nearby. It is a very nice zoo (although not up to the St. Louis Zoo yardstick) with several well designed exhibits. Fun to wander through a zoo again and see the efforts being made to house animals in appropriate habitats. The bug house and the night-time house were excellent examples of display techniques we haven't seen before. Back to home base to rest up for the next big meal. And what a meal it was!

Rover's (206-325-7442), a beautiful French restaurant, was offering three fixed menus the night we visited. Two were five course menus and the third was eight courses. We decide to try the two five course meals with a bottle of Vouvray. And here are the courses for Allen's meal:

My meal was the vegetarian option:

Unfortunately, it is not possible to describe the incredible sauces and the beautiful presentation; each dish was perfectly plated and the colors carefully chosen to complement the food. Truly a memorable meal. And so were some of the people in the dining room. Where to begin? The foursome behind us, one of whom was so obnoxious, we wondered why the others would want to have dinner with him. He was certainly the first person we have ever heard refer to Julia Child as stupid!! And that was only the beginning... The couple in the corner - she was dressed in business attire and was with a campanion who had blond hair well below shoulder length (closer to mid-back). We didn't realize her fellow diner was a 50-ish man until they left the restaurant. And then there was the amazon.com foursome in their mid-twenties discussing their nannies, meals at Postrio in San Francisco, and other lovely places, etc. Oops - almost forgot the Tiny Tim look-alike. At least he didn't sing. An eclectic group if ever there was one.

Saturday, October 30

Down to breakfast with the sculptor and his wife. He was a big hit at Microsoft and they want to develop software for him. The other guests are a couple visiting Seattle for the weekend. Today we have scones split and filled with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Those are followed by a wonderful quiche of ricotta and spinach topped with roasted tomato slices. Melon and grapes on the side. We are truly getting spoiled. Even though the forecast sounded like a day of rain, it looks promising so we decide to visit the arboretum. A wandering tour of several sections during which we get hopelessly lost. Finally get back to the car and drive over to the Japanese Garden. Very attractive with beautiful plantings. Smaller than expected, but lovely. We drive into Seattle and visit the Pioneer Square area. Tour some shops and find a small ceramic fountain for our bedroom - let's hear it for UPS.

For lunch we land at Trattoria Mitchell and have the good luck to meet Lebor (the only Czech waiter in Seattle, we learn) who takes care of our lunch. With his guidance, we have a wonderful red wine (Lepore Montepulciano D'Abruzzo), a mixed salad and a pizza Margharita (tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil). Perfect after all we've eaten lately and Lebor's service was equally perfect.

Back to the B&B, drop off some things then off for a visit to the nearby mall. The only stop where we make purchases (to ship, of course), is Williams-Sonoma. What a surprise! More wine glasses, a baguette pan, lemon squeezer, splatter grid. Checked some of the other stores - great mall.

And, back into town for dinner at Flying Fish (206-728-8595). Our luck holds. Another great meal. Our waiter (and the bus woman) are very personable and quite happy to stagger the arrival of our shared appetizers and split our entree for us. The appetizers we choose are calamari with a honey jalapeno mayo (more than we could finish), a salmon cake made of smoked salmon and goat cheese with a balsamic syrup, a mixed green salad topped with a parmesan crisp. The shared entree of grilled sturgeon (rapidly becoming our favorite fish) over soft polenta with wilted greens (we're definitely seeing a trend here) and a lobster cream sauce is wonderful. We even go for dessert and share a trio of custards (creme brulee, chocolate and hazelnut). All good, but the creme brulee wins the award.

Sunday, October 31

After listening to it pour most of the night, we expect dismal weather in the morning. But instead, we find ... sunshine??? The weather here is truly amazing. It must have rained one or two inches during the night but the day starts off clear and in the mid-50s. We quickly decide to spend some time outdoors. Our Halloween breakfast consists of warm apple soup topped with sugared pecans, followed by pumpkin pancakes. We meet Frank, the 3-times-a-week breakfast chef at Chambered Nautilus.

The FallsAfter breakfast, we drive to Snoqualmie Falls, about 45 minutes away. Spectacular falls inspire us to take the hike down to the base for yet another view. The trip up again makes the flat-landers muscles complain, but we make it back to the top. Wander back into Seattle, park near the Kingdome and trek to the bookstore cafe for soup and sandwiches. On up the street (can we handle more walking after the waterfall hike?) to the Seattle Art Museum where we tour the photography exhibit. Back into the sunshine to find a hotel with a bar overlooking the water and mountains - we get to enjoy a glass of wine with a view.

Back to the B&B and chat with Steve who has been out of town since our arrival. Steve and Joyce run a truly great establishment and we recommend it highly!

Time to start packing those mountains of dirty clothes. But not before our last meal of the trip is at Wild Ginger (206-623-4450) which was doing a booming business. Service is excellent and our waitress is such a good sales person that we give her a business card and tell her to get in touch when she finishes her degree in molecular biology. We'll see if she surfaces in a year or so. Making dinner choices is very difficult - too many great possibilities. We finally settle on a Carmenet Sauvignon Blanc, five satays, and halves of two different entrees. The satays are eggplant, zucchini, chicken with curry and coconut, street hawker beef with oriental five spice powder, and spiced lamb. All very good choices - we finished everything which is rare for us. The entrees were Kung Pao chicken and Angor Wat with red and green peppers. Excellent and accompanied by jasmine and brown rice. One more great meal - what a food event this has been!

Back to the B&B to find that Joyce and Steve have provided a to-go breakfast of fruit, muffins and cups for coffee for our flight out in the morning. What service!

Monday, November 1

Up early to finish packing and head to the airport. The sunshine is blinding (is this really Seattle?). We would not have beleived that this was Seattle, but the reaction to the sun by the drivers convience us that this is indeed a rare event - the traffic speeds up and slows down as the sun floods into everyone's eyes. We did hear that more sunglasses are sold in Seattle than any other city; the sun is out so rarely that no one can find their sunglasses between sun-sitings.

We arrive at the airport and enjoy our breakfast while we wait to board the plane. A wonderful trip and many thanks to the Cory-connection. Mike was gracious enough to have his son and daughter-in-law (Dan and Julia) who live in Seattle check our restaurant picks before we made reservations. Thanks to their input, this was a food tour to remember!

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