A Quick Jaunt to Seattle

This odd thing happens when I travel to new places: I convince myself and my loved ones that I’m meant to live there. The grass is always greener, right? But after a few weeks, my new obsession wanes and I settle back into life in the Bay Area. Seattle’s a bit of an exception. That feeling doesn’t wear off after a few days when I come home from Seattle. I really, really love this city. In addition to the amazing food, distinct neighborhoods, fleece-loving clog-wearing population, the water, and (way) cheaper real estate…my sister lives there. And she just moved into a cute new house and put pink flamingos in her yard. Yeah, she has a yard. Jealous.

So my mom and I decided to capitalize on a few days off mid-week and flew up to wander, eat, explore, shop, and gawk. Here’s what we were up to in case you’re ever up in Seattle and at a loss for what to do.

Tuesday
We weren’t in a hurry this morning–woke up leisurely and walked over to the coffee shop where my sister Rachael works. Then we went over to West Seattle to see her new place, and cruised over to Ballard to have lunch at the Lunchbox Laboratory. I could write a whole post on this place, but I’ll aim for brevity. First, their shakes are incredible (with choices ranging from a simple chocolate to Nutella and Almond Joy) and they serve tater tots in little All-Clad pots. They have wacky hours, no-nonsense service, lots of interesting choices (down to even the salt you’d like on your fries), and it really was one of the better burgers I’ve had in a very long time (with caramelized onions and a gorgonzola cream sauce, could you really go wrong?)
After lunch we cruised over to Freemont to poke around the neighborhood. We stumbled upon an unassuming vintage shop that proved to be absolutely delightful. If I lived in Seattle, I would’ve purchased the little mid-modern table, orange bakelite casserole set, and the old pharmacy lamp. Oh, and the turquoise typewriter was cool, too. And if my mom lived in Seattle, she was all over that green cruiser bike. We liked this place.

Then we found another great shop around the block, Bitters Co. Tough to pinpoint in just a few words, the store stocks tasteful pieces for the home with a general store vibe–everything from Heath Ceramics to sweet little scissors, chalkboards, cheese knives, and local honey. Beautiful shop. Worth the trip if you’re in the ‘hood.
And last, Dream, a new favorite clothing shop with pretty not-too-pricey tees, dresses, and scarves. Check out their dressing room–I wanted to move right in (and yes, I bought the dress):

Next on our agenda was the tour of Theo Chocolate Factory. I’d planned this a few weeks in advance because it does book up, and I’d been looking forward to it all day. If you haven’t tried Theo Chocolate, you can get it at gourmet grocery stores like Whole Foods. Their Bread and Chocolate and the Cherry Almond Dark Chocolate Bar are my favorite–really good quality chocolate and I love that it’s made right there in Seattle. In fact, they mentioned that even in their milk chocolate bars, they never go below 40% cocoa which is pretty high for market standards these days. And I tasted a 91% bar that wasn’t at all bitter. (tough to pull off). They’re magicians, I tell you. During the tour, you get a behind-the-scenes look at the U.S.’s only organic, fair-trade bean-to-bar chocolate factory and learn all about the processes they use. And let’s be real: the best part? A lot of chocolate samples and a beautiful showroom where you can pick up a few bars to take back home.

Later that evening, we had a memorable dinner at Boat Street Cafe. Since Rachael moved to Seattle, I’ve been up to visit four times and Boat Street Cafe is my favorite restaurant so far. It just feels really good in there.

The lighting is low; the cocktails are creative and strong (I recommend the Lillet martini); the food is simple, seasonal, and executed beautifully. I ordered the best crab cakes I’ve ever had–virtually all crab with just a dash of cornmeal.  We all shared the house pickle plate (pickled radishes, cherries, asparagus) and I had the creme fraiche ice cream with candied citrus for dessert. A really lovely meal. Smiles abounded.

Wednesday
I started the day off by walking down to Pike’s Place Market to meet up with Tea from Tea and Cookies for a little coffee and a quick market stroll. We have a lot in common, and she’s a big cheerleader for a move to Seattle. This is a reason I like her even more.

Next, my mom and I went to The Seattle Aquarium where we gawked at a big maroon octopus (worth the price of admission alone), playful river otters, and beautifully splayed starfish. Afterwards, we met up with my sister to do a little sight-seeing up at Kerry Park in the Queen Anne neighborhood. Views, dogs, impromptu parks. Fleece-wearing folks. I felt right at home.


Rachael pointing out the sights to my mom

Our next move: in search of some supposedly infamous cupcakes at Trophy Cupcake in Wallingford.  We concurred with the buzz. They really were something. I fell in love with the Hummingbird Cupcake, an old Southern recipe that is largely banana cake with a little pineapple and coconut. What I loved about Trophy was that their chocolate cupcakes weren’t too sweet and actually tasted of cocoa, and can we just hear it for cream cheese frosting done really well? I’ll be back.

We went back to the hotel to rest after a little butter-induced lethargy and went out later that night for a wonderful seafood dinner at Blueacre Seafood. The restaurant opened just last month and they’re certainly still working out some kinks. But it’s by the same folks behind the well-regarded Steelhead Diner in Pike’s Place Market, and I think Blueacre will be really great in a few months time. The salads were a tad bit over-dressed and the desserts were contrived–but they lived up to the buzz in the seafood department: the salmon and lobster were absolutely perfect. A nice downtown spot for a celebration. And although we weren’t really celebrating anything, champagne sounded like a good idea. Why not?

So goodbye for now, Seattle. I know I’ll see you soon. At the very least, for another quick jaunt. Perhaps for a longer stay someday.

Comments

  1. Shannalee

    This looks like so much fun! I seriously need to go to Seattle. BTW - I am exactly the same way, where I always want to move to the places I visit!

  2. Dana

    I'm happy you had a good trip! The pictures look great; I would want to move to Seattle too!

  3. Jacqui

    love your pictures! seattle is on my must-visit list.

  4. Mary

    Beautiful pictures and your trip sounded awesome. Need to visit. It's such a great city. I'll bet your sister is hoping you move there tomorrow. But would be a downer for SF - we'd lose our best food writer/photographer.

    1. megang

      Aw, thanks Mary! Regardless of where I live, the blog will still be up and going :) As always, thank you for your words of encouragement!

  5. Mary

    It sounds like you had a fantastic getaway. If ever you tire of blogging you could quickly become a tour guide. Your photos and descriptions are wonderful. I found your blog by chance and ducked in just to say hello. I was lure by your prior posts and stayed much longer than I planned. I really like your blog and will be back often. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  6. El

    I'm bookmarking this in case I ever visit. Maybe it's time to move there and open a bakery!

  7. Janet

    I want to steal this entire trip. Except it might be kind of weird if I showed up at your sister's house with your mother. ;)

    But really, love living vicariously through your trip. It looks like it was absolutely fantastic. I need to get myself back up there, stat.

    PS: You are so not allowed to move! :)

  8. eM

    i am so tickled you love Boat street, and just so you know - the weather makes me cry. a lot.
    and I got so sick of fleece i refuse to wear it anymore - I gave it all to the goodwill except what i wear to/from yoga class.

    1. megang

      Urgh. Yes, that's what Tea said, too (about the weather). I'm trying to ignore this fact and am seriously romanticizing the city and the idea of moving. Not good--I know.
      And I giggled at your mention of fleece...what everyone I know who has lived there at one time has said as well. Lots of fleece jokes.

  9. A Canadian Foodie

    What a beautiful beautiful post. Thank you for the trip alongside you. Your artful eye has me truly captured this Saturday morning at my computer. I love Seattle - and used to visit it often as a child when we would go to Vancouver every year to see my dad's brother. I remember (barely) going to the world's fair there. I just love the photos you took and the mood you captured of this lovely coastal city. Thank you.
    BIG HUG!
    Valerie

  10. Lisa

    Going to Seattle this summer for a very short visit. Hope I can hit one of your hot spots while I am there.

  11. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

    Megan - great post! I will be in Seattle in August for IFBC and have printed out your post for reference. I am hoping to arrive before the conference starts and get some of the sights in!

    1. megang

      Ah yes...still debating whether or not I want to make another jaunt up to IFBC--trying to weight the pros and cons although sounds like an interesting weekend and a good group of folks. Oh Mardi...it's an amazing food city! You'll love it!

  12. Rachael

    I am huddled near those flamingos now, stealing a neighbors internet to read this post (oh thursday and my own internet can not come sooner!). What a beautiful post, the pictures are great! I miss you already, and can't believe youre not just a jaunt away. I LOVE YOU!

  13. LoveFeast Table

    If I ever visit Seattle, I will follow your tour guide to a T! It looks like my kind of trip!! Thanks for stopping by our Table!!
    ~kristin

  14. Vanessa Burgess

    hi Megan - loved the Seattle pictures. Please make some banana, coconut, pineapple cupcakes and give us the recipe. I might try to do it myself too!!
    LAV

  15. sara

    What a lovely post! You captured so well what I like about Seattle. I'm from Seattle so this totally makes me a little homesick (in a good way). I'm glad to have stumbled upon this lovely space of yours!

  16. Denise | Chez Danisse

    What a fabulous trip! Boat Street Cafe looks so great. I'm a pickle lover, so little details like pickled radishes, cherries, and asparagus can sweep me off my feet. Of course, I would not not say no to a strong creative cocktail, crab, or a nice dish of creme fraiche ice cream.

  17. Doreen

    It's been many years since I last visited the Pacific Northwest. Thanks for sharing your trip and reminding me how beautiful that corner of the country is.

  18. Manggy

    Oh wow. Now *I* want to move to Seattle. Thanks for showing us all these wonderful places. I could sure do with a hummingbird cupcake with awesome cream cheese frosting. I've made it before but it's just way too hot to bake!

  19. Danielle

    I understand your love for Seattle, I love it too and reading your post just makes me want to make another jaunt up to the Pacific Northwest!! I will keep this post for future trips and although I understand your desire to move, I'll be sad if you do! Catch up soon :)

  20. Alice

    Hi Megan,
    I've been blogger stalking you since February, thinking of how to say hi after umpteen years. :-)
    Tonight I literally sat down to write a post about how if I could live anywhere it would be Seattle or one of the nearby islands when I saw your blog post and decided it was destiny. (I hope you are reading this with the tone I'm writing it, otherwise it sounds kind of crazy.)
    I hope you are well and I'd love to get back in touch!
    Ali (Alice)

  21. Kristen

    Wonderful post - I live in Vancouver, and after reading this I will for sure,have to go down to Seattle for more than a day! Will definitely check out some of those spots.

  22. Zoe

    UGH you guys did a lot of eating up/over there! I am so very jealous! I would be at that Lunchbox place everyday (chose your fry salt?!?!!) And I am proud of you for the crab cake choice. Hopefully I can be visiting both my sisters there in the future :)

  23. Dana

    You captured our fair city so beautifully! I love people who can appreciate what makes Seattle unique. You packed a lot into your time here! Next time, put me on your must-visit list. :)

    1. megang

      Thanks, Dana! Yes, I've fallen for Seattle pretty hard and am flirting with a move in the Fall. If so, I'll be desperate for some new food friends I'm sure, so I'll be in touch :) Thanks for the sweet comment!

  24. Anne Zimmerman

    Megan, you must try the Walrus & the Carpenter on your next visit to Sea-town. It is in Ballard, done by the Boat Street folks. A memorable evening fueled by oysters & champagne.

    1. megang

      Ohhhh...Boat Street is one of my favorites of all time. I'll be sure to put it on my list. I want to hear about this trip in person!

  25. Jennifer T.

    I went to college in Seattle, so your post made me a little homesick. I think I need to plan a trip back.

    1. megang

      It is a pretty great city, isn't it Jennifer? Luckily you can often find deals on Virgin and it's so pretty this time of year. Thanks for saying hello; happy (almost) weekend! ~m

Join the Discussion

The Thanksgiving Table

A Top Contender

A Top Contender

Today is a different kind of day. Usually posts on this blog come about with the narrative and I manage to squeeze in a recipe. But sometimes when you really stumble upon a winning recipe, it speaks for itself. We'll likely make these beans for Thanksgiving this year. They're one of those simple stunners that you initially think couldn't be much of a thing. And then they come out of the oven all sweet and withered and flecked with herbs. You try one and you realize they are, in fact, a pretty big thing. 

Read More
Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie with Kamut Crust

Brown Butter Sweet Potato Pie with Kamut Crust

I always force myself to wait until after Halloween to start thinking much about holiday pies or, really, future holidays in general. But this year I cheated a bit, tempted heavily by the lure of a warmly-spiced sweet potato pie that I used to make back when I baked pies for a living in the Bay Area (way back when). We seem to always have sweet potatoes around as they're one of Oliver's favorite foods, and when I roast them for his lunch I've been wishing I could turn them into a silky pie instead. So the other day I reserved part of the sweet potatoes for me. For a pie that I've made hundreds of times in the past, this time reimagined with fragrant brown butter, sweetened solely with maple syrup, and baked into a flaky kamut crust. We haven't started talking about the Thanksgiving menu yet this year, but I know one thing for sure: this sweet potato pie will make an appearance.

Read More
Bring the Happy

Bring the Happy

It has begun. Talk of who is bringing what, where we'll buy the turkey, what kind of pies I'll make, early morning texts concerning brussels sprouts.  There's no getting around it: Thanksgiving is on its way. And with it comes the inevitable reflecting back and thinking about what we're thankful for. And about traditions. The funny thing about traditions is that they exist because they've been around for a long time. Year after year after year. But then, one Thanksgiving maybe there's something new at the table.

Read More
For You, With Thanks

For You, With Thanks

I didn't expect green beans to bring up such a great discussion on traditions, sharing of poems and how a piece of writing can linger with you. So thank you for that. Your comments pointed out how important people and place are and how food takes the back seat when it  comes right down to it. Even if you feel quite warm towards Thanksgiving and are looking forward to next week, reading about recipe suggestions and meal planning online and in magazines can start to feel tiresome right about now. Why? Because I suppose when it all comes down to it, in the big picture it doesn't matter what we all serve anyway. Next year, you likely won't remember one year's vegetable side dish from another. What you'll remember are the markers that dotted the year for you: whom you sat next to at the table, a toast or grace, and the sense of gratitude you felt for something -- large or small.

Read More
How to Break a Thanksgiving Tradition

How to Break a Thanksgiving Tradition

I got a text from my mom the other day that read: demerara sugar? I responded back with a question mark, not sure what she was referencing. It turns out she was experimenting with a new pie recipe that called for the natural sugar and wasn't sure why she couldn't just use white sugar as that's what she's always done in the past. A few days later we talked on the phone and she mentioned she'd let me take charge of the salad for Thanksgiving this year as long as there was no kale. No kale! And I wanted to do the mashed potatoes? Would they still be made with butter and milk? In short, we're always willing to mix things up in the Gordon household. Whether it's inspiration from a food magazine, friend or coworker, either my mom or one of my sisters will often have an idea for something new to try at the holiday table. But what I've slowly learned is that it can't really be that different: there must be pumpkin pie, the can of cranberry sauce is necessary even though not many people actually eat it, the onion casserole is non-negotiable, the salad can't be too out there, and the potatoes must be made with ample butter and milk. And while I was really scheming up an epic kale salad to make this year, there's a big part of me that gets it, too: if we change things too much we won't recognize the part of the day that comes to mean so much: the pure recognition. We take comfort in traditions because we recognize them -- because they're always there, year after year. And so today I present to you (mom, are you reading?): this year's Gordon family Thanksgiving salad.

Read More