The Missus and I have always said that Seattle is one of our favorite cities. I had even considered moving here before I met the Missus. We've always enjoyed the personality and vibe of the city; the unpretentious, tolerant, down-to-earth, polite, though perhaps a bit introverted folks..... We used to visit every year and our best visits were during the holiday season, so shame on us for not visiting since 2007. And double shame on us for not visiting during the end of fall/beginning of winter in 10 years!
There have been alot of changes in the 7 years since we visited, the very inexpensive Link Light Rail route from SeaTac to Downtown Seattle didn't even exist back then. Now it's an inexpensive $2.75 from the airport. I'd have never even considered staying near Pioneer Square when I first started visiting in 1993, yet here we were dropping off our luggage at the Courtyard Pioneer Square. It was easy making eating plans for this trip. Included in those plans was a visit to the Walrus and the Carpenter. The Missus jumped at the plan, since most of our past trips have kind of revolved around oysters. Of course She had Her own little twist on things. I've long mentioned various "death marches" the Missus had taken me on. Well, this time the Missus had an urban version planned.
She wanted to walk from Pioneer Square to the Walrus and the Carpenter. A walk of approximately 5.72 miles. In Seattle, in winter, yikes!
Just for kicks, I posted the question of this walk on the Chowhound Seattle Board. Unlike some of the other CH boards, the folks here seemed quite helpful. I didn't expect 20+ answers....such varied opinions, from being a terrible (read: a nice way of saying certifiably insane) idea, about 50%, to being an urban adventure. As a joke, I mentioned the comment about going to Fremont, since the Missus had never seen The Fremont Troll. Well, She was all in....which made the walk over 7 miles long! Double sigh.....
Still, we were to start at Salumi. We'd never had a chance to check out this very popular shop, so I was more than happy to start here.
I was told that there's always a line at this shop run by the Batali family....yes, that Batali family. It's an interesting story that you can read here. So, of course there was a line, which moved very quickly, with folks replacing those in line at about the same pace.
I've read rave reviews about the pochetta and all that stuff, but this is a salumi shop. Plus, the Missus doesn't eat much bread these days, so the salumi plate ($13) was an obvious choice. Man, this was good, nice, distinct, yet balanced flavors to all the salumi. And only $13??? Boy, does what we had at S&M recently seem highly over-priced. My favorites? I loved the addition of a hint of curry to the traditional fennel salame, the Finnocchiona Salame. The flavors of the Agrumi Salame, hints of citrus, also was fantastic.
The beef tongue is not sold by weight, so we ordered a sandwich ($10). The tongue was very nicely flavored, beefy, not too salty, nice seasonings, fantastic tender texture. It's a bit too much bread for my taste and I felt bad about not eating it all....but I just couldn't do it; especially after the Missus ate all of the meat of one half the sandwich. A bit too much olive spread for me as well. The ratio is kind of off....but oh man, that beef tongue.....
On a whim, the Missus ordered a single meatball ($2.50) and it was love at first bite.
I loved the sauce, it had just about the right balance for my tastes.....simple, tangy, lightly sweet, that flavor of sunshine.....
The woman managing the orders was very nice. The place is super packed, so she told us to sit at the "front table", which is basically the front display window. Kind of odd and cool at the same time. You feel like some kind of window display and yet, it's interesting to people watch.
We really enjoyed our meal and we look forward to returning next time. More meatballs for the Missus.
Salumi Artisan Cured Meats
309 3rd Ave S
Seattle, WA 98104
Tues - Fri 11am - 330pm
After this, the death march ensued. We basically headed straight down 2nd, past all those familiar places. Up Pine, past Westlake Center and one of the places we used to stay at; the Westin, swinging around back and down Westlake Avenue which used to look a bit more industrial, but now there quite a bit of construction going on. And I swear, the Space Needle used to seem a lot farther away than this......
And when did Whole Foods get here? Must be after 2003 which was the last time around these parts.
As for the three fairly odd statues right outside, they are works by ceramic sculptor, Akio Takamori, named "Young Woman, Girl, Mother and Child".
From here we passed a ton of newer buildings, intertwined with more industrial businesses like a Firestone Autocare, before arriving at Lake Union.....
And all those houseboats.....
It started drizzling a bit more.....though temperatures weren't too bad....in the mid-high 40's. We hastened our pace a bit, before finally coming to the Fremont Bridge and that sign I love.....
Of course, after crossing we'd have to climb up to visit The Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge which is on North 36th Street.
After crossing the Fremont Bridge, I was a bit wet and somewhat sweaty....it was time for a break. We stopped at Milstead & Co, the Missus had a coffee and I some iced jasmine tea, which really did the job.
We then hikes up the hill, to visit the troll, who seemed to have a mesmerized fan.
The young woman in a blue coat, who looked Japanese, just sat very still and quiet, like she was trying to communicate with the beast crushing a VW. She moved not an inch....she was quietly sitting in place when we left. For all I know, she might still be sitting there, meditating in front of a troll.
Down 36th Street is another of Fremont's "(in)famous" art pieces.....
Yep, that's a statue of Lenin (not Lennon), as in Vladimir, wishing you Merry Christmas. The story of how this statue made it from Poprad, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) to its current resting place is quite interesting. It's funny how you find little threads if you travel enough, this statue which was in front of Poprad's Lenin Sqaure was removed during the Velvet Revolution, which I mentioned in a previous post about Prague.
It was just about 310......and so it was time to head off to our dinner destination.....which was a "mere" 1.9 miles away! Lovely.....
And so we walked on, past the Bev Mo and and the Fred Meyers....and all those industrial areas in between. I'd never been to the Ballard area before....but knew that as long as we saw the #40 bus, we'd be ok. Walking along Ballard Avenue NW, I knew to look for the sign... The Missus walked right pass, but I knew what to look for.
You then had to go down a hallway and at the end you hit paydirt.
It was 345, we'd done pretty good time, about 35 minutes. We were the third party in line(no reservations at this small place)...not bad. I went down the stairs to the restroom, following one of the guys who exiting the restaurant. I was a bit wet and somewhat sweaty from the walk and the drizzle. The guy asked looked at me and said, "drizzling down a bit out there?" I told him that it was a combination of things since we walked here from Pioneer Square, via Fremont. "You what? "I heard that this was where we needed to come for oysters...." "Ok, then, you'll be happy, we got some good oysters tonight." Nice guy! I got myself a bit more presentable and headed back upstairs.
We were asked where we'd like to sit and requested a seat at the bar, which turned out to be a great decision. Remember the guy in the restroom? Well, he was the one working the raw bar..... I just knew this was going to be a nice meal. After all, we were here for the oysters, all local, no middle men, no brokers........
The restaurant itself is tiny, cramped, but warm and inviting and without pretense....like I guess what your little secret neighborhood spot serving world class seafood would be like.....
As for the oysters.....well, I asked for recommendations, describing that I enjoy the finish that's interesting and more on what I call the "nutty, rare beef side", though I appreciate that cucumbery flavor as well. David, our master shucker, chose us, "the oysters he would choose on the menu today."
The first dozen were composed of Treasure Cove, Blue Pool, and Baywater Sweet. The Missus immediately took to the Treasure Cove, which took real well to the mignonette. When it comes to good oysters, I just do a drop or two of lemon, it does just enough to balance out the salinity for me. I just took to the finish on the Blue Pool, it was sort of funky, slightly nutty, with a deep and long lasting finish..... it was just what I'd been wanting.
Meanwhile, our first garde manger dish arrived; the Duck Breast, rockwell beans, masutake mushrooms, sea wolf croutons, and tarragon.
In terms of what we had, this was the weakest dish; but by no means was it terrible, it's just that the duck breat was dry and lacking in the duck flavor we enjoy. The masutake mushroom and especially the beans were the stars of the dish for us. Loved the use of tarragon as well.
The beef tartare was very nice.
Buttery, with a clean, refreshing finish. This went very well with the rye toast and is osmething I'd have weekly if I could.
Our second dozen oysters; Nordic Knute, North Bay, and a repeat of Blue Pool.
I still loved the Blue Pool.....
The Missus demanded equal time, so we got another dozen with Her favorite, the Treasure Cove, plus the Hove Cove and one of my old favorites the Hama Hama.
The Hama Hama had that almost acid like citrus flavor I recall, but the Treasure Cove were still the favorite of the Missus.
Meanwhile, we got to chatting a bit with the master of the raw bar between plates. He was super fast and shucked with amazing ease. Anyway, "David" is David Leck a champion shucker. If you'd like to see him doing his thing, check this out.
We had a great time...... we loved the oysters, the vibe, the folks working here.....they have a great cocktail program and a nice wine list....but I wish they'd do a bit more with the beer program.
Still, when in Seattle, we'll be back. David made it a great night for us.
Speaking of beer. A bit further up the street is a beer bar named The Noble Fir. We stopped by....because; well, I wanted a beer. Luckily they were having a nice progressive. Which I enjoyed while the Missus went meandering around the local shops.
Anyway, the big name in the progressive was the Bourbon County Imperial Stout, boozy, with coffee-caramel-molasses tones, and a boozy hit. It was a bit too much for me, but the Missus really liked it. She also had a Blueberry Ale from Cascade brewing.
Funny, the thing I enjoyed most about the place was the great 80's music they played!
The Noble Fir
5316 Ballard Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107
After our liquid refreshment, we walked over to the bus stop and caught the 40 back to downtown Seattle. The Missus, still believing we needed "more exercise", decided that we should get off at 3rd and Virginia. Which was kind of nice, since we'd get to enjoy the walk through downtown and those sights we'd gotten used too.....
Years ago, we flew into Seattle right after Thanksgiving and ran into a Holiday Parade. At the end, the star at Bon Marche was lit. So even though it's now Macy's, it's still the Bon Marche star to us.
You never know what you'll run into in downtown. On this night it was a Ferguson protest.....
We skirted the protest, which seemed very peaceful and headed down 2nd......past some very familiar sights.
And some that weren't around the last time we visited.
Making back to our hotel. It had been what seemed to be a long day, but it was barely 8pm! I dunno.....maybe old age is settling in, but all that walking....perhaps 9 miles or so really wiped me out!
Still, it was nice to be back in Seattle and we were eating well!
I realize this was a supr long post. Thanks for reading!