Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Food in the Emerald City

A scientific conference took me to Seattle in mid-April. It was my first time in Seattle (and my first time in Washington), and I was lucky enough to have both a day off mid-conference and a dear friend living there to guide me to some awesome places in Seattle. Oh... and it turns out she works at a bakery part-time, and we have separately both grown to be a little obsessed with good food.

As I suppose any good food tour of Seattle begins, we started at Pike Place Market. I was first impressed by the wide variety of crafts, and then the huge stalls of tulips.

Then we started passing stands with huge selections of seafood, including monkfish, a huge octopus, razor clams, river salmon, and, of course, fresh fish being tossed about by burly fish-mongers. At this point, I think I was convinced that Seattle is just as wonderful as Madison (if not more so).

Next we stopped at the nearby Sur La Table store, where, after much ogling, I picked out a small square ravioli press (which you'll see in a future post). Then we hopped on a bus and headed over to Fremont (a very hip neighborhood in Seattle). We picked up chocolate hazelnut cookies from Flying Apron for my officemate/hotelroommate, who doesn't eat gluten and was trying out a totally grain-free diet. For lunch, we had sandwiches at Homegrown, a cute sustainable sandwich/soup/salad place.

For dessert #1, we checked out the shop at Theo Chocolate Inc. They had samples of all kinds of crazy chocolate bars , along with standard high quality regular milk and dark chocolate. My favorite flavors were spicy chile and fennel & fig. I had high expectations for the coconut curry bar, but it ended up just tasting kind of odd.

Dessert #2 was a honey rose lollipop from a tiny hole-in-the-wall shop, and we enjoyed them as we waited for our bus back to downtown.

But my Seattle fun didn't end when I had to hug my friend goodbye on Sunday. On Tuesday, a group of intrepid plasma theorists walked downhill from hotel to a restaurant called Nijo Sushi. My officemate enjoyed a big plate of sashimi with no soy sauce and no rice, and another in our group got some sushi rolls that were on fire! (See the "Flamin' Fire" below.)

I ordered a bowl of sake steamed mussels that were tasty, though I was surprised at the number of them that were unopened. I assumed that at a restaurant like this, they wouldn't serve the unopened ones. I also had a seared tuna salad, which was absolutely heavenly. The crust on the edge of the tuna was flavorful and matched perfectly with the sesame dressing.

What can I say? I can't wait to go back to Seattle, maybe find a hotel suite with a kitchen, and enjoy some more great northwestern cuisine!

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