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Seattle: Food! (part 1)

The very first night we were in Seattle we trudged sleepily to a bar a few blocks away called Cyclops. That place set the tone for the whole trip.

Cyclops bar Seattle

This is my kind of bar. Funky, friendly, dimly-lit, good music, and good food. I love weird places like this. There were two cases on the wall full of panther statues. WTF?

Cyclops panther collectionCyclops bar topCyclops sweet potato fries

The sweet potato fries with chipotle jalapeno dipping sauce were incredible, as was the beer!

We chatted with a couple of locals for a few hours and were given so many great recommendations for how to spend our trip. We ended up using a couple of their tips and found a lot of fun things that we wouldn’t have otherwise. Everyone in that town is so nice! People seemed genuinely interested in making sure we had a good time.

The next day, when we took a break for lunch during our walk through the Japanese gardens and Arboretum, we headed to a unique little vegetarian restaurant called Cafe Flora.

Cafe Flora restaurant Seattle

Jeff and I were losing our minds over these rosemary biscuits topped with mushroom miso gravy that we shared for an appetizer.

Cafe Flora mushroom miso gravy over biscuits

OMG I cannot wait to recreate this at home! We were scraping every last drop off the plate!

Jeff got an omelet filled with sweet potatoes and beans and topped with a spicy chipotle sauce. It was killer! I got an open-faced brie and baked apple sandwich with pistachio pesto. Crazy good even if it was a little heavy.

Cafe Flora omelet with sweet potatoCafe Flora brie and apple sandwich

If we lived in Seattle, I’d wanna go to Cafe Flora all the time. Their cocktail and dessert menu was calling my name but we had gardens to go see.

That night was to be our anniversary dinner. I got dressed up in my wedding dress and we headed to Shiro’s for what was to be some amazing sushi.

Dressed up to go to Shiro's

We started off with a bottle of sake and some kumamoto oysters. I thought I didn’t like oysters, so when the chef presented us with these, I was a little wary. They were “holy crap” awesome though. I am officially an oyster convert!

Shiro's kumamoto oysters

The chef started cranking out pairings of nigiri starting with two kinds of tuna and a duo of salmon, one with sea salt and one with onion and sweet sauce. The fish was really fresh, you could tell it was caught recently. I loved the salmon pairing, I’d never had it prepared that way and was really surprised.

Shiro's two kinds of tuna nigiriShiro's salmon nigiri two ways

We also had geoduck and scallop, then fresh raw shrimp.

Shiro's geoduck and scallopShiro's ebi nigiri

And where there’s shrimp there are shrimp heads! They chef introduced us to our next course before frying them up right in front of us. I love crunchy shrimp heads!

Shiro's shrimp headsShiro's fried shrimp heads

He talked to us about our honeymoon a bit and let us know that the head chef and owner, Shiro, was from Kyoto. We got to chat with Shiro for a minute about how lovely Kyoto was which was really nice. While we were talking, the chef was busy making this…

Shiro's kyoto-style maki roll

I recognized immediately that this was a very Kyoto-style piece of maki sushi. It had fresh cucumber and shiso on the inside and mackerel covered in a thin slice of daikon with a tiny shiso leaf in between. The ingredients and the level of detail all signified Kyoto-style sushi. I thought it was really cool that he made that special roll when he heard us talking about Kyoto!

Jeff got his wish for incredibly fresh uni. You almost never see it presented nigiri-style like this, the uni has to be of perfect quality to pull it off or it will just look messy. And I’ve never seen octopus presented like this either, kinda creepy but also really pretty.

Shiro's uni nigiriShiro's tako nigiri

It was a fantastic anniversary dinner. We knocked back two bottles of sake and a glass each of shochu too!

The next morning, I could feel the after-effects of all the food and drink we had the night before. This would require caffeine and sugar to cure!

We hit up the famous Top Pot donuts.

Top Pot donuts Seattle

I had already done my research ahead of time to know exactly what I wanted. I got the glazed old-fashioned donut and a latte, Jeff got a huge creme-filled one and regular drip.

Top Pot glazed old fashioned and cream filled

Oh… Easily the best donut I’ve ever had. Perfect texture and the icing was sweet but not too sweet and kind of milky-flavored. Amazing.

That was a pretty meager breakfast though, so we were ready for lunch shortly thereafter. We ducked out of the drizzling rain and into a cute little Thai restaurant.

Jeff poured us some hot tea to warm up.

Jeff pouring tea in Seattle

I got a really tasty green curry with pillowy fried tofu. Perfect food to warm us up from the cold rain.

Green curry in Seattle

That night we ventured to Capitol Hill to a bar and restaurant called Smith. It was an unusual place with old portraits and taxidermy hanging from the walls.

Smith bar Seattle

They specialize in old prohibition-era cocktails. I got a rye manhattan and Jeff had a local red ale. That was a very boozy manhattan, and I was needing food to counteract the buzz.

Smith rye manhattanRed ale at Smith in Seattle

Jeff got a cuban sandwich and I got the charcuterie plate with local honey, spicy mustard, cornichons, buttered marcona almonds, two kinds of cheese, and two cured meats. It was fantastic!

Smith sandwichSmith charcuterie plate

Stay tuned for the last of my Seattle recap….more food!


Seattle: Pike Place Market and Chittenden Loch

Pike Place Market, like the Space Needle, is so synonymous with Seattle. Every picture or video I’ve ever seen of it though is always of that same fish counter where they throw whole fish back and forth between the customers. That’s cool and all, and they were doing some of that when we went, but it didn’t even come close to being the coolest thing we saw at the market.

Being a foodie, I was much more thrilled with the absolutely gorgeous produce!

Fresh fruit at Pike PlaceWild mushrooms at Pike Place

And sure, there’s fish too…

Whole fish at Pike PlaceShellfish at Pike Placefresh fish at Pike Place

There were so many unusual foods that I have never seen in any Atlanta market, like ereyngii mushrooms and halibut cheeks. I would lose my mind and the entire contents of my wallet if I shopped there regularly!

There were also vendors of all sorts. You couldn’t walk ten steps without hitting a tulip stand.

Flowers at Pike Place Market

And of course there was plenty of other various and sundry weirdness…

Pike Place ocarinasPike Place sweater cat

Hand-made ocarinas and cats in sweaters, two things I did not expect to see!

Also, the first Starbucks ever in existence is right outside. We just peeked our heads in but didn’t buy anything. Strangely, we didn’t patron a single Starbucks the entire time we were in its hometown.

The first Starbucks

We got a recommendation from a local to go see the Chittenden Lochs. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, I’m not really into boats and other nautical stuff like that. We were gonna be in the neighborhood one day though so we decided to check it out anyway. So glad we did!

Gull at the loch

Here you can see side by side how the water level changes to raise and lower the ships. These are two different boats, but you get the idea. It actually happens really fast too, in less than 5 minutes the loch fills with around 12 feet or so of water!

ship entering lochShip raised up in loch

Jeff approves of lochs

And then there was the dam and fish ladder…

Loch and fish ladderWater pouring out of loch

Apparently when it’s the right season, tons of fish shoot out of those pipes backwards! We didn’t see any fish, but it was still cool to be there next to the immense sound of the crashing water.

The fish ladder was inside, and it was so dark that none of my pictures came out. I had no idea what a fish ladder was but apparently it simulates an uphill against-the-current swim for salmon so they will instinctively use it to pass the dam and continue on their journey.

Me in front of lochsJeff leaning over the lochDistant view of fish ladder

Really cool way to take advantage of an otherwise gloomy day. If that isn’t a Pacific Northwest experience I don’t know what is.

So, Jeff and I aren’t really into doing too much touristy stuff on vacations. We try our best to just do what we would do if we actually lived in that place, like go to bars and restaurants and walk around a lot. And that was the bulk of this vacation too.

That means that next up is: Food and drank!



Seattle: Music & Sci-fi museum and Olympic sculpture park

It’s really hard for me to pick which neighborhood of Seattle was my favorite. I think Jeff loved Capitol Hill the most with its urban grunge, tattoo shops, and hip bars and restaurants frequented by the young 20’s crowd. I liked Ballard, a seemingly upscale and trendy area with tons of eating and shopping that manages to come to life at night.

From our hotel we could see the downtown area only a few blocks away. Seattle as a whole was very walkable, and anywhere you couldn’t walk you could take a bus. And the buses are much nicer and cleaner than Atlanta’s Marta system, which frankly scares me.

Seattle from hotel window

We definitely spent the most time in Belltown though, being that our hotel was there and we wanted to be able to walk to most of the things we did. From what I understand, Belltown used to be a bit seedier and industrial but has recently boomed with tons of bars and restaurants aimed at roping in the happy hour crowd and holding onto them for the night.

We were just 2 blocks from the Space Needle, though we decided not to go up it (Jeff and I both don’t like heights.) But just under the Space Needle was another attraction that did sound interesting – The Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum.  Yes, a music and sci-fi museum, together!

Sci-fi and music museum

Tower of guitars

They were showing exhibits on the life of Jimi Hendrix, the story of Nirvana as a band and as the influence of an era, and even….Battlestar Galactica! I’m really showing my nerd colors now!

Battlestar Galactica exhibit

Jeff thought it was hilarious how excited I was about this. He probably had the most fun in the sound lab playing around with all the instruments. Isn’t my guitar-god husband so sexy? 😉

Jeff in sound lab at museum

Sadly, we were too early for a huge Avatar exhibit that is coming to the museum soon. That would have been pretty cool.

One other neat attraction just a few blocks from us was the Olympic Sculpture Park, an outdoor extension of the Seattle Art Museum.

Seattle olympic sculpture park

Sculpture park part of SAM

It was so cool! A beautiful waterfront park with huge modern art sculptures and amazing concrete architecture…

Silver tree sculpture

This picture doesn’t do that metal tree sculpture justice, it was enormous and far below the balcony we were standing on.

Wood and metal sculpture

I called this one the “red elephant.” I don’t know why but it just reminded me of an elephant somehow.

Me under red elephantSpace needle and red elephant sculpture

And there were amazing views everywhere you looked.

View of city from sculpture parkView of mountains from sculpture park

My husband emits rainbows…

Jeff emitting rainbows

Eye see you!

Eye see you!

We weren’t sure what to expect from the sculpture park, but it ended up making for a great date, along with a stroll along the piers with a view of Mt. Rainier in the distance.

Mt. Rainier in the distance

Next time: Pike Place Market and the Chittenden Loch.