If you visit Seattle, bring a healthy appetite. You’ll need it, because excellent food, wine and desserts are not the Emerald City’s problem.
But — and not to sound too ominous about this — if you’re not careful, they could become your problem.
Whether we were sampling exotic foods at Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, or sipping coffee in one of its world-famous coffee houses, or tasting desserts or artisanal cheeses, we now realize that we spent an entire week of our lives eating all the time.
Oh, and if you have young kids (we have three) then you’ll also find yourself consuming enormous chocolate chip cookies, dark fudge brownies or donuts as big as your kindergartner’s hand.
The real question is: How did we do it without gaining any weight? You’ll have to keep reading to find out.
At Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, you have to be prepared for anything.
When we entered the open-air bazaar on the north end, I didn’t expect the expanse of brilliant colors and the scent of blooming flowers that greeted us. It was followed by rows upon rows of fruit and produce, their sweet fragrance drawing shoppers and bees to them. Then came the smells: spices, baked bread and fresh coffee.
Did someone say “coffee”? Just across the street is the original Starbucks, which still roasts its own. More on that in a second.
Along the street, you can find food from everywhere — German, Greek, Chinese, Turkish and inert delicacies from every country on the State Department’s watchlist. We walked to the corner to grab a savory quiche at DeLaurenti, which offered some informal seating options for our young, energetic kids.
It’s practically standing room only as you approach Pike Place Fish Market’s corner stall. That’s your first hint something crazy is about to happen. Your next warning comes as the fishmongers dressed in oversized rubber pants and donning gloves call out a chant. And then there’s a big slippery silver fish is flying from the back of the stand into the crowd, followed by cheers. A free fish! The kids loved it.
On the way back to our Belltown vacation rental we picked up our favorite coffee beans, lots of fresh veggies, smokin’ hot sausages and a few blocks of award-winning cheeses for dinner.
We had to stop for kurds at Beecher’s where you can watch as they form their famous fromage. The shop is usually packed, but if you’re patient it’s a true treat to taste several locally-made wedges. I highly recommend the aged gouda?
I won’t mention the wine shops, but yes, there were plenty on the way home. After our first foray into Seattle’s food scene, we were practically set with groceries for the week. But we’d heard about the coffee culture and knew we’d be heading out for a taste soon.
Sleepless in … well, you know
There was no way we’d resist getting a cup of joe while in the area. Actually, our preferred beverage is the Americano. More than one snooty barista has dissed our choice referring to it as a water-downed espresso. Whatever. We love them.
After exploring Seattle’s waterfront area, Pioneer Square and the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park our 11-year-old son, Aren, suggested we try a Seattle cafe crawl. He had ulterior motives. He was munching some cookies at Zeitgeist, just across the street from the historical park, so I’m pretty sure he was focused on the pastries, not the coffee aspect of the trek. He immediately pulled up some information on his iPhone and pointed us to the Capitol Hill neighborhood, which has the highest concentration of roasters.
Might I gently suggest that you spread any caffeine-laden tours across multiple days unless you have a final exam or paper due?
Nevertheless, we visited a variety of remarkable cafes. Our favorites include Victrola Coffee Roasters, Vita Coffee Roasting Company and Kaladi Brothers Coffee. These establishments get top marks because of their top-notch Americano, but also because of the ambiance and friendly service. But Kaladi surpassed all and it had everything to do with their gluten-free raspberry and cream scone.
Yes, the pastries are just as important as the coffee, especially when you have a family in tow.
Sweet on Seattle
Of course, you don’t have to be a roaster to have great coffee and pastries. On one of our walk-abouts we discovered Top Pot hand forged doughnuts. It’s a local chain and we found a location below the monorail that was only a few blocks from our apartment.
Fortunately, the discovery was made just before our departure date because they had more than two dozen varieties of specialty donuts and I like to be thorough in my research when I’m covering sweets. Perhaps too though.
Down the street, we stumbled upon Macrina’s Bakery. They serve all kinds of delicacies both savory and sweet. This was our rainy day lunch stop where we sipped steamy cups of tea while the kids gobbled up crusty bread and soup. We should have grabbed an extra baguette to go with dinner.
When you start feeling guilty for all the good food you’ve devoured in Seattle, step on over to the Confectional. You’ll know you’re there when you see a sign that says, “Forgive me chocolate, for I have sinned.” They sell bite-sized cheesecake treats in a wicked display of confectionary debauchery.
Our favorite mini cake was the white chocolate raspberry, but the quadruple chocolate and caramel were pretty awesome too.
The steps are the secret
So how did we finish this trip in the same clothes we started with? The secret is to keep active. We walked everywhere. From our place in Belltown just about every major attraction in the city was less than two miles away. We averaged between eight and ten miles walked each day.
Seattle is the kind of town meant to be walked regardless of the weather. How far you plan to go is up to you. Once our rental car was parked safely in the basement parking lot at our vacation rental we only took it out only once, to visit the irresistable Mt. Rainier.
We did quite a bit of walking there, too. But that’s another story.