My husband and I have never been to Seattle and thought it would be fun to explore a new city. While I’m really not going anywhere, I could easily picture myself living in Seattle and am already thinking about our next visit. The weather was picture perfect for fall and the city itself is beautiful with all its natural beauty and surroundings. And perhaps my favorite thing was the intense smell of autumn leaves that hits you at every corner. Well, that and coffee.
To prep for the visit, I shared several e-mails with Nancy Leson, food critic for The Seattle Times, especially on where to eat. Between Nancy and a handful of other Seattle fans, we had a great itinerary for our trip.
This was our favorite meal and restaurant while visiting. We both had the braised short ribs – house specialty and Food & Wine favorite. Easily the best dish of its kind I’ve ever had. And my husband said it was definitely the best meal of his entire life (so much for my cooking). The atmosphere was right up our alley, too. An older home restored with simple yet very sophisticated decor. It was chaotic inside, but in a good way.
Thanks to Dominic Cerino, we had lunch with Gina Batali, owner of Salumi and Mario’s sister. She was very generous with her time (gave us a tour), knowledge and of course, salami and cured meats. She gave us so many different selections to try I didn’t think I’d be able to eat the rest of the weekend. My favorites include the culatello (heart of prosciutto), mole salami, hot sopressata, fennel sausage, agrumi, lomo and guanciale. This little shop boasts quite the business. Even Michael Symon apparently gets some salumi from Gina. This was a fun experience and one that we will always remember. It’s not often you have the opportunity to sit down with someone like Gina, share a bottle of wine and try all sorts of salumi.
Quaint little French cafe near Pike Place Market. Stopped in for some coffee, apple cake (for Jamie) and a trio of cheese (for me). I loved the feeling and warmth of this little restaurant. I could see something like it doing very well in Cleveland.
Gina Batali and the strangers that shared our table warned us about this place. They said the food was amazing, but the chef was a bit crazy, kind of like the soup nazi. We should have taken their suggestion and tried Harvest Vine or Tavolata instead. While the food was absolutely fantastic (soft shell crab wrapped in sliced apples for starters and butternut squash gnocchi for dinner) the overall vibe was like having dinner in a library. There was no noise – anywhere. Not even a plate clinking in the kitchen. It was as if everyone was afraid to make a subtle move or a noise above a whisper. And I swear the chef was starring at us from the partially opened kitchen. It was very serious and intense – just not our kind of place. But the food truly was delicious, especially the appetizer. Very creative and a unique pairing of flavors. And the presentation was second to none. I have never seen anything quite like this. Every single dish that came out of that kitchen was meticulously designed. The chef would get incredibly high scores on Iron Chef for presentation alone. But the delicious Italian food and beautiful presentation would not be enough to draw me back. I come from a very big Italian family. We don’t do quiet.
Nancy said if you’re coming to Seattle, you need to take a ferry ride and suggested this place on Bainbridge Island. What a great suggestion – especially the ferry ride. Great views and really a must-do for visitors. While we really only saw one street on the island, it reminded me of a large, urban Chagrin Falls. And the pan-pacific restaurant was equally as good. I had the tuna spring roll and scallops with ginger-chili pesto and corn fritters. Both very good. Great decor, too.
We spent Saturday afternoon checking out the Columbia and Chateau Ste Michele wineries. Very informative and overall fun experience. The grounds at Ste Michelle were stunning with the old mansion serving as a backdrop. Ideal place to get married – but apparently, they don’t do weddings.
Pike Place Market
This might have been my favorite activity in the city. We watched the guys throw fish and went to the first Starbucks and watched them make cheese at Beecher’s (best-grilled cheese ever).