When I get the news that out of town friends are coming to visit, I immediately start planning their itinerary around consuming food and beverages. Great skill and deep thought go into these food themed tours to be sure to hit the requisite tourists spots as well as all the restaurants I save for special occasions with a few scenic views scattered about.
This was no different when Brandon’s brother and his really ridiculously good looking wife came to visit us. Tyler and Christiana, of T&C Photographie, have impeccable taste and an expert eye which meant they needed nothing less than the Luxe Brabby Tour of Seattle.
Starting the morning with iced coffees from Analog, we then wandered down the hill to end up at Pike Place Market. Here we wandered a bit to see our favorite spots. Confession: I still don’t get the fish throwing guys… I don’t think I ever will. No trip to the market is complete without a refreshingly zesty Rachel’s Ginger Beer. Necessary since everyday in Seattle is 80 degrees and sunny.
Continuing our traipsing, we wandered Pioneer Square and sat at The London Plane for lunch. I’ve been waiting to take Christina here since I first saw it, as its style and airiness is just her aesthetic. We shared a few small plates, though I think it was the bread and spreads that was the unanimous favorite. After lusting after the server’s aprons, I finally asked where they were from and subsequently have a new Christmas wish item. One Hedley and Bennett apron please!
Before dinner, we took T&C to Golden Gardens to show off the views Seattle offers.
Essex not only consistently yields some of my favorite drinks in the city, their glassware is uniquely gorgeous. We slowly sipped our cocktails while munching on a few small plates. It is tricky, this Essex and Delancey thing since you want to eat everything at Essex but you know you need to save room for the star of the show next door.
My favorite is always the white pizza topped with whatever the daily offerings are. Sadly, I again did not have any room for this perfect chocolate chip cookie so I was forced to carry it around and munch on it throughout the night. Utter torment.
The next morning we brunched at Arabica , then road tripped down to Lincoln City, Oregon. The boys found some choice tunes from Brandon’s teenage years and for some reason found great pleasure in torturing us girls with its nonsense. Luckily we were treated to fantastical scenery that distracted us from the pain in our ears.
T&C’s trip was way too short, and with so many restaurants in Seattle it is imperative that they return. But we look forward to visiting them in North Carolina this October!
When discussing our upcoming move to Seattle last fall, there were consistently two comments from our friends and family. “Seattle!? It rains all the time there!” and “Oh, they’ll have some great coffee since that is where Starbucks started! “. We’ve since discovered that the weather is really pretty fantastic, some of the best I’ve experienced living in the States. I wore my winter coat for about 6 days between November and January. Sure it rains sometimes, but more often than not the forecast that predicted 70% chance of rain all day is, in actuality, a crystal clear blue sky. And I happen to enjoy the occasional cozy, rainy, melancholy day. What I could not take any more, were the six month long, frigidly soul crushing ice baths that the Mid West calls “Winter”. You know in Game of Thrones, when Fryanyzne of House Cargartenthylisa whispers in abject fear that “Winter is coming”? The entire city of Chicago walks around like that from the end of September until the bitter, unceasing winds eventually cause them to become hermits or perpetually angry. bundled up white walkers.
Also, Starbucks barely sells coffee anymore, and seems to now concentrate on selling chai with bits of real Oprah*. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t sure how being Starbucks’ origin city would mean that spectacular coffee would be flowing through its streets. But, I stand corrected since Seattle has some incredible coffee establishments. Some are ideal for working on a laptop all afternoon, some require a paperback and a few are best for bringing along nothing at all. Well, maybe a friend and some money. Read on for my favorites:
This city has constantly surprised me with its affable and laid back vibe. In Chicago when people were friendly, I’d be suspicious. Like, “Why are we talking right now? What are you trying to get out of this conversation?” I know, I’m the worst. But seriously, it was rare to be chatty out and about at bars or coffee shops. But Seattle has made me less cynical. You can easily become a welcome regular and the people working usually take a few minutes to chat and are genuinely interested in connecting. Nowhere is this more evident than Slate Coffee Bar. I’ve only been here twice but Chelsea recognized me and even remembered that I had a food blog! Plus, their coffee is brilliant so I am now a devotee for life. The small space in Ballard can accommodate about 10-12 people and I love to sit at the bar to see all the goings on. They love to chat about their coffees and the menu is extremely simple since their coffee needs no crazy embellishments. I suggest bringing just yourself and trying a tasting flight. You are in good hands with those baristas.
This is literally across the street from my apartment, so they are probably used to seeing my Saturday morning disheveled self stumbling in for a to go cup to drink while I cook myself breakfast. With a simple coffee menu and a few snacks, Analog is an ideal spot to hipster watch and work for a couple hours. They provide killer tunes from their record player and have a nice selection of magazines, newspapers and comic books scattered about. I love their cold brew and have been known to enjoy a macchiato from time to time. I just wish they were open later than 6 pm!
Down the street from the Troll in Fremont, Milstead and Co. is roomy, light and airy. You just feel happy walking inside, as long as you can find a table. It can get a bit crowded sometimes. Their beans are from a few different roasters and it always makes me smile to see those familiar, red Intelligentsia bags. This is a good spot to work or read for a few hours on their rustic, pretty wooden tables. I also adore their gorgeous Coffee Plant artwork. I usually get an aeropress of whatever they recommend.
Up the street from the charming Book Larder and the perpetual line that is Paseo, sits a lovely cafe/bar with walls of windows. Vif has a casual, luxurious feel that begs for a novel, light afternoon snack accompanied with a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Its morning, afternoon and snackette menu feels fancier than your normal breakfast sandwich and its wine shop is a nice browse when you need to stretch your legs. They often have wine tastings in their space, so just check their website if you are planning to go for a long while.
* Everybody gets a CHAIIII!!!!
I’m not the most friendly of people and daily need time where I interact solely with a book. Hi, my name is Abby and I’m an introvert.
However, since my family and friends are spread literally across the world, I become more amicable when we are given the chance to spend a short, concentrated dose of time together. I especially savor when family and friends visit me and I get to show off all my favorite spots. This is probably selfish, since I’m basically boasting about my discovering skills and impeccable taste. But they usually get some pretty amazing meals and since I’m quite witty and entertaining , it all works out.
A few weeks ago, Mama Foodie came visiting for a fleeting 48 hours, so we really had to make our dining choices count. Does any one else plan out their trips entirely around consuming food and drink? Well, we Cerquitellas do. It is all I’ve known, which is probably why I’m so confused when visiting other people and they have no idea where they will eat tomorrow’s mid-afternoon snack. You can’t leave these things to chance people!
The Happy Food Dance Food Tour commenced after work on a Tuesday where we walked around a bit so she could feel what weather other than 80 degrees and sunny feels like. (My parents live in Dallas) Once I felt she was adequately chilled, we stopped by our neighborhood cocktail lounge’s happy hour. At Sun Liquor Lounge Cale Green (real name, see below) whipped us up a couple of his delightful cocktails. A Last Word for me, a Green Point for Brandon and a Mojito for Mom. We then strolled to my favorite Malaysian eatery, that window of enticing, mouthwatering aroma, Kedai Makan. (I’ve waxed poetic about it previously) Bringing our roti and nasi goreng home, we chatted as she proceeded to surreptitiously peek into every cupboard and closet in my 500 square foot apartment. Mothers are curious creatures.
The next day we met around noon to wander about Pike Place Market, where she took pictures of everything in sight and sighed over the vast edible displays. We shared some fish and chips inside the market along with a cold salmon sandwich with capers and lemon aioli. Absolutely scrumptious. I plan to pay a visit to that sandwich again in the near future. We chose a few cookies from a bakery and brought them into Seattle Coffee Works, where we wedged ourselves in the only two open seats and tried to hide the obvious wafts of powdered sugar from our contraband chocolate crinkles. We then wandered down to Pioneer Square, stopping at Watson Kennedy where we lusted after every knick knack in sight.
After our chocolate crinkles and coffee, we were obviously in need of a snack. We tried some mojito gelato from Cafe Umbria which was incredibly fresh and vibrant. Sitting outside and gabbing, she noticed a gorgeous storefront across the way and went to investigate. Practically running back with a “borrowed” menu, she declared it was now time for wine and cheese. Turned out this place was Bar Sajor, which I’ve read much about and been dying to try.
They were getting ready for dinner service, so I felt as if we were interrupting and didn’t belong. Still, we shared a glass of cava, with some bread, butter and a few local cheeses. Mama Foodie took pictures of everything in sight while I tried to pretend I didn’t know her.
I’m in love the look, and taste, of this restaurant group since going to Sitka and Spruce for my birthday dinner. The London Plane is high on my list of places to spend an afternoon and I’m looking forward to returning to splurge for dinner at Bar Sajor. After this 3rd afternoon snack, we dodged raindrops to the bus and went home. We barely had time to drop off her purchases when it was time to leave for dinner. We took the scenic route to give ourselves time to digest before stopped at essex for a drink and appetizers while we waited for a table at Delancey next door.
At essex we shared some small plates and then shared two pizzas next door, which were of course, delectable. Roasted broccoli on the white pizza was exceptional. Mama Foodie was the first to tell my older sister and I about Molly Wizenberg’s book and blog, so it was only fitting that we took her to Delancey to have some of my absolute favorite pizza. She was a fan to say the least.
Before her flight left the next morning, we had an early brunch at Arabica Lounge. Their window display is always overflowing with decadent desserts, crusty croissants and meringues as large as your head. Again, I pretended to be absorbed in the menu while she took pictures of every inch of the cafe. We each gobbled up a croissant and shared a perfect fig and goat cheese omelette. She filled a bag with treats for later and also stopped by Crumble and Flake to add more to her collection. I wonder if my Dad and brother got to see any of these treats by the time she got home…
Some people are terrified of turning into their parents. And though we are quite different, food is where my mother and I are all too similar. My husband was amazed when he heard my mother after dinner the first night:
“I need a treat. I just need a tiny square of chocolate! Just one. I don’t need a whole bar! Don’t you have a small square of chocolate around!?” she whined as she practically thrashed around on the couch and looked about desperately.
“Word for word, this is exactly what I hear from Abby every night.” he said in a scared voice.
Those look like some damn fine cookies right? They were. Don’t you worry about that.
Seattle is one of a few lucky cities to be a part of How About We (Brandon keeps calling it “Why Don’t We Just Do That”).
How About We is a curator of dates for couples. I think they also have a singles dating site as well. I originally bought a 3 month membership for my brother and sister in law as a Christmas present, and it turned out that it also signed Brandon and I up as members. Which is fine by me since that means we get a pretty fun free date once a month and discounts on the member dates, for like $10 a month.
You can get $50 off for your first date, which we cleverly used at Olivar. This is where I bravely tried mussels for the first time and while I loved the garlic butter sauce, someone please tell me who decided mussels were edible? Who first found the shell, opened it and thought “Yum! We should eat this! “? I just don’t get it.
We used our monthly free date to have a Cookie Tasting at Hello Robin, since what is a date without food? Not a real date. Conveniently (or suspiciously) we arrived just as a batch of fresh chocolate chip cookies were pulled out of the oven. The smells that wafted throughout this charming shop enveloped us as we were invited to take a seat and offered coffee or tea.
For our tasting we could choose 12 cookies from their selection of about ten or eleven different flavors. They had some staples like molasses and birthday cake and a few wildcards like a habañero orange chocolate chip and a crazy caramel pretzel one. I was partial to the wacky flavors myself. I had room for 2, and we had to take the rest home with us for another day’s dessert.
Next door is a fun little general store, Cone & Steiner, which you can peek into from Hello Robin. I bet their customers stand by the window waving hello to Robin all the time.
My only waitressing experience was in the summer of 2005, right before starting my senior year of high school in Budapest, Hungary. A friend of my Dad owned an Indonesian restaurant and needed English speaking servers as her customers were usually international. My resourceful father knew he had 2 teenagers at home with “nothing” to do all summer so he volunteered us. Thanks for stealing my summer Dad.
Actually, overall it was a fun experience. Nusantara was small and fancy with 2 hilarious Indonesian chefs who we loved to tease. Our first night, however, my sister Meagan and I were petrified. We were still learning the menu, Indonesian cuisine, waitressing 101 and our chefs’ accents so when a party of 15 decided to stop by at closing time for a 3 hour meal, we exchanged fearful, wide eyed glances. Then we got to work. I don’t remember how successful we were, I just remember practically drooling over every plate I was forced to place in front of someone other than myself. Necessity is probably the best way to learn and I made mental notes of all the dishes I needed to try before the summer was up.
I remember that summer being one of nasi goreng, fried ice cream, caramelized bananas topped with sharp white cheddar and teaching our chefs to play UNO when the bosses were out. Also a summer of limited tips, but that is neither here nor there. (The Malaysian ambassador’s party of 8 tipped exactly 0.00 HUF).
Since that summer I hadn’t had much Indonesian/Malaysian food at all until our recent move to Seattle. Across the street and down about a block from our apartment is Kedai Makan, which has quickly become a weekly staple. I was so excited to see some familiar dishes on their menu. They are basically a food stand, inside a teeny tiny storefront kitchen. You order and pickup at the window as the spices waft around you, enticing you to keep adding to your order. Their menu is fairly vegetarian friendly and we always get the same few things: 2 orders of crispy and spicy Roti Cani ( you just don’t share this stuff), Tauhu Sumbat, Nasi Goreng and sometimes roasted peanuts which I sprinkle over the fried rice. The roti has an exceptionally satisfying crisp and is addictive when dipped into its accompanying bowl of dhal curry. The deep, mature spice of the fried rice gets rich and creamy with a runny egg yolk and when combined with the bright, fresh pops of cucumber, sprouts and fresh cilantro it becomes a balanced, savory, moan inducing dinner.
I love bringing our takeout boxes next door to Montana to get a potently gingerful Moscow Mule during happy hour. Everyone always eyes our food with lustful eyes as we pick out a cozy corner of the dive bar to dig in. That is all I want out of life, for people to be constantly jealous of what I’m eating. Follow Kedai Makan on Twitter and if you are lucky enough to visit me in Seattle, I’ll take you.
Currently we are en route to our new home in Seattle. Driving lazily across the country and trying to find semi healthy, edible road food.
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A couple weekends ago we were lucky enough to be sent on an apartment searching trip to Seattle and got to expense all our meals. This equals being full all weekend and stressing about finding the best coffee, best brunch, best dinner, best happy hour and also an apartment in 3 days. Below is the story of that food and coffee fueled weekend.
Our first stop after landing was Delancey for pizza. I read Molly Wizenberg’s “A Homemade Life” earlier this year and then started following her blog Orangette. This pizza place was started by Molly and her husband, who I think was there throwing pizzas in the oven… They also started a cocktail bar next door, Essex, which we didn’t get to try yet.
We walked a few blocks from our hotel to grab some cocktails at Rob Roy.
And a baby donut at Stumptown.
At Black Bottle, the food and drink was mediocre except their Blasted Broccoli; wood charred, smoky with a perfect crunch. Worth stopping by here just to have this dish.
We were taken to Bathtub Gin and Co. by a friend. It was down a creepy, dirty alley and behind a nondescript door. Small, cramped and awesome, they had some good cocktails.
Upstairs is the bar with a few tables and downstairs are a few cozy rooms with mismatched tables, barstools and chairs. We had a couple of autumnal “Dealer’s Choice” drinks where you name a spirit and they invent a drink for you.
Of course, we spent Saturday morning at Pike Place Market which is basically my version of Disneyland. We brunched at Cafe Campagne and wandered around lusting after all the foodstuffs. I kept having to remind myself that we were moving here in a few weeks and I could spend many an afternoon exploring, eating and stocking my kitchen.
Daily Dozen donuts in the market was a nifty automated baking experience. The donuts themselves though, are nothing special. But it was fun to watch!
My love for spicy ginger drinks reached new heights at Rachel’s Ginger Beer.
After making the mistake of walking up Queen Anne’s hill in a desperate attempt at apartment searching, we exhausted our poor legs and decided a Happy Hour was in order.
Driving out to the Ballard neighborhood we happy hour’d at Bastille for some damn good french cuisine.
Continuing our mini food tour of Ballard, we dined next door at Percy’s and Co.
Really fun apothecary style cocktails where you can add a tincture to your drinks: Female Balance , Brain Power, Libido, Skin, Energy & Immunity.
Their food was great but nothing out of this world. They were open only 4 weeks when we went there, so I’m looking forward to eating there many times in the future.
Before our flight we had a delectable brunch at Arabica Lounge, which was a gorgeous funky brunch cafe. I’m super excited that we found an apartment right down the street from it.
A delightful chemex, with a million fancy egg dishes and yummy breakfast cocktails makes it a major find.