Saturday, July 31, 2010

sunny saturday in seattle

"And just keep walking on..." —13, the musical

I have to keep reminding myself to write these entries, lest I fall even further behind.  The pictures are really piling up, waiting to get posted, since I try not to put more than about 6 up on Flickr at a time.  (They don't really get viewed if I put them all up at once.)  Surprisingly, Steve and I have kept up with the 52 weeks of food project—well, the cooking and photographing parts anyway.  Those pictures and many others are still stuck in line behind the last of the Seattle pictures, however.

When last I wrote, I covered Friday night in Seattle.  This post begins on Saturday morning, the day of Chrissy's wedding.  We got up reasonably early and walked down to Sweet Iron for a breakfast of Belgian waffles—"real Liège waffles" to be more specific.

I found this place on a random blog with other Seattle restaurants that we planned to visit.  I like waffles, I had never had a true Belgian waffle, and it wasn't too long a walk from our hotel.  When we arrived at Sweet Iron that morning, I already knew what I wanted from looking at the menu online.  Normally, I would go straight for the one with strawberries on top.  Theirs also had a drizzling of balsamic.  A good combination, to be sure, but on this occasion, I decided to get the Banana Brûlée Waffle with Caramel Sauce.  Steve got the bacon one and a cup of coffee, of course.
I was really happy with my order.  While Steve kept talking about Tom's Big Breakfast from Lola, after Saturday morning, I was pining for that banana brulee waffle.  The waffle itself was really nice and all, with its pearl sugar, but with the bananas slightly crunchy on top from being bruleed and that buttery/salty caramel sauce, it was perfect.
The one downside of the place was lack of seating.  When we got there, all of the indoor seating (3 tables) was full, so we had to take our plates outside.  It wasn't raining, but it was a little chilly for sitting out there.  Soon after, one of the tables freed up and we happily moved inside.  Then when we were almost finished, we had to move from the middle table to one of the others so that a group of 6 could sit together.  It was a small space, but I did wish that there were more places to sit inside.
After breakfast, Steve and I wandered back toward Pike Place Market to look around some of the stores in that area.  We checked out a couple specialty food stores of the French and Spanish persuasions, and then we ended up looking around the main area of the market.  We were going to avoid the crowds and save the market for Monday morning/lunch, but since it was right there...

We looked through the back, inside section first.  The building was old and strange; it felt a little like a creepy school at times.  The wooden floors were slanted, and there were flights of stairs separating each dimly lit floor of shops.  We followed the hoards of people through the maze, but none of the shops really appealed to us.  The one thing that I did notice that was picture-worthy was in the window of one of those shops selling Dia de los Muertos figurines.
Living in the Mission, I've seen plenty of skull stuff, but I had never seen a figurine like that of Michael Jackson.  And somehow, it just fits.
Finally, we emerged onto a floor that was not so dark.  We had found our way to the upper ground level and some natural light.  Also: neon signs.
We shuffled through, passing food and flowers and crafts of all sorts, and then we ran out of market building.  Walking out and towards the water a little, there was a small park area with more going on.  We headed over there and found some sort of event with craft stations for kids.  One such station was Fish Printing.

Want to make your own fish print?  Take a fish—yes, a real fish, preferably dead.  Paint that fish!  Then press a piece of paper on top.  Remove the paper and let said paper dry.  (Throw out the fish afterward.)  Oh, the things you learn...
After that, we took a stroll through Post Alley.  We were kind of unofficially looking for the gum wall, but it turned out to be in the one section of the alley that we did not walk through.  The entrance to that part of it was down and around, obscured by building, so it wasn't immediately obvious that the alley continued.  Instead, we walked through another of the market buildings and visited The Great Wind-up, a store specializing in wind-up toys.  We eventually figured out where the gum wall probably was, but we saved confirmation of that until Monday morning.  It was less crowded then anyway.
Next up was lunch, but we still had some time to kill before the restaurant opened.  So we continued down Post Alley and found a lovely little courtyard below and across the street from the Seattle Art Museum.  We walked up the stairs and decided to sit a while on the ledge.  The weather was beautiful and sunny, though still not exactly warm.  My feet were also hurting already, so it was good to rest them a while.
Lunch was at the Purple Cafe in downtown Seattle.  It had been on my list of dinner options, but since they served lunch, it got demoted.  Although the dinner menu looked more appealing, it was a good lunch option.  And I got to take a picture of their cool floor-to-ceiling wine tower.
Steve ordered a hanger steak—big surprise.
I was also predictable and ordered the goat cheese salad with roasted red peppers and pine nuts.  And since I wasn't sure that would be enough, I wanted to order a second small dish.  I got some Humboldt Fog (a Northern CA goat cheese) with quince paste.
The salad was very good.  I always love goat cheese and roasted red pepper together.  The other goat cheese course was probably unnecessary, though.  I wanted to try the quince paste, but in the end, I preferred the apple with the Humboldt Fog anyway.
Once we were finished with our lunch, we hurried back to the hotel to change our clothes for Chrissy's wedding.  Then, we walked back downtown to meet Sara at the Alamo Car Rental office inside the Hilton.  We were supposed to get a Prius, but they were out of them.  Instead, we got "upgraded" to a huge SUV.  (Umm, what?!)  So much for getting to try out the Prius.  The rental rate had been so low too...
As per my plans, we headed out of downtown Seattle and across Lake Washington toward Chrissy's wedding, but we stopped in Kirkland to kill some extra time over coffee on the way.  When I was trying to decide on the must-try coffee spots for our trip, I kept seeing the name "Zoka Coffee."  The problem was that there wasn't one anywhere near the neighborhoods we'd be visiting on our trip.  But then, I noticed that Kirkland was on our way to the wedding and remembered that there was a Zoka Coffee there.  We would have a rental car, so it was plausible to get there.  It also provided a nice time buffer in case of traffic.
So with Sara in tow, we stopped at Zoka for a dose of caffeine before the wedding.  They're pretty serious about their coffee there, even for a Seattle place.  That probably explains why so many people online were raving about them.  The decor was also pretty cool.  There was a decent amount of stainless steel, but there was also a lot of light-colored wood.  We sat at the communal table in the middle, which was simultaneously rustic and polished.  The top was a huge jagged piece of smooth, honey-colored wood.  There was also a large stump nearby for those who like to sit on their coffee tables.
The coffee itself was amazing.  It was actually my first coffee of the Seattle trip, and it was the best mocha I had ever had.  There's usually a certain acidity to coffee, which is often lacking in decaf.  (Steve prefers that edge to the flatness of decaf.)  This mocha, however, had none of that acidity and no hint of burnt flavor.  And yet, it didn't taste flat either.  It was perfectly balanced and smooth, with good dark chocolate.  It was also prettier than even the mochas I get from Ritual or Four Barrel in SF.

I would have happily consumed an extra large mocha from Zoka (that rhymes!), but I was hopped up enough on the caffeine from the small one that it was good I didn't.
We sat and caught up with Sara for a while while we had our coffee, and then we took a little walk up and down the street.  We didn't get to see that much of Kirkland, but it seemed like a nice area.  By the time we made it back to the car, we were due to leave and drive the rest of the way to the wedding, north of Redmond.

And that is where the next post will resume.

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