Monday, June 13, 2011

A little taste of Seattle!

Seattle seems to be on e of those cities that is just overlooked generally by the American public. People talk of their culinary and cultural experiences in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, heaven forbid, Las Vegas, but rarely does the Pacific Northwest and Seattle come up. Yet there is so much there. Maybe I should just shut my mouth and keep it to myself and continue to enjoy each and every visit over the border!

Really heading to Seattle is as much about the shopping, for so many different things as it is about Seattle itself. Certainly when you are travelling with an 11 year old, it is more about the shopping and the fun than ever.

Of course there are the two factory outlet malls, the have not and the have. First is the have-not, the original factory outlets in Burlington, Wa. Now really there are a number of great secrets at this one. First of all, LuluLemon. This is the only truly factory outlet LuluLemon I have come across. They have a store in Vancouver, but the pricing is not that much better than in the stores. AT this one, the prices are great, if you are willing to spend some time looking. The Coach and Gap outlets always seem to have deals that are way better than at any of the other outlets, maybe that is me imagining it all, so I can keep the romantic notion of visiting this very unvisited mall!

Of course, if you come to Burlington, you may as well hit up Costco too. And not for the electronics or the massive slabs of meat, which are all terrifically priced, but for the wine!!

Where else can you get the 7 Deadly Zins, a favourite of mine since a visit to the Napa Valley, for $10.99? This wine is $25 in the Fort and Foul Bay Liquor store. Or the Stag’s Leap Artemis for a mere $36? There are deals to be had here. You need to have your LCB guide with you or know the pricing well, but if you want to drink good wine each night, you can, and not pay much!

The first meal was at Applebees, I know, a chain and not known for their amazing food. But we needed nourishment and so in we went. They have Steamed vegetables and a side salad as an option for an entrée – wow are we in the USA? And they were good to boot? The salsa that came with the appies was fresh, as in, I think they may have made it, who knew! We had some wonton tacos with pulled pork, a steak quesadilla fried up and some boneless chicken wings, all white meat and surprisingly not bad. All that along with unsweetened ice tea, a personal favourite for $20 total, how can you go wrong. Great during shopping nourishment!

Of course that was the same night as game 5 of the Stanley Cup playoffs and after a vigorous soccer game, some nourishment was in order again. This time is was Bob’s Burgers and Brew in Tulalip, Wa, near the Premium Factory outlets, the haves! These outlets have Banana Republic to Adidas and Kenneth Cole. Some nice stuff, but the prices were still relatively high. Bob’s was full of Canuck fans cheering on the boys. The mighty cheer that erupted when the goal was scored was so much fun! We indulged in some cut vegetables with Honey mustard dip, and were wholly surprised when enough fresh vegetables for 4 came out on a platter, really are we in the USA? We added on some lightly fried prawns and smiled happily. The wine was a Columbia Crest Merlot, and was fine, but nothing to write home about.

The next morning on the way to the next soccer match, we made a stop at my favourite Seattle coffee place, Café Vita. It took a little bit to remember exactly where it was and to cut up and back through the streets near Key West Arena, but we found it. Café Vita roasts their own beans and have a few outlets in the Seattle area. The one on 5th Street is a small darker place with some effervescent staff who make a wonderful Americano. By all accounts they make a pretty darn good hot chocolate too! They have a full line of Top Pot doughnuts, and marvelous croissants to muffins and loaves. It is worth the trip, and really represents the essence of the coffee culture of the Pacific Northwest.

Lunch that day after the game and before the third game was at PF Changs. Despite being a chain of Chinese restaurants, they are consistent from place to place and the service is fabulous. Their specialities are many but the Chicken lettuce wraps and the tempura green beans with hot sauce are awesome. We had both for our lunch with some more unsweetened ice tea to wash it all down. They are really very consistent and the food is hot, well made and tastes yummy, how can you go wrong!

After the 3rd game, the plan was to attend the Sounders-Whitecaps game at Qwest field. We headed down a couple of hours early, found a great parking spot in 1st Avenue and went for a walk. We read menus, looked at gem stores and basically enjoyed the warm sun that was beaming down. Thinking a snack was in order we searched for a little place for me to have some wine and for us to share a little cheese. Well we found a little place located in a hotel called BOKA, Kitchen and Bar. They were having Saturday Happy Hour, so we thought why not. Well for $3 or $6 you could have some pretty darn good fare. We opted for the Truffle frites with homemade ketchup and Aioli and the warm nuts and olives, a house favourite. I started with a little Washington number, a Steppe Cellars Rattlesnake Hills 2008 Riesling. I explained to our most helpful waiter that despite our proximity we were privy to very few Washington wines and imagined that beyond an ice wine or two they were not privy to our best, what a pity really! This Riesling was fabulous. It was a little less sweet, but had wonderful overtones of green apple on the nose and just one of those pleasant linger in your mouth finishes. Then the warm roasted almonds, wonderful marinated olives and some of the most perfect frites (and I am an expert on frites!) arrived. How wonderful to compliment the wines. Our table agreed that this patio experience in the sun was starting out fabulously well. I decided to opt for a red wine next to change it up a little and went for the DiStefano Winery from the Columbia Valley Bordeaux Blend on the recommendation of our server. What an amazing wine. A little hint of vanilla with some cherry thrown in and a great finish . As I sipped on this one, we decided to order some Harissa beef skewers, a perfect match for the red. These three skewers of tender beef were wonderful and spiced just right. In the mean time, our server seeing that I was enjoying the Washington wines brought along a sample of the Distefano Sauvignon Blanc 2009 and a Kana Winery Tempranillo 2006 from the Yakima Valley. The Sauv Blanc had wonderful honey like sweet undertones with some citrus and apple on the palate. The Tempranillo was a great version, with some good farmy pinot noir qualities to it – and that is a very good thing from a guy who loves a pinot noir. This was a fabulous experience both from the food and the drink perspective and one that will need to be repeated on a future Seattle venture.

Another trip to Café Vita on Sunday rounded out the experience as well as a finishing wine trip to Costco to re-stock the cellar a little. What a wonderful time in Seattle all in all from all perspectives! Plan your next trip!

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