Seattle Shorts

We were in Seattle for a long weekend this past week. This is the first time I’ve been back since a trip about ten years ago. As before, Seattle is a great food town, especially for seafood. And, in the last ten years they have finally learned how to make a cappuccino. Here are a few places to try.

Coffee

First things first. Seattle has this reputation for bringing “good coffee” to the rest of us barbarians in the rest of the country. I don’t know about that but I do know that the last time I was there you couldn’t get a good cappuccino. All you could get are what I will call “Seattle” cappuccinos all of which involved some super hot coffee at the bottom of a foot tall column of milk foam.

Happily, this has all changed. Just toddle your way over to Victrola Coffee Roasters and get one of these:

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Not only do they have some espresso blends that are as good as I’ve ever had, they also know how to make a cappuccino. They do have the arrogant temerity to call it a “traditional” cappuccino instead of a “canonically correct as God himself intended it” cappuccino, but I will forgive them this for the quality of their coffee. They have nice mugs too.

The Uptown still has better girl/boy watching though.

Ramen

After your coffee breakfast, you should head over to the International district via the REI store and go directly to Samurai Noodle. All you need to know is this: at this place you can get a bowl of pork broth filled with noodles. That by itself would be perfect, but then you can top it with pork slices and green onion, then some extra pork slices, and on the side, pickles, an egg, rice, and more shredded pork. If there is a better definition of heaven I don’t know what it is.

They have some other stuff too, but I was too mesmerized by the pork to notice what it is.

Cameras

Full of ramen, you can hop a bus over to Glazer’s Camera shop. Here you can play with all the hardware that you can only look at pictures of on the web. You can see if that EOS 5-d will fit in the Domke 803 bag comfortably (answer: yes). You can go through all of the Gitzo carbon tripods and open and close the legs to see how they feel (answer: sticky). Finally, you can fondle the Leica M8 and think about what it costs (answer: as much as an EOS-5d outfit plus a custom road bike).

I also looked at the new Canon G9 point and shoot. This thing handles nicely, although the time between “point” and “shoot” is still a bit high. The more exciting thing about the camera is that somehow Canon have figured out how to get decent high ISO performance out of the shitty small sensor. Or at least I think they have, from the limited number of sample images I tried.

Tea

Tired from camera browsing, you can hop a bus back to the Ballard area and sit down at Floating Leaves for an hour or so and linger over a couple of pots of tea. This place has a wide assortment of great Chinese tea and others that aren’t as good (OK, I’m kidding. OK, really I’m not kidding). I like the House Oolong a lot. It’s a green oolong and is fragrant and velvety smooth. Yum.

Oysters

After tea, you can head back over to Happy Hour at Elliot’s Oyster bar. This is something of a tourist place, being on the waterfront and all. But it’s a bar with about two dozen different kinds of oysters plus a big and foofy drink menu. We got a couple dozen oysters and chatted up the shucker for a few more free samples. Go go gadget Baywater Sweet. I also got a sickly sweet girly drink that they call a “rum sidecar” which Pete informs me is really a “daiquiri” in the same way that I sometimes sneer at him and inform him that jesus, the running is in Madden 2006 is much easier than Madden 2004.

I can’t say whether the drink was any good, but it was sweet enough for Karen to drink some and not spit it out. I suspect it was too girly.

Pike Market

There is not much to say about Pike Market except that if you like food you have to walk around this area. There is food everywhere. There are Russian meat pies at Piroshky Piroshky. There are French pastries at Le Panier. There is the lovingly crafted cheese and such at Beecher’s. There is Uli’s sausage, the fresh salmon, the smoked salmon, the crabs, the fresh donuts at Daily Dozen, the oyster omelet for breakfast at Lowell’s, and finally, surprise of all surprises, real Chinese pot stickers at Mee Sum Pastry just outside the market. I could go on all night.

The best time we have in Seattle is taking advantage of the East Coast jet lag to walk around the market as it gets set up. As the sky turns from dark maroon to blue, the Chinese women put out flower arrangements and bok choy, fish go out on ice, rounds of cheese are stacked in tight columns, the guy at the Chukar Cherry stand puts out the samples and the grills and fryers start to fill the hall with the odors that will tease and tempt the throngs of tourists and locals in a few hours. You can watch it all unfold for a while and soak it all in, then head over to Lowell’s for their homemade corned beef hash and go into a carb coma. No better way to start the day.