Continuing on the Pacific Northwest trip . . . . In a pretty short span of time, M. Cheesemonger and I covered a good amount of taste testing in the Seattle area, as much as our little bellies would allow.
Our first lunch in the city was at Piroshy Piroshky, a popular Pike’s Place Market destination for lovers of things wrapped in bread. I had only tasted my first Russian piroshky during my last trip to Paris a couple weeks ago, and was eager for a new experience. After the relatively short wait in a rather long line, I ordered the sauerkraut|carrot, scamorza|mushroom|spinach, and the popular beef |cheese buns. They were each shaped differently, made from slightly different bread recipes. We found a warm place in the sun by the waterfront. In the end, I found the sauerkraut|carrot and beef|cheese ones the more flavorful of the bunch. The sauerkraut|carrot was tangy and refreshing on this unusually warm and sunny Seattle morning, and the caraway seeds reminded me of my time in Germany. Ah, caraway. There was so much flavor packed into that little pocket. The scamorza|mushroom|spinach was respectable, but a little plain. The enormous pincushion of a piroshky filled with beef|cheese was excellent, though! Heaped with as much meat as the form would allow, with some pockets of cheese within, this was the kind of hearty snack I’d want with me on a foot tour of Seattle! The balance of savory, seasoned beef with creamy cheese and fluffy bread was like the ultimate comfort food combo. There were so many other flavors, but alas, we had other meals to eat. If you’ve eaten at Piroshky Piroshky before, tell me what your favorites are!
Second lunch was much later in the afternoon, when M. Cheesemonger and I were up in the Greenlake part of town. Again, it was unusually warm and sunny, so it seemed like the whole town was out playing and enjoying themselves by the lake with us. We had heard of a place called The Butcher and the Baker, and since it was nearby, decided to investigate. What a treasure! Here, meats of all kinds are smoked and cured on premises—wherever there’s room. We spied one sausage curing behind a wall post, while another cured on some high shelves in the kitchen. M. Cheesemonger and I shared their Polynesian sandwich, piled with cured pork, greens, mango chutney and provolone cheese, all on a brioche bun. O.M.G. They have this recipe DOWN! The meat was savory, slightly sweet, and it meshed perfectly with the chutney. Dessert was the wonderfully fondant chocolate marnier cheesecake, which was oh-so-carefully plated with chocolate sauce and copious amounts of chocolate shavings. Readers who live in Seattle, you are so lucky to have such a delicious shop near you!
The seafood in the Pacific Northwest is divine, I’ve surmised. It comes from the gods. How else can you explain its deliciousness? During this visit, M. Cheesemonger and I first indulged our love for seafood at Nishino, a sushi place tucked behind a gas station in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. We ordered a sashimi platter, chef’s choice. I knew the seafood here was good, but nothing prepared me for HOW good. We were brought fresh, raw shrimp with the heads lightly battered and fried, mackerel, salmon, yellowfin tuna, fatty tuna, and king crab legs. This was fish so fresh, it would have been sacrilege to even consider cooking it, with the exception of the king crab legs, which were delicately steamed. Every piece melted on our tongues like velvet cake. The shrimp was soft and sweet. The king crab as well. It was the kind of dining experience where, after I took each slow bite, I gleefully chuckled to myself with satisfaction before swallowing (Luckily, I didn’t choke.). Just so you know, I’m not usually the kind of person who laughs to myself while I dine! The sushi was just that extraordinary.
The other notable seafood dining experience M. Cheesemonger and I had was on Whidbey Island, just north of the city, was at the Front Street Grill in Coupeville, about halfway up the island. There, we feasted on the local specialty, mussels, prepared in a Thai-influenced green coconut curry sauce. Sounds weird, but, it works. The mussels were tender and plump, and neither too big nor too small. The coconut curry was both filling and refreshing, thanks to an infusion of lemongrass and a peppery bite, tempered by coconut milk creaminess. We ended up eating there twice! The Grill does offer other flavor combos, including the classic marinière with white wine and parsley. I ordered the “Angry mussels” one time, with chorizo, red wine, and shallots. They were all right, but not as memorable as the curry! The other times we had seafood on the island were at home, with a barbecue. I kind of didn’t want to eat anything else.
To satisfy our geekitude one morning, M. Cheesemonger and I had breakfast at Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe, located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle. The café, named after Ada Lovelace, the “patron saint” of computer programmers, charmed us as soon as we stepped inside. Box display tables showed off compasses, scientific books, and gadgets. The back room was a coding room where folks with computers can work, order food, and pore over the many books on programming. At the front of the store, more books lined the walls . Tables laid out with elaborate puzzles and things to build (M. Cheesemonger really wanted a cathode ray clock.) invited tinkering. The cuisine was simple—quiches, omelets, soups, sandwiches, cookies, and cakes—but satisfying.
We did have some amazing non-food experiences as well, namely seeing orcas and bald eagles by the picturesque San Juan Islands. What majesty!
It was a spectacular visit, over all, at once calming and exciting, and almost always delicious.
If you want to retrace some of our steps in Seattle, here are the addresses we particularly loved. If you’ve got other favorites for us to see next time we visit, let me know! I’ve got a running list building after hearing so much feedback from my last Seattle blog post!
Piroshky Piroshky: 1908 Pike Pl, Seattle, WA 98101
The Butcher & The Baker: 6412 Latona Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98115
Nishino: 3130 E Madison St, Seattle, WA 98112
Ada’s Technical Books & Cafe: 425 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112
Front Street Grill: 20 Front St NW, Coupeville, WA 98239