There’s an old song by Perry Como called “Seattle”, where he sings of the the bluest skies he’s ever seen as being in Seattle. I’m not sure if Perry “did” irony, because Seattle is famous for being very wet and rainy, but there was certainly no hint of blue skies in the four days we were there. Our flight from Vancouver was delayed for over two hours because of a snow storm in Seattle and when we finally landed there it was in almost totally white conditions after one of the biggest snow dumps they had seen in ten years. The cab ride into town was quite hairy and every now and then we could feel the wheels slipping beneath us on the ice and snow which covered the roads. Once in the city, any attempts to wander around and explore were pretty well useless for the first two days. The sidewalks were treacherously slippery with ice and snow inches thick on them. Many buses were not running as, even with chains, the hills were too icy for them and cabs were like hens teeth. Even if we had been able to venture very far away from the hotel, there was little point. Most of the museums, markets and city stores were closed or had shortened their opening hours because their staff were stuck at home, so our first couple of days were very quiet and restful indeed – not altogether a bad thing.
Once the snow had ceased falling and all we had to contend with was the rain, we managed to get around a bit more – although rain makes ice even slipperier (is that actually a word?) so my eyes were still mostly fixed upon where I was placing my feet. I had hoped to catch up with Keren Brown, author of The Frantic Foodie blog and The Food Lovers Guide to Seattle, but the fact that she was snowed in with three small children (including new-born twins) foiled our plans for that, but I did manage to get a few great tips from her on foodie finds in the city.
James Beard Award-winning Seattle chef, Tom Douglas, has a fistful of eateries in the city and a passion for making the most of his local ingredients. As soon as we could get out we headed for Serious Pie, his cosy but noted pizza joint in the city. Perched on stools and seated at shared tables, we were soon tucking into a couple of simply stunning pizzas. We decided to keep it simple and went for the buffalo mozzarella and tomato combination, accompanied by a potato and rosemary pizza. These were truly good pizzas with the crispiest and lightest base I have ever found – and I assure you I don’t exaggerate. This is a popular spot and the kitchen was buzzing with the friendly and efficient staff bustling around a very large wood fired pizza oven. The oven is surrounded by a massive slab of local slate reminding me of just how primeval wood-fire cooked food really is – and how well fresh, local products will respond to basic techniques.
After refuelling ourselves at Serious pie, we headed out into yet more snow but decided to divert to another highly recommended Tom Douglas establishment on the way back to our warm and dry hotel room – the Dahlia Bakery. A tiny little store front, just around the corner from Serious Pie, it is well worth a visit for this is a sugar hit any visitor to Seattle really shouldn’t miss. Clutching paper bags full of coconut cream pies, peanut butter cookies and choc chip cookies we headed carefully back to our hotel where we succumbed to sugar induced nirvana for the rest of the after noon.
We spent our last day in Seattle finally making it to all the attractions which had been closed during the nasty weather and the one I was most looking forward to was the historic Pike Place Markets. Spread over nine acres, embracing the cultural diversity brought to the area by immigration and running for over 100 years, these markets are recognised as one of the US premier farmers markets. They are home to 200 full-time commercial businesses, 190 crafts stalls and approximately 100 farmers who rent table space by the day and are considered to be the “soul” of Seattle. The area attracts over 10 million visitors a year and is a remarkably diverse shopping experience.
We started our trip with a visit to The Crumpet Shop for fresh, home-made crumpets smothered in maple butter for breakfast –
some of the seasonal local mushroom treats -
the – umm – interesting offerings
and the downright scary ones.
The Pike Place market area is rich in culturally diverse food stores and the perfect experience for food loving visitors – I was so glad we managed to get there!