When I visit Seattle, I try to plan out my meals.
We don’t have a huge selection of fancy restaurants in my hometown of Bellingham, so it’s easy to get stuck in a rut sometimes. Bagelry for (the best) bagels. Boomers for burgers. Boundary Bay for brews and macaroni and cheese.
(I just noticed all of those places start with a B, and no that wasn’t on purpose and yes, we utilize the rest of the alphabet too.)
But eating in Seattle is like visiting a whole new culinary world.
Options we don’t have in our “small big town” are on every corner. Ramen. A biscuit joint. Your choice of multiple pizza stops. A farmers’-type market every day of the week. CUPCAKES. So many different coffee and brewery places, it’s overwhelming at times.
It’s heaven for someone who enjoys good food and wants more than McDonald’s when they travel.
A fancy dessert for my fancy birthday was the kickoff for the whole weekend. We had finished off dinner and someone (not me, surprisingly) insisted on peeking at the dessert menu and picked out something that looked interesting: a baked Alaska.
Now I am no culinary rube, but when someone sets something on fire at your table (on PURPOSE at least), you can’t help but be impressed. And possibly a little excited.
The waiter rolled out this little fluffy meringue-swirled cube on a huge trolley, poured 151 over it and lit it. Everyone within viewing range pulled out their phones, as this was truly a spectacle.
He threw cinnamon on the flames, sparks flew and it didn’t even matter if the dessert was good at that point.
But it was.
The crispy meringue was coated in a pistachio creme anglaise and studded with candied pistachios, and gave way to house-made strawberry ice cream. Should you make it through all of that (and it took 4 people in our party to do so), then your reward at the bottom was a brownie, gooey with chocolate and with a crispy top.
We practically rolled to the hotel that night.
Serious Pie had a pizza with local mushrooms and truffled cheese and an ingredient I just couldn’t put my finger on. The smell of it alone was swoon-worthy. Buttery and gooey on a crisp crust, it melted in my mouth with an earthy finish that broke my heart when I realized I only ordered the half.
Almost poked Kyle with a fork when he took a piece of it. (JOEY DOESN’T SHARE FOOD.)
Matt, the bartender at the Serious Pie on Westlake, brought us a drink with “monkey” in the title (I cannot remember the name!), and he said it was sort of like a “Rusty Nail”.
Not being an expert on drinks except a Screwdriver (OJ and Vodka, duh) and Oban 12 straight up, I was just excited it had bourbon. (Thanks to Google, I now know a Rusty Nail is Drambuie and scotch.)
The drink was a perfect marriage between a deep orange flavor and almost a maple-y bourbon. The orange touches the front of your tongue as you sip, and as it winds its way to the back of your throat, you get that smoky maple from the bourbon. Warms you all the way to your toes without that teeth-clenching punch that bourbon can sometimes give you.
The Mt Townsend Camembert cheese we bought at Beecher’s for a picnic was complimented by the mild salami that the deli counter man at DeLaurenti recommended and sliced for us. Cutting into that cheese and watching it ooze out onto its wrapper, then spreading it on a hunk of crusty Macrina Bakery baguette and topping it with the salami was the exclamation point at the end of a long day of wandering downtown Seattle.
We ate those sitting by a fire on the terrace of the Waterfront Marriott as the sun sank beyond the Olympic Mountains, paired with just-ripe Bosc pears and Muscat grapes. Sinking my teeth into a sandwich or feeling that grape pop in my mouth was better than birthday cake.
Though I did have birthday cupcakes, of course. Cupcake Royale (OF COURSE), because the crumb on their cupcake is both moist AND dense, the amount of frosting is neither too much nor not enough, the frosting itself exercises a delicate balance between sweet and creamy that I find INCREDIBLY important, and because we traditionally get a DeathCake every year (and have since before it was in a jar and before I had TWO kids).
Birthdays are important to celebrate. I find it’s better to facilitate my own party these days, and it’s usually a traveling party surrounded with people I love, places I adore and food I can dream about (and maybe try to duplicate) on days when I’m puttering around my house on a rainy day.
I make memories to keep me warm on cold nights <3