Earlier this month, the Hubs and I finally took the trip I’ve been wanting to take for the last few years. We flew to Seattle, rented a car and took a week driving down to San Francisco, where we flew home from. It was amazing. And exhausting. And unforgettable.
When we travel, I almost always plan our trips around where we want to eat and drink. And eat and drink our way down the west cost, we did. I wanted to share some of what I ate and drank, and the fantastic sights, but I thought it would be best to break it up into a few separate posts. So, I’ll start where we started: Seattle.
I was looking forward to Seattle for good, strong coffee and fresh seafood. It is the home of Starbucks, afterall, and there are a ridiculous number of Starbucks in the city. It’s absurd. At one point, I was checking Google maps on my phone to see where we were, and I saw that there were SIX Starbucks stores within a four-block radius. That’s crazy!
However, I was looking for something a little more unique to get a taste of Seattle. When you go to Seattle to eat, they say try the geoduck. It’s the one thing that is uniquely Washington food–well, I guess Washington and British Columbia. While their native habitat is pretty sparse, the clams are farmed today up and down the Pacific Coast in the Northwest.
I picked the place for dinner our first night because it had an oyster happy hour and geoduck on the menu. That’s one thing I found in Seattle, lots of places have oyster happy hours with half-price or so oysters.
One of the employees at Taylor Shellfish Farms was nice enough to show us a geoduck before it’s prepared. Yes, this guy was still alive.
We had it two ways, shashimi of the belly and siphon. It was crazy how different the texture was. The belly reminded me of the texture of gristle, but not in such as gross way. It had a lightly sweet and briny taste. The siphon was sweeter and more tender. We couldn’t decide which we liked best. Now, that I marked that off my culinary bucket list, on to why I was here: local oysters.
These were from Taylor Shellfish’s farms in the Puget Sound. Taylor Shellfish raises a number of clam and oyster species, and has a handful of locations around the city where they offer there oysters as well others from both East and West Coasts. These oysters were their signature offering, Shigokus, so I figured we had to try those. They were delicious. I have mostly had East Coast oysters, and West Coast species are quite different in taste. They were very briney and salty. The shells seem deeper cupped, making the oysters seem meatier. These were served, of course, with mingonette and lemon, and while I usually eat them plain, the mignonette cut through the saltiness.
We hadn’t eaten anything all day, and it was late afternoon, so we polished off two dozen oysters and some local beer and were still hungry. Luckily it was still happy hour. Another food must-do in Seattle is going to one of Tom Douglas‘s restaurants. Although he isn’t a native son, there is no greater champion for Pacific Northwest cooking than he is. He has about half a dozen restaurants scattered about the city. Most feature seafood, and why not? It’s so fresh and abundant. I heard good things about both Seatown and Etta’s. But the concierge at the hotel recommended The Palace Kitchen for drinks and bar food, so we headed there to catch the end of happy hour.
The drinks were delicious–and cheap on happy hour. Having eaten a bunch of raw shellfish, I was craving something more substantial. We split an order of fries with homemade curry ketchup. The fries hit the spot, and the curry ketchup was amazing. Seriously, I need to play around with fashioning some of my own. It was like something totally fancy rather than plain fries with ketchup.
The next day, we were up early to hit up Pikes Place Market. I definitely recommend getting here early. We did one lap, checking out all the stands before we decided to buy something, so we went back to some stalls that caught our eye. By the time we went through a second time, it was packed! Almost shoulder to shoulder! Nonetheless, we bought some smoked salmon, not from the guys who throw the fish, but from the other fish stand. They had more of a selection and a thinner crowd.
I wanted to just take it all in. The colors and sights were like eye candy! Gorgeous!
I didn’t even know what that fruit was. Never heard of it before!
Beautiful fresh veggies!
Don’t worry about getting something to eat before you get there. Many of the vendors were offering samples of their wares to whoever was walking by. And there were so many places to eat there, it was hard to decide. We cobbled together some fresh cheese curds and crackers to go with the salmon, and found some public seating with a view of the water, and had lunch. We grabbed cold drink at Rachel’s Ginger Beer–since it was lunch, we opted for the alcohol-free flavored artisan ginger beer–but it looked like they made a mean Moscow Mule for the cocktail crowd.
It was a gorgeous day, perfect for strolling around some of Seattle’s beautiful neighborhoods like the historic Pearl District and picturesque Belltown, not to mention along the waterfront. We grabbed a coffee from Biscuit Bitch, this funky eatery serving biscuits with an array of fillings pretty much all day. I would have loved to had breakfast there because it all looked so good, but even the coffee was fantastic. We had Mexican chocolate lattes, which powered us on through the afternoon. All their espresso drinks are made with a double shot. That’s my kinda place.
That evening, after checking out the Seattle Center, the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass, I found another oyster happy hour through Yelp, at blueacre. We got local Puget Sound oysters again from Jones Creek. (I had to pick them based on the name…) These were even better than the night before at Taylor Shellfish. They were sweeter, and y’all know how delicious sweet and salty is together. The place wasn’t busy at all despite having an oyster happy hour, but it seemed to fill up as we were finishing. I got the impression the clientele was more professionals working in the city, who were coming in for after work drinks around 6 pm, rather than tourists looking for cheap oysters in late afternoon. Nonetheless, blueacre was my favorite place for oysters out of the two we tried, although they were both very, very good.
After getting our fill of oysters, we took a ferry ride to Bainbridge Island. I highly recommend this if you want to see the skyline from the water. You can pay a lot more for an organized cruise, but the ferry costs $6 and takes about 35 minutes one-way. You can kill some time in the port on Bainbridge Island rather than just taking the ferry right back. It was full of cute shops and cafes, and we found an ale house, were we enjoyed a round waiting for the next ferry. I would have loved to spent more time on Bainbridge Island, and during the day rather than evening, because it was getting dark fast. But the ride back with the skyline lit up at night was spectacular!
This $6 view was hard to beat!
After this very long day of cramming as much Seattle in as we possibly could, we got up the next morning and picked up our rental car to head south. The day we were leaving, I actually popped into a Starbucks–the first one of the trip to pick up a coffee–and it was on my way out of town. Read the next post to see the place I was probably looking forward to eating at most when I recap Portland.