Seattle, the city of salmon. Seattle, the town of coffee galore. Seattle, the land I fell in love with two times, and now, once more. Oh...how the beloved Pacific Northwest city motivates a silly and random rhyme. It's a fact; I'm quite obsessed with just about every feature Seattle has to offer...from the breathtaking landscapes to the friendly locals...to the environmental initiatives to the awesome culinary scene. And while I'd love to chat it up about the sky-high mountains and the residents' dedication to green living, I'll just go on ahead and skip to the fun part; the food. I mean, that is why I just traveled there, less than two weeks ago. An attendee at Foodista's National Food Bloggers Conference, it was my duty to not only gain a wealth of blogging knowledge but to also scope out Seattle's food scene.
I'll warn you right now; this blog post is part one of two. Before I can get into all of the restaurants I so much enjoyed, I simply must tell you about a particularly special food tour I was privilege to join. Perhaps you've heard of Seattle's modest little market? Correction: the most famous, most adored, and most delicious market in the United States? Pikes Place Market, people. It's a righteous spot. So righteous in fact, that even the long-time locals flock amongst us silly tourists to get their fresh seafood, flowers, and fruit. Offering a plethora of diverse and quality cuisine, it's no doubt the market plays home to the best tour I've ever been on. Enter: Savor Seattle's Pike Place Food and Cultural Tour.
Waking up on my second day in Seattle, I was ravenous. Maybe it was the time change or maybe it was the mere thought of devouring some of Pikes Place's most delectable goods. I'll go with the latter of the two. Megan and I excitedly made our way down to the Market theater where we found some fellow Tampa friends. Upon meeting our guide, Rich, we knew we were in for one yummy and fun food excursion. The guy had us laughing from the moment we sat down. Departing the market theater, we all had one question on our minds. What the hell is all this chewed up gum doing all over the theater's wall? Gross, and yet oddly intriguing, we were all drawn to the germy mess. Good thing I had a piece of gum in my mouth because with no hesitation, I put my stamp on that wall along with the thousands of other people who proceeded me.
Without further ado, we headed toward the market. First stop was Daily Dozen Doughnuts, where we were blessed with warm cinnamon sugar doughnuts. Oh yes, this tour was certainly off to one stellar start. Soft and divinely sweet, I could've stayed parked next to that doughnut cart all day.
Just a jump, skip, and hop away stands MarketSpice, a place that immediately invites visitors in with its addicting aromas. The quaint little shop is loaded with more teas, salts, and spices than you can imagine. This is a spot you go to just to please your sniffer. Oh, and there's some pretty unique and ahem, comical teapots for sale too.
I was feeling giddy as ever when I caught sight of our next tour spot. Pike Place Fish. Heck yes. I was crazy stoked for two reasons. For one, Megan made it her goal to catch a "flying" fish from one of the fish guys. And the other reason? Well, I'd be sampling some of the most amazing salmon our country has to offer. Mission accomplished. Flying fish was caught by the red-head and I tasted four different varieties of salmon I'd deem heavenly.
Licking my chops after that luscious salmon, I hesitatingly left Pike Place fish and followed the group onto our next pitstop. I must admit, when I saw Rich holding a bowl of fresh cut fruit from Frank's Quality Produce, I was a little dissapointed. As much as I love to get down on the healthy stuff, I'm allergic to about 60% of fruit. Lame, I know. While I couldn't eat the peaches that everyone was raving about, I was able to scarf down some of the juiciest, sweetest, and most crisp apples I've had in my life.
It was time for a place that I had been dreaming about since my last visit to Seattle. Pike Place chowder. That devilishy creamy and chunky seafood stew...words can't describe. While chowder is generally a thing of the East, Pike Place chowder has won awards for a few of their steamy and flavorful concoctions. I can't say I'm surprised. The stuff is beyond ridiuclous. Like, could cure a flu, ridiuclous.
I was starting to get full...but the party wasn't over yet. Traveling back into the hustle and bustle of the main market hall, we quickly arrived at Chukar Cherries. I was blown away by various and unexpected cherry creations. From cherry salsa to cherry trail mix, these people put Washington's finest fruit to good use.
Alas! We had reached the point in our journey that everyone had so much anticipated. Beecher's Handmade Cheese. I had already fallen in love with the sharp, melty goodness two times before. I couldn't wait to fall in love all over again. First to my palate was the blow your socks off, tasty flagship cheese on a cracker. As I bit into the stuff, it bit right back with its delightful sharpness. Then, as luck would have it, we were presented with Beecher's holy grail; the stuff that has made them famous. Mac & Cheese...earth defying, mac & cheese.
My stomach was pissed but I would persevere. Just down the street we stopped short at a gluttonous eatery that I had visited once before. Piroshky-Piroshky. Much, much better than it sounds. A hybird between Polish pierogis and Mexican empanads, these Russian treats are melt in your mouth rich and oh so scrumptious. Offering both savory and sweet filled and fried dough, the place stays packed with people...sometimes with lines out the door. We got down on their cinnamon apple and sausage and cheese varities.
It was time for the grand finale. How could the tour possibly save the best for last? Handing out lump crab cakes from Tom Douglas' seafood restaurant, Etta's; that's how. If you don't know who this man is that I speak of, look him up. He's kind of a hot shot in Seattle. And his crab cake recipe? Well, it's just dreamy. Yes, dreamy. No filler, all sweet and delicate crab, it's pan-fried to a beautiful golden brown and served alongside some killer housemade tarter. Just perfect.
I nearly made myself sick but it was so, so worth it. Rich was as comical as he was knowledgable, cultured, and genuine. The guy loves his city and it shows. If you're ever in the area, I highly suggest you sign up for this tour and request him as your tour guide.
While I neglected mentioning all of the cool historical facts, we did learn some really interesting tid bits about the market. To think that the market was almost demolished in the '60s...Seattle certainly wouldn't have been the same.