Friends, I swear this will be my last post on Seattle. Well...until I visit my favorite U.S. city again, that is. With only 4 days in the Pacific Northwest, I successfully packed in a wealth of memorable adventures, learning experiences, and most importantly, eating excursions. In all seriousness though, I ate and ate...and ate until I was sick. Coming back from the educational and recreational getaway, my stomach was churning and pleading with me for a break from overindulging. While I may have put my body through turmoil thanks to my irresponsible binging, I must say...it was all totally worth it.
As an attendee at Foodista's International Food Blogger's conference, I was mentally prepped for a temporary five-pound weight gain. There was just no getting around it. Looking through the conference's schedule, I was salivating as I read about the various wine tastings, local cuisine receptions, and secret restaurant outings. The conference alone was enough to please even the most die-hard foodies. But because I've never been the most studious of students, I made a vow to leave the conference quarters and explore the city that I so much admire. And by "explore," I mean restaurant hop, of course.
Let's begin with my first evening in town. Along with friends and fellow bloggers, Megan and Tracy, I ventured off to a restaurant I had so badly wanted to visit the last time I was in Seattle. Poppy is an eclectic, yet refined eatery that sits in the quaint neighborhood of Capitol Hill. Presenting a new and fun style of eating, they present guests with "thali," a platter containing numerous diverse miniature dishes. Not only an edible spectacle to admire, Poppy's thalis show off local and seasonal ingredients chosen by the brain wonder behind the restaurant , chef and owner, Jerry Traunfeld.
Image via capitolhillseattle.com
Before we caught sight of our delightful thalis, we took our server's sincere recommendation for the eggplant fries. Normally one who despises the mushy purple veggie, I found Poppy's Sea Salt and Honey drizzled Eggplant fries absolutely delectable. After we quickly scarfed down the sweet and savory fried goods, we were introduced to our thalis. An Indian way of enjoying food, thalis offer tons of tastes, all on one tiered dish - a perfect situation for foodies like me. An array of aromatic soups, chutneys, roasted vegetables, naan bread, and more, I was completely beside myself in my own little Thali dreamland. No gimmick, this is a really cool Indian cuisine concept.
If you're one who enjoys good food, and you've been to Seattle even once before, then you've certainly heard of the culinary genius, Tom Douglas. Chef, restaurateur, and James Beard Award winner, the guy has popular restaurants all over town. And while we wanted to walk through the doors of all 14 eateries, we settled on two, knowing full well we'd be back to conquer more of his amazingly scrumptious menus in the future. Since a seafood feast in Seattle was an obvious must, we chose Etta's for a late lunch/early dinner on day two of the trip.
Arriving just in time for their solid steal of a happy hour, we sat down to a menu of oysters, Dungeness crab spread, salad, and more. Without any hesitation, we opted for the crab spread and a plate of oysters to commence our first ever Tom Douglas experience. The freshest and most flavorful oysters, I didn't even blink an eye at the lemon or hot sauce. These beauties needed no dressing up at all. Between slurps of oysters, I found the Dungeness crab spread on a whole other level from any seafood spread I've ever enjoyed. Loaded with humongous pieces of crab, it was full of an irresistibly rich, seafood flavor.
For our main courses, Megan went with a cheeseburger. Yep, that's right. Upon hearing that she'd be visiting the rainy city, an old boss assured her that it'd be one of the very best burgers she would ever eat. Indeed it was. Two juicy Washington beef patties came smothered in their special malt sauce along with smoked jack from the famous Beecher's Cheese shop just down the street. Luckily for me, Megan allowed me two bites. Two big, glorious, bites.
Realizing I had already been quite the gluttonous queen, I ordered the Dungeness Crab Salad. This was no ordinary salad, people. Butter lettuce was topped with a generous mound of crab along with tons of creamy avocado wedges, tangy grapefruit, and all tossed in a Nuoc champagne dressing. Words simply can't describe this healthy offering. It'd make a believer out of any salad-hating, carnivorous man.
For our next Tom Douglas outing, we decided on his beloved pizza place, Serious Pie. These pizzas were in fact, serious. Playful ingredients decorate blistered crusts from an applewood burning oven, creating one of a kind pies for every kind of pizza-loving palate. Megan's classic red sauced, buffalo mozzarella, and fresh basil topped pie was as pretty as it was tasty. But no pizza on earth could hold a candle to my chanterelle mushroom and truffle cheese creation. So ridiculously luscious, the heavenly truffle and shroom combo could cure a broken heart.
You probably know that Seattle is known for its crazy good seafood. However, you may not know that the city is also a mecca for Asian cuisine. There are noodle houses everywhere in sight. In fact, if you were to listen closely enough on the streets of Capitol Hill, you may hear the sweet sounds of slurping from one of the many soup kitchens. Noodleheads everywhere. Since Ramen is almost non existent in Tampa, we agreed to head straight to a Japanese noodle spot. Friends, I had been anxiously awaiting the Ramen since our initial arrival in Seattle. When it was finally time to indulge on carbs and broth galore, I was overwhelmed with the various Ramen options. Then I saw it. Tonkotsu From Hell (Spicy Pork broth). Leave it to me to order the spiciest item on the menu. Boasting tons of chewy noodles, a soft boiled egg, green onions, bamboo shoots, tender pork, and a vibrant red spicy broth, I was in la-la noodle land with each and every bite. Megan ordered the Garlic Shouyu which was equally as delectable.
On our very last night in Seattle, we were privilege to one incredibly generous gesture from one of my favorite food companies, Urbanspoon. They set up intimate dining experiences all over the city at some of the newest, most critically-acclaimed spots. Organized at complete random, 10-15 IFBC attendees were grouped together and granted an extra special restaurant invitation. Originally, I was "assigned" to a secret restaurant in the Belltown neighborhood. However, with a little finagling and thanks to our friend Jen, Megan and I were able to go together to the secret location in Capitol Hill.
Where'd we end up? Mamnoon- a dark and romantic date-night hot spot offering Middle Eastern cuisine. From Mahar- a dish of manila clams, pepper paste, basterma, pine nuts, and cilantro to arnabeit makli (fried cauliflower with tarrator) to Kefta- made with minced lamb, onion, pistachio, and baharat, we were getting schooled and wooed in the name of tasty Persian fare.
My four-day adventure in Seattle was definitely an indulgent one. Please don't judge my overeating sin. It doesn't happen very often. Truth be told, I didn't so mind the slight interruption in my healthy lifestyle. Gallivanting around town, we experienced some of the best cuisine the city has to offer. Aside from the numerous restaurant visits, we were also wined and dined at the conference itself. Yeah, I'd say it's fair to say that my trip was yummy indeed. Feel free to check out some more drool-worthy dishes from the weekend with the photos below..
Food and Wine Pairing with Chateau Ste Michelle's John Sahrich
Alaskan Fare snack reception at the conference: Bacon wrapped scallop sliders, Lobster quesadillas, and Smoked Salmon
Another wine and food pairing by Chateau Ste Michelle
Delicious Latte with latte art from Espresso Vivace