Still hip, still grunge, and oh so laid back, a journey to the Emerald City never disappoints. Although my soul is western, twenty-five years on the eastern seaboard may have jaded me just a bit. People are friendly—not trying to be a best friend or anything, just happy to give directions, make eye contact, or recommend a plate from a restaurant menu without being asked--refreshing! This is a city of jeans and t-shirts. The big guys are here and competing for young talent. Comfort is part of the game. The natives even take comfort food to a whole new level looking for the food to deliver, as our SAVOR SEATTLE guide explained, a vacation on a plate. Case in point, if a ticket to Boston isn't in the near future, no excuse for not seeking out New England style clam chowder on the west coast. The Steelhead Diner serves—sorry Bostonians—the best clam chowder in the country. The difference? Razor clams and a tiny drizzle of truffle oil. These swimming clams have a sweet lobster taste and a meatier, squid-like texture. Skeptical of the truffle oil addition, I tasted it with trepidation. Pleasantly surprised, every last spoonful disappeared.
Some things you can find in Seattle that you can not find in Boston: soda pop, spirit and chocolate culture. In the wee hours of the morning, before the city woke up, jet lag a walk up 1st Avenue landed us at the doors of DRY SODA CO., a company that “attracted a lot of attention from folks looking for a refreshing alternative to all the beer, wine, and moonshine.” The packaging is simple and reflects the limited four ingredient list, a grown up alternative to alcoholic beverages. Worth seeking out, try the cucumber or rhubarb (45 to 60 calories per 12 ounce bottle). I am addicted. Just down the road is RACHEL’S GINGER BEER, another not-too-sweet, handcrafted, sparkling drink that promises to deliver ginger beer that rivals anything found across the pond and seasonal drinks. Rachel's showcases flavors ranging from Asian pear, strawberry rhubarb, to cranberry-apricot and blood orange. Feeling a bit wild in the middle of an usual 90 degree heat wave and a bit nostalgic for my roots, I opted for the Montana Mule, a concoction of RGB and whiskey. The next couple of hours I giggled my way through the stalls of Pike Place Market. I thought I might even be seeing double when I popped into PEAR’S DELICATESSEN & SHOPPE and realized that the refrigerator case along the entire back wall was home to 300 selections of soda. Celebrating Americana, Pear’s sells brands dating back to the Civil War, micro-bottles, and regional sodas with names like Hot Lips Marionberry, Capone’s Family Secret Blue Raspberry, and the nostalgic drive-in Dog’s ’n Suds Root beer.
None of the Puritan Massachusetts zoning or serving laws seem to plague Seattle’s thriving microbrewery and micro-distillery business. Can you imagine a “BOOZE ’N BITES TOUR” through downtown Beantown traffic? I didn’t take this tour, but found the concept amusing. I did stop, however, at VON’S GUSTOBISTRO, a 100 year old establishment boasting 1000 types of spirits and a place where they sanctify vodka, juniper gin, aged tequila and serve cotton candy spun libations. They have the 717th bottle out of a 750 produced of the Bunnahabhain 40 year old scotch that sells for $1,000 per ounce. A playful bunch, beer bottlers entertain their sud sipping crowds with beers named “Pike Kilt Lifter”, “American Blonde”, “Ruud Awakening IPA”, and “Dubble Entendre”.
SAVOR SEATTLE GOURMET FOOD TOUR -- 1916 Pike Place, Seattle, WA 98101
THEO'S CHOCOLATE FACTORY TOUR--3400 Phinney Ave., N. Seattle, WA 98103
FRAN'S CHOCOLATES -- 5900 Airport Way South Seattle, WA 98108
WATSON KENNEDY -- 86 Pine Street, Seattle, WA 98101