36 hours (or so) of eating in SEA in the summer of ’12

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After a couple of very crazy weeks of work I was in need of an adventure to blow off some steam. A weekend in Seattle? Yes please!

Friday 1:30pm – Leaving home later than I’d like and I’m in a bad mood because I know we’re going to hit traffic.

2:20pm – Peace Arch border line up. Thinking the NEXUS pass has become just a money grab as the line up for Nexus is so much longer than the regular one. Should have just gone through the regular line with its 15 minute wait instead….

2:50pm – Entry into the USA.

3:45pm – Hungry, but many miles from my destination, I needed a road snack. With limited options, I stopped at the Golden Arches. I’m now hard-wired to feel shame when I eat at McDonald’s, but was shamefully satisfied with my chicken nugget Happy Meal. Ridiculous I know, but probably better than constantly craving those salty fries I love so much.

4:40pm – Hit the Seattle rush hour just south of Everett. Ugh, traffic was ugly and the thunder showers rolled in. The rain came down in sheets which dampened my mood more.

6:10pm – Checked-in at the beautiful Hotel Monaco. I was happy to book another Kimpton hotel after my awesome stay at the Firesky Resort in PHX. Too bad I was 10 minutes too late to enjoy the complimentary wine hour. The upgraded room I received more than made up for any bad feelings I had thus far on our roadie.

8:00pm – Over the years, with frequent visits to Seattle, I’ve been able to stay on top of the dining scene. I’ve gone from eating Downtown to Belltown, to Capitol Hill and then further out to Madison Park & Queen Anne. Now the dining scene seems to have moved to Ballard, which is 15 minutes north of downtown by car and the “strip” in Ballard has character. Last year I thoroughly enjoyed the Walrus and Carpenter and although I wanted to try La Carta de Oaxaca, I didn’t want to risk the wait on a Friday night. I’ve been a big fan of Ethan Stowell’s other restaurants (How to Cook a Wolf, Anchovies&Olives and Tavolata) and I’ve heard Staple and Fancy is where Stowell was spending time in the kitchen.

True to rumour, I saw Ethan Stowell wandering around the very busy dining room.  I was very curious though as the place was packed with a line-up out the door but there was a table for 8 that was being held long enough to be considered a “no show” in my books.

So many delicious looking things on the menu, so hard to choose. The story of my life…

Baby beets with with house made ricotta, walnuts, arugula, grilled bread. I’m a sucker for ricotta, but for good reason.
Fried fresh chick peas with salt.  We were told these were to be eaten like edamame.  They were way harder to get out of their shell than edamame but pretty darn addictive.

As I was oooohing and ahhhhhing over our starters, a large group entered the room and filled the empty table next to us. I immediately spotted chef Hugh Acheson, from Top Chef/Masters. I knew Top Chef was filming its current season in Seattle so I wasn’t shocked to see Acheson at the restaurant. I was shocked that he was so much younger and better looking he was in person, (I think he’s met with some tweezers lately as his patented mono-brow wasn’t as distinct). I was a bit giddy over the fact that we were dining next to this Top Chef until I was reminded that only a few months ago I was dining next to THE TOP CHEF. That put things back into perspective for me to bring my attention back to the food.

Potato gnocchi with prosciutto ragu, oregano, mint.
Rigatone a la gricia with guanciale, black pepper, pecorino romano.

Ethan Stowell did not disappoint. The beets were delicious, pastas were fantastic and Staple&Fancy becomes part of my highly recommended list.

SATURDAY 10:30am – A wonderful morning sleeping in and I was in the car to visit the U-District Saturday morning Farmer’s Market.  I ran into a problem when the directions led me to an empty gravel field.  My moment of sadness quickly turned into anticipation for awesomeness. Awesomeness for fresh udon.

Billed as “Sanuki-style udon”, anyone who’s watched the movie Udon, (and then made a trek to Sanuki in Japan on an udon pilgrimage) would understand my eagerness for this experience.

Hand made noodles. Check!
Delicately fried items sold by the piece. Check!

In my excitement I ordered incorrectly.  What I wanted was udon in sauce not soup, but it was lost on me in the English translation.

Udon with an onsen tamago (barely cooked). The best udon I’ve had on this side of the Pacific.

6:00pm – The main reason for this Seattle roadie was to see Yu Darvish throw against the Mariners.  Even more exciting was the match-up was against King Felix Hernandez.

What I didn’t realize at the time was that it’d be the last game I’d see Ichiro play as a Mariner…

Thank you Ichiro for 11 great years in Seattle and for making me a baseball fan for life!

But alas, this is a food blog so I’ll get back to the food. After the poor showing of food at Chase Field in Phoenix, I was happy to be back at my “home field” where the eating is good.

Located in the bullpen area, I thought this was related to Apizza Scholls in PDX, it’s not. It’s pizza from New Haven, CT. No matter, it was good stadium eats, especially for $5.
Mushroom slice – I couldn’t wait to have a bite before I took a photo.
Apparently neither could Ben…

I had a great time at the game, watching King Felix take command of the mound and pitch a full game for a M’s win.

10:00pm – I haven’t done a lot of late night dining in SEA, but Ba Bar looked interesting and I hoped that there would be some good people watching.  The food was good, especially the Imperial rolls.

Bad light, great dish. The rolls were placed in lettuce and topped with vermicelli, cucumber, basil and mint.

I was a bit disappointed that although the space was very conducive to a great night out, there weren’t many others there to share the experience with.  Maybe I just went on an off night.

Sunday 10:00am – It’s difficult to spend a weekend in Seattle and not go to Pike Place market but seeing as it’s the height of tourist season I was okay to forego the market for CHICKEN AND WAFFLES.  I’m a sucker for chicken and waffles and had a decent version at Skillet Diner last year.  I posted a photo of that plate and a friend immediately recommended Local 360, saying it had the best he’s ever tried.  So of course I had to go.

PB&J bonbons – Fried nuggets of peanut butter on top of jam, a delicious novelty that I was happy to try but don’t need to have again.
I heard that the homemade sausage was wonderful, so I told Ben to order the Farmer’s Breakfast. The sausage was delicious, but so were eggs and biscuit.
The best fried chicken I’ve had on top of waffles. There’s something about sticky maple syrup drizzled over fried chicken that’s oh so right.

Staple & Fancy – 4739 Ballard Ave NW, Seattle

UDON Fresh Noodle Station– 4515 University Way NE, Seattle

Ba Bar – 550 12th Ave, Seattle

Local 360 – 2234 1st Ave, Seattle

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