"celebrated chefs" of seattle

i hear there are amazing food tours of the city. (these are just a few: savor seattle, walking tours, seattle bites) i plan to try at least one, and perhaps many, depending on how long we stay in this fair city. i'm the foodie of my friends, so i'm not sure that we'll have any visitors requesting a food tour during their stay. that means anthony and i just may be on our own. oh darn! except, not really, because where there is good food there are happy people. and perhaps among those happy people we will find new friends, foodie friends.

case in point: when we went to cafe nordo we met a seattle native that had lived in many places beyond washington state, including japan. we told him we were looking for excellent asian food, and much to our delight he fervently spouted off a list of his recommendations. he also had recommendations for sandwich shops. and i'm sure he could give us a recommendation for just about anything food related. he has become our good food beacon.

anyways, back to food tours. several months ago, while my sister was visitng, we got brunch in west seattle. towards (what's the difference between toward and towards?) the end of the meal the server came over with a cookbook and an offer. offer: give them our credit card #, keep the cookbook (free), every time we dine at a restaurant in the book and use the card, 5% of our bill goes to charity. seriously? yep, no catch. seriously. so, we opted in, and then quickly forgot about it. until we dined at ray's cafe. we noticed the donation on our account register and decided we had better take a list at the list again. the program is called "celebrated chefs," and if you're visiting seattle, it's worth checking out. if you're visiting us, definitely let us know if there are any you want to try!

the restaurants are all over the city, the eastside and elsewhere, including whidbey island. these are the restaurants on the list that we've hit so far:

seastar in south lake union: see my "review" here.

ray's cafe in ballard: we went here expecting amazing seafood and were sorely disappointed. to be clear, ray's cafe is the cheaper version of ray's boathouse. ray's boathouse is supposedly obscenely expensive, but i'd say the cafe is way overpriced for the (lack of ) quality of food they serve. i'm still hoping to try ray's boathouse one of these days!

poppy in capitol hill: poppy is an example of the latest seattle restaurant to be over-hyped. i was psyched to try this restaurant and found a great opportunity while my parents were visiting from denver (my dad loves going to new and different restaurants too). the concept is 10 small plates on one larger plate- all per person. they do have some smaller options with only 6 or 7 small plates. the presentation was fantastic. such a clever concept, and i cannot imagine how much work goes into each and every plate. the taste was a mixed bag. a couple of the dishes were absolutely incredible, but many of them were over-worked (concepts taken too far). please note: i am not expert, have no professional food experience, nor am i food critic. as such, take my "reviews" with a grain of salt.

tidbit bistro in capitol hill: another mixed-bag with this one. our meal began with a bang, but devolved with each course. this is a restaurant will won't hit again.

ponti seafood grill in fremont/queen anne: this restaurant was incredible! we went here with our friends nick and manda while they were visiting. it was pretty expensive, but all of us thoroughly enjoyed our meals. although it's a seafood restaurant, i ordered a steak. it was the best steak i can remember having ever eaten. note: do not order the spanish coffee. waaaay too much bacardi 151.

nell's in greenlake: nell's is another place we visited with my parents. small, quiet and typical seattle fare. fresh vegetables paired with twists on classic recipes. good food, but a touch stuffy. perhaps a good one to try again in the summer.


thanksgiving in seattle

my first thanksgiving in seattle was a quiet success. my parents came out for a few days and declined our cozy guestroom for the beautiful pan pacific hotel. this hotel is pretty darn fancy and in a great little complex in the south/west lake area. it's located in a very convenient location and is attached to a whole foods and starbucks. what could beat that? one of the hotel restaurants is seastar, where we lunched one day. this place is probably the most formal restaurant i've been to in seattle. recently, i've taken to constant dressing down (i know, a pity) to fit in with the casual seattle style (not to mention my shopping budget of $0). so, of course i showed up to lunch in jeans and a waffle shirt. i told my parents (dad donning tie and sport coat and mom wearing lipstick) that they were too dressed up for seattle, and my dad pointed out that everyone in the restaurant was dressed up (bow ties and all). attire aside, the food was excellent. i highly recommend the coconut pie for dessert. so good that it made my mom unable to eat for 2 days. no sarcasm here. we literally gorged ourselves on that pie (i focused on the filling of course!). thankfully she was able to eat again just in time for the thanksgiving feast!

i decided to go pretty traditional this year, as it was my first "solo" attempt at cooking the entire meal. it is important to note than anthony was a tremendous help, thus the "solo." my proudest achievement was baking my very first pie from scratch! too bad i don't like pie! the rest of the menu included carrot soup, blue cheese and walnut biscuits, deviled eggs, herb-roasted turkey, thyme and parmesan mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce with orange zest, and gravy to top it all off. the pie was a twist on a classic: pumpkin swirled with dark chocolate. here are some pics of the pie process:

we're now trying to figure out how to spend our first new year's eve in the northwest. but first, stay tuned for christmas in seattle!


it's been too long...

i think about this blog almost every day, but just haven't put the time into it that i should be. so here i am, trying to play catch up.

halloween: this year we did halloween in style at the seattle symphony. we went to benaroya hall for the first time to watch the symphony play along to alfred hitchcock's psycho. isn't the auditorium beautiful? the movie was played on a big screen while the musicians played throughout the show. it was pretty incredible and hard to believe that they were playing live.

the next evening we went to "trolloween" in our very own neighborhood. apparently the fremont troll's (a huge stone troll that lives under the aurora bridge) birthday is on halloween, and this year he turned 20! we somehow ended up in a parade through the neighborhood and saw some interesting sights. this creature had huge bat-like wings and was on stilts. this was particularly impressive as there were hundreds of people marching along in the parade up and down the hills of seattle.

birthday: the weekend after halloween was anthony's birthday, and his mom came out to join us for the festivities. we had the amazing opportunity to attend the show at cafe nordo. chef nordo travels the country with his actor/servers, celebrating the life and death of the chicken. don't call it dinner theater; apparently nordo cringes at the thought. you MUST read this article about "the modern american chicken." here, in seattle, the theo chocolate warehouse (theo is a blog post all in its own right!) was turned into a little cafe/farm/psychedelic stage. each course was based on a life stage of a chicken, and each was fantastic. the actors were each assigned a table and were very interactive. i was chosen to be the chicken carver of our table and ended up dropping the chicken in the center of the table. wonderful. dessert was a rather morbid interpretation of bloody gizzards, but was delicious none-the-less. at the end of the evening they brought out baby chicks that were just too cute to resist! i later learned that they were destined to become soup. i'm leaning towards vegetarianism with each passing day.

it's still autumn here, but i'm starting to get the idea that the winter will indeed be cloudy and rainy. we get a sunny day at least once a week still and many days have at least an hour or two of sun. i try to get out during those times. it's been nicer that i expected, but it's only november. i hear that by february i'll be clamoring to get out of here. stay tuned for my winter distractions.


autumn in seattle

the leaves are spectacular! theses days i'm gasping in awe everywhere i turn. i've never seen colors like this! my camera just can't do the scenery justice, so i'll let you imagine the beauty. :) UPDATE: click here to see another blog's pictures of the leaves. along with the changing colors has come the rain. it's been raining a little or a lot just about every day since my last post. over the weekend we had two instances of torrential downpour. the half an inch in 15 minutes twice in once day left our lawn totally flooded! however, we still braved the rain for brunch! we finally made it over to tilth to sample some of their organic fare. i decided to give sarsaparilla a shot, and although it wasn't terrible, i probably won't order it again (this of course is not because of restaurant preparation, but rather the ingredients themselves). they did have excellent cheeses. i'd really like to go back for their dinner tasting menu to get a wider selection of what they have to offer. this restaurant has gotten rave reviews from seattle foodies and it gets a thumbs up from me too!

something i've been wanting to post about for awhile- henry. all around town there are colorful murals on buildings, retention walls, cars, and garages- all with the unique signature of henry. i've found some articles about the seattlite, but none actually list all of his masterpieces. so, i've decided to take it upon myself to track down as many of his murals that i can find. i've seen at least a dozen, but i'm still working on having a camera handy at all times. here's one i snapped at lowell elementary in capitol hill.
mail-in ballots have arrived across washington state and all hands are on deck for getting the word about about candidates, propositions, referendums, and initiatives. i'm still working with lwvwa on i-1033 and will be volunteering with planned parenthood again next week to endorse a candidate. i'm really looking forward to getting out and lobbying with the action league. STILL in the hunt for a job! let me know if you have any ideas or connections! :)
stayed tuned for our halloween adventures!


hodge podge

i realize i have been terrible about posting, but i've been so busy with the League of Women Voters of Washington that I haven't had much time to do anything worth mentioning! for those very few of you that i still have not harassed about our i-1033 video, i will make my plea here as well. in the very short time i have been working with the league, we have produced a short animated film about washington's initiative 1033. this initiative mirrors colorado's tabor, and would be at least as damaging here in washington. it has been pretty exciting to be a part of this process, as it is all new to me. working with an animator and voice actor has been pretty interesting! earlier this week i got the incredible opportunity to go to bad animals studio to watch our voice actress record the narration for our video. this studio is apparently legendary and has hosted some historic greats, including johnny cash and b.b. king. one of the current owners shared some of his experiences in the the studio, including watching kurt cobain fight with courtney love. today, they are still big in the music industry, but they also do a lot of audio for animations and video games. the guy who worked on our video is the very same guy that does the voice for mario in the super mario bros. games! anyways, they let me into the sound booth and were incredibly welcoming and glad to talk with us. and did i mention they provided their studio and services to us for FREE?! thanks bad animals!

and now back to the video... i got to play a big role in this, and i would appreciate it if you could watch it (although i realize that all of my readers do not live or vote in washington). just do it because you love me or at least like me a little! click here to watch. NOW!

bowling: before i got totally engrossed with lwvwa, we were able to go bowling for a friend's birthday. we headed to garage billiards for all sorts of fun! they have 10 lanes for bowling by time (rather than charging per game), a few bars and a back room dedicated just to pool. they also have a pretty full menu, although i didn't get to try anything. this would be a great place to spend a late evening with visitors, and hopefully we'll get to go back! i had planned on taking pictures, but when the back of my holga came off and exposed 23 out of 24 shot frames of my film, i had a bit of a fit and refused to have any further dealings with cameras for the rest of the night. the destroyed film still sits atop my table, mocking me.

and for those of you that still need convincing about moving to seattle, i found this article in the wall street journal. what are you waiting for?!

it's starting to get cold up here, although not nearly as cold as back in colorado! the trees are just stunning, and i'm trying to enjoy the last rays of sunshine as much as i can. they occasionally play the broncos games on seattle tv, but unfortunately i've had to rely on espn updates for most of the games. i've got a 3rd-round interview with a community agency this upcoming week, so hopefully i will have a job by the end of the month. in a couple days i've got volunteer orientation for the planned parenthood action league. i will be a public affairs volunteer, working to train citizens to become lobbyists, participating in lobby day in olympia, contacting legislators and lobbyists, and participating in all sorts of outreach events. i'm going to be very busy before the end of the year, but i'm really looking forward to being involved with so many great agencies!
stayed tuned for whatever it is i'm able to get out and do next! :)


sunny seattle gets visitors

it has been absolutely beautiful here, and when i got the news that it has already snowed back in my home state of colorado, i must admit i was oh so very happy to be in seattle! my little sister and brother-in-law flew in last weekend for a visit and left just this morning. i have to say that i didn't have half the energy that they did for walking all over this fantastic city. yet, the exploring i did take part in continued to remind me of how wonderful seattle truly is.

oktoberfest: last weekend was the annual fremont oktoberfest. anthony and i took part in the brew ha-ha 5k run first thing sunday morning and then joined up with our visitors to check out some of the other events. as a non-beer drinker i felt the cost of admission to the beer garden was a bit steep ($15), and the food was pretty disappointing. however, we did get to watch the chainsaw pumpkin carving contest! sitting right up front i got sprayed with pumpkin guts, which contributed to a great show overall. as i have a feeling that my running career will be over by next year's oktoberfest, i'd instead like to participate in the street scramble. we watched people running all over the neighborhood for this scavenger hunt, and it looked like a blast! there is also a miss buxom contest, and while i will never be participating in that event, it just may have been worth a visit.

capitol hill: from what i had heard of this neighborhood, it sounded just like capitol hill in denver. and lots of it really is just like denver's cap hill, but parts of it are much more special. the beginning of our visit took us along broadway, where nothing really stood out to me. and then we made our way to volunteer park. as we neared the park, we found ourselves in a beautiful residential area. and the closer we got, the more in love with the neighborhood i fell! it is just stunning! the 50 acre park has a cemetery, public conservatory and the seattle asian art museum. the conservatory is a small building, packed full of tropical plants and cactus (in separate rooms of course!). the asian art museum is also rather small, but full of beautiful exhibits. i definitely think it's worth the trip away from downtown to hit this unique spot. outside the museum is the black sun sculpture, which provides an opportunity for tourists and transplants a unique view of the needle. we also made our way to lake view cemetery, which is the resting place of bruce lee and his son brandon lee.

the aquarium: although there just a couple months ago, i jumped at the opportunity to return to the aquarium with my sister. i haven't been to many aquariums, but seattle's is my favorite by far. for me the best part is the tide pools that allow you to touch all the sea creatures. i've done the starfish and crabs, but it's not every day that you get to stick your hand into a sea anemone. pretty fun! they also have sea otters, which are MUCH larger than their river counterparts. additionally, they have an extensive exhibit about the salmon ladder, which ends with the adult salmon battling the upstream currents with river otters playing right along side them.

alki beach: i wasn't sure that i'd ever find a reason to get over to west seattle, but having my sister in town prompted a visit to alki beach. this park offers 135 acres of stunning views of downtown and the sound. although the rest of west seattle is less than thrilling (at least for me), alki beach makes for a gorgeous and relaxing side trip. plus they have their own replica of the statue of liberty overlooking the waters of the puget sound.

saying farewell: my sister and her husband stayed for over a week, but somehow their departure came all too quickly. for their last night in town we went to a great little restaurant (holds about 20 diners at a time) in wallingford called sutra. this place serves a fixed menu (changes weekly) of 4 all-vegetarian courses. each course is served to the entire restaurant at the same time, so reservation times are fixed and all diners experience the meal at the same time. prior to service the chef discussed some of the ingredients and preparation techniques, which was pretty enlightening for a long time ex-vegetarian. the food was excellent and a great experience that we will definitely have to try again. plus i was turned on to vegan ice cream made with coconut milk. delicious!

and now that our visitors have departed, we are getting back to work (plus a lot of football watching). i start my internship with the league of women voters of washington tomorrow and continue to submit job applications. a paid position would be nice after all. :)

stay tuned as the autumnal weather moves in and brings the rain!


my version of hiking

those of you that know me know i'm not one for athletic activities. however, hiking is so darn convenient (not to mention BEAUTIFUL) in this "neck of the woods"- yep, pun intended! these are our most recent hiking adventures:

cougar mountain wilderness peak loop: this low-traffic hike is about 30 minutes outside of the city in a more marshy area of cougar mountain wildland park. while cougar mountain can be generally busy, this particular trail is not nearly as popular as the others. we opted for the 3.5 mile loop with a short .2 mile side trip. one of the first and most exciting discoveries of the hike was a slug! i can't recall having ever see a real-life slug in colorado. my first slug encounter was actually in marin county in northern california, so i shouldn't have been too surprised to see one a bit further north up the coast. and as the hike went on, it soon became apparent that we would be seeing hundreds and hundreds of them! still, i made sure to notice every one on the trail and point them out to anthony to avoid squishing.

tiger mountain state forest: for our next adventure we chose an area with more than 80 miles of trails and a choice of 3 summits. we had planned on hiking the west tiger mountain #3 loop, but the weather led us in another direction. it was raining lightly when we left the house, but over our 20 mile drive the light rain turned into a full-on rainstorm. yet, we were committed to some sort of outdoor experience and found ourselves on a 1.5 loop around tradition lake. i wore a light rain jacket, but unfortunately i didn't stay dry! the heavy rain prevented us from really enjoying the environment, however i will say that i was impressed with the maintenance of this particular loop. it's certainly not a hike as it's very flat. but the nice gravel trail offers a beautiful leisurely walk in the woods. we decided it would be a great option for getting our dogs out into the wilderness. although our visit was short, by the time we made it back to the car the storm had worsened. we could hardly see the road because it was raining so hard, and yet we still saw a steady stream of hikers and their dogs during our short stay. obviously we are going to have to get some better rain gear for these situations if we are to become true northwesterners!

our most recent adventure took us back to tiger mountain for another shot at the tiger mountain #3 loop. the 5.1 trail is rather difficult and climbs in earnest with few flattened areas for reprieve. i gotta say, i thought this hike was miserable! i learned an important lesson: when the guide says "difficult," it really means just that! i pulled my groin about 2 miles in, but was determined the reach the summit. the summit offered expansive views, yet i suspect it is not the highest summit of the 3. we then let the guide book lead us down an unmaintained trail that dropped nearly 1,500 feet in just over a mile. translation: too steep for enjoyment. i ended up on my butt a number of times as my feet just couldn't hold me at that angle. in the car ride back to town our friend announced, "despite all the grumbling, that hike wasn't really that bad!" i disagree! i'm going to need to get better shoes and in much better shape to take on (and actually enjoy) another hike like that!

stay tuned for our upcoming adventure to the fremont oktoberfest (plus all that other stuff i promised)!


getting settled in seattle

i first learned that i would be moving to seattle last october. my partner (anthony) was starting a new job and i would be applying to transfer schools. anthony moved in november, and i arrived to my new home at the end of june. it's been a whirlwind of a summer since.

our first visitors: maureen and jana came to explore the city with me in mid-july. despite my hesitation, we made plans to go to a tourist trap of a restaurant on the docks- the crab pot. let me tell you, one of the highlights of my time in seattle thus far! seriously! yes, the lines are outrageous, the decor is hideous, and the ambiance is less than ideal. but, the food is incredible and the experience was one that i would love to relive soon. we also went to the aquarium, did the underground tour, and took a ferry to bainbridge island. the aquarium was great, the tour was informative but a bit lengthy for my attention span, and bainbridge was cute but i likely won't return anytime soon.

back to denver for wedding mania: after just a few weeks of getting to know the city, i roadtripped back to denver with my most gracious and patient friend maureen. first up was my little sister's wedding. it was AMAZING! rather than traditional wedding pictures, they opted for a photobooth-type set-up. it resulted in hundreds of photos like these (taken by matt novak and partner):

aren't they wonderful?

just a couple weeks later i headed to winter park for a good friend's wedding and then straight to beaver creek for another wedding! and then just hours after getting back to denver, i began my roadtrip back to washington with my mom.

back in seattle: and now i'm back and trying to find my way in this fantastic city. stay tuned for commentary on my most recent adventures, including the paramount theater, green lake, and hiking in the northwestern rain.