Cioppino at Ivar's Acres of Clams

Seattle Trip

Dining Out, Travel

Our 2019 travels got off to a good start with a trip to Seattle at the end of January. Once again, Holly had a conference to attend, and I tagged along. One of the benefits of going to Seattle is that most of Holly’s family is on the west coast so we got to see some of them while we were there.

We were fortunate that our flight was later in the day so we had plenty of time to pack and prepare for the trip. We started our travel eating by treating ourselves to lunch in Philly. We went to Bistro Southeast which is only a block from where we live. Despite the proximity, we have only been there a couple of times. It was a rainy day, and we found our lunch rather comforting.

We shared an order of the Shrimp and Pork Dumplings. I had chicken phở and Holly had the chicken noodle bowl.

Thanks to Holly’s brother’s girlfriend who works for Alaska Airlines, we learned of a relatively inexpensive direct flight. During January, most of the places where we could have connected (e.g. Chicago or Denver) are susceptible to winter weather so we were glad we did not have to stop anywhere. That’s not to say the flight wasn’t without any stress as we left while the government shutdown was still in full effect. It’s hard to believe we now live in a country where Holly and I felt compelled to buy gift cards to donate to the federal employees working at the airport but yet we do.

We had no issues getting through security. The TSA agents were friendly and professional. I cannot imagine working without knowing when I might get paid.

A friend of ours who lives in Philly but who once lived in Seattle was on the same flight as we were so we met up with her at Vino Volo in the airport. Whenever time allows, we enjoy getting wine and sometimes snacks at Vino Volo.

Pre-flight Wine at Vino Volo
Pre-flight Wine at Vino Volo

During our winter break, we tried sandwiches from Caffe Vienna’s and enjoyed them so much that we picked up a couple for our flight. We each got a Broad Street Bully (spicy hot sopressata, dry capicola, sharp provolone, prosciutto di Parma, fried long hot peppers, tomatoes, arugula and a blend of hot spices). We always try to bring food on the plane so we don’t have to buy overpriced and mediocre food. Especially since we were on a 6 hours flight, we wanted to make sure we had tasty sandwiches with us and the ones from Caffe Vienna’s did not disappoint.

We arrived in Seattle a little after 8 and took the light rail with our friend to our hotels. She had good advice as to which stop to get off at since Google maps recommended one at the bottom of a steep hill. She said the next stop was just as far but on more level ground. I remembered from our last trip there in 2013 that Seattle was hillier than I first expected so we were glad for the advice especially since we had our luggage with us.

By the time we got settled, it was after 9. Holly and I needed to unwind after the long trip so we wandered to our hotel bar for post-flight Martinis. Holly’s middle brother, who works in Seattle, joined us briefly on his way home.

We stayed at the Crowne Plaza downtown and were on the 30th floor so had a nice view of the city.

The next day, Holly and I met up with her mom, her mom’s husband, and her two brothers for a delicious brunch at Lola. For convenience sake, we ended up three times during our trip. That first day, I could not resist getting Tom’s Favorite Breakfast (Mediterranean octopus, potatoes, bacon, radicchio, onions, Aleppo yogurt, soft poached egg, toast) based not only on the name but also on my plan to eat a lot of seafood while so close to the water. It was quite wonderful, and a great way to begin our trip. Holly also got Tom’s Favorite Breakfast and enjoyed it as much as I did.

Tom's Favorite Breakfast at Lola
Tom’s Favorite Breakfast at Lola

After brunch, Holly needed to get to the conference, and I hung out with her family who had plans to go to the movies. At first, I thought it was odd that they would want to spend a couple of hours at a movie after traveling to see each other, but Holly’s mom and her husband live in a small town in Alaska with limited options so getting to a movie is a special treat. As a big movie fan, I can totally appreciate this.

We saw Bohemian Rhapsody which was better than I thought it would be. As with all biopics, it felt a bit uneven and a somewhat rushed as it worked through time trying to hit all the important moments. Nonetheless, I found the film moving and enjoyable. It’s hard to believe I am old enough that times I have lived through are now historical movies. Queen was never among my most favorite bands, but I certainly liked them and was familiar with a lot of their music. 

After the movie, we met up with Holly as she was done with her conference. We took a walk down to the waterfront. I didn’t have my good camera with me, but I was able to get some decent shots of the sunset with my phone. As they say, your best camera is the one you have with you.

We had a lovely dinner at Ivar’s Acres of Clams (I so love that name). We started by sharing the fried calamari and the chowder sampler (Northwest-style White Clam Chowder, Salmon and Corn Chowder and NW Seafood Chowder). I had the Cioppino which is one of my all time favorite dishes, and the one there was among the best I’ve had. There was some unique flavor in the seasoning which I wasn’t able to place, but it gave the dish a special something. Holly got the fish trio (Orange-tarragon marinated grilled wild pink shrimp; Alaska halibut, tomato-fennel chutney; Wild Coho salmon, basil pesto, sour cream and green onion mashed red potatoes).

The next day, Holly and I returned to Lola since it was one of the few places open early enough on a Saturday for Holly to have a proper breakfast and still get to the conference on time. We both got the Greek scramble (eggs, spiced lamb and beef, tomatoes, kasseri cheese, smashed garlic fried potatoes, toast).

Greek Scramble at Lola
Greek Scramble at Lola

I then spent the morning walking around the waterfront with my Canon EOS 5D Mark IV before going to the Seattle Art Museum.

I had posted some pictures from my morning walk on Instagram. He messaged me recommending that I go to Mee Sum Pastry. If a chef tells me I need to go somewhere, I go there. So after my visit to the museum, I headed back to Pike Place Market. Mee Sum is right across the street. I got the Beef Curry Hom Bow and BBQ Pork Hom Bow, both of which were amazing.

Beef Curry Hom Bow and BBQ Pork Hom Bow
Beef Curry Hom Bow and BBQ Pork Hom Bow

Later in the day, I had a little time before meeting Holly for dinner. I decided to check out Pioneer Square. I stopped in Arundel Books and found a pulp version of Henry Miller’s A Devil in Paradise. It’s an amusing presentation for anyone familiar with the book who can recognize the disconnect between the cover and the content of the book. After my discovery, I stopped in Bad Bishop Bar for a couple of local beers.

Pulp Version of Henry Miller's A Devil in Paradise an a Beer
Pulp Version of Henry Miller’s A Devil in Paradise an a Beer

That night, we met up with some of Holly’s family for an decadent dinner at Miller’s Guild. There was a soup course, a pasta course, various hunks of meat, dessert, bottles of wine. All exceptional. Unfortunately, neither of us took any pictures.

On Sunday, I took a walk to the Chinatown-International District. My destination was the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

The Wing Luke Museum was fascinating. Part of the museum is a preserved store and boarding house. I arrived just in time to get a tour which I was thankful for. In addition to the historic tour, they also had a Bruce Lee exhibit and a Science Fiction exhibit.

Although I did not attend the library conference that Holly was attending, I was able to meet up with a couple of old library friends who were in town for the conference.

After the Wing Luke Museum, I spent the afternoon with a good friend of mind that I’ve now know for about a dozen years. I had seen her last March when she was in Philadelphia for a conference. Although that wasn’t all that long ago, I was glad to have the opportunity to spend time with her. We had lunch at Purple Cafe and Wine Bar followed by a couple of Martinis at Juno Restaurant

Martini at Juno
Martini at Juno

For dinner, we met up with one of Holly’s cousins who lives in Seattle. We went to The Walrus and the Carpenter. It was great seeing her cousin again, although the restaurant was crowded and loud, and we had trouble hearing each other. Or, at least, I had trouble hearing anyone. The food was delicious. I tried raw oysters for the first time and lived to tell the tale. As much as I enjoy eating (and try to be open to  knew experiences), I am a bit squeamish about eating raw meat and seafood so this was a big step. I liked the oysters but wasn’t wowed. I’m not sure I would go out of my way to get them again, but I enjoyed them enough that I would partake if I was with other people who wanted them.

We also got the roasted Medjool dates, steamed clams, grilled sardines, grilled leeks, and finished with a trio of cheeses. As with a lot of the trip, we were busy catching up with people and didn’t take as many photos as we might have.

We were inspired by the steamed clams, which had white beans and kimchi, so we made our own version after we got home. The picture doesn’t quite do it justice because it was still very steamy as I was trying to take the shot.

Clams, Kimchi, and Alubia Blanca Beans
Clams, Kimchi, and Alubia Blanca Beans

I met up with Holly and one of her brothers for lunch. Holly suggested going to El Borracho near Pike Place where she had had lunch the day before. We had quite a few fancy and pricey meals so it was nice to just have some inexpensive (and delicious) tacos.  I had the Borrego, Pato, Tinga de Conejo tacos. Holly had a Cabrito barbacoa burrito (ancho chile slow roasted goat, queso fresco, salsa verde frita, cabbage pico de gallo).

After lunch, Holly needed to get back to the conference. Her brother and I walked to Pioneer Square on a mission to get sandwiches for Holly and me from Salumi for the flight home the next morning. We were successful in getting the sandwiches but were hoping to go to the observatory and bar at the top of the Smith Tower, but, unfortunately, it was closed that day. 

For the flight home, I got the Mole Salami sandwich with mozzarella and the Toscana sandwich which has fennel salami, fennel salsa, and goat cheese. We shared each and enjoyed them as much as the sandwiches from Caffe Vienna’s which helped get us to Seattle.

For dinner, we met an old friend of Holly’s and another good friend of ours from the library world. We went to No Anchor which was fantastic, but we didn’t take any pictures since we were catching up and having too much fun and plenty of beer. We hadn’t planned on staying out late since we had an early flight the next day, but we were enjoying ourselves way too much to cut it short. We stayed at No Anchor for nearly five hours and got back to our hotel around midnight. We had to get up at 4:00 in the morning for the long journey home.

I’ve been to Seattle twice now and enjoyed it both times. I doubt any library conference will bring us back there anytime soon, but it is a good location for getting together with some of Holly’s family. It would be nice to go there sometime only for a family visit so Holly can enjoy it more.

We had a few busy months of traveling (Montreal in November, Washington DC in December, and Seattle in January). We’re staying put for a while. Holly and I both have work conferences in April, mine in Cleveland and hers in Chicago. We are also working on plans for getting back to California for vacation in June so there is some travel on the horizon.

You can see all my Seattle photos in my Flickr album and Holly’s pictures in her Flickr album.

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