Thursday, February 12, 2015

rain city

In the fall of 1995, I moved to Seattle to accept a spot in a Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Washington.  I had just completed my bachelor's degree at the University of a Maryland in College Park,  and had been living in (and loving) the neighborhoods in and around Washington D.C. for the 4 years prior.   I had honestly never given Seattle a second thought before I was offered the opportunity to go to UW and used to joke that I couldn't have found it on a map before I moved there.  I had absolutely no inkling that it was a city that would change my life.

Lots of people had random tidbits of knowledge to bestow on me when they found out I was moving to Seattle.  My favorite example is one of my Pennsylvania aunts trying to convince me that the city was teeming with serial killers.  All I really knew was that there was rain and there was music.  I definitely found those things (luckily no serial killers), but I also found a city with fantastic food, lots of interesting, creative people and beauty -- natural and otherwise -- pretty much everywhere I looked.

In the six years I lived in Seattle,  I became an artist and a member of a creative community like none I've experienced in any other city.  I became a much better cook and fell in love with gardening.  I also became a wife and the member of the giant clan of Seattlites that came with my husband.  With the husband and the clan came the gift of always being connected to this fabulous city.

You can imagine why I consider it my second hometown. 
Beauty.  Natural and otherwise.
It probably seems like a tourist move (it isn't, unless you go on a Saturday in, say, August), but I almost always start a trip with a visit to Pike Place Market.  My first apartment is Seattle was in Belltown in a time (before fancy condos had taken over) when the closest grocery store was either Larry's Market in Lower Queen Anne or the Safeway on Broadway.  Pike Place is where I did my shopping and it was, and remains, one of the most inspiring and places for me.
I never get tired of this place.
Sosio's, Don and Joe's and The Pike Place Market Creamery were my go-to spots.   I was additicted to the baguette and croissants and pretty much everything else at Le Panier.

The plan is always to eat as much seafood as possible while in Seattle.  It is not hard to find the good stuff.
Even with good places in abundance,  my sentimental favorite in the market is DeLaurenti.  When I landed on Seattle's shores I was a 21 year old Italian-American girl from the east coast.  I was terribly homesick for the Italian food culture that I grew up with, so DeLaurenti became the place I went to comfort myself on many a gloomy (and not-so-gloomy) Seattle day.

It was Super Bowl weekend when I was in town, and I've never seen Seattle so pumped up about sports.  It was Seahawks everything, on everyone, everywhere.
Rachel, all dressed up for game day.

There are lots of other things to see and do, but really Seattle visits are all about the food.  I made it a point to eat some oysters from the paradise that is Uwajimaya and lots and lots of Theo Chocolate, but the through line of this trip was sandwiches.
The Pork Medium (P Med) from Pecos Pit Barbeque - a thing of messy, eat with a spork beauty so good that I will sit outside in Seattle in January to eat it and the sweet and spicy beans that are it's perfect mate.  Pecos is the only BBQ joint with a sauce too spicy for me to order the hot version.  The medium is ass-kicker enough.
We are a family of bloggers and food nerds, so of course there was documentation of the construction process of Drew's fried chicken sandwich with spicy slaw --special request for my sister in law's birthday dinner.
Really good burgers from a drive-in count as sandwiches, right?
There is no trip to Seattle that doesn't include a stop at Dick's Drive-in.  Did I mention that it was Super Bowl Sunday?  Lots of very excited Seahawks fans were also having burgers for brunch.  By the time we got our Deluxes and cheeseburgers, fries and a chocolate shake, the all of the lines stretched well into the parking lot.  It was a sea of blue and green.
More sandwiches during the halftime show.
A team effort creating salmon BLTs for Super Bowl sustenance.
My husband is a Seattle native, and he grew up in one of the giant Victorian homes in the Capitol Hill neighborhood (you can see his childhood drawing of that house in this post).  In the past few years, much of the family and quite a few of our friends have moved to Ballard.  When I lived in Seattle, it was a sleepy neighborhood filled with retired fishermen from Scandanavia.  In the last decade or so it has transformed with lots of new condos, restaurants, breweries and shops along the water at Market Street and Ballard Avenue.  They also have a fantastic Sunday farmer's market.  It is a neighborhood where everybody walks and bikes, even in the rain. 
Many of our friends and family have bought cute little houses on the streets surrounding "downtown" Ballard.
A mild Pacific Northwest winter means that the daphne (and lots of other gorgeous flowering things) were ready for spring as early as January.
Quite a few of the little craftsman houses in Ballard are being remade into Northwest modern homes like this one.
There's a fabulous view of the diving lady, my Ballard beacon, from the living room window of my in-laws' condo.
Here's how she looks when the fog rolls in.

And I could never make a post about Seattle without talking about coffee.  I miss the coffee culture so much -- Los Angeles just can't hold a candle to it -- so I have to have "real" coffee when I'm in town.
The Ballard outpost of Bauhaus Books + Coffee.   The original store at the corner of Pine and Bellevue had amazing views of downtown and the Space Needle.  It was one of my haunts during graduate school.
A perfectly made mocha.  And that's a little bar of chocolate on the rim of the cup.
It was a fabulous Seatown weekend -- in so many ways a trip "home".  I am so grateful that I'll get to do it all again soon.

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