Monday, March 28, 2011

Tossed salads and scrambled eggs...[Seattle Part I]

Seattle in March isn't actually the ideal respite -- weather-wise -- from a chilly Minnesota winter. After all, it was still in the 30's and 40's when I arrived there for a family vacation two weeks ago. Despite the light showers that dotted my vacation, I had such an amazing time in the beautiful Emerald City (and Vancouver, part deux!) with my lovely famiglia.

Seattle feels like a very livable and lively city, with plenty of neighborhoods to explore, an appealing culture and a fascinating history, all surrounded by ridiculously gorgeous nature, including Mt. Rainier. It's larger than Minneapolis, but has a few similarities to my current city, such as its high literacy rate, beautiful Central Public Library, and (of course!) a great foodie heaven. My family can seriously spend 90% of our vacation time just eating,; we could be on a safari trip in Africa, and all we'd want to do is eat the same gazelle that lion is gnawing on (note to self: Africa trip?). That said, we did find some time to look up from our plates and embark on other activities...

It's almost freaky how I'm always the first one to wake up when I'm on vacation, especially since I used to have to be kicked (literally) by my sister to wake up for school or church. I guess I was still operating on Central Standard Time. This has absolutely nothing to do with anything, except that I would like to gloat about my awesomeness. OK thank you.
Our first stop was Pioneer Square to do the Bill Speidel's Underground Tour. I was surprised at how hilly the city is (how could I have missed that fact from my Wikipedia research beforehand? tsk tsk), and equally relieved that we were driving around my 'rents minivan. The Underground Tour tells the fascinating history of Seattle's crappy days when it was a city built on sea level, and during high tide everything from the sea washed back ashore (think about it: everything that went out, coming back in). Long story short, merchant vs. city = stores built before street level was raised = underground city. It's hard to explain, but fun to explore.

We had lunch @ Red Mill, after it was lauded quite heavily on Man V. Food. I gotta say, though, I've had better burgers. Perhaps it was just because it wasn't prime time (i.e lunch), but the burger wasn't at its peak of perfection. That said, it was a very good's just that I've also had ridiculously good burgers elsewhere.
Red Mill Onion Jam Burger with cheese

Because I grew a sweet tooth somewhere between California and Minnesota, I now have to have dessert after every proper meal. So, before we go back to the touristy spots, we decided to go the nearest sweets place with a high Yelp! rating = Hiroki, which is this adorable shop in a residential neighborhood with very yummy specialty cheesecakes. Word of advice: Get the green tea cheesecake; it's so decadent but refreshing. Pair it with a steaming cup of jasmine tea, and I feel so lackadaisical (I admit, I had to use spell check for that...darn it!)

Feeling very stuffed (but not guilty; we bury that emotion down during vacations), we decided to walk off a miniscule % of our calorie intake at the Seattle Center in the Queen Anne neighborhood. It was pretty cloudy already, but we still got to briskly tour a sliver of the place, making stops at the Experience Music Center (which was closing at that point) and of course, the Space Needle. The place reminded me of Tomorrowland in Disneyland, particularly the monorail that ran from SC to the shopping district. I mean, c'mon can you blame the kid? 
The Contours of the slightly confusing Experience Music Center/Science Fiction Museum

As day was turning into night, we decided to catch great sunset views at the quintessential Seattle tourist destination: Pike Place Market. Unfortunately (because it is a functioning market that has regular hours), a lot of the storefronts were already closing by the time we got there. But not before I caught (haha, lame pun) a glimpse of the flying fish being thrown by those fish guys. Now, if only I had the moolah to actually buy that fish. 
I was able to get some piroshkies from Piroshky, Piroshky, which apparently is an Anthony Bourdain- approved food place (um, hell yeah I'm going to buy bad-ass food). A piroshky is basically a Russian meat-stuffed bun, which is something I bet every cuisine has (from empanadas to varenikis to turnovers to samosas, we all love our buns stuffed; and please get your mind out of the gutter). 

But, the piece de resistance, the crowning jewel, the highlight of the day would have to be my visit to the first ever Starbucks in the world. Yeah, you know that Pike Place they refer to in their Pike Place Roasts? Yeah, it's this Pike Place, bitch. 

Ok, I get a little crude when I get excited, my apologies. (You sure wouldn't want me around fireworks, then). But, you gotta understand, this is my Disneyland, man; I drink way too much Starbucks coffee not to be all giddy about the mother of all Starbucks stores. Come to think of it, it's probably all that SB coffee that's making me jittery. 
My silly arm is covering the word "First"

After downing my 3rd cup of caffeine for the day, I close my first eventful day in Seattle with a couple episodes of Southland, and a plan for tomorrow, when we shall travel to that strange, foreign land called Vancouver, Canada. 

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