Oy, people. Heading east across timezones makes me wail at the alarm clock like a teenager. The rainy and the gray going on over here in North Carolina is not helping. It is, however, helping our garden turn into an overgrown tangle of squash, cucumbers, tomatillos, tomatoes, and basil. Like, Eliot Coleman would take one look at us hopping and straddling and contorting and he would pronounce us complete losers. Well whatever, we may need a third arm to actually reach everything but we are happily eating bowls of sungolds and plates of cukes and the freezer is slowly stocking up with pesto and we have been able to eat just fine after 1) being out of town for over a week and 2) being completely unable to find time to go to the grocery store. Let's hear it for the chickens too, while we're at it...
ANYWAY. So Seattle rocked. I really, really like it there. Which always sort of surprises me because I visited there for years and was very eh about it. What happened? Who knows. Anyway, as usual we spent our days with a fabulous mix of family time, some actual honest-to-god touristy things, and above all: chasing food down that I read about or heard about or asked about or had been hankering for. First: the touristy. We finally made it to Seattle's downtown main library. Librarians both love and hate this building, and I can see why, although I myself thought there were neat things and completely awful things about it. I dug the spiral; despite every person from Seattle that I've ever talked to pronouncing it hard to use, I will flaunt user feedback and stubbornly remain pro-spiral. The children's area was very cool, but somehow seemed really cold. There was *a lot* of vertical open space. Also cool, but I can completely see some many wondered just how many books would have fit in that space. The color scheme is already dated, and don't get me started on the carpet. And there is an extremely bizarre, dare I say even creepy second floor area that is painted entirely in red. The corners are round and the lighting is poor and I have recently watched too much Buffy the Vampire Slayer for such a thing.
Onward. Golden Gardens Park for some stunning scenery. We landed in Seattle for some crystal clear super sunny weather, and you could tell from the enthusiasm of Everyone Everywhere that they don't get uninterrupted weather like that very often. Onward still. Pike Place, just because it was right there after the library. It was crazy and crowded and the fruit vendors made us realize that we are going to have to grow some thicker skin if we plan to return from Vietnam without serious psychological damage. We bought some lovely flowers and I got into watching the cheese guy push his curds around and then we fled.
Hang in there, we're almost there. Next was the Plant Conservatory. I so love a conservatory of plants and flowers. This one was by no means the most impressive one I've ever been to, but it was small and sweet and B's gramps and lady friend came with us and we really enjoyed ourselves. Lastly, the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, or Ballard Locks. Easily the most touristy thing on the list, and at first I was a bit yeah-whatever-boats-go-up-and-down-enough-already. But then. We went down into the Fish Ladder. Holy hell, I could have watched those damn salmon swim upstream for hours. Mesmerizing. We saw both Chinook and Sockeye and I made a complete dork of myself by cheering them on. Righty-o.
Anyway, we were over in Ballard because we decided that our mornings in Seattle would be something of a bakery hunt. Do not get me started on the bakeries here in Asheville. Actually, if I refrained from ranting, I could do it in three words: do not bother. Which if I am silver lining it, is probably why I have become a much better baker since moving here. But if I am not silver lining it, it sucks because so far croissant/puff pastry doughs remain Out of My League, but damn if I don't love a good ham and Gruyère croissant. Anyway, we enjoyed several highly mediocre bakeries before setting out for Cafe Besalu on NW 24th and really, you can just stop there. I not only got my croissant issues resolved, B got his brioche situation remedied, and then we both about died with the tastiness of a sour cherry hand tart. Plus: for all you decaf nerds out there they will brew you a fine decaf americano and you will once again utter the thing you utter when you find a decent cup of decaf coffee. (What, you don't remember what you utter? I know, it had been a long time for us too...)
Ok, this is getting too long, but we returned to a favorite Vietnamese place, tried a new Vietnamese place, enjoyed some much talked up but ultimately not stellar Szechuanese food, and ate a startlingly excellent carnitas taco at a restaurant where you can rent a kayak. Sadly, we did not make it to the hand crafted salami shop, but there is always next time.
Portland later, be well out there.