Impressions from Seattle Weekly’s Best of Seattle Party

Tonight we went to Seattle Weekly’s Best of Seattle Party. What is it? Well, in summary it is a set of local food and drink vendors (and a couple of other random people – more on that later) giving samples of a dish. You pay $30 per person (or $65 for VIP tickets that allowed you to get in earlier than everybody else and get a gift bag) and then you can eat as much as you want.

Well, that’s the theory. In practice you couldn’t really eat as much as you wanted, because most of the time you are actually waiting in line and after we’ve gone from line to line for almost all the food vendors once, the food was over.

But the food was good. A lot of pork! It felt like Seattle is the land of pork if you looked at the menu of those local restaurants: kimchi pork sausage, pulled pork rice and beans, roasted pork sliders, prosciutto and sundried tomato crepes… And that’s not all! There were a couple of chicken dishes and one place offering mussels. 

Also there was some local entertainment. A Teatro ZinZanni artist doing some interesting rope and large hoop acts. There was also a jazz-like band playing. They were not bad, but the sound was a little too loud for the venue. And also they started quite late when all the food and drinks were almost over, so people were leaving and not enjoying the music.

So, what is my conclusion? I enjoyed it, but I probably won’t do this again. It’s really not fun to be standing in lines for 2 hours to eat a bite here and a bite there. At least it wasn’t as crowded as Pike Place Market’s Arcade Lights. That event had way more vendors and much shorter lines, but you spend the evening squeezed going from one are to another. And it’s not all you can eat – you get a few tokens that you have to decide where to spend. So a good part of the evening you are just walking around trying to decide where to spend your tokens, which made it a little less fulfilling.

Thinking and Licking

Tonight Amy and I went for dinner at Annapurna Cafe. It’s a Nepali-Indian-Tibetan restaurant in Capitol Hill, Seattle. Besides being a little warm, the food was quite good. They had a lot of different options, which made it hard to decide what to eat, but in the end I think I chose something with a lot of vegetables, so I felt healthy. That’s why I didn’t feel to bad when we went to our next stop for dessert:

Lick, an ice cream shop also in Capital Hill. I’m not a big ice cream person, but the experience was interesting. Michael Avery, one of the owners, spends time getting you to try multiple of their flavors. All very unique! But the most interesting part was that he has a flavor that he allows you to taste and guess what was in it. It had 3 different ingredients (besides the milk/cream/sugar) and unfortunately I was only partially right. One of the ingredients was  red pickled ginger. I could tell it was ginger, but I felt it had a cherry-like taste, so I thought it was two of the ingredients (cherry & ginger). Unfortunately apparently the cherry flavor that I was able to get was really the plum flavor of the pickling juice of the ginger. Oh, well…

Anyway, I recommend people to try it. If not for the ice cream, it was worth the discussions with the owner and all the thought that he put into choosing the flavors.

On a different note, maybe what I needed to make this blog alive again was to move it. Let’s see how long it lasts!

Some thoughts on Spain – food

First I’ll start by saying that I did eat very well in Spain. I did not go to any molecular gastronomy restaurant, but I did gain 7 pounds on the trip. The main culprit: “menu del dia”.

What is “menu del dia”, you might ask. Well, it’s one of the standard things that restaurants have in Spain: a 3-course meal, with a glass, or sometimes a full bottle, of wine and bread (you could choose also a bottle of water if you wanted – always with no gas, unlike the rest of Western Europe). Most restaurants you get a choice between 5-7 things on each of the courses (the last course is dessert). The prices could be as low as €7 but usually in the €10 range. And those courses are not French courses with small portions. So I would always leave the restaurant way too full, but having the ability to try a lot of different things for reasonably cheap, which is what attracted me to this option.

I actually don’t think that Spanish people actually eat those normally. You might see them having bigger lunches, but most of the time I saw the locals sitting in the front of the house drinking beer and just having “tapas”.

Which brings me to another interesting thing about Spanish restaurants: they are usually divided into two or three spaces: the back where they have the tables and people order the menu del dia (sometimes that’s the only thing you can order there), the bar area where people sometimes stand around drinking and eating tapas, and, sometimes, tables on the street where people do the same thing as on the bar, but pay more for it (some restaurants have menus with different prices for eating outside, sitting at the bar area, or standing at the bar area).

Finally comes breakfast… Spanish breakfast actually reminds me of typical Brazilian breakfast: at a “coffee shop” (that looks more like a Brazilian “padaria” without all the breads than an American hippie coffee shop), sitting at the counter ordering a cup of coffee and milk and a toast, or croissant, sometimes with jamon, sometimes just butter, and sometimes a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice.

They sit around usually by themselves (all other meals they are usually always together with a group of friends), smoke their cigarettes, watch the news on a nearby TV and have the breakfast. And in general it wasn’t a very good croissant or toast, or even a good coffee. And they drink a lot of bad coffee in Spain. Always an espresso drink with machines that prepare the coffee in seconds. On the other hand, the freshly squeezed orange juice (also from machines that cut the orange in half and squeeze the juices automatically) were always quite good.

Looking back, I think I should have been more brave and mingled with the smoking Spanish at the front of the house on restaurants and had more tapas instead of “menu del dia”s. It’s just that in order to try enough things with tapas it would have been better to be in a group of at least 4 people, because some of the tapas were also quite big. Oh, well… Time to lose weight again!