Pike Place Market: Seattle, WA
I recently came back from a trip visiting friends in Seattle, WA. Have any of you been? It’s such a beautiful city surrounded by bodies of water and snow capped mountains in the distance. For this New York City girl, it was such a treat to even just breath in all that fresh air, see my friends’ place that was actually spacious (like they have multiple rooms!), and even get to ride in a car! I also loved all the little neighborhoods that help make the city feel not so big.
Seattle is also a great city to visit for us foodies. My friends, O’Hara and Christina, did a fabulous job taking me all around to the various restaurants that they love. O’Hara also took me to Pike Place Market, which was my absolute favorite foodie stop. This is one of the oldest continuing farmers’ markets in the country, which started in 1907. It sits on Seattle’s waterfront and includes all sorts of very worthy food vendors (and some crafts, if you are into that sort of thing). Here we took a food tour with Savor Seattle Food Tours, which I definitely recommend. The tour offers the historical aspect, but more importantly it allows you to have little tastings of food at a variety of the best known food stalls—such a treat! And they don’t skimp on the food. By the end of the tour, I could hardly eat another bite (though of course I did).
Our first stop was Daily Dozen Doughnuts. Now, I’m not a huge doughnut person unless the doughnut is one of Krispy Kreme’s light-as-air creations. However, these were unbelievably delicious and reminded me more of a beignet (which I am sucker of). They were rich with flavor and sweetness. I’m about to start drooling, so let’s move on.
We then headed to MarketSpice, which as the name suggests, specializes in all sorts of spices. They have been around for almost 100 years now, so clearly they know what they are doing. They have all the normal seasonings you would expect but also some unique ones too. I was particularly excited about their smoke infused salts. The salt is simply prepared by putting sea salt in a tunnel and running smoke through it until the salt absorbs the flavor. I purchased a Applewood Smoked Salt, and just used it on some hor d’oeuvres at a dinner party last weekend. I served tomato and fresh mozzarella on toasted french bread and finished it with this salt. The salt is super pungent so a little adds a lot of flavor.
They are also well-known for their teas, particularly one (I think they just call it their MarketSpice tea) with cinnamon oil, cloves, and orange. Like the salt, this tea is also incredibly potent so much that the packaged teas come in a special bag that help contain the scent. I bought some of this too and find that it is the perfect pick-me-up in the afternoon. If you would like to try either of these or any other their other products, you can order it online.Close to MarketSpice is the famous Pike Place Fish. They are known for throwing the huge fillets of fish when an order has been made. They also of course have a good selection of fish. In addition to the variety of fresh fish, they also have some smoked salmon that they specialize in. We were able to sample the Alderwood Smoked Salmon and the Alderwood Smoked Salmon with Garlic and Pepper. Both are actually baked as they are smoked so that the texture is more dry than lox. I preferred the regular one, but the garlic and pepper salmon was uniquely sweet. Yes, I got some of this too.
The stops above were my favorites, but the rest of the tour was still pretty exciting. We stopped by Frank’s Quality Produce, where we had samples of an apple and grapes. I kid you not, the grapes were the best I have ever had. They were a type that I haven’t seen here in NYC. Following this stop, we went to Pike Place Chowder, who has won numerous awards for their chowder and seafood bisque. We were able to taste each, and I could understand why they have won country-wide awards.
After sipping our chowder, we headed to Chukar Cherries. We learned about how the business started and then we were able to try an assortment of their treats. My favorite part about this stop was that we stood behind the counter looking out over the customers. I know, it doesn’t take much to make me happy, but I like experiencing different perspectives.Across from here we could see one of the numerous flower stalls in the market. With bouquets for $10, there is no excuse to not buy flowers for that special someone!We then headed over to Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, where we were treated to their famous cheese as well as their mac and cheese. This was also a favorite stop for me. In addition to the yummy bites, we were able to see how they make the cheese.
Piroshky-Piroshky was our next stop. As the name suggests, they specialize in piroshky, a Russian treat. Honestly, by this point I was so stuffed form the prior treats that I only had the tiniest of bites, but from I could taste it was a good, freshly baked dough filled with a yummy filling.The last stop on the tour was Etta’s Seafood Restaurant, a Tom Douglas restaurant. Here we were treated to little crab cakes. I am quite particular about crab cakes, but these were out of this world. When there were a couple samples left over the guides asked if anyone wanted a second, as the others politely pretended they were okay, I shamelessly jumped up grabbing another. Suckers.Now the tour was over, but O’Hara had one more stop for me. We headed to Steelhead Diner, a restaurant nestled in the market with a beautiful view of the water. The main draw—Flash Fried Beecher’s Cheese Curds. Yup. This puts any other fried cheese sticks out there to shame. They were amazing, especially with a good local IPA beer on tap. Perfection.