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05/27/16 - Seattle Trip

We found a great new Mexican restaurant in Ballard, Gracia. They make their own wonderful tacos. They serve their full menu all day. And they make wonderful cocktails. Our favorite was a gimlet with tequila instead of gin. We don’t like gin, but we do like tequila, so this was an excellent substitution. We liked this cocktail so much, we made our own version at home, infusing tequila with jalapeno and serrano peppers and making our own lime cordial.

We were also amused by the Amazon bookstore at University Village. Given the impact Amazon has had on bookstores, the existence of this place is rather ironic, but there it was, an Amazon bookstore. It even had lots of books inside and a traditional bookstore look. This is either a result of the book publishers’ hard fight against electronic books or a retro thing like all those new music stores selling vinyl albums. In either case, it was amusing to wander a bookstore where every book had a star rating.


Gracia, great Mexican food in Ballard

Amazon’s bookstore

Note the star rated books on the featured items table

Keywords: seattle, restaurants


03/09/16 - Cherry Trees in Bloom at WSU

Washington State University has a beautiful campus including a quad filled with Yoshino cherry trees. They usually bloom the second or third week of March, but this varies with the weather. We lucked out on our most recent trip to Seattle and saw the blossoms at their peak.

The quad was full of people admiring the 80 year old trees and taking pictures. Some were serious photographers who were actually using cameras instead of cell phones. The trees were full of flowers, clouds of them, light pink set off by the dark bark of the trees. We made a lazy double loop of the quad exploring the pathways with the laden branches arching overhead.

That’s enough labored prose for now. Enjoy the pictures, just click to see the larger version.


As we approached …

Dark trees with pink blossoms

More cherry trees

Even more

A close up

Lots more

Yet even more

Clouds of cherry blossoms

Another view

Yet another

A token magnolia doing its best in the shade of the cherry blossoms

Keywords: flowers, seattle


12/09/15 - Gingerbread Star Wars at the Sheraton

Every Christmas season we try to drop by the Sheraton in Seattle and check out the gingerbread cookie displays in the lobby. This year the theme was Star Wars, and they had six gingerbread concoctions, one based on each of the movies. Being fans of IV through VI, we probably missed some of the references in the cookie palaces based on episodes I through III. As best we could tell, Jar Jar Binks does not make an appearance.

Every year, there is a lot of wonderful imagination at work in creating these confections, and there is a lot of technical skill involved. They aren't just cookies with a bit of icing. There is a whole confectionary along with the appropriate lighting and sometimes motion. Even if you aren't a Star Wars fan, it is worth dropping by the Sheraton and getting a dose of the Christmas spirit.


Star Wars in gingerbread

Is that the Death Star?

Is this episode II?

More Star Wars magic

Darth Santa being pulled by two AT-ATs.

The Death Star to the rescue, or was it the other way around?

Jawas

More Star Wars

Uneasy lies the head and all that ...

More magic

Who gets to eat the leftovers?

Keywords: christmas, seattle


12/04/15 - Seattle - City Christmas

We were in Seattle for a few days last week and walked back from Fremont to our hotel. Cities are always beautiful around this time of year. Businesses and homes put up their Christmas lights to counter the winter darkness. Since half of Seattle seems to be under construction, it's great that so many of the looming construction cranes are illuminated as well.

We tried to get into the Volunteer Park Conservatory, but it was closed for a few days.


A view from Fremont Bridge

Along the waterfront

Construction cranes alight

A view across Lake Union

The Space Needle and a bit of a crane

City lights

City sidewalks

Keywords: christmas, seattle, winter


11/10/15 - Seattle, Again

We've been getting into Seattle lately, partly for business, partly for pleasure. This time we took a long walk starting at one of our favorite places, the Ballard Locks, then through Ballard and along the industrial part of the Burke-Gilman Trail into Fremont. We climbed up the hill to Rockcreek where we had a wonderful seafood dinner, then we made our way down through Fremont to the bridge. Usually we take a bus from here, but the night was young, so we followed the waterfront trail back to South Lake Union and our hotel.

Needless to say, we were exhausted.


A streetlight along Fremont Avenue

A boxing gym near Amazon headquarters - yes, really

A fountain in South Lake Union

A theater company in Fremont

Another window - Click to enlarge any of these photos.

Fremont as we climbed

A match made in heaven, ham and biscuits, except here it's made in Ballard

The Ballard Locks gardens hinting at Christmas

More from the gardens near the Ballard Locks

Even more

The Ballard Locks, where we started out

Keywords: seattle


10/14/15 - Exploring Seattle

We had some errands to run, so we spent a day or two exploring Seattle. We finally made it to the Arboretum which is sort of a reference library for trees. It's run by the University of Washington, and if you want to see specimen of a particular kind of tree you go to the tree catalog and it will tell you where to look. We weren't looking for any particular kind of tree, so we just explored a bit, particularly around the Japanese Garden which has a lot of maples showing wonderful fall colors.

The waterfront ferris wheel caught by a ray of sun

One of the new trains on Broadway

A Halloween window

And another

And another

The Japanese Garden

And maples

And more maples

And yet even more

Keywords: seattle


10/03/15 - Seattle and the Ghost Mountain

We had to take a quick trip into Seattle. The air was crystalline, so the ghost mountain, Mount Rainier, made an appearance over West Seattle.

Seattle from the water

The ghost mountain

The ghost mountain in high contrast

Keywords: seattle


06/01/15 - Quick Trip to Seattle

These are photos from the Conservatory in Volunteer Park. We arrived at 3:55, five minutes before closing time so we had to make lightning tour. On our way to dinner, we stopped at Agora on 15th Avenue. It's chock full of Greek food, wine and spices. They have a good looking selection of Greek wines and a wine bar, so we'll have to come back and try a few.

The conservatory

Flowers

More flowers

Keywords: flowers, seattle


03/14/15 - Pompeii in Seattle

There is an exhibit on Pompeii at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. We really enjoyed the special exhibit on ancient Egypt that we saw there, so we made a point of getting into town for this one. It is a pretty amazing exhibit with lots of wonderful artifacts, a fair bit of explanation, and fascinating videos of reconstructions of the homes of the rich and famous of the doomed city.

Pompeii was destroyed by a volcano in the first century, but not by a lava flow. It was buried under volcanic ash, so all sorts of things were preserved, locked in stone. The folks living in Pompeii had no idea that they were living next to a recently active volcano. In fact, the Romans of the day had never even heard of a volcano, save possibly for highly distorted accounts in old stories of dubious veracity. We have no such excuse, so we don't buy retirement condos with names like Rancho Mount Saint Helens.

There were mosaics, glass bottles, statues of household gods, frescos, furniture, dishes and even somebody's safe decorated with various figures associated with vigilance and defense. We were fascinated, as we Kalebergs often are. The exhibit is in Seattle until the end of May, so if you are at all interested in this kind of thing, make your plans soon.


An ornate oil lamp

That's an ad for garum, Roman nam pla

Household gods - lares and penates - with Lars himself on the far right

A very atmospheric exhibit

Useful stuff for the bath including an early example of a blown glass bottle, the modern looking one

The three Graces, a timeless theme

An old safe

Keywords: science, seattle


01/09/15 - Short Trip to Seattle

We took yet another short trip into Seattle. The high point was our wonderful dinner at Sitka & Spruce.

To be honest, we started our meal around 4PM at Taylor Shellfish which is just down the block. We had dropped by before and checked out the oysters bubbling in their holding tanks. This time we tried some Olympias and Kumamotos, fresh and tasting of the sea. We also had some of the calamari salad with seaweed and mushrooms. It was quite good.

Then, we had dinner at Sitka & Spruce which was quite an experience. We knew we were in good hands when the sourdough bread arrived with the lightly whipped cultured butter. We were served each dish in turn, family style, and when the corned lamb with seared cabbage arrived, we knew we were in the hands of genius. The theme for the meal was crisp skin on the outside and tender meat inside. We had the pork belly with caraway seeds on toast, the porchetta with squash and rye crisps and the amazingly good rabbit. We were in heaven.

We finished off with a floating island with two types of meringue, one light and fluffy and one crisp like a cracker. It was an intense experience.


Wild water at the Ballard Locks

The winter garden at the Locks had its charms.

Contrail

Downtown evening light

More light

The sunset in close up

Sitka and Spruce

More Sitka & Spruce

The ferris wheel down by the waterfront

Keywords: oysters, seattle, winter


12/09/14 - More Seattle

Our trip to Seattle was brief, but we did manage to get around. Mainly, we did a lot of shopping. We also saw some sea lions in the harbor while waiting for the ferry to start.

Seattle has great winter light.

This is the view from the market, near Place Pigout.

Sea lions?

Someone doesn't mind the cold water.

The Seattle waterfront

Keywords: seattle, shopping


09/06/14 - Another Quick Trip to Seattle

We made another quick trip into Seattle. We really had to do some shopping. Besides, we needed our urban fix. We love living out in Port Angeles, but we sometimes hear the call of the big city.

Bad camera optics show off a city skyline full of cranes and the Space Needle.

More bad optics and the Space Needle.

This car was in the lot outside of Tamarind Tree. We had Beef Seven Ways. The car is for sale.

Keywords: seattle


07/04/14 - Seattle

We made another quick run into Seattle. The fireboat Leschi was saluting a recently passed ferry crewman. When the announcement started we were hoping it was a retirement after 30 years sort of thing. No such luck.

We also checked out the Ballard Locks and fish staircase. There were lots of fish on their way. There was also a seal lying low in the water waiting for supper.


The Leschi

Ballard Locks

Plenty of fish - chinook salmon

Plenty of water, too

Downstream

Keywords: seattle


06/11/14 - A Short Trip to Seattle

We had another short errand running trip into Seattle. One day we have to have a more leisurely visit. Still, we managed to squeeze in a great dinner at Staple & Fancy in Ballard followed by a much needed walk back to our hotel near Seattle Center.

The bar at Staple & Fancy

On the way back to our hotel

The area is clearly zoned for mixed use.

The water

Water and sky

Keywords: seattle, restaurants


04/03/14 - Signs of Spring

We stopped in Seattle on our way out to Walla Walla. Spring is well underway there. Here are some photos from Volunteer Park.

P.S. Did we mention that we used the Uber app to get a ride down from Volunteer Park? It worked surprisingly well. We had a car there in four minutes. The cab companies made no promises when they estimated 20-30 minutes. No wonder they're lobbying so hard.


Fruit trees in bloom

The forest and pool

Easter Bunny photo op

Keywords: seattle, spring


02/25/14 - The Chihuly Glass Museum

We finally visited the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum in Seattle Center. We've walked past it dozens of times, but this time we had an out of town visitor and wanted to do something Seattle. Dale Chihuly, artist, visionary and promoter, has created some pretty amazing glass sculpture with emphasis on the organic and fantastic. These are all large scale works, indoors and outdoors, and these photographs don't really do them justice. They are meant to be seen as an environment, not as artifacts.

Organic forms

The fantastic

A smaller artifact

Fantastic forms

Another amazing sculpture

Outdoors in the garden

Organic forms

More fantastic flora

Fantastic ferns

More of the garden

Life imitating art

Keywords: seattle, art


02/15/14 - Seattle Restaurants

We tried three new restaurants in Seattle and here offer our brief reports.

Skillet Diner has wonderful hours and serves a sort of breakfast, lunch, dinner menu most of the day. They have a great corned beef hash and make good pulled pork, but we could have used a lot more pork on our sandwich. They definitely know their fried foods, as the fried chicken thighs were excellent. We'll probably be back, but more careful in our ordering.


Skillet Diner - Firearms prohibited

Aragona
Aragona, run by the same folks who run Artusi, opened with a big splash, but we were disappointed. The Seattle Times had a glowing review, but the restaurant needs a lot of tuning. The location, across from the Four Seasons, with views of the harbor, was wonderful, but the service was choppy. We never could arrange for our wine to arrive with our food. The menu, featuring Spanish country food, was interesting, but we found it a bit bland. We're hoping they'll get things more polished over the next year or so. The place definitely has promise.
Lark was our real find this trip. There is a big menu and we loved just about everything on it. The chicken liver mousse served with prunes and armagnac was creamy and savory. The king crab legs were fresh and simply prepared. There was an excellent spicy lamb ragout served with hearty pasta. All told, it was an excellent meal. We'll probably be back in a season or two to see how the menu varies.

Keywords: restaurants, seattle


02/14/14 - Seattle in Winter

We were in Seattle for a wild weekend of urban excitement. It was a strange trip, with all sorts of things being a bit trickier than we had expected. Some of this is because our trip spanned not only President's Day but also Valentine's Day. On the other hand, some things were unexpected, like Salumi running out of bread.

On the other hand, we did visit one of our favorite places in Seattle, the Ballard Locks. We checked out their winter garden. The daphnes were asleep, but the hellebores and witch hazel were in bloom.


Sorry, all out of bread.

Witch hazel

The Ballard Locks

The railroad bridge at the locks

Seattle at night

Keywords: seattle, winter


01/12/14 - Boat Street Cafe

We made a lightning trip into Seattle, got rained on terribly and tried out a new restaurant in Seattle. The rain was unexpected with great torrents of it pouring from the skies and turning the street channels along the curb into rivers. The Boat Street Cafe was unexpected in that we had expected a good meal, but not to find a new favorite restaurant.

The dining room
The cafe is in an uncharming part of Seattle, in the U of one of those biotech buildings cut off from the waterfront by the rail lines, so the interior was a charming contrast, peaceful, spacious and beautiful. The food was charming as well. We started with deep shell oysters with grated horseradish and tender grilled octopus with a smoked paprika sauce, picked onions and pickled celery. Boat Street Cafe, it turns out, is famous for its pickled fruits and vegetables, and we enjoyed them from the start.

We also had the most amazing Dover sole, lightly floured and seared and served on a bed of creme fraiche, but the real treat was the vegetables we had ordered on the side. We had a plate of roasted brussels sprouts and a plate of roasted baby carrots with a parsley chive pesto, covered with frizzled carrot greens dripping black butter. Baby carrots were a serious thing back in the 1980s, so it's good to see they are coming back in such style.

We also had a wonderful plate of pickles, with a host of pickled vegetables including rutabaga, turnips, carrots and bright purple onions. The Boat Street Cave comes by its pickling reputation honestly. Since we were having pickles, we also had some cheeses. There was a great selection, with a rich triple creme, a camembert, a light farm house blue and something much like a Spanish manchego.

What can we say? We were surprised too. We liked the Boat Street Cafe much more than we had expected.

Boat Street Cafe

3131 Western Ave
Seattle, WA
(206) 632-4602
http://www.boatstreetcafe.com/

Keywords: restaurants, seattle


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