Sunday, July 15, 2012

Seattle: Food Highlights

The day of the Chocolate Tour was actually the first day of my vacation.  The following day, J. and I boarded a plane to Seattle.  A  friend was getting married there on July 3, so we decided to make it a vacation of it and stayed for six days.  We were quite fortunate with the characteristically dismal rainy weather in Seattle and enjoyed about three days of beautiful sunny Seattle.  The weather was a cool 60 to 70 degrees out, which was a huge relief from the 90-100 degree heat wave that was going on in New Jersey. 

We took advantage of the abundance of fresh seafood in Seattle.  One of the things I love about Seattle is that Seattle residents (Seattle-ites?) take care to get fresh ingredients that are local and sustainable.  

But no trip to Seattle is complete without coffee.  

Okay, I cheated, this is actually hot chocolate, but the foam art was so pretty that I had to take a picture of it. 

The best meal we had was at Etta's, which was behind the Pike Place Market.

Grilled Octopus 
Etta's specialty - "Rub With Love" wild king salmon with sauteed greens, cornbread pudding and shiitake relish 
Chocolate malted milk cake with rice crispies 
The wedding was lovely, but most notably (food-wise, at least) was in lieu of a wedding cake, the happy couple served cupcakes from Cupcake Royale.  (Which, in my opinion, is the best idea ever!)

For breakfast, we went to Portage Bay Cafe twice, because it was next to our hotel, and the food was delicious.  Most notably, they serve pancakes that includes an all-you-can-eat toppings bar, with fresh fruit, freshly whipped cream, and other goodies. 

On to more seafood...

In case you can't tell, that is an oyster on the button, which I tried for the first time at Elliot's Oyster House.  I actually quite enjoyed my oysters,which were salty, sweet, and briny and didn't have too much of a fishy aftertaste.  Not sure what took me so long to try them. 

The weather was so nice, we were able to sit in the back deck at Ivar's Salmon House, where we had this gorgeous view of the Seattle waterfront.

From left to right, seafood cocktail, smoked salmon, and fried clams and chips.  (And, yes,  that is J. wearing a Charlie the Tuna T-shirt 
For our last dinner in Seattle, we went to Chandler's Crabhouse. Once again, we were lucky enough to be able to sit outside. 

King Crab Legs with mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus
Grilled salmon with rainbow quinoa pilaf
You may have noticed the lack of mention of Seattle' famous Pike Place Market, which we did go to.  I had been there before on previous trips to Seattle, so I didn't feel the need to take any pictures.  Even if we hadn't gone, I'd say we had a lovely trip with plenty of fresh, delectable eats. 

Note: I was not compensated by any of the above establishments for this review.

New York Chocolate Tour

Those of you who know me know that I have a bit of obsession with group deals such as Groupon, LivingSocial, Google Offers and the like.  Every morning I wake up to at a minimum six new emails with new daily offers from each of these companies.  Most recently, I took advantage of a deal for discounted tickets for me and three friends to take the New York Chocolate Tour by Celebrity Planet.

While it was upwards of 90 degrees out, this two-hour walking tour with chocolate samples at each stop was well worth the trip.  Here are some of the highlights of the tour:

First stop: Jacques' Hot Chocolate Bar in Chelsea Market

While I had my doubts about sampling hot chocolate in 90 degree weather, the hot chocolate I sampled was rich, creamy, sweet and spicy.

Li-lac Chocolates

I don't remember what I sampled here, I think it was some sort of dark chocolate.  But they had this adorable chocolate shoe in their display. 

I remember I sampled a dark chocolate with gray sea salt here.  But I bought an iced mint tea that was deliciously refreshing on a walking tour.  This place has a nice, relaxed coffee shop feel to it, that I wouldn't mind coming back to.

The famous Magnolia Bakery where we had this double chocolate cupcake:


Now this store was cool! The store is very small (as many are in Manhattan), only about 6 people could stand inside at one time.  So to efficiently make use of the space, it was designed in such a way, as you can see here, so that the walls are filled with chocolate boxes.  The owner is a 24-year old immigrant from India, so the chocolates are exotic concoctions, such as the mango paprika white chocolate slate that we sampled.

Pasticceria Bruno

This place's claim to fame is that they beat Bobby Flay in the Throwdown for best cannolis, which we sampled.  The cannolis were good.  But I had to take a picture of this chocolate shoe display, which seems to be a recurring theme in the chocolate scene in New York.

The last stop was Vosges Chocolate.   I didn't take a picture of it, but it was a neat store that sells all manner of unique chocolates, most notably bacon + chocolate.  We sampled the Barcelona Bar, though having been to Barcelona, I am not sure what it had to do with Barcelona. I also tried some of their red-fire tortilla chips.

Finally, one stop we did not go to that is normally on the tour, was Milk & Cookies, where we would have gotten to try a chocolate chip cookie.  Unfortunately, the store was closed on the day I was on the tour, so I was a bit disappointed.  But I definitely want to check it out some time soon, as well as come back to any of these stores to buy chocolate gifts for friends, or when I am just hankering for some chocolate for myself!

Note:  I was not compensated by Celebrity Planet or any of the above businesses to give this review.