|Last year I had originally told Tee that I wanted to spend a weekend in Seattle, so she booked some business
appointments for our chosen week. The days we chose were at a time we thought the weather would be best and the
Mariners would be at home. Once again my cousin Carollyn allowed us these few days indulgence by being nanny
and "aunt" to the kids for the weekend. I left the kids with my sister Heather Thursday morning and was in Seattle
by 1:00. However, my bag didn't arrive with me and by 2:00 I was in front of a Delta baggage claims agent filing a
claim. It was really infuriating because not only had I checked in a good hour and 15 mins. before the flight but the
bags had Tee's Delta Platinum tags on them and I had tipped the Sky Cap a couple of bucks to check my bags in at
Salt Lake. The kicker however is that the last time I flew Delta (L. A. in 2/07) they lost my golf clubs for two days! I
left the airport pretty stressed and distracted by not having my bag with me.
I took a cab to the hotel, W Seattle, and was able to check in right away. We were given a generous King Bed room on
the 25th floor (2505). It was quite comfortable, with a good view to the north down 4th Avenue. It also had a nice flat
screen T.V., but somehow lacked the "hip" and swagger of a W Hotel. The bathroom and it's accessories were merely
functional, and I found that the lobby/bar area, while perfectly comfortable spots, also felt surprisingly straight
forward and almost business-like. I didn't mind really, it just was quite unlike the other W hotels I've experienced.
After checking in I gave Tee call from the room to tell her of my baggage situation and to tell her to meet me later at
the Irish pub Fado. I was back out the door after that and started to feel hungry and thirsty as I made the brisk 10
minute walk from the hotel to the pub. I went straight in to the center bar and ordered a Sella Artois draft before
taking a seat at a patio table near the front entrance. Ordering a Stella is a must for me when I'm outside of Utah,
because in Utah "Stella" is only sold in bottles and doesn't quite have the ambrosia-like je ne sais quoi that one finds
in the draft version. I also ordered a traditional Irish boxty. Fado's was featuring an interesting Trinity Steak Boxty
and so I ordered that. When the food came I switched to a Guinness. The pastry on the boxty was quite
unimpressive, as it had the taste and appearance of a thick, flat, soggy pancake, while the filling was in equal
measure delicious and satisfying. Strange, but I loved it in the end, feeling it had an addictive, desert-like quality.
|Tee joined me at the pub and had a Stella herself. We had a nice conversation although we couldn't help but talk
about my missing bag. We then went back to the hotel and hung out waiting to see if my bag would arrive before we
had to head out to the Mariners game. At 6:00 we left for the game and I was still without my stuff. I was bummed
because I had specifically packed my Orix Blue Waves hat and jersey in order to wear in honor of Ichiro, who played
for Orix all of his years in Japan. It's also my team in the Japanese Leagues. Interestingly I have a picture of myself,
taken by Tee, at an Orix Blue Waves' game in Kobe, Japan in 1998, the year before he was brought to the American
Major Leagues. In the picture I'm wearing a Seattle Mariners hat and jersey and sitting in right field, just above
Ichiro well before anyone would guess he would become a Seattle Mariner. So, my hope was to perhaps take a
picture in reverse, where I would be wearing the Blue Waves gear in Seattle with Ichiro in the lineup. But, without
my bag from Delta that wasn't going to happen.
We walked to the International District ("Chinatown") just west of Qwest Field/Safco Field in order to find a Japanese
izakaya restaurant we were considering visiting after the game. It took us a little time to find it and we were surprised
to find it on the 2nd floor of a tiny shopping courtyard surrounded by Chinese businesses. The name of the place is
Maekawa and I had heard it was quite authentic. Although it seemed to indeed be an authentic blue-collar izakaya, it
seemed to be less than what I was expecting. As we continued toward Safeco Field Tee thought to check her text
messages and sure enough there was a message from the hotel concierge saying my bag had arrived. Tee continued
on to the game while I caught a cab back to the hotel. I had the cab wait as I quickly changed into my Blue Waves
gear and had him then deposit me at the ballpark feeling much more comfortable in my shorts and ball cap.
I had only missed the first out of the game. The middle-aged lady who took my ticket commented right away on my
Blue Waves jersey and said "That's a great jersey! Ichiro's originally team, right?" I found our seats right away and
joined Tee to take in this beautiful ballpark. I had gone to a Mariners game the last time I had been in Seattle, but
that was in 1996 and the Mariners were still playing at that horrible cement dome known as the King Dome. While
I've loved the Mariners from even those times, there is no way to overstate just how bad the atmosphere was in the
King Dome, and how incredibly great it is at Safeco Field. It's modern and functional, yet also feels somehow familiar
and relaxed. We were lucky enough to have perfect weather so were able to enjoy the beauty of Safeco with the roof
fully retracted and the fullness of light-play throughout the park on display as the sun sunk throughout the game.
It was also great to see Ichiro play again in person. He didn't have a spectacular game, but did have an RBI. Tee and I
drank beer (Red Hook ESP on tap) and ate peanuts during the game. I also took some time to walk around the park a
bit and check out everything it had to offer. The Mariners beat the Pirates 3-0 and we took our time leaving the park.
|In the stands
(replicating picture from Orix game in 1998)
|We caught a cab from the ballpark to an area of Belltown where there were a couple of interesting looking izakaya
options. We first went to a large and tastefully modern place called Umi. Upon entering I noticed right away that the
hostess was not Japanese but Chinese. We asked if the chefs were Japanese and were told that none were.
Although it appeared to be a fairly pleasant place I didn't waste much more time here and instead we excused
ourselves before ordering anything.
We then found ourselves pursuing a second option, which I initially felt would be our best option anyway. That
being the izakaya Wann just up and around the corner from Umi. However, I was again surprised to find that Wann
also was less than what I had expected. The interior is lovely, with lowish lighting and lots of wood, but it was also
unfortunately empty. There were a few other customers, but nothing like the atmosphere I had pictured. Again
there were almost no Japanese employees but for one of the guys working the open kitchen/sushi bar. Our
waitress was a half-Japanese girl from Hawaii. She was nice enough but not cut out to do the job. We ordered items
pretty typical of what we would get in most any izakaya; sashimi, shishamo, tori karage (fried chicken), and a couple
of other things. The food was good not great. We drank a sapporro and a small shochu on the rocks. Tee seemed
pretty pleased with everything, but I was left wanting. I'm sure there is a better izakaya in Seattle than Wann or
Umi. I just have to find it. I think we should give Maekawa Bar a chance next time.
I slept in the next morning (Tee went on an extended walk ) then we set off to go on a 2 hr. cruise of Lake
Union/Lake Washington. I originally thought our dock was near the hotel, but it turned out that it was actually a
10 min. cab ride. We made it to the dock just as we were scheduled to board, but the boarding was delayed 10 min.,
giving us just enough time to finish the breakfast sandwiches Tee had bought at Starbucks. We boarded and took a
very comfortable spot on a nice, padded bench at the back and top-side of the boat. There were only perhaps 20
people on the cruise, so it felt very relaxed and comfortable. The weather also cooperated. While it was mostly
cloudy and slightly cool, we felt we had lucked out with such comfortable conditions.
|Our cruise took us past many of the floating houses of Lake Union, through the UW campus, out to sections of
Lake Washington where many of Seattle's super-rich reside, up close to the studio of the great glass sculptor Dale
Chihuly, and even past the iconoclastic building which serves as the headquarters for the client Tee had been
meeting with the previous day, Zymogenetics. We were truly able to relax on the cruise. We talked a lot, took in
the air and the sites, and even chatted a bit with two nice gals from Alabama and D.C. whose husbands were both
in town but in business meetings. It was the perfect thing to have done that morning.
|Once we were docked we went caught a cab to Pike Place Market so that we could have lunch at Place Pigalle, a
smallish French bistro that had come recommended by the concierge at the W (Heidi). She had told me that
although it's right in the heart of the most touristy part of Seattle it actually serves more as a "locals" spot. Sure
enough, we arrived at Pike's Market to find Place Pigalle directly behind and 15 paces from the Pike Market fish
monger's kiosk famous for their loud banter and the tossing of fish. Despite this the place really felt quiet and
intimate. We had a good feeling straight away, and weren't disappointed. We were seated at a two-top near the front
(waterside) at a window. It was perfect. I had a cup of roasted fish soup and the rabbit liver with bitter greens. The
soup was terrific. It was almost a Thai soup with a small amount of coconut and a much larger amount of spice (Thai
chilies). The liver was interesting in that it's the first time I can remember having rabbit liver. I'm a big fan of calf liver
(and onions), but the rabbit liver had both a consistency (not very dense) and a flavor (too subtle for me) which kept
me from enjoying it quite as much as I had expected. Tee had the roasted beet salad and the Steamed Mussels
Pigalle (white wine, butter, shallots, and bacon bits). She liked both dishes, but said the mussels were "outstanding".
We also had some wonderful Chardonnay, "Six Prongs", and Tee had an espresso to finish. We both really enjoyed
the meal and thought the combination of food, service, and atmosphere here was great.
After lunch we went and did a bit of walking around in and near the market. As we made our way down Post Alley I
spotted an Irish pub I had read about called Kells. The sun was shining and the most prime table on the patio was
open, so we hopped into the seats and ordered Guinness. Kells is a great pub that has an impressive interior as well
as a nicely situated patio out front. Although it's in Post Alley, Kells is lucky enough to be situated across from were
there is no building blocking the view, and therefore the sun is able to bathe Kells patio area in warmth and light
when it's out. I was feeling really great right away thanks to the warm sun and cold Guinness. After Tee finished her
beer she went off to do some more looking around. I was left to drink, read my book, and soak up the sun for the
next hour. Tough gig. I was getting a real kick out of my book, The Tetherballs of Bougainville, but after a while the
warmth of the sun and the effects of a couple pints began working on me and I eventually found myself asleep with
chin in chest. I can honestly say that it's the most relaxed I've felt in a long time.
|We then took the 20 min. walk to the Experience Music Project (EMP), which is a unique structure near the base of
the Seattle Space Needle. This place serves as an interactive museum of contemporary music. I loved the Disney
exhibit which featured the development of classic Disney soundtracks. I particularly enjoyed the Snow White "behind
the scenes" footage, as well as the footage of Walt Disney himself joining in on some musical tracks from Bambi.
There was also an exhibit which was an extensive collection of Jimi Hendrix memorabilia. I really liked it; especially
when I was able to walk out of the exhibit listening to "Voodoo Chile" as I read Jimi's handwritten lyrics. Tee and I
also got into the interactive instruments area, and I even recorded a video in the interactive video box, talking about
the somewhat ritualistic physical requirements many of us used to undertake when listening to music back in the
day of vinyl records. The whole idea of delicately taking the record from it's sleeve, placing it gently upon the record
player, brushing off the dust, and then placing the needle precisely onto that wavy disc was something I felt I could
communicate in a minute and a half; so I did. The only complaint was that there seems to be no excuse for there not
being a permanent exhibit (as per the Jimi Hendrix exhibit) to Seattle's other greatest musical product, Nirvana (?)!
|From the EMP we took the monorail, which although short, did take us about half way back to our hotel. We then
freshened up and changed clothes and made the 8 min. walk to the Metropolitan Grill. This restaurant is a
mainstay in Seattle dinning, and proved to be one of the most satisfying steakhouse experiences I've ever had. The
Metropolitan Grill is a premium restaurant with a lush, sophisticated atmosphere with lots of old-school ambiance.
Makes you feel more like you might be in New York or Chicago, as opposed to the more modest North-West.
Tee and I occupied an intimate table in the heart of the main dinning room. Our waiter, Steve, was outstanding; a
50-something guy who had obviously been doing a superb job waiting tables here for many years. Because I wasn't
in Utah I ordered a Martini. In Utah there isn't such a thing as a "real" (usually about 1/2 the size Martini because
of the restrictive laws, yet they'll still charge you full price. So, when I'm out of state, and in the right situation, it's a
real pleasure to be able to order a "real" Martini. Tee ordered a Washington Apple Martini, which is similar to the
Washington Apple shot they do at my local, Lumpy's. Tee had the petite fillet and I had the petite New York Strip.
Both were beautifully done, and came with enough mash potatoes to feed a family of 4 or 5! I ended up eating half
of my potatoes just because they were so good! Although we were stuffed our waiter had his way with us by
somehow getting us to order the pear and raspberry sorbet; and thank God he did, because it was a beautiful thing!
After dinner we sauntered (it's all we could manage) back in the direction of the W. We weren't ready to call it a
night just yet, so when I mentioned a wine bar recommended to me by the concierge Tee was game. The wine bar is
called Purple, and is located only a block from the W Hotel. Although the place was very busy, we noticed right away
that one of the most prime tables in the place was vacant, so we asked to be seated there and were. Purple is a
pretty cool place. One thing that it's not is intimate. I think normally when one thinks of a "wine bar," one reckons
it's going to by low-key, quiet, and romantic. Purple is really none of those things, but it's also a pretty satisfying
place to spend an hour or so on a Friday night. The place is spacious, it's interior dominated by a large spiral
staircase that doubles as an even more impressive wine rack. The main room is also large with a number of tables,
booths, and bar stools. The place is also lively, and there is quite an energetic din of wine induced conversation.
While neither of us could imagine eating anything more that night, the cheese and wine pairings were far to
tempting to ignore. Over the next 45 mins. or so we enjoyed a great conversation and found a way to consume two
terrific samplings of a wine and cheese pairing.
|With Shiki's Owner and Head Chef
|We slept in late the next morning, then walked down to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) at about 11:00. The SAM has
just recently reopened (in April?) and looks beautiful. Surprisingly, the building and interior itself is nothing much
out of the ordinary, but I suppose it's beauty comes from it's overtly straight forward and clean functionality. The
collections are more extensive that what I had expected them to be. There is a hodge-podge of modern art/pop art
displayed as you first enter from the lobby to the 2nd floor. I'm pretty sure this was all a visiting collection. It had
some cool stuff included; Jackson Pollack, Roy Liechtenstein, and Andy Warhol (double silver Elvis as cowboy,
which is a sibling piece to the one I saw at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum last year). There was also a section here
which featured a big Takashi Murakami painting as well as a creepy 3-D "box lit" piece by Mariko Mori. The museum
included other areas of modern art as well as large and impressive sections of 18th and 19th century American art,
and almost an entire floor of European masterworks. I also enjoyed seeing some impressive Japanese scrolls, a
display on the Japanese Tea Ceremony, and some great Korean ceramics ("must be Chong dynasty!"). We spent
about two hours at the SAM, leaving via the museum's shop without buying anything.
It was now time for lunch, and my plan was to eat at the well-know steak and oyster house The Brooklyn, which is
located just behind the SAM. Unfortunately I realized only after getting to the front door that The Brooklyn doesn't
open for lunch on Saturdays. I was really disappointed. I had been looking forward to checking the place out.
As we were contemplating what to do we saw a small protest of some kind working it's way up the street toward us.
As they got to our intersection we saw that the main rally was a "pro-borders/anti-illigal immigrant" group, with a
much smaller group of Leftest/Socialist types counter-protesting from the other side of the street. One of the bicycle
cops riding alongside the protesters said to us "Welcome to Seattle" with a wink. He also said, pointing to the Lefties
"They'll probably try to recruit you." And sure enough, as they passed they tried telling us that the pro-borders
people were the KKK. Clearly they weren't.
|We didn't quite know what to do about lunch and started calling around hoping to find some type of Japanese-grill
kind of place. We had no luck. We had found ourselves going by a place called Nara Grill, but they too were closed.
After talking a bit about our options we decided to go to were we had planned to go to dinner that night and have
lunch instead. We would then try and find a nice sushi restaurant for dinner. So we started walking back toward
Pike Place Market. On our way we passed the main Mariners fan store. We stopped in and bought both Henry and
Gwen "Ichiro" tee-shirts and Mariners ball caps. It was just the right thing to bring them and I felt relieved to have
my obligatory shopping already done.
We had now decided to eat at Maximilien, a French inspired place I had found through some online research. It just
so happens that Maximilien is located merely a few feet from Place Pigalle just behind the fish vendors in the
market. What a great choice this turned out to be. We were able to sit at a table on the big patio overlooking the
water. It was a bit chilly, but comfortable enough. Tee had the Romaine Salad with Copper River Salmon. I had a
Bay Scallops Ceviche and a large bowl full of the Moules Provencale (Roquefort Mussels). Once Tee was finished with
her salmon she excused herself to a table inside in order to finish her wine out of the chill. I on the other hand had
only one thing on my mind: those amazing mussels! I was caught up in blissful state of gastronomic meditation as I
tore through the bowl of the best mussels I've ever eaten in my life!
|I made a B-line back to Kells after lunch, remembering my wonderful couple of hours on their patio the day before.
Tee went back to the hotel to have a nap while I once again was able to sit at the most prime table on Kells patio. I
wasn't disappointed. Again I enjoyed a couple of hours drinking Guinness, reading my book, and soaking up the
sun. I finally pulled myself away and set out on a power walk back to the hotel.
I returned to find Tee sleeping soundly, so I decided to leave her to sleep for a few more minutes while I tried to find
some information on where we might eat some good sushi for dinner that night. I spoke to the W's concierge on
duty, Richard, who told me of a place in the Queen Anne section of Seattle called Shiki. He told me that the Chef
and Owner of the place was a great guy and personal friend of his named Ken Yamamoto. When he also suggested
that we do Chef Yamamoto's Omakase (chef's choice), I knew we had found our place. Richard called Shiki and
reserved two prime seats at the sushi bar right in front of Chef Yamamoto.
Shiki didn't disappoint. The place is low key, with a real "neighborhood" feel to it. Chef Yamamoto is a unique and
genuine personality, and his fish was excellent. He even has a tank of Ame Ebi (sweet shrimp) on display from
which he snags the little guys just seconds before they're sitting on your plate as a piece of nigiri. The sake
selections are also solid. We chose to share a small carafe of the Umenishiki along with some Sapporro draft.
|From Shiki we took a taxi to Post Alley and to a place I had specifically looked to go called The Pink Door. I had seen
in while looking around online and then saw it in person when drinking across the alley from it at Kells. The Pink
Door mainly functions as a restaurant which is usually open all day from 11:00am. It's interior is funky in that it's
design is almost 19th century while at the same time retaining a 21st century "hipster" vibe. We weren't here for
the food however. The Pink Door is also well know for it's cool bar/lounge area which is in turn a section of the
larger dinning room. On Saturday nights it also features a unique cabaret show which was way we were here. We
arrived at about 10:00 and were able to select a good table from which to view the show. We talked and drank some
kind of India Pale Ale until the show started. The show itself lasted only about 1/2 hour, but was a lot of fun. It
featured some light, spontaneous comedy from the hostess as well as both humorous and erotic numbers from a
handful of various performers. Although the belly dancer and the cross-dressing male stripper were both great it
was easy for me to pick "Inga Ingenue" a perfectly gorgeous old-style burlesque dancer as my personal favorite!
|As I was getting dressed the next morning in the hotel room I heard quite a commotion down in the street below.
When I looked down I saw that the Seattle Gay Pride Parade was ready to begin just in front of our hotel. We ended
up leaving the hotel to get some breakfast just as the parade had begun. The route to our breakfast spot, Brasserie
Margaux, was right along the parade route, so we walked and watched the parade along the way. I was
disappointed by the breakfast buffet at Brasserie Margaux. I had been under the impression that it would be far
better than it was. Tee loved their coffee however, so as she took some time drinking her coffee and reading the
paper I went out to the corner to continue watching the parade. It was an entertaining chain of varied participants,
and had drawn a large number of people, but it really wasn't all that impressive. Sydney's Gay Marti Gras Parade
makes this one look like a couple of kids pulling wagons decorated with crate-paper streamers.
While walking back to the hotel, we noticed just how much the parade was effecting the traffic in the area. 5th
Avenue was at a standstill, and we started to worry about getting out to the airport in time for our flight. As it
turned out, the parade broke up just in time for us to check out and hop a cab out of town. Once at the airport I
was able to join Tee in the Delta Lounge in order to watch the Mariners beat the Reds before boarding the flight. I
was also upgraded to First Class thanks again to Tee who used one of her upgrade coupons to allow me to sit up
front with her; and this time my luggage showed up in Salt Lake when I did!