Sunday, 31 July 2011

USA 2011: Seattle Part 4

Originally I had planned on my final day to go out to Georgetown Liquor Company to have one of their Picard Sandwiches, which is meant to be the stuff of legend, but they are a bit far out and with their open times and public transport I was worried that I might have difficulty getting back for my early afternoon train to PDX. As my next plan, I had hoped to go to Plum Bistro for breakfast. Their website sad they opened at 9am, but on the vegan map it said 8am, so the night before I rang them to find out what the opening time was. Turns out it was 11am! Perhaps a website update is in order?

So, what did I eat for my last breakfast in Seattle?

I had bought a Hillside Quickie sandwich the day before, thinking I might take it on the train. I had accidentally booked a hotel room that did not have a fridge, but I figured I would keep it in the ice bucket. The ice bucket turned out to be an impractical affair, really just designed to look pretty but with no insulation and very small, so I just crammed it in and hoped for the best. I ended up eating it for breakfast and it was rather damn tasty and I did not die of food poisoning from the rather dodgy refrigeration overnight. Hurrah! I also had the cinnamon doughnut that I have bought from Mighty-O the day before, and it was HEAVEN! Mighty-O wins my heart for vegan doughnuts.

After my hasty little in-room breakfast, I decided to embrace the touristy and walked down to the famous Pike Place Market.

The downside of the markets is that there is a lot of fish there. Dead fish. On ice. Which melts and runs in fishy smelling water all over the concrete in some places. The upside of the markets is that there are loads of pretty things there, like these buckets of beautiful peonies. I love peonies! Probably because they are so pink and pretty! There are also lots of amazing produce stalls there.

Totally awesome, right? And so pretty! Check out all the colours!!

You cannot have a true tourist experience without getting ripped off for some sort of touristy thing, so I chose some very expensive cherries. Chukar Cherries are a famous attraction at the markets, according to guidebooks, so I went there. I bought a bag of dried mixed cherries, and also a bag of Pinot Noir Extra Dark Chocolate Covered Cherries. I am now actually uncertain as the the veganity of these. When I asked the girl she knew what vegan was and pointed me to the two dairy free and vegan varieties, but after purchase I noticed that the allergy warning doesn't say 'may contain traces of' but says it 'does contain' dairy... so they are sitting in my cupboard at the moment and I haven't eaten them. I have read the ingredients a billion times, and it all seems vegan. After buying them I noticed this and asked the girl, but she said that all the chocolates just had the same warning on them, even though they didn't all have dairy. Anyone have any light to shed? Otherwise they shall be regifted.

In addition to the markets, there are also several little arcades with different shops. In one of these I stumbled across the Pike Place Market Creamery. Now, normally I wouldn't give a creamery a second glance, but the sign mentioned soy so I went to have a peek. They had several shelves in their fridges for soy products, including tofu and tempeh.

It is handy if you are doing some shopping down at the markets and need something extra to go with the delicious vegetables you've just bought! They also have a ridiculous collection of tacky black and white cow-themed things to purchase.

As I was wandering around, I stumbled across a bakery called Cinnamon Works, and was just casually glancing at what they had, not expecting anything to come of it, when I was smacked in the face by the following...

Vegan cinnamon buns! Heaven! Joy! Rapture!

It turned out they also had many other vegan goodies there. In retrospect, I should have stocked up on a couple of things for my train trip later that day.

But I just got the cinnamon bun. It was really good! Though next time I will get the uniced version. I thought I would try the maple icing on one, and it was nice but so super sweet! Plain cinnamon buns are where it is at!

One of the famous things to see at the markets is Rachel the Pig, seen here with Francesca my travel cat. Rachel is a piggy bank that raises money for charity. Unfortunately, she is right near a big fish market, so it is a smelly visit. This is the fish market where they throw the fish around and tourists clap and take photos as dead fish fly through the air. Ewww. Omnivores are a crazy bunch.

After the markets I went down to the waterfront and walked along. On one of the piers, they had this gorgeous old-style carousel. Sadly it wasn't open yet, or I would have gone on it, but stunning! I also stuck my head in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, which the guide books all said was a must see. To be honest, I don't see the attraction.

Finally, I walked up for a quick viewing of Pioneer Square.

I picked up some lunch as I was walking back to take to eat at the hotel. Apparently there is vegan clam chowder somewhere at the markets, but I didn't know this. I went to Cafe Pho. All the vegan options are clearly marked. The service was speed of light, as well.

I got the Tofu Pho, which was really nice, though you couldn't really get the full pho experience of eating out of a big steaming bowl. The soup base was really nice.

I also got some Tofu Rolls with Peanut Sauce, thinking I would take them on the train with me. However they were not in a good container for taking anywhere, so I ate them with lunch as well. Nom.

After a quick post-lunch stroll around the Westlake area of downtown (which was right next to my hotel), it was into a taxi and off to catch the Amtrak to Portland!

I will take you on my PDX adventures starting from my next post, however I just wanted to say a word about Seattle. I loved it. I was so sad I only had 48 hours there. The people who tell you to skip it or do it in a day or two are lying. There is so much to see and, most importantly, so much to eat. I am determined to make it back there one day to eat at the places I didn't get to and revisit the places I loved. I also thought it was just a really beautiful city, and very easy to get around. Oh Seattle, I heart you. I will be back.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

USA 2011: Seattle Part 3

So, let us return to the Day Of Eating in Seattle. When I left you, I was frolicking (read: slowly trundling rubbing my stuffed belleh) through some beautiful nature. Which was lovely. But food waits for no vegan, so once I left the park I walked about five minutes and waited for a bus, as I decided my next stop was a bit of a hike and I'd already had a bit of a hike this morning. My tootsies were feeling a teeny bit sore.

The place was Araya's, a vegan Thai restaurant I had heard amazing things about. The lovely Sidecar ladies had told me they had an all you can eat lunch, so this seemed to be the way to go.

This is the buffet. Nothing was labeled, so you just had to guess by looking. I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't a bit more exciting, to be honest. But really what I was was really, really full. Still.

This were my plates. I only managed one and a half plates, which is a pretty sad effort for an all you can eat. I was struggling a bit, at this point, but I tried my best because this is what one does on an eating food holiday. Gluttony is a tasty sin. The food was pretty good! Except for the spring roll, but that is because it was not fresh but had been sitting at the buffet, so was kind of warm and gluggy. I would love to go back to Araya's one night with a non-stuffed tummy and a couple of people and order up a storm from their regular menu - it looks amazing and I have heard such good things!

Araya's is in the U District, so I had mapped out some afternoon activities for myself before eating again. I meandered around the streets a little bit, and passed some nifty things.

Tim Minchin is an Australian comedian who I find hilarious. I saw him in Brisbane earlier this year. He was also in the US at the same time I was. Our travel plans actually did cross in Portland, but I didn't go because I am lame. Next time he is in Brisbane, I will see him for sure! Anyway, it was fun seeing his name up. I also found a really cool comic shop that I browsed through, later on this year Seattle is going to have some awesome geek girls convention thingy. I want to go! I also passed a cinema playing Forks Over Knives, but with no convenient screening times for me. Boo!

I had decided to spend the afternoon at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, which is at the University of Washington. They had a beautiful exhibit there, The Owl and the Woodpecker, which was a photography exhibition by Paul Bannick. The photos were stunning, and there was lots of nifty information about owls and woodpeckers and how they contribute to their natural environments. Lovely. They also had a Wolves exhibition, which was about wolves and how the changes in environment and human attitudes had impacted on wolf numbers and habitats. It was heavy on the stuffed wolves though, which I do find creepy. The best bit about it was a notice board where kids had put up their thoughts about wolves, most of them were amazingly compassionate. I hope they don't lose that. The rest of the museum includes a pretty comprehensive pacific nations section downstairs, as well as the general museum stuff: dinosaurs, rock specimens, prehistoric skeletons and the like.

The map that saved my day also can sometimes cause someone to stop into an extra restaurant just because it is nearby. The museum closed at 5pm, which was way too early to go and have dinner, so instead I stopped by here.

Hillside Quickie's Sandwich Shop. Seriously, vegan students at the University of Washington are spoiled for choice! This is a pretty low key little restaurant, but the guy behind the counter was very chatty, telling me about their other restaurants and locations as well. I was still working towards my plan of pizza for dinner, so I didn't buy any of the sandwiches. But it would be rude to leave with nothing.

So I bought a cookie. A chocolate chip cookie. The plan was to take it back to the hotel and eat it tomorrow on the train. But I forgot that in the US cookies are very soft and don't hold up well to extended travel in bags. Also I was just given it on a piece of paper. So I ate it, and it was good. I obviously needed a little something to give me the strength to walk up to dinner.

I wandered back up University Way until I reached Sidecar for Pigs Peace for some shopping fun times. The lovely ladies from the morning had gone, but the new ladies there were just as nice and lovely! I really like this little vegan shop (even more than Food Fight in PDX, I think!), it had a great range of food and some really cute stuff as well.

This is my little haul from Sidecar. I didn't buy too much, as I was planning on heading to Portland next with Food Fight and no sales tax, but I wish I had bought more from Sidecar. They had some things there that Food Fight didn't have, in the end. I got some Justin's Peanut Butter Cups, which I have decided are the Best Peanut Butter Cups. Also this super cute new wallet. It didn't come in pink, but the adorable kitty design overcame my need for something pink. I also bought some vegan floss. I had just bought some a few weeks earlier in brisbane for almost $12... these ones were about $4.50 each! They also sell cute badges there. If you make a $1 donation to their jar, you can have a badge. But if you are able to, you should leave a big fat donation in their jar. The money goes to Pigs Peace Sanctuary. Having had to spend time in an intensive piggery as part of practical work for vet school I've seen the horrors of this industry first hand. So help the piggies!

Then it was next door to Pizza Pi for dinner. Thank goodness they sell personal sized pizzas! A larger one may have killed me! I had the garlic sauce favourite, which I had heard about somewhere as being one of their best (though they have a huge menu, it was hard to choose). White garlic sauce, black olives, mushrooms, sausage, spinach and Teese. The garlic sauce was amazing! So yummy. This is a good pizza. I did find the spinach was layered a bit thick, so it got a bit soggy, but oooohhhhh.... good pizza. I am kind of sorry I didn't get the Tropic Thunder though. Too many choices, so little time! I am also sorry that I was too full to try one of their dessert pizzas and their fruit pie pockets for dessert. Also it was very hard not to order Cheezestix... and I wish I had because I didn't end up having any cheesesticks on my trip! The indigestion would have been worth it! Again, this is a place to go to with an empty stomach and a few people and order up a delicious storm!

After dinner, I caught a bus back to my hotel. I was sooooooo full, and it was super light outside still (it was the longest day of the year), so I decided at 8pm to go for a walk. Full disclosure: the following photos contain no food. But they are pretty!

I thought this would be a good chance to walk to the Olympic Sculpture Park and see what it was all about, seeing as I would not get another chance and it is mentioned in all the guide books as a must do.

On the way, I passed by a beautiful community garden in Vine Street. It was lovely. See the pretty flowers.

This is a large cube that sometimes has installations in it. I kind of like it just empty and as is. Olympic Sculpture Park is a public green space down by the waterfront that has large statues scattered throughout. It is beautiful People were sitting with friends and families having picnics or reading or just watching the sunset. Brisbane seems to recently be in love with trying to pave over and make ugly every public place, I think wrongly thinking it makes the city feel more 'cosmopolitan'. So much to learn, little Brisbane, so much to learn.

My favourite sculpture was called Love & Loss. I really couldn't take a photograph of the whole thing and do it any justice, it is something that you actually need to experience in reality to get the full impact. So if you are in the area, go and see it. You can sit on it, too.

This seems to be the sculpture that is in all the publicity for the OSP. You can see that the Space Needle is not too far away in the background. Underneath this sculpture, there was lots of plastic chairs for people to sit on and watch the waterfront.

This sculpture was huge, like giant waves or ships or something. It kind of gave me shivers walking through it.

The sun starting to set over the waterfront. Stunning. I decided to walk back through the Seattle Centre and catch the monorail back to my hotel. I am glad I did, as it gave me a chance to see other bits of the Seattle Centre I hadn't see yet.

Like this beautiful whale fountain. I love this, and you could walk right up to it and through it and around it. It was the end of a long, gorgeous day (did I mention the weather was perfect, 26 degrees Celcius and sunny... Seattlites were beside themselves with glee!) and walking by this cooling fountain was a lovely end.

The fountain had cute little critters surrounding it. There was some fish, a hermit crab and an octopus, and this adorable little winged piggy. I see how the others fit in with the whale theme, but I don't know what inspired this little guy. But I wish had one of my very own!

I caught the monorail back to the Westlake Centre, and my hotel was just around the corner. Here is a picture of downtown Seattle at nearly 10pm, still light! It was a wonderful way to spend a summer solstice! No winter solstice for me this year!

After this big day, I finally climbed into bed and had a good sleep.

Next post shall be my last morning in Seattle, and a train trip to PDX!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

USA 2011: Seattle Part 2

I have so much to post, I have decided to do a second post in the same day. *le gasp* I know, but there is so much to share, and I want to share it!

The next day dawned and I had a little snooze in until 8am. It was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and it was going to be a day of eating to the max. I successfully managed to get on the right bus and get off at the right stop in the U District. As I was walking to my intended destination, I went by a Korean Tofu House with this sign up:

I love it. Vegan proudly advertised. They also had their vegan menu up in the window, which did seem pretty tasty. But they were closed and I was on a brunch mission! Which was...

Wayward Vegan Cafe. I had heard so much about this place on the PPK, and had spent a lot of time before I went reading their extensive menu, and here I was. With one shot.

I got a strawberry lemonade, to continue my lemonade exploration. It was from a bottle of a brand that I had seen in WFs, and was really nice. I wish that I could have brought some back with me, but a glass bottle full of pink, sticky liquid is probably not a wise idea in checked baggage.

While I was waiting for my food, I took this photo of the condiments tray. Nooch in a shaker. So cool.

In the end, after umming and ahhing, I chose The Country Bumpkin - herbed biscuit with scramble, gravy and garlic kale. This was my first time having an American-style biscuit, and it was nice! I keep forgetting that in America gravy is thick, creamy and a bit chunky, but I do like it!

I also ordered a side of hashbrowns, because breakfast should have potato. I temporarily forgot that a side of hashbrowns would not be a diminutive plate of a few crispy browned potato cakes, but would instead by a giant pile of fried grated potato. That is OK with me. I did find it a little bit undercooked in the centre though.

And here is a picture of my breakfast all together. So pretty. So happy. I like Wayward a lot! I was pretty much the only person in there, except for a family who came in shortly before I finished, so I missed out on seeing Tad, a mysterious figure the Seattle-ites on the PPK seem to have fun spotting. I don't actually know who Tad is or what Tad looks like, but it all sounds fun.

Just across and up the road from Wayward is Sidecar for Pig's Peace, a great all-vegan shop with food, bags and other accessories. Coming in here was the best decision of my day! I had struggled to find a good map of the U District and north Seattle, and I couldn't access my Google Maps without a wifi connection (unless I wanted to pay a billion dollars), so I had brought a printout with an idea of places to go and walking directions to them. Turns out Sidecar has their own vegan map of the area, with all the places clearly marked - SCORE! They also gave me some suggestions on opening hours and places to go to, thus changing my original plan for the day but helping me fit a lot more vegan eating in.

Just across the road from Sidecar was Pizza Pi (what is with all this vegan goodness in the one place?), so with my changed plans I decided I would come back that evening for some Sidecar shopping and a pizza dinner.

My plan was to walk to a magical doughnut kingdom, because it would take almost as long on the bus with having to change connections and a half an hour walk after a big brunch seemed wise. On the way, and with my new vegan map in hand, I just happen to pass by Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe, a high raw vegetarian cafe. I was still pretty full from brunch, but I thought I should try something since fate had brought me here.

In addition to their menu, they had a beautiful display case filled with goodies, most of which were vegan.

But ultimately I chose a drink to help keep my energy up on the walk to doughnuts. A Chocolate Cherry Raw Smoothie - bananas, cherries, raw cacao and vanilla hemp milk. It was so delicious, proving that chocolate cherry is a flavour combination that cannot be beaten.

I then walked for about half an hour. I walked through the U District and over an interstate highway, then into a very pretty neighbourhood.

There were lots of pretty flowers growing out of the sidewalk and lots of cute houses (including one purple house that seemed to have a cut-out figure peering out of the window. I can't be sure, but I think it was RPatz... Creepy).

At last I reached my destination - Mighty-O Donuts, home of the Best Donuts Of The Trip. Yes, I had tried Pepples, and I will talk about Voodoo and a WF doughnut later on, but Mighty-O was the best!

I chose two classics, the first being a jam doughnut. This was so good. The doughnut itself was just such a beautiful texture and taste, and then the jam was exactly the right sweetness. The powdered sugar not too strong. Heaven.

I also ordered a cinnamon doughnut - my favourite of all doughnuts. If these had still been warm I would have snarfed the whole tray full. Yes, I said snarfed. But as they were room temperature I purchased one and stored it for later nommage.

I was getting much less shy about taking photos inside of places that were not just of the food I was eating, so I snapped some photos of this wonderland. This is there doughnut making thingy. They are so hot and delicious looking! Sadly, these were being dunked into a glaze, and not into cinnamon sugar. If it had been the latter.... SNARF! I'm just not that into glazed doughnuts.

Here are some photos of their display case. Here were my two choices. Oh lovelies, how I miss you.

They had lots of different varieties. The shop is quite open, so unfortunately I could not get around the glare off the glass of the case, but try and peer through it.

Yes... there were more. So many!

At this point I was feeling kinda sorta really full, so some gentle exercise was in order. Mighty-O is just a few blocks from Greenlake (which is a suburb, but also an actual lake), so I thought I would meander up and see if it was pretty. Along the way, there were more beautiful flowers growing on the sidewalk and more pretty houses. This is a stunning area, it would be lovely to live in. Also it would be close to doughnuts. Win.

It turns out the lake is super pretty. It is a large lake, with lots of green space around and a wide walk way, that has lots of room for walkers, pram pushers, puppies, bikes and rollerblades (rollerblades are big in Seattle) to enjoy without the danger of running in to each other. The grass around is dotted with people enjoying picnics or sunbathing (did I mention that Seattle turned on an amazing day for me? 26 degrees Celcius and the sun was shining!). One thing I noticed in America is that the slip, slop, slap message has not really made it there. So many roasting away, so much sunburn!

There were these adorable waterbirds and their babies out swimming on the lake. So sweet! It was a really beautiful area. Seattle knows how to rock a public green space (are you listening Brisbane, because this is something you do not know how to do. Cement is not the same as grass).

Just next to Greenlake is Woodland Park. At first as I made my way over there it looked like it was just a few sporting fields, but then I saw some people making their way up between some trees and a park was found! It was gorgeous.

Just so pretty. The giant trees. The tiny flowers. I had a lovely time meandering through. Once I moved away from the school group that was there, it was really nice and peaceful, too.

Squirrel! Why don't you stay still for your photo, my little squirrel friend? I just want to adore your tiny cuteness. I am vegan! I am friend!

Also not standing still for their photo is this awesome crow/raven (I am not sure? I want to say crow). He (it could have been a girl, I got male vibes) had a lot to tell me. He flew in and sat in the branches above me, looked right down and started talking. It was serious business. I loved it! Then he just flew away. Maybe he knew I had a doughnut in my bag?

I am going to leave you there for now, halfway through my day of eating. There is still so much more to come! But I think this post is long enough by now. Hopefully more tomorrow!