My 28th birthday was September 25th. The actual day was nice in a quiet sort of way. I got flowers and singing from my co-workers. My husband gave me two cookbooks (Deborah Madison’s Local Flavors and Recipes from the Old Mill) and a book of New Yorker food writing. The following weekend we went to Fairbanks to visit my cousin and his wife, and I counted that my birthday celebration.
However. Krestia likes to lavish birthday surprises on me. This year he had a great one: a weekend trip to Seattle, where we would meet up with my sister and her husband (who live in Vancouver, BC) and spend two days together eating and exploring the city. The trip happened this past weekend. We flew down on Friday night after work, arriving at Sea-Tac a little before eleven. Martha and Bradley met us at the airport and we all went to the Bellevue Hilton, where we had booked cheap rooms using priceline.com. Our first meal together was at Denny’s–a weak start, yes, but where else can you get food at midnight after being starved because airlines don’t serve real food anymore? The next morning we redeemed ourselves by eating brunch at Le Pichet, a casual French cafe on 1st Ave, close to Pike Place Market. We ate outside (in late October, it was 60 and sunny!). I had two eggs broiled with ham and Gruyere, and outstanding pommes frites. We wandered through the market and the waterfront for a few hours, then bought fresh fruit at a market stand and pastries at Le Panier for a mid-afternoon snack. Breaking the French theme, we went out for Ethiopian food at Mesob for dinner (here’s an amusing review of the restaurant from the Stranger). Anchorage has no Ethiopian restaurants, so I am forced to go for months at a time without a good Ethiopian meal. The four of us had two Mesob combos on one big platter. We devoured the food very quickly. I should have slowed down and savored it a bit more but oh well.
On Sunday we got up early and went to Whole Foods to buy breakfast and lunch. We decided to drive to Mt. Rainier National Park for a day hike, so we had to get sandwiches for lunch. I love wandering around Whole Foods and just feeling the yuppie-foodie vibe there. Most of the produce has samples by the display, so we were able to taste oranges, pears, raspberries and blackberries. Basically, we could have had a free breakfast just doing that, but we decided to buy egg, bacon and cheese sandwiches from their prepared food breakfast bar. The sandwich guy was making up all the fresh sandwiches for the day while we were there, so for lunch we got a roast beef with blue cheese and carmelized onion sandwich and a turkey/bacon sandwich, both on chewy baguettes. Oh so yummy. The drive out to the park was gorgeous. We were again blessed with sunny, warm weather. We hiked for an hour or so, then ate the sandwiches while sitting on a big rock looking at snowy Mt. Rainier in the distance.
After driving back to town and showering, we splurged on a nice dinner at How to Cook a Wolf, a great restaurant in Queen Anne that someone had tipped me about (the website explains the interesting name and also has good pictures of the interior). It’s a bit like a tapas place–you order several small “plates” to share with everyone at the table, and there’s also four pasta dishes for entrees. We ordered foccacia with olive oil, fresh mozzarella with figs and arugula (oh wow, the fresh mozzarella was incredibly tender and delicious), marinated shrimp, beef carpaccio, pear and frisee salad and bruschetta with a bean/shallot/pecorino cheese topping. We also split two pasta dishes–gnocchi with beef tongue, chanterelle mushrooms and marjoram (I think this was Krestia’s favorite) and tagliatelle with clams, white wine and red chilis. For dessert we had a bowl of quince sorbet and a bowl of fig and Pernod gelato. Everything was fresh and delicious, good ingredients prepared simply and brought to the table in a nice steady flow. We also had a bottle of Primitivo wine. We left the restaurant comfortably full, with that satisfied feeling of having tasted so many good things and not stuffing yourself with one dish.
All in all, it was a delicious weekend. My sister Martha also gave me a birthday present from her and my sister Janna–a beautiful enameled cast iron casserole dish from Ikea. That, however, deserves its own blog post.