Memoirs of a Seattle Foodie

While in Seattle yesterday, I felt compelled to grab my notebook, pen, and begin writing.  The following is a compilation of my thoughts in the big city.

As I sit here in a local Seattle neighborhood Starbucks with a Cafe Verona drip with room coursing through my nearly intoxicated, caffeine drenched veins, I am reminded about what I miss in Seattle.

First, while I love having acreage and freedom to roam on beautiful Whidbey Island, the big city offers anonymity and a certain variety that a small town lacks.  Cuisines from every culture lie within blocks and the steady hum of cars and the ticking clicks of bicycle spokes fill the air, somehow reminding me of the U2 song, “‘Where the Streets Have No Name.”  Complete anonymity in a city that engulfs and accepts people of all creeds and origins.

As the subtle imprint of my lips appear on the rim of my coffee cup, time transcends me and I am reminded of Seattle’s fine dining and the glossy imprint my lips would leave on a robust glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Seattle holds food memories that are dear to my heart and have forever altered my outlook on food.   It made me realize that a simple dinner plate is a chef’s canvas, awaiting his or her artistic culinary masterpiece.

I specifically remember meals at various Seattle restaurants that forever changed my perspective towards food.  The following memories are listed in no particular order.

El Gaucho – Prior to El Gaucho I only had my steak well done <gasp>.  El Gaucho served me a medium rare fillet and the buttery texture melted in my mouth.  Now I prefer  steak medium rare, but more on the rare than medium side.  I will forever remember my first bite of that tender, juicy, luscious corn-fed fillet of beef.

Cutters Bayhouse – Asiago Crusted Halibut Cheeks … and I don’t even remember the remaining accompaniments on the plate.  I close my eyes and am transported back to the delicious, tender texture of the halibut with the beautiful asiago crusted exterior.

The Metropolitan Grill and Steakhouse – Touted as the best steakhouse in Seattle, and I can certify the accurateness of their claims.  I ordered the sumptuous New York Strip and my husband ordered the Porterhouse.  We were both silent during our meal except for the occasional moan of complete satisfaction.  Their steaks will leave you speechless.  On a side note, their escargot is the best I have ever had (and was a first for my husband).  Bathed in a delicious garlic infused butter, it will exceed your expectations, and blow your taste-buds away.

Racha Noodles & Thai Cuisine – Being a southern girl at heart, I love catfish.  Combine that with a light breading and a rich panang curry … it is a concoction one could only dream about.  This particular catfish curry is so incredibly memorable that I have yet to eat anything that compares – even my attempts at home have been futile.


Japonessa (Image by patsun via Flickr)

Japonessa – Dear Lord, He answered my long standing prayer.  After visiting Japan, it is inevitable that anyone would return being a sushi snob, and I have been no exception.  Easily the best sushi east of Japan, with a spicy Latin fusion, it is the sushi that one dreams about – literally!  I adore Japonessa’s takoyaki, sushi rolls, and their amazingly fresh sashimi. The chef is no less a genius with his creative, delicious dishes that transport me back to Japan.

Annapurna Cafe – My friend raves about their butter chicken, but I enjoy nearly everything on their authentic Indian menu.  It is a small, quaint location that descends deep down a flight of stairs into a small underground plethora of Indian aromas.

Top Pot Doughnuts – Amazing drip coffee … no room required!  Their raspberry old fashioned is what candy-filled pastry dreams are made of.  If there is a sweet-tooth fairy, she’s here in all her decadent glory.  I love the atmosphere that surrounds you in this inspiring, quaint, neighborhood coffee joint.  It just so happens it’s not ordinary, but transcends into the extraordinary.

Berkshire Grill (CLOSED) – While it used to be your run of the mill restaurant with grilled pub-style food, nearly a decade ago I ordered their daily special – a heavenly, creamy lobster bisque.  I adore lobster bisque and none has ever compared, though I never saw it on the menu again.  It became this elusive bisque that I continually strive to replicate, but have never succeeded.

Cooper’s Alehouse – It sounds amazingly juvenile, but until the moment I tried Cooper’s Grilled Cheese and Tomato, I was oblivious to the potential of a simple grilled cheese sandwich.  It was that inspiring moment where I ditched the idea of  traditional grilled cheese in favor of experimenting with bold, exciting flavors – Gouda, tomato, and arugula or brie, champagne mango, jalapeno, and cilantro.  The possibilities seemed endless and this simple grilled pub sandwich left my mind open to a whole new grilled cheese world.

Vessel – Who knew concoctions from the 1920’s and Prohibition era were still alive and in full swing?  Entering this modern, yet maturely aged bar is a sip back in time – with a modern glimpse into the future.  It will make you long for a flapper dress and 20’s style heels or a pair of knickerbockers, if you so prefer.

Cafe Besalu – I remember the sweet aroma of pastries coupled with the smell of an exotic coffee blend.  I immediately noticed the kitchen was mostly in full view so watching the chef create his masterpieces was an adventure all its own.  Their spicy Chai was delicious, and exceptionally unique.  Every Saturday morning I long for a visit to Cafe Besalu.

Shanghai Garden – An old friend met me here for lunch years ago and raved about their hand-shaven barley noodles. While I enjoy barley in soups and salads, the thought of barley noodles seemed a bit odd to me.  However, two chopsticks full of these delectable strands of Chinese pasta made me a believer.

There are certain food memories that stay with you for a lifetime, and there are also memories that shape your soul.  I challenge you to feed your soul, ignite your passion, and visit a favorite restaurant.  Either reminiscence about a memory close to your heart or be adventurous and create a new food memory.  Everyone’s life is an unwritten autobiography. Seize the moment and add a new chapter to your life today.


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