a mighty appetite

Crush was the pinnacle of a foodie heaven weekend in Seattle, but Brent and Sarah kept us stuffed with delicious delights from Seattle’s finest throughout our stay.  We started our stay in their ‘hood of Ballard where I found the elusive fish tacos that are MIA from San Francisco’s bustling taqueria scene.

At La Carta de Oaxaca, a sunny joint permeated by incredible savory aromas from the open kitchen, I found a delicious fish taco with the Alaskan halibut just lightly grilled to produce a perfectly tender and juicy texture.

That evening we tried the nouveau Vietnamese cuisine at the Bellevue outlet of Monsoon.

The restaurant was lovely, with romantic lighting, subdued but chic decor, and perhaps because we were in the ‘burbs, a dining room that was not over-packed with people. We started with what I remember to be the best part of the meal, a smoky, rich and flavorful grilled eggplant with green onions and peanuts. Not so beautiful to photograph, but wondrous to taste.

Although the service was mixed, and probably extended our stay unwittingly by an hour or so, the grilled eggplant was worth it to me.  I also quite enjoyed the steamed black cod, which with its fresh ginger flavor over glass noodles was a light-handed touch to honor the delicateness of the fresh fish.

However, it was clearly no match for B’s Flinstonian braised pork shank – the knife is there for scale!

The next day, B and I faced the crowds at famed Pike Place market. There are a billion great photos of this foodie gem, so….I’ll just throw my few pics up here for completeness’ sake.

That evening, we started off the palate party with Sarah’s grape chutney over brie and crusty bread. A bit sweet, a bit tart, and a perfect contrast of creamy, crispy and juicy textures – it was a lovely companion to our aperitifs.

We then headed to Capitol Hill for dinner at Olivar, a cozy stone building where you step back into another time and continent for beautifully plated and expertly made food that’s a little bit Spanish and a little bit French.  The romantic dining room with a neighborhood-bistro feel is decked with murals from Pushkin’s fairy tale.

We started with an avocado gazpacho topped with a citrus salad and served with sweet corn madeleines – and I’ll admit the crispy moist cakes were a bit more successful than the soup for me.

The highlight of the evening was a refreshing heirloom tomato salad, simply plated with fresh herbs, goat cheese, and cucumbers. Then again, with such flavorful produce, you don’t need much fuss.

The gnocchi with wild mushrooms was satisfyingly earthy if not particularly memorable – but the pork-stuffed pimiento relleno with a fried egg over a potato stack was a show-stopper.

We headed back to Ballard  for the farmer’s market, which always gives me a thrill to see a community rallying around fresh, local food. This donut machine reminds me of the one at famed fancy-brunch place the Grand Concourse in Pittsburgh.

I brought home a box of these creamy, salty, sweet and astoundingly buttery fleur de sel caramels – my only souvenir worth packing up.

A bounty of colorful fresh veggies on the grill for vegetarian quesadillas.

A rainbow of veggies……

A huge line awaited the thin crust pizzas, and who could blame them when there’s a huge wood-fired pizza oven carted out on wheels to satisfy the masses?

I suspect that market fish can’t get any fresher.

On the way home, we passed this food truck that Sarah had been craving – the owner makes small batches of organic ice cream and the menu’s offerings for the day were so enticing.

The butter toffee crunch was light and creamy, with an intricately beautiful, buttery, crispy cone.

Our last morning in Seattle, we lined up at a Macrina bakery for some expertly crafted baked goods. Who can resist this sweet display of sweets?

The orange and chocolate coffee cake had the perfect consistency. It was moist, with not too fine a crumb, and had bits of zest and substantial chunks of good quality chocolate.

Our last stop, and alas we forgot to pack the insulin onto our carry-ons…

I’m not a donut maven, but this display case is like a shrine to carby confections and sprinkly icing topped jewels.

Diabetic coma in 3…2…1…

Wow, we made it to the end of a marathon post! Let’s celebrate with sugar. As for Seattle, I can’t wait to return, if only to cross off the 20 other places on my “to eat” list.

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