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Seattle, Wa


R and I just returned from a 7 day Alaskan cruise on the Celebrity Infinity. It was round trip from Seattle, so we were able to bookend Seattle time, before and after the cruise. I really liked Seattle; it seemed to have all the life and bustle of a metropolitan city, but it was somehow more relaxed and cleaner. It also doesn’t hurt that Seattle is very much a “foodie” town and we had a magnificent meal and lots of great eats while we were there. I hope I can recall them all.

 

Dahlia Lounge

 

We flew in to Seattle on my birthday. After much research, I settled on Tom Douglas’s Dahlia Lounge. Their website describes it as “the quintessential Seattle restaurant experience,” and for 20 years it had anchored Douglas’ mini empire and helped define Pacific Northwest cuisine. R and I started with a sampler of appetiziters:

 

Dungeness crab w/ house kim chee, radish, tofu

Dahlia smoked copper river salmon w/ hot mustard, sesame

King clam sashimi w/ pickled beet, fresh horseradish

Ahi tuna w/ yuzu kosho, avocado, tobiko roe

 

All were delectable and delicious little bites; I loved the smoked salmon, while R’s favorite was the tuna.

 

On a recent episode of the Food Network show, “The best ____ I ever ate” I watched Giada go orgasmic as she described Dahlia’s crab cake, so there was no question of what I was having for dinner. The lemon-scallion Dungeness crab cake was easily the best crab cake I’ve had (apologies to the state of Maryland, but really, this crab cake kicks epic ass).

 

R had the grilled Copper river king salmon and declared it to be the best salmon he has ever had. I thought it was delicious, but not amazing; I expect to be blown away by a $45 piece of fish. I thought it was a touch over cooked, but R says I’m on crack and that if any fish isn’t still wiggling on the way down, it is overcooked for me. He may be right; I do prefer my fish very, very rare.

 

Dessert is where the madness started. I have read much about the triple coconut cream pie, including a personal recommendation by my buddy, Doug, so that was definitely on the slate. There was a “Tom's world famous crème caramel” listed and R has a rule that if it is “world famous” we have to order it, so that was in contention. He also has a soufflé rule, so it’s a good thing there were none listed. Don’t forget, it was my birthday, and so there needed to be cake and a candle involved, which pointed to the chocolate peanut butter pudding cup with chocolate pudding cake. There was also a black pepper cheesecake sounded unique and interesting. Lastly, I was interested in the lychee sorbet; I love lychee and it is an ingredient seldom seen on a menu. The 5 contenders, 2 people; how to narrow down the field?

 

R (with a gleam in his eye): Do you trust me?

G: No.

R: Come on, you trust me, don’t you?

G: Not as far as I can throw you.

R: Oh well, too bad.

 

He got up and left the table. He had a conversation with our waiter. If you know R at all, you know what happened next, don’t you? The triple coconut cream pie, crème caramel, chocolate peanut butter pudding cup, chocolate pudding cake (with a candle) and the black pepper cheesecake all appeared at the table.

 

All were delicious; Dahlia Lounge clearly has a skilled pastry chef. But, let me take the time to use every superlative in the book to describe the crème caramel. It was truly magnificent, and a contender for the best dessert I’ve ever had. The texture of the custard was truly amazing; it was unbelievably silky and creamy. R described it as the love child between the very best butter and ice cream.  I keep eating spoonful after spoonful marveling at how they achieved this texture, I couldn’t wrap my brain around it. I like to think I ate so much of it for scientific purposes. I will go home and replicate this if it kills me (and it likely will, with fat and high cholesterol).

 

After the cruise, R and I spent another night in Seattle and we returned to Dahlia, just to have the crème caramel again, as well as the pear tart with almond cream and caramel sauce. The tart was good, but again the crème caramel was the superstar.

 

What I want to know is, why didn’t R also order the lychee sorbet?

 

www.tomdouglas.com

 

Pike Place Market

 

It’s a tourist mecca, but for good reason. There is stall after stall of seafood, produce, pastries, jams, jellies, candies and other tasty treats, as well as tourist goods: t-shirts, candles, jewelry, etc.etc. Here what we sampled:

 

The Crumpet Shop – We loved this tiny café with homemade crumpets and tea. Crumpets are like English muffins, but thicker, fluffier and fried. The crumpet shop offers them savory (egg, ham, cheese) or sweet (lemon curd, nutella, almond butter, homemade marmalades, etc. We had them both ways and I must say, the crumpet is a versatile delivery vehicle. I need to find a recipe and try my hand at them. Anyone know of a good one?

 

www.thecrumpetshop.com

 

Piroshky Piroshky – It’s a Russian bakery, I read about in all my copious food research and people seemed to rave about it. Although it is a small storefront, you can’t miss the aroma that hits you 50 feet before you get there, or the line that winds out the door. Unfortunately, I think the smell was better than the taste. Piroshky is basically a bun, stuffed with either savory or sweet ingredients. We had a chicken and mushroom piroshky as well as an almond and cream. I thought the fillings were tasty but the bun seemed doughy and bland. As R said, “It’s not like Russia is known for their cuisine.”

 

www.piroshkybakery.com

 

Pike Place Chowder – I liked that we could get a sampler – 4 – 4 0z. cups of different chowders. We tried:

NE style clam chowder – I know, it’s weird to have NE chowder in Seattle, but it was for science. It was a pretty decent rendition.

 

Smoked Salmon Chowder – It had Nova smoked salmon with capers and cream cheese. Pretty tasty.

 

Seafood Bisque - Pacific cod, salmon, calamari in a tomato-basil broth. I think this was our favorite.

 

Seared scallop – It had dill and lime juice and I think the lime did not work at all.

www.pikeplacechowder.com

Le Panier – We stopped in for an almond croissant and a chocolate croissant. Both were excellent and would not be out of place in Paris.

http://www.lepanier.com/

Daily Dozen Doughnut Company – The doughnuts are the same size as the Hostess donettes of my youth. The stall is tiny, and the line is long, but 3 bucks garners you a brown sack with a dozen cinnamon sugar donuts that are melt in your mouth good. Make sure you get them fresh and hot.

 

http://www.yelp.com/biz/daily-dozen-doughnut-company-seattle


Red Mill Burger – GQ listed it as “One of the 20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die,” so off we went, not questioning what authority GQ has over burgers. It was a decent burger and the onion rings were excellent. I also enjoyed the thick shakes. But you can die without journeying out to this place.

www.redmillburgers.com

 

Pike Street Fish Fry - A small storefront, in a non-touristy area lives Pike Street Fish Fry. We had an order of halibut and chips. It was greasy, but a good kind of greasy. The fish was fresh and flaky. They offered an assortment of homemade sauces; we tried the chili mayo which added a nice kick to the fish and fries.

www.pikestreetfishfry.com

Hot dog vendor – We wondered in to Platinum records, a record store around the block from Pike Street Fish Fry. We had an extended conversation with the guy behind the counter and he told us that we had to try a hot dog with cream cheese and onions. It’s a Seattle specialty. Never one to shy away from a local specialty, no matter how gross it sounds, we crossed the street and ordered one. The dog is split open, and it, along with the bun and the white onions are all grilled. The bun is slathered with cream cheese and then the hot dog and lastly the onions are piled on. R liked the hot dog more than I did; he went as far as to said, “It makes sense, it’s just another form of cheese.” I think this is one specialty I’ll leave in Seattle. BTW, a hot dog with cream cheese and onions does not make a good dessert.

That’s all for now, Alaska to come. . .

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