May 31, 2009

Fish at the Market

Pike's Place Market, Seattle Washington

Bellingham

Several of my family members moved to Bellingham Washington about three years ago and I have had the opportunity to visit them there four times so far. While I normally prefer larger cities, this municipality and the surrounding countryside is very charming and has a warm and friendly community.

From the main downtown area to the quaint area of Fairhaven, there are lots of fun shops and good places to eat. Here are some of my favorite spots:
  • Our family introduced us to the Old Town Cafe for breakfast or brunch and it is fantastic! We try to return for the yummy pancakes, pastries, and eggs every time we are in Bellingham.
  • Village Books in Fairhaven is a great place to browse or have tea, a snack, or lunch in the bookstore cafe.
  • Vartanyan Estates is a small, women owned and operated boutique winery just north of downtown Bellingham that makes good wines. (In addition, Margarita, the owner, is my sister's neighbor.)
Bellingham is a very active community – from kayaking in Boundary Bay to biking to skiing and snowboarding at Mount Baker in the winters – there is plenty to do in the beautiful outdoors. I hope to be able to have time to kayak or ski (depending on the season) on one of my upcoming visits.

The Bellingham is really a beautiful place – the blue pacific comes into Boundary Bay, lush green hills surround the town, further out the countryside is a patchwork of farms, and, in the distance, Mount Baker stands guard over the region.

May 26, 2009

Buckets of Springtime Color

Pike's Place Market, Seattle Washington

Market in the Emerald City

I have been visiting Seattle and Pike Place Market for about ten years. It is a great place to browse, explore, and eat! Very early this morning I found myself pulling into a parking spot right outside the market. A sequence of sad events, unexpectedly, caused me to be in the Emerald City from about 6:00am until noon today. So, I decided to spend that time at Pike Place Market – with my camera browsing, shopping, exploring, and trying to relax.

I arrived before the fish were placed out for sale at Pike Place Fish Market. The whole market was quiet and almost deserted. The shops were all locked up and there was a calm feeling of anticipation. The shelves were empty – no fruit, no flowers, no fish – and only a few workers arriving to begin their jobs. I wondered around the deserted market for about an hour before the stalls and shops began to open. Then within about an hour the market became alive! Vendors quickly stacked their stalls with flowers, fruit, fish, honey, crafts, and other items for sale. Tourists started arriving in droves to see the fishmongers throw the fish to customers. Locals came for coffee, pastries, flowers, and to talk to friends. The bustling market day had begun.

I spent the rest of my morning walking around – browsing and taking photograph of the many wares now filling the shelves of the stalls. I visited several of my favorite shops – Le Panier, Three Girls Bakery, and Moon Valley Honey. Other shops I like at the market are Beecher's Handmade Cheese, Crepe de France and the Crumpet Shop.

Pike Place Market is always a good place to spend a morning exploring!

May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day to All!

California Coast

My Favorites Around the City – San Francisco Part Two

One of my favorite brunch spots in San Francisco is Towns End Restaurant & Bakery. This is a bright and homey restaurant that serves excellent food made from local and organic ingredients. The meal begins with a basket of fresh-baked muffins and scones – warm and fragrant. My favorite dish is the oatmeal pancakes – filled with oats, apples, and almonds with maple syrup – delicious! And a relaxing, cozy place to spend a weekend morning!

Another restaurant I like to go for weekend brunch or dinner any time is Suppenküche, a German Restaurant in Hayes Valley. At this friendly corner restaurant guests sit at communal tables and enjoy excellent traditional German fare and beverages. The atmosphere is a bit bosterous at, but always comfy and warm. For brunch my favorite is the Kaiserschmarrn mit Afel und Pflaumenmus (emperor's pancake with brandied raisins and apple and plum compote). At dinner time they serve excellent Spätzle, salads, and other German specialities! To accompany the entrees, they serve wonderful whole grain sourdough bread and herb butter. In addition, they have an extensive list of German beers and some good wines.

As I have said, previously, pizza is one of my all time favorite foods! There are several restaurants and cafes in San Francisco that serve excellent pies.

Recently Jonathan and I tried a Gialina, a neighborhood restaurant in Glen Park that serves thin-crust Neapolitan-style pizzas. I had seen a review on Check Please! Bay Area claiming it serves the best pizza in the city and was exciting to see!

The day we went was cold and foggy – as we arrived at the restaurant the cold mist was swirling everywhere. After waiting for a substantial amount of time (mostly at the local bookstore or in our car), we sat down at a table in the small cafe. We started our dinner with wine and salad – with pork belly (for Jonathan), then shared a margarita pizza. The salad and wine were excellent, as was the pork (according to Jonathan). The pizza had thin, crispy crust, a simple tomato sauce, grated mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil. It was simple and quite delicious! For dessert we tried the chocolate hazelnut dessert pizza. This is a very hearty dessert – definitely big enough to share with few people – but warm, chocolaty, and wonderful!

So, do I think that Gialina makes the best pizza in San Francisco? Not quite. It's very, very good – but Delfina still ranks as my favorite pizza in San Francisco! However, I have yet to try the new Flour + Water – perhaps that will cause my allegiance to change!