Eating…Seattle: Second Helpings

Before I left for Seattle I made a list of new restaurants to try while I was in town. I am nothing, if not prepared. Especially when it comes to eating. That is no joke.

I didn’t get a chance to try too many new things, since we were kind of pressed for time with all the wedding events that had to be done [including an amusing family get together at the house – oh the copious amount of beer that had been consumed that day] but I did try a few good places and revisited some familiar sites.

After getting picked up at the airport, we stopped by the Jewel Box Café for boba milk tea and a Seattle Dog for me. If you don’t remember from last time, a Seattle dog is a hot dog on a slightly toasted bun with cream cheese. Don’t knock it until you try it. The one at the café was passable, though the street vendors make a much better dog. I think the bun was a bit too toasty to wield to the dog and there definitely was not enough cream cheese.

On Thursday, the family got together at Red Hook Brewery for a few [hundred] pitchers and food. I’m not a real fan of beer but somehow I had a glass pored for me and I slowly, and I mean, S-L-O-W-L-Y, sucked that thing down over the course of the lunch. And we were there for at least a few hours. The food was your typical pub food: burgers, sandwiches, other stuff, and nothing really to write about. The shenanigans that happened while we were there..well, we had fun.

Things turned towards fun on Friday. J and I went to pick up some cupcakes from Trophy with a Groupon he bought and I had the pleasure of picking the flavors. Oh, I was in heaven. We ended up with the following: two pineapple upside down, two hummingbirds, snickerdoodle, red velvet, lemon, salted caramel, snowball, triple chocolate, something else and the monthly special: the Elvis. As soon as I saw the sign, my eyes lit up. Not because I was a fan of Elvis, but because it was a banana cake with peanut butter frosting drizzled with honey. Can you say delicious?

I tore into that cupcake as soon as physically possible. The frosting was perfect: just the right amount of peanut butter, not too sweet and delightfully light and fluffy. I’m not a big frosting person but I wanted to lick it all off right then and there. Trophy, my goodness. I puffy heart you.

Then I took a bite out of the cake. It was moist [much better texture over the red velvet one I had previously] and banana-ey and…FILLED WITH COCONUT. I was appalled. And disgusted. And utterly crushed. Oh Trophy! Why do you hate me so?! I was miffed but because the frosting was so delicious, I suffered through the rest of the cake. I sat there with a very noticeable frown on my face. I was NOT happy. Who puts coconut in a banana cake? I was mad that the clerk at the shop failed to mention they baked their cake with coconut. What if I was allergic to coconut? Who thinks to ask if there’s coconut in a banana cake?! Oh. You? You think to ask if there’s coconut in a banana cake? You disgust me. I later tried the snicker doodle and was disappointed with that one as well. The frosting was too sweet and the cake was dry and flavorless. It reminded me of a corn muffin. Not very appetizing to say the least.

At least lunch didn’t disappoint. After picking up the cupcakes, J and I headed to Paseo since we were near the neighborhood and it was only a few minutes before it opened, which was key since a line quickly formed soon after we arrived [with another 10 minutes to go before opening!]. They serve Caribbean sandwiches and other stuff and the smell from the bbq was intoxicating. I ended up getting the #1: Grilled Pork sandwich and could not wait to sink my teeth into that baby.

Not the best picture, but still delicious. Wish I could reach in and grab it

By the time we got to the house, the baguette had soaked up just enough of the sauce to make it a bit more pliable but seriously, this was the best pork sandwich I have ever eaten. I could have done with less lettuce as it kind of just got in the way, but the grilled onions, the meat, and the aioli sauce…simply delicioso. One of the groomsmen was more than excited to talk to me about the joys of eating at Paseo and was shocked that I didn’t have to wait in line for 45 minutes like he did. Timing is everything. I will definitely be adding this to my “must eat” list for any and all future trips to Seattle. We had the rehearsal dinner at O’Asian Kitchen but I wasn’t really feeling the food so I didn’t have much to eat.

On Sunday I made revisited a past favorite, Piroshky Piroshky, for breakfast. I was kind of shocked to find a line at 9 in the morning but hey, at least it’s quick moving. I picked up a potato, onion and cheese piroshky as well as a cinnamon cardamon braid to munch on. The piroshky was just as delicious as I remembered and I happily tore into it as I walked around the market. I was going to save the braid for later but later came a lot sooner than I anticipated and sat on a bench to enjoy the view before hiking it to the Space Needle.

Delicious Cinnamon Cardamon braidy goodness

My love, in food form

After saying by to the newlyweds, I headed out on my own to do a little foodie adventuring. Thankfully the two places I planned to visit were in the same area as the hotel, my biggest issue was just finding parking. What a hassle. I stopped by The Yellow Leaf Cupcakes to pick up, well what else, a cupcake. There were a lot of flavors vying for my attention but the blood orange cupcake caught my eye. I had never seen that flavor anywhere before and had to snap it up. I saved it though for later so I could indulge at my last stop of the day: Serious Pie.

Look at all the pretty cupcakes!

Time for lunch!

I had heard of Serious Pie thanks to Food Networks’ “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” series when Tyler Florence was expounding on the deliciousness of the chanterelle mushroom and truffle cheese pizza and  my desire to check it out only heightened when A and J both heartily endorsed it. The restaurant itself is tiny and filled with long benches for communal dining. I was a little nervous about my time since I only had a couple hours before I had to return the rental car but thankfully being a single diner was an advantage and I was seated within minutes. I gave the menu a cursory glance since I knew exactly what I wanted, much to the apparent disappointed from my server, who seemed put off that I refused to hear the specials [but in my defense: why would you wait until AFTER I placed my order to ask if I want to hear the specials? Why don’t you lead off with that?].

Caught him working the meat. Heh.

The pizza itself was really good. It was a thin crust/flatbread-esque pizza that was crispy and chewy and slightly salty, though it was a little too salty in some areas. I really enjoyed the mushrooms and the floral fragrance from the truffle cheese [I think]. I had to consciously tell myself to slow down or else run the risk of scarfing the whole thing down in minutes.

I want this. RIGHT. NOW.

After lunch, I had enough time to hit up Kerry Point to enjoy my cupcake and take in one last view of the Seattle skyline before heading home. I was excited about trying the cupcake and even purposefully stopped eating just so I had room to eat the cupcake. It was a beautiful looking layered cupcake, I’m not sure what they were but from the looks of it, possibly a yellow and red velvet, with orange buttercream frosting and a dollop of what I assumed to be blood orange puree.

I tasted the frosting but couldn’t discern any flavor. It just tasted like whipped cream or something. I was confused but forged ahead, taking a bite out of the cupcake itself. It was dry and also flavorless [which was why I couldn’t figure out what flavors the cake was – if they were flavored or maybe they were just colored batter. And as far as I know, you can’t taste colors while sober]. The only thing that had any kind of flavor was the orange filling, which was appropriately sweet and orangey. Cupcake: FAIL.

I was utterly disappointed and ended up not finishing the cupcake. I just couldn’t get over how flavorless that thing was. Would I be open to trying another flavor? Probably, but I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to try it either.

All in all, while this wasn’t my best attempt at stuffing my face, I still enjoyed my meals, especially the heavenly pork sandwich and pizza. I know where I”m going next time I’m in Seattle!

Eating…Oxbow Public Market

Lately the weather has been unseasonably cool and rainy, odd considering that it was late May/early June in California and it’s usually warmer around this time. The bf was actually a bit disappointed since he was looking forward to the warmer weather. In fact, my plans for a fun outing in Napa Valley with him was cancelled due to general un-picnic like weather. Boo rain. Because of the weird weather, I’ve spent the past few days hanging out at home so when the need to be outside to photosynthesize suddenly became overwhelming, I decided to pretend I was a tourist and hit up Oxbow Public Market near downtown Napa.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but it’s basically a large market hall with a bunch of small alcoves for shops, similar to the Ferry Building marketplace [apparently the guy behind the Ferry Building space is the genius behind Oxbow]. I wandered around for a bit checking everything out and getting a lay of the land. One shop in particular, Whole Spice, really grabbed my attention which had a ton of different spices, extracts and salts, including Himalayan Pink salt. I’m not quite sure how I would use the Himalayan Pink salt but I was tempted to buy a few ounces just because. I would like to go back to further discover what else they had in store.  Since I didn’t really have a game plan when I came to the market, I ended up deciding to make it a day of eating. Of course I did.

My first stop was to C Casa. There were a lot of things on the menu that I wanted to try but since I had plans on sampling a few other bites, I had to pick only one. Instead of leaning on my go to [steak], I inched outside my comfort zone and ordered the spicy lamb taco (with goat cheese, avocado crema, mint, jalapeños, garlic aioli & micro greens) and the hibiscus orange iced tea.

I really enjoyed this taco. The lamb was nicely seasoned and really tender and there was a slight heat from the jalapeno peppers. The lamb was so good I would have eaten it by itself. I was disappointed that I couldn’t really taste the mint and I ended up taking out almost half of the micro greens because it was just too much. They really overwhelmed the rest of the taco.

Next, I stopped by Gott’s Roadside in hopes of getting an order of their crazily delicious calamari, however my plans were thwarted when I found out there was, in fact, NO CALAMARI. How rude!

I sulked for a second as I slowly made my way back to the marketplace before realizing the bakery I wanted to try was just around the corner. The Model Bakery has tons of different breads, cakes, cookies and other yummy looking pastries available all day long. I stopped in to try one of their famous English Muffins that was featured on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate…

This was no ordinary English Muffin; it was large, fluffy, and crispy. The dough is actually a ciabatta bread so it lends its unique texture to the muffin, plus they griddle them to give it a nice outside crust. I had mine toasted and slathered it with butter and apricot jam and I instantly fell in love with it on the first bite. The bread itself is really chewy, the good kind of chewy, and my mouth is watering just thinking about it right now. I want more and I know I won’t ever be able to enjoy a Thomas English Muffin ever again. I have effectively been ruined and I’m not mad about it in the slightest.

Thomas would be jealous of these nooks and crannies.

After feasting on the world’s best English Muffins, I made one last stop at Pica Pica Bar to see if anything on the menu could entice me. Originally I was going to order some tajadas [sweet plantains] but I ended up being swayed by a display of patacones. I’m not exactly sure what I got [I let the cashier pick the fillings for me] but they’re like twice baked potatoes with meat fillings instead of more potato. Also, instead of potato, it’s actually a plantain. I ended up with a trio of pork, chicken and steak with a spicy cream dipping sauce [which was sour cream with smoked chile].

Of the three, the chicken was actually my favorite. It’s rare when I prefer chicken over steak but the chicken had a smoky almost barbequed taste to it that I really liked. The pork was good too, it was just salty enough for me, though the tomato and avocado slice made it a little messy to eat. I could have done without the steak; it was just meh. It didn’t really taste like they had done anything to it. I would have rather have a second chicken patacone.

In all, I’m really glad I made the trip up to Oxbow and loved everything I nommed on during the two hours I was there. It was the perfect distraction from my day and I’d definitely come back to eat everything again. Especially that English Muffin.

Snacking my way through Wine Country

I’m sometimes ashamed at how much of California I haven’t experienced. Yosemite? Haven’t been. Santa Barbara? Nope. Laguna Beach? Just making sure you’re still paying attention.

One of the closest of tourist destinations is the Napa Valley. Millions of people come from the ends of the world to traipse through the Wine Country to look at vineyards, taste wine and eat at the numerous frou-frou and fancy and delectable restaurants started by celebrity chefs. I live about 15 minutes from Napa and the last time I was really in the Napa Valley, I complained about how long of a drive it was from my house to St. Helena [it was about 45 minutes]. I’m a big, whiny baby, I know.

That said, I know there is so much more to the Wine Country than what I’ve seen and its really a shame that I haven’t taken the time to fully explore it like the most intrepid travelers do. I’m blessed that these places are so close that I can take them in at my leisure instead of trying to fit in as much as possible within a few days so it’s really sad that I haven’t taken advantage of my proximity. Heading up to the Napa Valley is easy and really, can be done on a whim. So why haven’t I done it? Not sure.

Tam took the wheel and drove us along highway 29 through the valley to show us some of the sights. Our first stop of the day was Dean & Deluca in St. Helena.


Dean & Deluca is just a fancy schmancy specialty grocery store – though the cheese samples were infinitely better than most of the offerings at the local stores. I couldn’t help BUT comparison shop while I was wandering through the store. The biggest difference was that the vanilla bean paste I’ve come to love so much was $16 at D&D when I can pick up the same exact bottle for $11 at Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table!

My first snack of the day was this chocolate chip whoopie pie:

I was excited. A whoopie pie? Made out of chocolate chip cookies? Love! Except not. I was not impressed. I wasn’t sure what was going on with the middle layer; was it marshmallow? was it buttercream? was it edible? if it was edible, do I really want to eat it? No. I do not. The cookies were okay. They could have been better and I was really sad about the  money Tam essentially wasted on it. I much preferred my own whoopie pies better. Needless to say, I never got around to finishing it.

We trudged on and landed in downtown St. Helena. It’s a cute little town area with tons of boutique shops. My favorite was Woodhouse Chocolate. When I saw the shop, my eyes lit up, immediately going back to the moment I tried the chocolate for the first time [hint: scroll to the bottom]. This chocolate, people, just get it. I know it’s expensive but it’s sooooo worth it. This will be the smoothest chocolate you’ve ever tasted. I was more than excited to introduce the family to the deliciousness and they were not disappointed. I’m drooling at the thought of getting more.

The nephew was starving by then so we made a stop at Gott’s Roadside for lunch. I had eaten at the Ferry Building site and was amped for the food. We ordered a mess of food and I was only one bite into my delicious chili cheese dog only to be struck with a full stomach. I couldn’t eat any more! I was so disappointed. Thankfully it was just as delicious warmed up later that day.


Full from the burgers and fries and one bite of chili cheese dog, we headed back home, making a stop at Robert Mondavi Winery to look around.

Our final stop turned out to be a bit of a whim. We had decided to take the Silverado Trail back home and decided to stop in Yountville to make a trip to Bouchon Bakery. Sure I was too full to eat my chili cheese dog, but apparently that didn’t stop me from nearly knocking over the display case in the bakery. Classy.

I picked out a chocolate bouchon, which is essentially just a brownie [pretty much sums up my impression] and a raspberry macaron.

Had I known how amazing Thomas Keller’s macarons are, I would have gotten more than just one. The deliciousness really deserves its own post so I’ll just say that I ate mine and then ate some of Tammy’s. And tried to eat Lindsey’s. And have gone back twice within the past two weeks. And gotten two macarons each time. And ate them both within a day.

In all, it was a fun day and now I’m intent on “Eating the Wine Country.” Just thinking about all the eating and fine dining opportunities that await me makes me incredibly happy and excited. I’m turning 30 next year; I think I’m grown up enough to enjoy the occasional fine dining experience. There are tons of restaurants there that I am now chomping at the bit to try. I probably won’t eat at most of them, but if I can make my way through a good chunk, I’d be one happy camper. We’re already planning on saving our money so we can try the French Laundry next year [provided we’re able to get reservations!] and I’m already eying Bouchon Bistro, Bistro Jeanty and maybe possibly Ad Hoc and Morimoto in Napa. Yes these places are not cheap at all but I have no problem saving my dollars for a good meal and honestly, if I can get a great meal and the experience of eating at these places, that would be worth it to me. It’s not like I’ll be eating there all the time.

They’re not Bouchon macarons, after all.

Los Angeles, the finale

After trekking home early, early Sunday morning with our heads still buzzing from experiencing  the awesomeness of GhostRider, Lindsey and I finally made it home. She was lucky enough to be able to sleep while I was stuck hanging out with Thomas Dolby and whatever entertainment I was able to find on the radio.

So here’s when that day’s fun starts. It’s Lindsey’s birthday and I had ordered her a birthday cake as a surprise. Of course, that meant that I had to devise a way to get out of the house without arousing too much suspicion. Pretty easy right? I thought so. In fact, I prepped her for it by telling her that I was meeting a friend for breakfast to cover for my disappearance. All went well until she started complaining about me going out to eat without her on her birthday.

Yup, that was pretty inconsiderate of me isn’t? You know what else is wrong? How that little white lie SNOWBALLED into how inconsiderate I was. For real. Lindsey was understandably hurt that I was abandoning her on her birthday to gallivant around with some friend while she was stuck at home with nothing to eat. So she told Tammy what an inconsiderate thing I was and somehow that got back to our parents! So while I’m down in Santa Monica picking up her cake, the rest of the family is clucking around wondering what the heck did I have to do to leave my baby sister on her birthday.

So while the maelstrom was growing, I was happily sitting at Vanilla Bake Shop waiting for the cake to be decorated and munching on a fresh set of cupcake babies.

Oh yeah, you knew I was gonna eat cupcakes for breakfast. Actually, it was the second time I did that day. Remember those cupcakes I bought the day before? Well I didn’t get a chance to eat them so I ate them that morning before I left. And I figured I should give Vanilla a better shot of getting a decent review and when I saw the strawberries and cream cupcake I was already picking out the other two I wanted to sample:

And really, how can you say no to these little cuties? Exactly.  This trip I picked up a Strawberry and Cream, Mom’s Birthday Cake, and Blackberry Passionfruit. And they were so delicious! I am officially a fan of Vanilla Bake Shop. They’re a close second to Cupcake Royale and completely blew Sprinkles out of the water.

Anywho, Lindsey’s cake. I retrieved it and strapped it into the car [seriously. I seatbelted that sucker in!] and made the quick trip back to the apartment to surprise the heck out of her. And my thanks? Being called a jerk.

You’re welcome Lindsey. I love you too.

Are you gonna eat that?

After a night’s rest and a fairly productive yet slow morning. We spent at least an hour sitting and debating whether or not we should go to breakfast. Well, I sat and watched Spongebob and Food Network since I no longer get those channels at home and am going through some major withdrawals. Seriously, it’s so bad I actually watched Rachael Ray! I know! I haven’t watched her show in YEARS.

Anywho, since it took so long to make a decision, we ended up sitting around and waiting until it was time to meet Bubba for lunch. And where did we end up lunching?


Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles!

Oh yeah. I didn’t have a chance to make it down there the first time I was in L.A. but I was determined to make it there this time around. Luckily for us the wait wasn’t long. We pretty much had enough time to walk back outside and for Jon to sit down before we were called in. And extra points to the security guard at the door who called him “Bubba.” Poor guy; the longer he hangs out with me, the more he loses his name.

Anywho, so my thoughts on Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles?


Oh my goodness, I LOVE THOSE WAFFLES!! They simply were some of the best waffles ever. So light and cinnamony and…what? You say there was also chicken on the plate? Three pieces of chicken? Oh yeah, about that. The chicken was…okay. I don’t usually eat the wing part as a whole so I wasn’t really feeling this chicken. It was a little dry as well. I much prefer the leg and I didn’t realize I could have just ordered the leg and waffle by itself. Had I known I totally would have gotten that.

But the waffles, they were delicious. So delicious I even wondered if they sold waffle mix. They totally should. I was so in love with these waffles that I gave my last chicken wing to Lindsey so I could finish my waffle. And then I helped Bubba finish HIS waffle. Yes, I ate the waffle from his plate. They were that good. And thank goodness we’re such good friends that he didn’t stop me from pillaging his plate.

After lunch Lindsey and I made our way to the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade to just wander around and do a little browsing [and also to look for purple leggings. Can you believe American Apparel wanted $26 for a pair?! SERIOUS!]. From there we made a stop at Vanilla Bakeshop for cupcakes. Naturally.

We both picked up three cupcake babies. I ended up with vanilla bean, red velvet and a black and white. I didn’t take pictures of those cupcakes [for shame] because I was too excited over the dessert shots we impulsively bought after paying for the cupcakes. How can you look at these and say no:


I know. Buying only one each took a tremendous amount of willpower. I think Lindsey had the Chocolate Dirt Cake and I had the Banana Pudding. And it was not enough. A shot is such a tease.


With our bellies full we had plans to head back to the apartment for a quick nap before heading down to Knott’s Berry Farm but after driving around the building for a while, we decided to just make the trip down earlier than planned. Good thing we did because we sat in traffic just getting to the off ramp. And then I spent another 30 minutes completely frustrated as I tried to figure out how to find the parking lot. I couldn’t see any signs and when I drove through the park, they decided it would be a funny joke to NOT place a sign letting drivers like myself know that the left lane directed you to the parking lot and the right lane was for drop offs only and would eventually spit you back out into the street. The only sign they had was “Use Both Lanes.” Ugh. So then I followed what I thought was a sign for parking only to find out that it was for the hotel and was given directions to another lot. Except the lady didn’t tell me that the lot would require a left turn so I drove right by it! Let’s just say by the time we weren’t exactly in the best of moods at that point.

We finally make it in and I remembered why I don’t really enjoy going to the Halloween themed nights: the random scary people. You know the costumed people who wander throughout the park scaring everyone they can? I don’t like them. I just don’t like getting scared like that. I spent the entire night not making eye contact and hoping they would leave me alone. Thankfully we were pretty much left alone. I think because when we were walking around, one of us was always eating and I like to think they’re told not to scare people with food. Good thing too because if one of those costumed folks scared me while I was attempting to eat my funnel cake [which was completely disappointing and overpriced! Definitely not as good as I remembered in high school] I would have dragged them back to the funnel cake place and demand a free one.

I had two objectives for the night: 1] get funnel cake and 2] ride GhostRider. We stood in line for GhostRider for five minutes before bailing since it was insanely long but only after I got the assurance that we’d make it back there at some point during the night. I picked up the funnel cake on our way to Silver Bullet. Lindsey wasn’t in the best of moods and I was worried that the night would be a bit of a bust but thankfully it started to lift once we finally made it onto the Silver Bullet and she had a chance to eat. And then for the crowning moment: GhostRider.

This wooden roller coaster is quite possibly the BEST ride at that park and I’m not ashamed to admit that riding that thing was my sole motivation for driving all that way and dealing with the massive crowds and touchy-feely teenagers who like to stand in line and heavily pet each other while they make out, just so I could get back on that ride. And you know what?


Sure I had to convince Lindsey the line was worth it but there wasn’t much I could say because there is no way you could properly explain the experience that is the GhostRider. You really need to ride it to get it. While the funnel cake was disappointing, GhostRider was the exact opposite. In fact, I had forgotten just how violent that ride is. Well, violent isn’t the right word but you move around in the seat a lot. Lindsey kept yelling at me about talking her into the ride and when we finally started to slow, I had the distinct pleasure of pointing out the second half of the ride. Yes folks, the ride is THAT long. As much as I like to ride roller coasters with my arms up in the air, I was only able to do that for about a quarter of the ride. Oooh I’m getting excited all over again!

And Lindsey’s reaction? She turned to me when we were done [for real this time] and declared: That was not okay. But I know she liked it. She just had to process the whole thing. But ultimately she enjoyed her time there, which was really the point.

But riding GhostRider again after 10 years? When can I go back?!