I attended the Pike Brewery Chocofest last year, and we had planned to attend again this year. We didn’t want to use up too many vacation days, and we agreed to spend just a little more than 24 hours in Seattle. We bought the tickets about a month in advance using Bolt Bus because it was closer to our home than going to the Amtrak station. The plan was for us to to be leaving Sunday morning of the festival and returning during Monday afternoon.
This entire planned getaway happened to fall on Sunday February 9- the same long weekend as the Portland Snowpocalypse. This is what it looked like by us, and the streets. These photos are before Saturday night/Sunday morning- when the snow turned to rain and that turned to ice everywhere! Yes, that is an abandoned car across the street, and some 2 feet icicles. There were also little snowmen in the Park Blocks as well as the amusement of fellow Portland citizens skiing down the street or sledding down sidewalks around our neighborhood.
Escape from Portland
So given all the snow, and now the rain that was turning into ice, that found us on late Saturday night wondering if we would really be able to get out of Portland. It had already been 2 1/2 days with the many inches of snow already on the ground essentially shutting down the city on Friday. Many businesses did not open (there was even a twitter hashtag to find the shorter list of who WAS open). I saw snow continue to pile up on abandoned cars that were left behind in favor of walking, and already there had been some cancelled Bolt Bus routes. The Worst Ride of the Year event was scaled back and the Polar Plunge even cancelled because the extreme winter weather was too risky in terms of safety.
So I was not too surprised when I got an email and text at 5am on Sunday morning saying that the 8:30am bus I had booked for us had been cancelled and the fare refunded. The two bus routes afterwards were already sold out, which meant that we would not have gotten to Chocofest in time. I quickly checked Amtrak and was surprised it was still running, so booked us tickets on the Amtrak 8:20 train instead.
That’s how at 7:45am, on the eerily quiet streets of downtown, you could hear the continued crunch of our feet as for 20 minutes we carefully tried to not fall as we navigated the ice all over the sidewalks and streets. We didn’t see another person out, and only 2 cars. It was like an abandoned apocalyptic city like from that movie The Day After Tomorrow. The freezing rain had made everything slick. A text message on his and my phone even warned everyone to stay home!
It was sheer luck that 15 minutes before our Amtrak was scheduled to leave, one of the eleven Trimet Max trains that were reported to be running (they had actually stopped all public transportation- no buses were running and only the Yellow and Red had moving trains) fortunately coincided with our walk. Usually in the time we had been walking, we would have already been practically at Burnside and Broadway. That morning we only got to SW 6th and College. We felt like this.
The Yellow Line was able to transport us to Union Station, and the Amtrak train did leave on time at 8:20- three cheers for trains! Thanks to Trimet and Amtrak for saving us and assisting in our escape. The Chocofest Getaway Weekend to Seattle was on!
Travel by Train
It was beautiful observing the winter wonderland from the comfort of warm Amtrak train cars. Our train did get delayed as we had to keep stopping for the conductor to shovel out switches, but given that we were safe and browsing the internet while she had to do all the driving and work, I can’t really complain at all.
The train we were on happened to be one of the new trains that Amtrak and Travel Portland had added a special Portland Now car. If you have never taken Amtrak before to Seattle, it’s quite comfortable and I would not choose to drive to Seattle when you have this option instead. Every seat has outlets, there is free wireless (not fast enough to be streaming movies, but fine for lots of internet browsing), there are restrooms, and there is a dining car serving food and drinks (including alcohol if you are inclined). Very comfortable! Unlike the bus you can get around and walk, and there are some pretty views to the west side.
The first photo you see are the coach seats, and then the seats in the Portland Amtrak Cascades “Portland Express” dining car with the cool Pendleton patterns! Check out this Portland Monthly slideshow giving you a peek of the Portland goodness inside the train car.
Our Hotel For One Night: Edgewater
Usually the 8:20am train would get you to Seattle by 12:10, but because of the snow and ice we arrived a little late, about 2:30pm. We took a taxi to our hotel for the evening, the Edgewater. Besides being a cool boutique hotel with a lot of character right by the downtown and right on the waterfront, it was only a little more than a half mile walk to Pike Place Market and Pike Brewing. Each room has a fireplace for a little extra romance, and they seem to like bears!
I really really wanted these bear footstools. They had such cute innocent, even if slightly vacant, expressions as they peered at me every time we passed by the lobby gift shop.
Progressive Lunch/Snacking at Pike Place Market Area: Crumpet Shop and Piroshky Piroshky
After several days where most of the city was shut down, it was so exciting to walk down Pike Place Market and see all the hustle and bustle of everyone being out and about! I returned to the Crumpet Shop– I had visited previously and enjoyed a crumpet with Walnuts, Honey & Ricotta (AKA The Walrus). My friend selected the crumpet with English cheese and tomato and pesto, which I also really liked then and I was tempted to get that so I could have a whole one instead of my previous tasting bite. But there were other ones I wanted to try- and so I decided to go with entirely new crumpet topping combos.
This time I got to try a crumpet with orange marmalade Blue Stilton. I also tried a crumpet with ricotta and pesto. Both were gobbled up in mere minutes. I highly recommend the Crumpet Shop– they have been there for 36 years and have perfected crumpets. You just need to pop in for one or two and you can continue on your eating journeys, I promise!
Next was some wandering around taking in the sights of Pike Place Market vendors and the people visiting the market- such great people watching. Even though we have visited Pike Place Market many times, I never get tired of seeing it all. This time, I had additional knowledge to tell F as we walked because I had taken a Pike Place Market Food Tour with a friend on a previous visit, so I was able to at this point easily navigate to vegetarian choices for him as I now really know the layout of the market!
I’ve usually been intimidated by the line at Piroshky Piroshky, but we had time to spare now since it was still a couple hours until Chocofest. Besides, having a little more would help settle my stomach for the Chocofest event, right? When I had walked by at first on our way to the Crumpet Shop, there had been a line that snaked and was probably 20 people deep. When I returned, there were only a handful of people in my way – cough – I mean in front of me. Score!
This famous Russian Bakery also by Pike Place Market has both sweet and savory Russian pastries. I ordered the famous Smoked Salmon Pate piroshky, and we watched the Olympics event of the Women’s Biathlon (the one with skiing and shooting) as I enjoyed this warm bread stuffed with a salmon dill cheese mixture inside. It seemed very apropos. We also got the Piroshky Piroshky Potato and Cheese.
Pike Chocofest 2014 Recap
Around 5:15 we went to get in line for the Pike Chocofest. This event is also a fundraiser, as all proceeds go to Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, a local non-profit dedicated to keeping Puget Sound clean. This event was even better than last year logically because they spread the 80 vendor tables out across more space and they also had garbage cans and water stations continually refilled and easily available at various points.
As we waited in line, there was even someone who walked down with samples of Intrigue Dark Chocolate Truﬄes and cheese from Cabot (some on Simple & Crisp oranges) for us to sample as we scanned the QR code to a pdf to browse the various participating vendors and their offerings.
This is a chocolate extravaganza- so many chocolates, 14 chocolatiers alone. Look at all the flavors of Theo Chocolates, and two examples of the plates housemade Caramels utilizing Pike beers from Taste Restaurant (one of the best museum restaurants I’ve ever tried – they are in the Seattle Art Museum, nicknamed SAM here). There were also beautiful Assorted Truﬄes infused with Pike Ales from Carters Chocolates. I was in love with the Pistachio Paprika Caramel (among many decadent caramels and smoked chocolate chips) by Hot Cakes– which calls itself a a molten chocolate cakery. Love I tell you.
It’s not just chocolate in the expected sweet form however. It also appeared in
- beverage form in beer (such as Triplehorn‘s Nemesis Imperial Milk Stout with Cocoa Nibs, Naked City Brewing‘s Mint Chocolate Porter and Charlie’s Golden Ticket beers, or Airways Brewing‘s Maylani’s Coconut Stout)
- salt and chocolate combinations via fingerling potato chips and/or pretzels with cocoa nib salt from Boka
- savory sweet combos like Steelhead Diner’s Signature Chocolate Pecan Pie Tartletts with Bourbon Chantilly and Cocoa Nibs or a decadent bite like Copperleaf’s chocolate chip brioche with Pleasant View Farm Foie Gras mousse and Preserved Wenatchee cherry
Meanwhile, Honest Biscuits generously sampled 3 mini-biscuits- Beecher’s Flagship Cheese biscuits, some sort of gluten free one that my eyes glazed over past when I saw they also had Theo Chocolate and bacon biscuits. I am not ashamed to tell you I went to that table more than once and was wrapping some of those biscuits to eat the next day.
One of my favorite combinations was chocolate sprinkled on cheese, specifically Mt Townsend Creamery‘s cheeses sprinkled with grated Theo Chocolates). Combinations of cheese and chocolate included here Seastack with Theo’s 70% Ginger, Red Alder with Theo’s Coconut Curry, and New Moon with 75% Milk Chocolate!
Another great combination was the Chocolate Covered Raspberry beer cocktail, which combines Lindemans Lambic Framboise, a raspberry ale, with Samuel Smith’s Organic Chocolate Stout, courtesy of importer Merchant Du Vin.
Thankfully, there were also some other items to give you a break from all the chocolate. For instance, I really liked the Kestrel Late Harvest Chardonnay, which is a sweet dessert wine that is a steal at $18 a bottle. Pike Brewing also had a line for their BBQ Ribs meat vehicle for the Kilt Lifter BBQ sauce, accompanied by a Kimchee Cole Slaw (the Pike Kilt Lifter is their Scotch Ale), and offered some pretzel bread bites at one of their beer stations along with their Tinkertown Tart and Pike Octopus Ink beers.
The Trace Restaurant Kalua Pork Sliders were popular, as were the Metropolitan Market presented Ploughman’s Platter with Irish Cashel Blue topped wtih bacon and drizzed with honey, Colliers Welsh Cheddar, Olympia Provisions’ Salami (creminielli, wild boar) and Cornichon and Onion Mix. Maybe I went back for two helpings of that Cashel Blue mixture.
Seastar brought Porcini Mushroom Soup with Truﬄe Crème, and it being Seattle, of course there were some seafood highlights, thanks to Taylor Shellfish patiently shucking Shigoku and Kumamoto Oysters all evening.
We both really enjoyed the vendor of Finn River Cidery as well, with their brandy dessert fruit wines including a tart Black Currant and they also offered a spicy Habanero Cider with balanced sweet with a bit of fiery burn. Finn River was one of the 5 Ciders/Mead vendors that participated. There were multiple samplings of Spirits along with the available beverages of Beer (13 vendors) and Wine (9 vendors)- but with 18 Spirit and Distillery Vendors there was no way I could visit them all! I couldn’t possibly highlight all the fabulous vendors.
It finally was 9pm, and we took an evening stroll back to Edgewater, with its roaring outdoor fireplace greeting us and then turned on the fireplace in our room to snuggle up. So far, we had been in Seattle for about 7 hours. We had no more tummy room, but stopped to check out the cool Six Seven hotel restaurant. We oohed and ahhed over their menu, which uses backlighting to help you read the menu, so smart!
Museum Monday – Pacific Science Center for Modernist Cuisine and Butterflies
The next day, we ordered room service breakfast before packing up and walking a little over half a mile to Pacific Science Center to check out the Modernist Cuisine exhibit before it started to travel starting February 17. The exhibit includes about 100 photos selected from the Modernist Cuisine body of work, some that were not even published in their various Modernist Cuisine books previously. Along with this exhibit, putting together this collection also resulted in a new Modernist Cuisine tome, The Photography of Modernist Cuisine. Note this is a food photography book, not a recipe book like their others. But, I personally think viewing it in the exhibit, with its large print, is the best way to admire the outcome of their work. If you want to learn more about how, you will want the book.
The photography exhibit definitely showcase a merge of Food, Art, and Science together. It was fascinating being able to see so much exquisite detail in the larger than life formats- many of the prints you see were my size! They had to do a lot of engineering and inventions in order to create these photos.
My favorite photos were of the cross-sections like the work with the noodles and shrimp, as well as the levitating sandwiches, such as the Mushroom Swiss Burger you see next to the Mac and Cheese. My photos don’t nearly do it justice- I just am sharing a hint of how beautiful some of the work really is, if you haven’t heard of the Modernist Cuisine books or the Cooking Lab in Bellevue before.
Museum Selfie by duh, me; Variations on Pesto, and Infused Butters, both by Chris Hoover 2011; Mac and Cheese by Chris Hoover 2011 and Levitating Hamburger by Ryan Matthew Smith 2009; Wok Stir Fry by Ryan Matthew Smith 2008; A few photos of behind the scenes setup behind some of the cross-section photos in Modernist Cuisine; A Panorama of Steak by Nathan Myhrvoid 2011, all © Modernist Cuisine LLC. Modernist Cuisine exhibit.
They haven’t announced what and when all the cities are the exhibit is traveling to as of this date, so I wanted to check it out in case it did not come to Portland and who knows how long before/if it returned to the Northwest. According to their Modernist Cuisine exhibit website they will be announcing those stops soon. The exhibit was only in Seattle for four months, and these four months were its premiere before starting it’s 3 year journey around the world. If it comes into your area, I recommend taking a look, and then picking a nice place for dinner afterwards! Here’s a bit more from the TED talk by Nathan Myhrvold: Cut your food in half
After this exhibit, we stopped by the Butterfly House, where it’s 80 degrees F, to warm up a bit before we walked by the Seattle Space Needle and downtown to Yardhouse for lunch (after that photo of the wok and noodles, I was really craving garlic noodles!). We had just a smidgen of time to even make a stop at a branch of F’s company office to say hello. Then, we caught the 2pm Bolt Bus back to Portland, arriving in Portland around 5pm, and walked home to rest for our work week.
And that’s how we spent a little less than 24 hours in Seattle!
If you haven’t been before, I highly recommend visiting the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum here- I covered this is a previous post. It is my favorite of the offerings at Seattle Center, even higher on my must do list than going up to the Space Needle! Portland Monthly has their own picks for 12 hours of eating in Seattle (and I have never been to Mamnoon), but my recommendations include (I have a big spreadsheet wishlist, as I often do when I travel, but here’s the highlights I have confidence in)
- Breakfast: Serious Biscuit, Lola, Portage Bay Cafe, Skillet Diner, Toulouse Petit
- Lunch: Revel, Serious Pie, progressive eating by Pike Place Market, Salami Cured Meats, Paseo
- Drinks: Bathtub Gin, Bravehorse Tavern, Tavern Law, Quinn’s Pub, Rob Roy
- Dinner: The Whale Wins, Spinasse, Shiro’s, Sitka and Spruce
- Things to Do: Pike Place Market Wandering (or take a food tour), Chihuly Garden and Glass (if you can come late so you can see it in daytime and also when it is lit up at night), Olympic Sculpture Park, Seward Park for great view of Mt Rainier if clear, Kerry Park for a view of the Seattle skyline, Theo Chocolate tour
I’ve visited Seattle several times, so feel free to also browse other recaps I’ve done to see other deliciousness and activities I’ve enjoyed!
Have you ever done a quickie Seattle getaway? Do you plan to- and where would you go? Can I recommend two upcoming events – this coming weekend is the Seattle Wine and Food Experience, and at the end of March is the Taste Washington at CenturyLink Field Event Center on March 29 and 30- both big food festivals!