Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Let's just start by saying that it was a week of eating well. Our gastronomical vacation began at Beecher's Cheese in Seattle's Pike Place Market. A great recommendation from Shim + Sons. We were lucky to get there just before closing and ordered two Flagship sandwiches (grilled cheese with tomato and basil.) Calder claimed half of mine and gobbled it gone.

After grabbing the oh-so-healthy donuts and coffee for breakfast at the great find Top Pot Doughnuts, we hit the road and arrived a few hours later across the border in Vancouver where for dinner we enjoyed a great meal at a hip small plate restaurant called Habit on South Main. Dinner was 3 dishes, carrot and brie perogis, crispy tofu with wild mushrooms and a sweet chili sauce, and a chicken curry with apple and raisin chutney, almonds and apricots, on basmati rice. For dessert we had the cinnamon creme brulee with ginger snaps. And to drink, pints of a great Guinness doppelganger, Crannog Ales' organic "Back Hand of God Stout". Yum!

The next morning we found our way to breakfast on South Granville at Paul's Place Omlettery. A basic breakfast place, but local and good. This was followed by a visit to the Granville Island Public Market to wander, look and gather cheese, fruit and treats for lunch back in our hotel room.

For dinner Jeff's co-worker treated us to an extra special meal at Vij, known to be one of the best restaurants in Vancouver. It was delicious. The lamb popsicles were the best. Calder was not on board with sitting at the table, but found a lot of attention at the adjacent table of four would-be grandmothers as well as with the chefs in the open kitchen.

While Papa was conference-ing Calder and I explored UBC's Museum of Anthropology, also known as the "totem pole museum." It was a good space to run around amongst the carvings; fairly empty on a Tuesday.

Though it was cold, the sky did clear enough to offer decent views of the surrounding mountain drama. What a beautiful place to build a city.

Calder has been really into rocks, digging, and big diggers lately. It's pretty fun stuff. I think they're cool too. He could have spent a lot more time sitting out there in the gravel, but mama wanted to eat again!

This time it was back to South Main for lunch and treats at Liberty Bakery (recommended, along with Habit, in a past issue of Sunset.) The sandwich was good, the sacher torte quite good, and the boy enjoyed his dachshund-shaped gingerbread cookie.

Man, this kid was a real trooper. It's not easy on a little one to eat most of your meals in restaurants. We were quite fortunate to get bumped up to a room on the 25th floor with access to the concierge lounge where Calder and I could enjoy a bountiful and complimentary continental breakfast while watching the sea planes fly in and out of Coal Harbor. Deluxe!

Another Vancouver dining out experience I should mention is a place called The Foundation. It was dark, crowded and extremely popular vegetarian restaurant. It was not an easy night out for mama and boy. He fell asleep on the way there and there was a line to get in. Without littles or perhaps an earlier arrival time would have made this place work better, but I still would recommend it. A lot of the food I saw getting passed around looked really great.

We returned to Seattle mid-week and once again found ourselves hungry. This time we started our day with a sound breakfast at Easy Street Records in West Seattle. A music store and cafe - great place, vibe, good for kids. Calder enjoyed the bacon... clearly.

And we could not miss out on SAM's Olympic Sculpture Park. A chance for Calder to walk amongst a real Calder?! Yes, please!

Oh yes, and the Space Needle.

The next day, with my lovely cousin Alemitu in tow, we paid a visit to the new Seattle Public Library. What a trip. The restrooms are located on the 4th floor, an interior-of-an-organ-like space.

And the long, narrow escalators that travel multiple floors at once, chartreuse transportation.

On the 10th floor overlook, showing no fear.

Highly recommended, the Dahlia Bakery was a winner. The coconut cream pie (2-bite version) was so light and perfect. And this combination - a rhubarb/pistachio/honey cream tart - could not be passed up. I wish we'd been able to stop in around the corner for pizza at Serious Pie. Next time.

What? you say, another meal? That's right. Live to eat. Eat to live. This time it was sandwiches for dinner at The Honey Hole in Capitol Hill. There wasn't much in the way of great kid food. He pretty much had fries for dinner. But the ambiance was good and the music was loud enough that Calder could play along on the harmonica and not cause a scene.

Whew! Last day of the trip! Driving down to Pike Place for a quick breakfast before heading back to Portland. Well, that was the plan, but then we spotted the ferries at the bottom of the hill. (We had missed them by seconds the other day.) So we zoomed down the street and were the second to last car to make it on. A half hour later, coffee'd, and quite pleased by the panoramic view of the Olympics and Cascades, we drove off onto Bainbridge Island.

Had a tasty breakfast at the Streamliner Diner - again finding ourselves seated by the grandparent-types eager to entertain and be entertained by a 19 month old. This is maybe the 3rd or 4th time I've eaten here. (The first time with a little guy.) And it's great. The staff is great. The folks who eat there are pretty good too.

We drove home to Portland the back way (via Poulsbo/Bremerton/Tacoma Narrows bridge/I-5.) It took longer than expected. Not sure why. And it was a long trip in general. Lots of driving. LOTS of eating out with a little guy. But we had fun. I warmed up to Vancouver, though it was more of a city than I was prepared for. Much more traffic and fewer neighborhood scenes (well, at least ones without really busy streets) than I'd expected. Seattle showed off a bit more. We found more neighborhoods. They were distinct and intimate and had obvious highlights (read: great places to eat.) Portland still completely shines in my book. It has tons of distinct neighborhoods, has comparatively mild traffic and I am consistently impressed and inspired to explore the food possibilities all over the city. I'm glad we're nearest you, Portland. It's good to be home.

I'd like to thank Sally at Shim+Sons, Alicia at Posie Gets Cozy and Sunset Magazine for most of the tips on things to see, do and eat in Seattle and Vancouver.


Anonymous said...

You guys are so cute! I have yet to read the generous post, but wow, great pics...the one of calder with the totem pole in the distance ... pretty amazing.

What a cool trip!

love, D

Tracy said...

taking notes! we will be back up through seattle and vancouver en route to the cottage this summer. sounds like lots of yummy spots!

Daisy said...

Wow, you guys have have been super busy lately! I can truly see the light and happiness radiating right through...awesome!

much love and light to the three of you!

PS. Once of these years, we'll make a pilgrimage out to see you guys; we might bring Allen along with us, too!

Jennifer said...

You guys look great and are obviously happy and healthy. We miss you and hope to see you again.

Jen, Erik and Hewitt