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The Lonesome Traveler Hits Seattle Again for IFBC 2010

Okay, I know this post is woefully late in coming, but that’s part of the rub about travelling. Once you get back home, you’re bombarded by real life again. And for me, that means family obligations, work backlogs and writing deadlines. Unfortunately, the paying gigs take precedence, so SGCC often has to take the back burner.  Hence, the lateness of this post.  I’m not complaining, though.  I’m very grateful for the paying gigs.  I still have to pinch myself sometimes to believe that I work as a professional writer.  How fortunate I am to have the opportunity to get paid for something that I love to do!

So, I’m actually beginning to get pretty good at this travelling by myself thing.  Last May, I ventured out alone for the inaugural International Food Blogger Conference [1] in Seattle [2].  I shared with you then how anxious and yet, exhilarated I was to be “putting on my big girl pants” and taking my first solo trip.  Bolstered by the wonderful experience, I trekked cross country again a few months later for BlogHer Food [3] in San Francisco [4]. Again, a wonderful and exciting experience!  So, when the time came to register for IFBC 2010 [5], it was a no brainer. I was an old pro. I signed up without giving it a second thought.  And of course, I am so very glad that I did.

I arrived in Seattle a few days early so that I would be sure to have lots of time to explore the city, especially Pike Place Market [6].  The market was the highlight of my trip last year, and I couldn’t wait to go back!  I checked into my delightful little jewel box of a room at the Hotel Monaco [7] and planned my attack.

I spent my first day grazing my way through Pike Place Market, the holy grail of fresh produce, meats, cheeses, specialty foods and crafts.  As always, the abundant selection of gorgeous fresh fruits and vegetables left me breathless, as did the magnificent flower displays!  Honestly, I could live at that market! After sampling some of the sweetest, juiciest peaches I’d ever tasted, I bought some to snack on back at the hotel along with some dewy, plump figs and Rainier cherries.

Then, I made my way over to Pike Place Fish [8] and placed my order for fifty pounds of the some of the freshest seafood on the planet.  I swear I saw one of those Dungeness crabs winking at me!  I got a whole King salmon and a black cod, several pounds of halibut cheeks, Dungeness crabs (Mr. SGCC’s fave) and spot prawns.  Spot prawns! Major score! I’d only dreamed about ever finding spot prawns after seeing them prepared on Top Chef!  The folks at Pike Place Fish are great. They shipped my whole order, packed in ice, overnight to my house, so that it got there the same day I did.

I know that fifty pounds seems like a lot, but we love fish.  I also do share with family and friends, and freeze some to enjoy later.  Even flown in from the Pacific Northwest, the seafood from Pike Place Fish is superior to much of what I can find here.  It’s not cheap, but let me give you a little tip. If you buy a whole fish there, you’ll pay an average of six to seven dollars per pound less than if you buy fillets.  And, the best part is that the fish guys will clean and fillet the fish for you before they send it.  So basically, you’re getting the exact same product for a lot less money.  Sweet!

After a luscious crab roll with a crab chowder chaser from Pike Place Chowder [9], I popped into Beecher’s Handmade Cheese [10] for more tasting and to check things out.  I left with a small wedge of their sassy, aged, Flagship Cheddar and visions dancing in my head of the fab fresh fig and cheddar midnight snack I would enjoy later.

On my way back to the Monaco, I zigged when I should have zagged and ended up right smack in front of Nordstrom.  What luck!  It was obviously kismet. I had to go inside.  I won’t bore you with the details of my little shopping frenzy spree.  Some things are better left unsaid.

One of the “do not miss” experiences in Seattle that I’d been told about was lunch at Armandino Batali’s storefront deli, Salumi [11]. In case you don’t recognize the name, Armandino is the father of celebrity chef, Mario Batali [12].  After retiring from a thirty year career at Boeing in 1996, Batali decided to go to cooking school. He became fascinated with meat, particularly cured meats, and spent the next few years learning everything there was to know about the art of curing meat, including a stint traveling through Italy to learn with the masters.  Salumi was the culmination of Batali’s culinary journey.

Only open four afternoons a week, this little hole in the wall deli is one of the most popular lunch spots in the Emerald City.  The line to get in regularly snakes down the street and around the block.  Despite the long wait, no self respecting Italian foodie would dream of missing an opportunity of a meal there – especially not me!   So, on Friday morning, I hiked all the way down there to be gastronomically wowed.  Luckily, I got there early and only had to wait about forty minutes.

I ordered Salumi’s signature Porchetta sandwich and what a sandwich it was! My, oh my, oh my!   I held in my hands a masterpiece of glistening, juicy, hunks and shreds of pork punctuated with sweet peppers and onions all enveloped in a massive slab of crusty Italian bread.  The heady aroma of garlic, herbs and pig made me weak in the knees.  I could barely contain myself long enough to snap a picture of it!  On the way out, I ran into several other food bloggers waiting on line. Word gets around!

Thoroughly satiated (and stuffed to the gills), I then made my way to the Filson store [13].  What? You’ve never heard of the Filson store?  C.C. Filson opened his flagship Seattle sports and outerwear store in 1897, during the Great Klondike Gold Rush [14].  Among other things, the company manufactures the highest quality jackets, coats, sweaters, shirts, pants, caps and shorts, as well as leather goods and even luggage.  Filson products are a great favorite of Mr. SGCC. It’s no small wonder why, since he is a Filson too.  I promised him that I would make the time to visit (and pick up a few things) while I was in town.  I had to chuckle when I handed the store clerk my credit card to pay for my stuff.  She just kind of stared at it for a minute, looked at me and then back at the card.  Then, she asked the inevitable questions:  “Is your name really Filson?” and “Are you one of THE Filsons?” To which I replied, “Yes, and yes.” That’s right, folks.  Mr. SGCC is distantly, many times removed, somewhere down the line, related to C.C. Filson.  So you see, there was no way I could leave Seattle without stopping by.  And by the way, the staff was just as nice and helpful as could be, even before they knew my name.  😉

I got back to my digs at the Monaco with just enough time for a quick nap and a quick change before the IFBC opening festivities.   Luckily, the cocktail reception was being held at the hotel so I didn’t have to travel far.  I was beyond excited to see old friends again and hopefully, make many more new ones! But, this post is already waaaay to long!  So, as the immortal Scarlett O’Hara would say, “Tomorrow is another day!”.   I promise you it won’t take me two weeks to post Part 2 of my Seattle adventure.