Cooking Local on Vacation

One of the most fabulous and fun ways that Anthony and I eat locally and also save money on vacation is to always rent a place with a kitchen, and aim to cook 2/3rds of our meals. That seems like a reasonable and sustainable goal, that still allows us to eat out, try local restaurants (food carts in Portland, anyone?) but also have moderate portions of healthy meals, which can be really hard to find.

When we first got to Seattle, the first thing we did the first morning was to go to the nearby Madison Market food co-op to shop for the ingredients to make special meals on the trip.

Madison Market food co-op

I love this place. It was like what Whole Foods wants to appear to be – it really stocks only sustainable produce, meat and fish. We asked the fish counter for which fish was wild, and the Fishmonger looked a bit disgusted and said, “they’re all wild. We don’t sell farmed fish here.” How cool is that?

wild fish counter

They also had a shelf devoted to gluten-free beer, also known as my personal heaven.

GF beer

They also sold tons of local cheeses, which looked great, although we skipped them, having sampled so many at farmers markets, etc.

local cheese

We ended up leaving with:

  • Local wild snapper
  • Organic canned refried beans
  • green apples
  • local goats yogurt
  • red cabbage
  • limes from California
  • chipotle paste
  • carrots
  • ground local elk
  • swiss chard
  • local tomato sauce (I think!)
  • Beer for me ūüôā

Now, don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t cheap. We could have eaten out at cheaper restaurants for about the same cost. However, we had meals that highlighted local ingredients that would have cost 3-4x more in a restaurant, plus we had the delight of preparing it exactly the way we wanted to.

If you’re not used to cooking while on vacation, I couldn’t recommend it more. It’s such a great way to live like a local – shopping and eating in the same places they do. ¬†Not to mention, it was such a blast to get to experiment with ingredients that I’ve never had before, such as elk – so delicious, and not at all gamey when minced, if you’re curious.

Ever Eaten a Pigs Ear? Restaurant Review: Local 360

We decided, before we left, that each city would have one fun night out at a restaurant.  We asked for recommendations from everyone from Microsoft employees to the Barista at Caffe Vita, and the results were unanimous Рwe had to try Local 360.

Local 360

Local 360 is one of Seattle’s answers to the farm-to-table delicious trend that is getting more and more popular. They focus on sustainable food from nearby farms, and serve seasonal and rustic fair with a definite flair for fun and quirk.

Local 360 menu

The appetizers included such delicacies as a Pigs Ear (unfortunately, not gluten-free, or you know I would have tried it) and PB&J bon bons (too sweet for me.) However, they did have some of the best Deviled Eggs I’ve ever tasted. ¬†The menu was varied for all dietary preferences, and included most welcome markings for Vegetarian Friendly and Gluten Free – I am so grateful when a restaurant does the work for me and tells me what’s gluten-free up front.

devilled eggs

We also ordered a wine flight to share of local wines – it was like having a wine tasting at dinner, so much fun!

wine flight

After that, unfortunately, we stopped taking photos.  Anthony ordered the Wednesday ribs special, which was really delicious, with a lot of decadent goodies with a fresh twist, such as a cornbread waffle, and sweet potato salad.  I ordered something that I am not permitted to say on this blog in case my mother ever found out, but I found it a bit tough and not particularly thoughtfully prepared.

I would definitely visit Local 360 again, but would veer more towards their appetizers and small plates in lieu of their mains – the small plates all looked so delicious and creative. ¬†Isn’t that always the way?

I’d also stop by for a drink and their beautiful wooden bar, and enjoy the ambiance and scene of people wanting to support local food, a great restaurant, and have a good time.

Local and Exotic – Bainbridge Island, Seattle, WA

After an amazing morning and a market lunch, we decided on a whim to hop on the ferry over to Bainbridge Island.

Bainbridge Island ferry

It was a perfect day, there was a gorgeous breeze, and we’d heard charming things about the lovely island 35 minutes of the Seattle coast. If everything about Bainbridge was a disappointment (which, I assure you, it was not) it would still be worth it to have seen a ferry of this magnitude.

Bainbridge Island Ferry

¬†That’s not a bridge, that’s a ferry. ¬†It holds 250 cars and over 1000 people. ¬†It made for a very smooth and relaxing ride, particularly on such a perfect day.

Bainbridge is an adorable island with a not so small population of 27,500. It has heaps of shops, wine tasting venues, and restaurants.  It also plays hosts to innumerable festivals and events, that we wish we could have stayed to see. We walked around a bit, until I was drawn like a moth to a flame into Churchmouse Yarns and Teas, a fabulous local knitting store Рwhich is where I stayed, for about an hour and a half, while Anthony wandered around.

Churchmouse Yarns and Teas

This shop would be a local knitters dream – incredible and funny staff, beautifully spun, hand woven yarns, and a bright and airy atmosphere dripping with inspiration.

Churchmouse Yarns and Teas

They host classes, but even if you’re not there for a class, one of the amazing staff members (I worked with Kathy, a.k.a “The Brain” of knitting, for well over 30 minutes) will show you the ropes and get you started.

Blue Moon fibers

I ended up splurging on some gorgeous local yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, spun some three hours away in Scappoose, Oregon. ¬†The pattern I chose was a bit tricky for me, but Kathy patiently walked me through several dozen times until I felt comfortable enough to head out. I can’t wait to go back to Bainbridge and visit this shop again – it’s easily a place I could spend several days happy stitching and giggling with the amazing staff and clientele.¬†

Afterwards (and after thanking Anthony profusely for patiently letting me learn the proper casting on technique half a dozen times) we headed to the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, a stunningly designed and lovingly curated collection of local, regional, and other artists.  It was remarkable to see so much artwork made right there, on such a small island. Anthony was particularly impressed with the woodwork. 

Bainbridge Island Museum of Art

(source)

What makes Seattle, and particularly Bainbridge, so special, is the people. Everyone we met was so friendly, eager to talk about the area and make recommendations, and give us resources, including the names and studios of woodworkers, in case Anthony wanted to talk to them. ¬†It was such a radically different experience than I’ve ever had before, but I can’t wait to experience it again.

First Morning In Seattle

Our first morning in Seattle was fantastic.  When Ant and I travel together, 80% of the time, we use airbnb.  It can really make or break a vacation, but luckily for us, this one was made by our awesome hosts, Megan and Saul.  The room was private, comfortable and spotless, they were happy to share their kitchen, but most importantly, they were friendly and relaxed.  Little things, like being perfectly happy to coordinate cooking times, share their spices with us, and tell us the details of their composting make the stay as special as staying in a fancy B&B.

On the first morning, after having a breakfast at home, we headed out to Pike Place Market.  We both really wanted to focus on the special and unique parts of Seattle Рnot necessarily the first Starbucks, but the quirky and the delightful.

We found that first in Caffe Vita, a fabulous roaster and coffee house in the Capitol Hill area. 

Caffe Vita - Seattle

They roast their own single origin espresso, have stellar baristas, and a friendly and laid back vibe. It was so cool to see “local coffee” redefined, as they roast each and every bean they brew and press, right out the back!

roaster

It was amazing to see, particularly while sipping such a delightful brew. What we loved most about it, however, was the staff.  From day one, they were super friendly, but when we came back on day two, we were so surprised that they remembered us, asked us how our first day in Seattle was, and were more than happy to make restaurant recommendations that they enjoyed. It make us feel like we were the locals. (By the way, please check their website for incredible detail on their blends, single origin espresso, and roasting process Рso fascinating and far more in depth than I could dream of posting here.)

Fully revved up, we continued walking down to the infamous Pike Place Market. 

Pike Place Market

If we had expected a quick, 30 minute trip, we were absolutely wrong. Pike Place requires at least a few hours to really get the feel of all the amazing shops, stalls and things to see. For photographers, it can’t be beat. Luckily, I’m not one, so snapshots sufficed.¬†

pike place nuts

From the moment you enter, the scents are overwhelming. At Pike Place Nuts, they roast all of their own nuts, with a bunch of different flavors.  Delicious!

A pickle like no other

Britt’s pickles were out of this world amazing. ¬†She makes a variety of pickles, as well as kimchi and shots of pickle juice – while perhaps it sounds weird, it tasted refreshing and fabulous. ¬†I bought a gorgeous sour pickle, and was such a happy camper. She naturally ferments all her pickles, rather than rushing it with extreme heat and pasteurization, which allows the healthy bacteria and amazing flavor to remain. She even sells “Picklators”, which are sets to make your own pickles at home – a fun gift for the preserving newbie!

Pike Place Fish Co

But of course, the most famous stall at Pike Place Markets is the “Flying fish guys”, also known as Pike Place Fish Co. They’re most famous for yelling and throwing fish around, but in my opinion, they should be famous for their total commitment to transparency and 100% sustainable farming.¬†

sustainable fish

Not to mention, their fabulous signage. 

Cherries

Of course, to finish our morning, I had to buy a bag of locally grown cherries. The salesman was so thoughtful Рhe even provided a pit bag, for my eating pleasure! Talk about fast food.  

Until later!

Kat