When my Seattle-based daughter met me at the airport the other day, she asked me right away if there was anything particular in the city which I would like to see this time. I have been to this city countless times, even before my daughter moved in here. Naturally, I’ve “been there, done that” in this city. So, I couldn’t think of anything and, instead, threw the question back at her.
She said I might be interested in a “food tour” at Pike Place Market. Right away, I noticed she said the magic word—food! Naturally, I said YES without batting an eyelash and, immediately, made definite plans with her to embark on this culinary journey the day after my arrival.
Pike Place Market is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers markets in the US, where small farmers sell their fresh produce, fisherfolk display fresh seafood, and craftspeople sell their goods at attractive prices. Facing the Elliott Bay Waterfront, this very popular tourist attraction in Seattle is named after the city’s central street, Pike Place.
So, the following day, we found ourselves navigating on foot through the throng of tourists at Pike Place Market. First stop was the Daily Dozen, a regular-sized stall that sells freshly baked mini doughnuts. Customers flock to this stall for made-to-order flavors, the most popular of which is the Maple Bacon Doughnut.
Of course, it was what I chose and the lady baked it right in front of me, covered it with cream, flavored with maple syrup and topped with bacon bits, translating to a heavenly bite each time.
I couldn’t have enough of the doughnut, but knowing that this was just our first stop, I decided to control myself and save for later what was left of the dozen pieces I ordered.
Next stop was the Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, a facility whose glass walls enable passers-by to watch the cheese-making process. Inside is a retail shop that sells its popular cheeses and a café that offers cheese-based meals. I was not content with the small pieces given out as free samples, so I decided to buy a slab of cheese, especially when I found out that they use only pasteurized milk for their cheeses. Now, I see why it is the favorite of TV star Oprah Winfrey.
After all that walking around, it was time to be seated for an honest-to-goodness lunch, and for that, we chose the iconic Athenian Seafood Restaurant and Bar. First opened more than a hundred years ago, 1909, by three brothers from Greece, thus the name, this is the same restaurant where a scene from Sleepless in Seattle was filmed.
In fact, on the walls of the restaurant are photos taken of actors Tom Hanks and Rob Reiner during the filming. The bar counter to the right of the entrance is where the two actors played their respective roles as friends discussing their favorite topic, women. That specific spot on the counter is marked with a metal plate so tourists can easily locate the perfect spot for their photo-ops. But what is more important is that the restaurant’s food is good, the prices are reasonable, and wherever you are seated, you have a nice view of the bay.
After the sumptuous lunch, we decided to have coffee at the original Starbucks, diagonally across from the restaurant. It is the coffee shop chain’s very first store, which opened in 1971. Management has decided to keep its original appearance through these years to emphasize its historic significance. Although there was a kilometric queue for seating inside the store, we didn’t mind it because we wanted to see how they preserved the outlet’s “old look.”
After a 45-minute wait, we finally got our seats and felt like we were teleported back to how it was, almost 50 years ago. The original, weathered, brown Starbucks logo, showing the two-tailed mermaid, still hangs on the wall, and the baristas prepare the coffee mixes using the manual espresso machine on worn-out wooden counters.
Before we went home, we made one more stop—a must-do on the food tour, bringing home fresh seafood, to enjoy them in the succeeding days. The Pike Place Fish Company is where they sell bigger-than-big Alaskan King Crabs and Jumbo Shrimps.
The staffers in this stall have a very interesting marketing gimmick—every time a customer buys any of their seafood, they all cheer in unison, like in a game, at the end of which the front staffer throws the item for another staffer at the back of the stall to catch, a trick that passers-by always record on film.
As we headed home, I was contented that I was able to experience another interesting “tourist gem” of Seattle, although I wasn’t really looking for one because the reason why I’m here is to be with my adorable grandsons who give me joy to the max. They are my “happily ever after” which no food tour anywhere in the world can ever equal, much less, surpass!
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