Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eating my way through Pike Place

I love markets- the sights, the sounds, the people, the colours, but most importantly the food and its even better when there are samples. I took a quick weekend trip down to Washington for the sous chef's cousins wedding in Puyallup. While the Friday was all about rushing to the wedding and a yummy dessert reception with all sorts of cupcakes and chocolate- Saturday really turned into a day all about eating!. We started up at the Best Western continental breakfast (make your own waffle station with peanut butter, bannana and syrup) and then headed to Seattle for lunch. Rather than going to one place for a sit down restaurant lunch, we decided to do a "market crawl."
We started at the Pear Delicatessen and Shoppe, where Leah and Adam were chomping at the bit to get "the best chicken salad sandwich." This shop was awesome, a warm inviting deli counter with reasonably priced soups, sandwiches, and entrees and shelves stocked with all sorts of gourmet pastas, sauces, condiments, and oils. Definitely my kind of place.

I ordered an in-house made deli giant dill pickle (1.79) and this pickly was DYNAMITE. Fresh, crunchy, crispy with just enough bite.
Leah and Adam each got a Post Alley Favourite sandwich (around $6) chopped chicken breast, mayo, dried cranberries, salt and pepper, slivered almonds, lettuce and tomatoes on a crusty french baguette). They were generous enough to let me have a bit and it was really nice. The chicken was chopped breast (no canned junk here), the mayo was thick and creamy, but the star of the sandwich was definitely the slivered almonds mixed in. It definitely adds a slightly salty element and a different textural element. The sous chef and Leah and Adam also ordered some of their daily beet borsht soup (around $3-4). More of a stew, than a soup: the texture was super chunky and tasted amazingly fresh. It also had a slight spice to it and a nice vinegar flavour from chunks of pickled cabbage.
Leah stopped in at Cinnamon Works (tonnes of gluten free and vegan options) to grab a cookie. This wasn't just any cookie this was definitely a cookie designed for MOMMA. She picked the Wheat Free Monster Cookie ($3.75).
They list the ingredients in the bakery window and this behemoth is made up with oats, peanut butter, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, walnuts, butter, eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and baking soda. I love any kind of peanut butter/butterscotch/chocolate combo and this was pretty freaking amazing. Chewy, warm, and gooey- Leah was generous enough to share and I'm so thankful that she did.
Then we wandered through the bowels of the busy market and launched into a sample tasting frenzy. Flavoured almonds, blueberry balsamic and vinegar, pepper jellies, fresh jams, lavendar honey, pumpkin butter, basil infused olive oil, chocolate pasta, jerky, fudge, produce, alder smoked salmon, dried veggie chips, lemon curd....I was almost too full and too overwhelmed to actually buy lunch. ALMOST.
I finally decided to go with my gut and a little bit of food blog research and headed to the Market Grill to get either a bowl of "Seattle's Best Clam Chowder" or a blackened salmon sandwich. The Market Grill is a very tiny bar with about 13 seats directly across from one of the larger seafood stalls. I wandered up to the bar and asked the tattooed and pierced gal working the counter, which I should go for- the chowder or the sandwich. Without skipping a beat, she said  get both and punched up an order for a small chowder and half a Blackened Salmon sandwich with the works ($13.75). 
I eagerly watched the giant pot of thick chowder bubbling on the stovetop and the fresh fillets of salmon coated in blackening spices before they hit the grill. 
 The clam chowder was amazing, definitely warranted of the "Seattle's best chowder" award. Creamy, without being too thick and overwhelming, this chowder balances the potato, clam, herb flavours perfectly. There was a generous amount of clams throughout and not too much potato or other fillers. I added some fresh pepper and hot pepper sauce for extra kick and the results were phenemonal.
My sandwich was fishy, ooey, gooey goodness. It was good I only got half, because this sandwich was stuffed and quite large. The tightly grilled baguette was from Pike Place bakery Le Panier and it was soft and chewy- which compliemented the soft sandwich fillings.
Inside was a generous fillet of wild coho salmon, blackened with spices and grilled to perfection, with lettuce, tomato, grilled onions and oozing with an almost overwhelming amount (but it's sooooo good) tasty rosemary mayo.
The perfect end to a Pike Place Seattle food crawl!

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