Thursday, June 29, 2006

Days of Discovery

A friend of mine got published in Pology Magazine about her experience in Sienna, Italy. She was really lucky to get adopted by a contrata! Complimenti!

Today has been a day of discovery.

Salumi--after wondering where this legendary place was for years, I finally found it. C and I walked there after class for lunch, but there was a line out the door, so we kept walking. Armandino Batali, father of celeb chef Molto Mario retired form Boeing a few years ago and quietly opened this tiniest of all possible restaurants in a gritty part of town, on 3rd Ave between Pioneer Square and the ID, near the Union Gospel Mission and the train station. It's been slammed ever since it opened. We're going to try to go next week.

Tamarind Tree--This is where C and I ended up having lunch. I've read gushing reviews about this place, and since I'm almost a regular at Saigon Bistro, I see a lot of yuppies in the parking lot. They've set up an outdoor dining section, complete with a big artificial water feature. The inside is decorated in a very tastefull import-store chic; warm colors, big broad potted plants, lots of natural fibers. C pointed out that they serve excellent margaritas at the big, beautiful bar, which glowed in the afternoon sunlight.

Given all this atmosphere, I was prepared to get ripped off. After all, Vietnamese food is everywhere in this part of Seattle, and it's always fresh, good, and cheap. Well, guess what, Tamarind Tree is fresh, good, and cheap. I was a little worried about the dark, hardwood chopsticks I was given to eat with, and also a little curious that you can get a bowl of noodles, or pay $2 more and get that same food served on a platter. It seems obvious to me that it's a tax on people who can't eat with chopsticks...

Big John's PFI-- C and I walked to this secret imported food place after lunch. It's a got all the canned san marzano tomatoes, bulk lentils, and crazy pasta shapes you could ever want, tucked away in a industrial looking parking lot behind the old Immigration building. You can get imported cheeze and jamon serrano for cheap (minimum 1lb purchase). I'll go back for buccatini.

Porcella Urban Market in Bellevue--Didn't actually go here, because it's on the eastside. C didn't want to go there either; but K's mom insisted, and they are glad they went. She said it's a little expensive, but she got a big old plate of jamon serrano, good jamon serrano, which might be worth crossing the lake for.

The critics all cream over Seven Stars Pepper Szechuan Restuarant, making it one of the it restaurants in Seattle. I like it, too, H and I like to go there for the firepot (H wasn't crazy about the menu). But I asked my Mandarin prof, and she said she didn't like it; too much msg. Msg = Mmm, So Good. She recommended crossing to Lao Sichuan Hou Gou, which doesn't look like much from the street. But actually, considering it's 'little Saigon' neighbors are Saigon Bistro, Saigon Deli, Tamarind Tree, Than Vi, and Malay Satay Hut, it's in excellent company. Seven Stars Pepper and Huong Bihn are just across the street. All are fresh, good, and cheap.

Time for a broad generalization: people who live in Seattle but don't eat in the International District are not worth knowing. There! I said it!

I had heard of Waterfall Park but I never actually knew where it was. Well, I stumbled upon it on my walk to class the other day, and it's a real, honest-to-God waterfall sanctuary in the Pioneer Square district. A plaque dedicates the park to the workers of UPS, which was founded on that spot.

A was so excited about getting published, she declared a karaoke emergency. We made some phone calls and then went to the Rickshaw Cafe, which has a lot of buzz as a karaoke joint. When we got there, the karaoke place was small, bright, and dead. Yes, the sound was good and they had wireless handheld remote mics, but I suggested we bolt. So the it was off to the Mandarin Gate. It was still early, but at least it was darker. Cocktail Frank was there, and so was Mike, who I recognized from 10 years ago. He said he hadn't been there in a while... neither had I, so it was a big fat coincidence that we were both there on the same night. No Amy O or Amy Amy Amy. is a now defunct blog that I found while searching for a link to the Mandarin Gate above. Thought it was interesting. A also reccomended her friend's as yet unnamed travel blog.

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