So Mr. FB and I are visiting relatives in Seattle. Grungeville. Land of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Here Come the Brides. Raise your hand if you remember that movie or TV show from back when dinosaurs roamed the earth in either black and white or Technicolor. But Seattle is also land of Kurt Cobaine and Courtney Love and Bill Gates.
What’s most relevant for a FoodBeest, is that this is the land of wild salmon so fresh that ruby red filets practically swim into the kitchen. Huge, juicy mussels abound that make the ones I find in Chicago crawl back into their shells with jealousy. In a city that considers stewardship of the planet to be a religion, recycling is a sacrament. It looks excessive at first glance – all food scraps go into a container on the counter, then out for the recycling trucks to pick up – but I know I could be an easy convert.
We arrived in this northwestern-most continental U.S. city around 7:15pm (9:15 said our bodies) and after retrieving our luggage, were greeted and hugged and swept off to The Flying Fish, a lovely seafood restaurant in South Lake Union, a recently gentrified/hipified neighborhood of town.
The Flying Fish 300 West Lake N., Seattle
The Flying Fish is totally Seattle. Clean. Minimal. Casual. Hip. Great fresh fish prepared with an Asian flair. Chef Christine Keff is a James Beard Award-winner. No small accomplishment. Her passion shows.
I was starved, having had nothing but a Fiber Bar for many hours and the menu looked wonderful.
We ordered an Ahi Poke as an appetizer for the table. Coarsely chopped tuna seasoned with tobiko marinade, macadamia nuts, and sesame and adorned with crispy sweet potato shoestrings. It was lovely and the perfect size for the four of us to get started as we sipped white wine.
Mr. FB had an Alaskan halibut marinated in charmoula (an exotic, but delicate Moroccan marinade of herbs, oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and salt). It was served with a tabbouleh, and a parsley and fennel salad that mimicked homemade sauerkraut. As good as that was, as perfectly cooked as it was, it was not the star of the evening.
The star that night was what my SIL and I both ordered: a Seafood Hot Pot – not the kind of hot pot we’ve had it in Chinatown – but a seafood stew of scallops, mussels, tiny clams and shrimp in the sweetest, creamiest green curry I have tasted. I didn’t even think I liked curries until a visit to Thailand about five years ago where tasting curry goes with breathing and I discovered the subtle nuance that that a green curry lends to delicate seafood. This was the best green curry I could imagine.
We finished dinner with pumpkin doughnut “dots” with chocolate and caramel sauces. These doughnut holes seem to be the big new thing in restaurant desserts. These certainly weren’t the best doughnut holes we’d ever eaten, but let’s face it, Fellow FoodBeest, fried, sugared dough ain’t bad any way.
The next day Mr. RB and went off to explore the city attractions on our own: on foot and by bus. This city is so green – both literally and in practice, we are wondering if it could possibly be a real city? Leafy trees everywhere. No sign of the city’s legendary grey skies and rain, although temperatures in the mid-to-low 70s are a nice break from the weeks-long heat wave plaguing my big concrete city this summer.
I had done some research with other FoodBeests/Chowhounds and had gotten recommendations for lunch. Some suggested Henry’s Taiwan, others Seven Seas for Szechwan crab, El Paseo for “the most beloved sandwich in town” or to Mistral Kitchen (and thank you to all of you!).
Salumi 300 Third Avenue South, Seattle
We settled on Salumi, which as its name implies is a pantheon of artisan-cured meats. Italian sausages: salamis, pepperonis, pancettas, and on and on. The owners are Batalis – apparently related to Celebrity Chef Mario, and with the same love of and care for perfect Italian cured meats.
We took a bus to find this place – it is nowhere near the tourist areas. And it’s tiny: a narrow slit in the city’s architecture that allows hungry FoodBeests to line up down the street in anticipation of extraordinary food. We’d had a full day and it was nearly 3:30 so we knew we were going to miss the crowds. What we didn’t anticipate was that Salumi was also going to be out of bread. No matter.
We approached the counter, where they told us what was still left. We ordered a gazpacho and the Salumi cured meat platter with cheese and olives for two and they set us up on two stools in the window (the whole place seats maybe 20 people total.
Minutes later we were served the most amazing cured meat platter (that did include two ends of bread [hurray!]). Fellow FoodBeest this was amazing. It fairly glistened with the sparkle of a special effects lens. I didn’t think it was possible to find this kind of Italian sausage meat outside of Italy. The plate was covered with paper-thin slices of Finnochiona Salami, hot Soppresata Salami, Mole (Yes, chocolate!) Salami, Anise Pepperoni, Coppa-cured Pork Shoulder… and, of course, Salumi Salami. That was topped with slices of sweet, creamy gorgonzola (if you ever thought you didn’t like blue cheese, I promise Fellow FoodBeest, this will change your mind) and a sharp Provolone Piccante that firmly places the plastic packaged stuff in the world of fragrant wax. Some oil-cured olives, a bottle of San Pellegrino, and we devoured everything
There is little to say about the gazpacho. It was tasty, rather garlicky, and rustic. I kept pulling tough, unpleasant red pepper skins out of my mouth. If you visit Salumi, Fellow FoodBeest (and I highly recommend that you do) don’t bother with anything but the meat. Ah, the meat.