Long-time readers of casacaudill may know that every February, Alan and I take about a week off to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Since our wedding was in Maui - in and of itself an amazing vacation destination - it's kind of a nice tradition to take the time away from the stresses of work and every day life. Last year was our trip to Paris which was an absolutely amazing trip (if you don't count the debacle with NWA on our way home from Detroit).
Our original plan had been to go to Ireland this year but because of the money we spent last fall trying to save Miles, we felt it was better to take a shorter, less expensive vacation this year and maybe try to get to Ireland later this year. For several years we've been talking about wanting to visit Seattle and the Pacific Northwest so when airfare on Virgin America was $67/person each way, we jumped at the chance to head up there.
We left the day after the Buffalo airplane crash and while we sat in the Virgin terminal, all the TVs were tuned to CNN, showing clips of the fiery plane crash and its wreckage. I'm a really bad flier anyhow, so this did nothing to settle my nerves. As we sat in the lounge waiting to board, I found myself in the bathroom with a bloody nose. I think it was a combination of dry, hot heat from all the heaters and the stress from having to fly because I really felt quite awful.
Our flight went off without a hitch and we landed in Seattle just before noon. Alan's friend from high school, Mike, has been living in Seattle for the last 7 years or so, so he and his fiance, Shannon, picked us up and dropped us off at our hotel (The Westin) in downtown Seattle. Anyone who's made the drive from Sea-Tac to Seattle knows it's not much of a scenic drive, but coming into downtown gave me a good feel for what the downtown area had in store for us. I work in downtown San Francisco and I felt like the area around the Westin was very similar to Union Square and the shopping there. Definitely a very shoppable city.
We checked into the hotel and unfortunately the strange lady working the front desk put us in a room with two double beds and a view of some other buildings. I say that she's weird b/c I really couldn't tell if she was 19 or 39. She had pretty smooth skin, but her hair was graying and ragged and she talked funny and she wouldn't make eye contact. Not my first choice for a front desk attendant, but whatever floats your boat. Even though we're Starwood Preferred Guest members, we still found ourselves with a crappy room. She told us we could try again the next night to get a king size bed and sent us on our way. I'm convinced all the decent rooms were taken by the Holy Rollers convention that was happening at the hotel while we were there. (Really, it was called the Holy Ghost Spirit 2009 Convention or something like that.)
After settling into our room a bit, we geared up to walk down to Pike Place Market. I'd alternately heard that it is an absolutely amazing place and that it's a tourist trap. I tried to keep an open mind because I love SF's Ferry Building and the markets in Paris were one of my favorite places to visit on that trip. Our first stop was Beecher's Artisan Cheeses for their curds and "world famous" mac & cheese. I'm happy to report that while their mac & cheese was good, it was no better than the Quattro Fromagio recipe I make from Martha Stewart. The curds were great, but nothing to write home about.
From Beechers we just walked around, taking in all the sights, sounds and smells of the market.
After we took a break from walking we headed back to the room to read & relax before dinner. We didn't make reservations anywhere, so with it being Valentine's Day we were in a bit of a bind. After some investigation, we ended up being able to get a table at Matt's on the Market, overlooking the market's clock & neon sign. The space had a great loft feel to it and while it was on the smaller side, it felt intimate, but not crowded.
To start, we had a smoked pork belly with frissee and kumquat marmalade that was absolutely mouth watering. For dinner Alan ordered a Pacific Ling Cod with roasted cauliflower while I had a braised short rib with hominy & grits. Oh my gosh those grits were AMAZING. For dessert we had a frozen maple pecan pie. Of everything we had, the grits were my absolute favorite. It wasn't a cheap meal by any means, but every bite was delicious and I would definitely recommend it to anyone heading to Seattle looking for a romantic, enjoyable meal.
By the time we wandered back to our room I was soooo full, but ready to dive a bit deeper into my Sookie Stackhouse book, Dead Until Dark (the basis of HBO's True Blood). Watch out Edward Cullen, I think I have a new favorite vampire. :-)