So this is the touristy place to go in Seattle. It’s a market in the central part of the city and near the water front. Yes, it was crowded and obnoxious at moments, but is a cool place that probably should not be skipped on a first visit to Seattle, given you have the time to go there and peruse the foods and wares. It seemed like the market had pretty much anything you could ask for: farm fresh produce stands (where I got some delicious dried papaya), arts and crafts stands with jewelry, leather goods, lavender bath soaps, hand dyed T-shirts, specialty dried and chocolate covered cherries, tea and crumpets, handmade kids toys; there were all kinds of specialty food shops with things like very niche Mexican and Korean grocery items; there were French and Russian bakeries (with lines around the block), specialty shops with handmade cheese, smoked salmon, local wine… I could go on and on.
On top of all the stalls and stands in the market, and the shops surrounding it, there were many restaurants and restaurant stands, of which I indulged in a few (and as a consequence have no desire to even look at food today)!
Pike Place Chowder
This place has the self and publicly proclaimed ‘best clam chowder’ in the states. They’ve won various awards and are highly touted around media sites like Urbanspoon. Admittedly, though, they seem to be extremely touristy, as I don’t think locals in their right mind would go wait in their line simply to eat lunch there on a given day! When I arrived at 2pm (a Saturday) the line was around the corner and took about 15min (quicker than I thought it would for the number of people in it). I got a sampler of 4 chowders and a half of a crab roll.
Here’s my ranking and thoughts about the chowders:
1) The Scallop Chowder was my favorite of the four. It had a very buttery flavor. It was creamy with distinct notes of lemon and fresh dill. Though it only had tiny scallops, in total it was quite chunky and had a satisfying mix of bits inside.
2) The Smoked Salmon Chowder was a close second. It had a rich, somewhat smoky flavor, with a distinct tomato base flavor. It was sufficiently chunky as well. I liked the soft onions and tomatoes for a good contrast to the more robust mouth feel of the salmon.
3) The Daily Market Special came in next for me. It was a Crab Oyster Chorizo Chowder. It was very smoky. The chorizo definitely placed a major role in the flavor. In total, the flavor was almost like a smoky gouda cheese. It contained lots of small chunks like the others and was nice to have the various seafoods mixed in one.
4) The Award-Winning New England Clam Chowder. Though this was a good clam chowder, somehow, compared to the others, it just wasn’t a favorite for me. The flavor was rather mellow, with almost sweet cream notes. There was a sufficient mix between small and large chunks of clams and potatoes. There could have been more clams for my taste. And ultimately, though a solid clam chowder, was rather uneventful for me.
The moist sourdough bread served with the chowder was quite good, though by personal preference, I enjoyed it with butter perhaps more than with the soups. Now what was most uneventful -though perhaps my expectations were simply too high, as maybe with the clam chowder also- was the crab roll.
5) The Crab Roll Had a bland, almost watery taste that kind of blended with and tasted somewhat like the lettuce with which it was paired. There was plenty of crab, it just had no crab flavor and left me sad that it wasn’t just plain crab instead of their crab salad concoction. The only way I could enjoy it was drenched in cocktail sauce, which is the only thing that gave it a seafood flair for me. Moreover, the French bread was a little hard for me as well. Though not completely inedible, it was a decent crab roll, it was just highly lackluster for me.
Rachel’s Ginger Beer
An awesome idea with which more cities should follow through. Rachel travelled and lived in Europe and took that experience and things learned there to bring ginger beer to Seattle. They had various flavors of ginger beer, growlers for sale, etc. I tried the Peach, which was quite good. And I also splurged and got a Orange Ginger Beer and Vanilla Milkshake, which was delicious.
Other things I tried at the market: dried salmon- not very good, Beecher’s cheese curds- great! -though I hat to admit that I’ve once made better :/ Seattle wine from a local vineyard that brings the small batch delivery via a moped twice a week (I’ll have to find the name and update this), dried cherries – delicious, very moist and the best I’ve ever had, dried papaya – again, the best I’ve ever had. I’m going to try to go to the Russian bakery today. But if the line is around the black again today I can’t really justify it. I also think I might eat at a Russian restaurant tonight. For some reason I’m in the mood for eastern European food. Perhaps it’s because I know I probably won’t eat it for a long time while I’m in Asia! Or I might have Greek food. I’ll post something later about this.