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April 7, 2010

Seattle: Dahlia Lounge

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This was a magnificent piece of braised pork topped with a poached egg and a dollop of sweet and spicy Asian hot sauce. It was one of the many great small courses I had in Seattle at Dahlia Lounge (after a brief starter at Lola).

Again, I don't remember so much of the particulars, so I'll leave the pictures to speak for themselves.

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April 2, 2010

Seattle: The Alibi Room

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On my first day in Seattle, I came across the Alibi Room, just downstairs from Pike Market and across the path from the Gum Wall. Despite being in the heart of one of the biggest tourist attractions in town, the bar was subdued, comfortable and pleasant.

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The beer selection was mostly local, as would be expected in this part of the world. I sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender, who turned out to be one of the owners. He told me a bit of the history of the place. It had been owned by some actors, including Tom Skerritt for a time before he and his partners bought it.

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They sell small pizzas there, and after smelling it for a couple rounds, I couldn't resist ordering one. I presumed that they were typical bar-sized pizza that make a good fit for one. Instead I got this giant, which I couldn't finish even though I hadn't eaten since landing in town several hours earlier.

Alibi Room. 85 Pike St at Post Alley # 410, Seattle. 206.623.3180

February 23, 2010

Vancouver: Homelessness

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One of the striking things about Vancouver to me was how much homelessness there is. Like my first visit to San Francisco, it was a stark reminder of how much less drug abuse and poverty we see in New York these days. Even now, recession and all, the presence of homelessness is nothing like it was when I was growing up.

So, seeing so many panhandlers out and about, not to mention the sketchy scene in Chinatown was jarring.

I hear that many groups are up in arms about the money going to Winter Olympics. It's said that that money could be used to ensure that no one would have to sleep on the streets again.

I have no idea. As a U.S. citizen, I'm certainly in no position to call out Canada on its funding of social programs.

Further, I think that the argument judges that sports aren't important. I'm not much of a fan myself, but I'd be deluded to say that sport doesn't pull people together in a way few other things can. And I'd be arrogant to decide that my disinterest trumps the overwhelming support sports have worldwide.

As far as homelessness goes, I don't have a solution, but I don't know that throwing money at it necessarily resolves it either.

February 19, 2010

Vancouver: Feeding Time

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Walking down the waterfront in Vancouver after lunch at Kitaro, I had one 'city-boy' moment after another.

We saw this guy gutting a fish down by the marina. I was annoyed that he was just chucking the bits he didn't want back into the water. With this gorgeous view around me, it ticked me off a bit that this guy was littering like that.

Then I jumped a little when I saw a blur under the water.

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He wasn't littering, he was feeding the local wildlife. Apparently, there are tons (literally) of sea lions that live in the area and share the water with all the boats and planes that use it daily.

A crowd had gathered to watch and one of the other tourists tried to get in on the action. That was all well and good until the sea lion got a bit friendlier than expected:

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Vancouver: Distance

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I'm not so great with the metric system, but I'm pretty sure Vancouver was the closest I've ever been to the North Pole (on the ground).

February 18, 2010

Vancouver: Kintaro Handmade Tonkostu Ramen

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Our first stop in Vancouver after checking into the hotel was Kintaro. Guy had read about it and as Asian food is always on the top of my list of things to try while out west, I was more than happy to check it out.

The ramen shop seemed to have quite the following. When we got there, the line ran out the door and that didn't seem to be anything unusual. The neighboring restaurant politely insisted that those in line refrained from blocking their storefront.

Once inside, it was clear that part of the reason for the line was the exceptionally small space. Folks were crammed in pretty tight, but then, pork was involved, so I wasn't surprised.

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The specialty of the house is tonkotsu. Not to be mistaken for tonkatsu, this is ramen topped with roast pork and enveloped in a rich, milky pork broth.

We sat at the counter and I watched as huge pork bones were lowered into stockpots and simmered for the next batches of broth. Like most ramen places, there were variations on the basic stock using soy sauce or miso, but they all came from the same porky base.

I can't track down any notes from Kintaro, but I believe I had an order with extra pork because, well, that sounds like me.

One of these days I need to figure out what goes into that base and try to make a batch of my own. I think some research is in order. I'd better go to Manchenko Tei for lunch today to get started...

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Kintaro Ramen Noodle,
788 Denman Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada, 604.682.7568‎

Snapshots from Vancouver

Vancouver

I haven't really been following the Winter Olympics. I rarely do. But reports and discussion tend to be inescapable.

The other day, I saw Brian Williams reporting from Vancouver with the bay behind him and I was brought back to the few days I spent there last year. One of the best things about travel is how it resonates with you long after you've returned. I heard another report on NPR where the correspondent was drowned out momentarily by a landing seaplane. Before he said anything, I knew what that sound and remembered the city-boy awe at airplanes that land on the water!

Over the next couple of days, I'm going to try to catch up on some of the posts I never got around to writing from my trip to Vancouver. Enjoy!

January 8, 2010

Seattle: Fog

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Nearly every morning I was in Seattle, the fog enveloped the waterfront. I waded through it one day and took the ferry out to West Seattle. As we pulled out of the dock, I got to see if from afar. It looked like a band across the lower section of downtown, with everything above perfectly clear.

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December 28, 2009

Vancouver: Gas Station

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As if the Seaplanes weren't enough to wow me, I was completely amazed by the idea of a gas station on a river. I mean, it makes sense, right?

December 21, 2009

Seattle: The Link

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Seattle's Link also has what comes down to an optional payment system that in theory may be spot checked. Of course, the one time I saw anyone asked for their ticket, when they didn't have it they were just told they had to wait for the next train, not actually kicked out of the station.

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Most interesting to me was the Westlake station downtown. First, it's a huge space with a marble clad mezzanine level, above. Secondly, the 'track' level is actually just a subterranean street. Buses and Link light rail trains roll through from tunnels heading in either direction.

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Vancouver: Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden

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First off, Vancouver's chinatown is sketchy. Like Bowery in the 80's sketchy, junkies crowded around bars, divey hotels and help centers.

So, it was a little jarring to walk a block away from a major thoroughfare of despair and end up in this gorgeous space. It's a recreation of traditional Chinese garden from the 15th Century.

I skipped the tour in favor of wandering on my own and shooting photos, so I don't have much more to add. My only advice would be to be aware of your surroundings on your want there.

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December 18, 2009

Vancouver: A Duck and A Pig Ride Through Downtown

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I have no idea.

December 17, 2009

Vancouver: 3 Door Boarding

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So, the Western notion of a Public Transit system paid for by the honor system is apparently applied to buses as well as the subway in Vancouver. This 3 door boarding process caught my attention when I was out there over the summer. Each of the doors has an automated payment system that riders are trusted to swipe when they board.

Craziness.

October 27, 2009

Vancouver: SeaPlanes

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I have to admit that one of the most exciting things in the Pacific Northwest to me was seeing seaplanes for the first time. I've seen them on TV and in movies and such, but had never seen a plane land on water before. It was really rather cool to watch.

I can't imagine a row of these little planes flying out from under the Brooklyn Bridge. In fact, given the poor track record small planes flying around New York, I'm pretty glad about that. Either way, more than the gorgeous scenery off in the distance, just seeing these things in action really impressed me.

October 14, 2009

Seattle: Lola

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Lola is one in a collection of restaurants in Downtown Seattle owned by Chef Tom Douglas. It's generally Mediterranean and the menu includes much meat on sticks.

I only got to have this snack there while waiting for dinner at another of his restaurants across the street (more on that later). It's grilled lamb heart, which sounds pretty intense.

I've been curious about heart for a while (see Captain Beefheart), but this was my first real opportunity.

The flavor was intensely meaty without being particularly gamy or overpowering. The texture surprised me. I always presumed that heart would be very tough, but even though the meat was firm, it wasn't excessively so.

I had high hopes to return to Lola to explore the rest of the menu, particularly the other skewers, but alas, my stomach troubles thwarted that. Given all that went uneaten in Seattle, I'm sure I'll return at some point.

September 30, 2009

Vancouver: Work Less, Do More

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Words to live by.

September 29, 2009

Seattle: The Gum Wall

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On Post Alley, down below Pike Market, is this particularly odd (and sort of gross) spectacle: The Gum Wall.

I'm not sure that more needs to be said about it. It's pretty fascinating to look at though. People put some real effort into 'sculpting' shapes, words and designs out of chewed gum. It's a fairly amazing sight.

September 22, 2009

Seattle: Pike Market

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One of the mot awesome things about Seattle and really, one of the selling points on why I decided to go out there was Pike Market. Not the market itself, specifically. Like most tourist attractions, it's jammed with people, making it impossible to navigate and a bit too sensational.

That said, the fact that a food market that specializes in locally sourced, fresh ingredients is one of the primary attractions in Seattle says more than anything else about the town's dedication to food. It's wonderful.


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For all my distaste for the touristy, I certainly found myself going back just to photograph the gorgeous foods and the people who offer it with such care. I only wish I could have grazed through it as much as I'd have liked.

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September 15, 2009

Seattle: Not Eating in an Eating Town

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Apologies for the radio silence of late. I haven't managed a single dispatch from the Pacific Northwest, in part, due to some of the difficulties I had while out there. I suspect that starting off the trip with a brunch of a seafood buffet and raw bar probably had a good deal to do with my troubles. Suffice it to say that I spent most of the time I was on the road without much of an appetite and the rest of the time downing Pepto to keep myself in one piece.

That said, I did manage to have some great meals despite everything and I saw a lot of both Seattle and Vancouver.

I've got a great many updates to put out and I hope to have many of them out over the next couple weeks.

Stay tuned...

August 29, 2009

Off to Seattle!

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Stay tuned...

June 22, 2009

Late Summer Trip '09

Once again, I have a week of vacation time this year that I haven't planned for.

I'm considering the same set of places that I discussed last year, but heavily leaning towards the Pacific Northwest option of Seattle, with a couple days in Vancouver.

Off the top of my head, going to Pike Place for seafood and sampling the charcuterie at Salumi jump out as 'must see' attractions. I've heard wonderful things about the food and the food culture of the pacific northwest.

The usual concern about this area is that one doesn't typically see the sun at all, given the propensity for constant overcast and rain. Given the way the weather here in New York has been to date this year, I don't think it's likely to be any worse there than it's already been here.

I'll be spending some time in the next couple weeks thinking about what I might do out there, so if you have any suggestions, don't keep them to yourself.


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