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Day 10: Smoked Salmon

September 2, 2010

Like coffee, Salmon particularly Smoked Salmon is pretty much everywhere in Seattle.  When one thinks Salmon from Seattle one probably thinks of  “The World Famous Pike Place Fish” truly known ’round the world for throwing fish. But more than just a tourist attraction, salmon in general and smoke salmon in particular seems like a local favorite among Seattle folk–and, well, felines.   So, there is this cat that wanders up and down the street near my apartment.  I don’t really know its name, I have heard her called a few different ones, but she has no tags and, I call her Chaussette.  She has white back paws, and, honestly, I was forbidden from calling her Socks.   Chaussette is friendly with a good disposition.  I am not sure Chaussette has a home, but that seems no matter because she has made friends all around the neighborhood.  Because I’m an easy mark, if she visits while I’m making dinner chances are that she’ll be able to steal a bite.  Much to my amusement, I have discovered what a true Seattlite this little kitten is.  She turned her nose up at cured meat, chicken, and beef.  For her, there is one thing that she’d prefer to eat.  Smoked Salmon.  And really, who can blame her?  I have to admit it’s good.


Day 9: It’s cool

September 1, 2010

Forbes magazine recently published a ranking of the nations top ten “coolest” cities.  When I heard Seattle ranked 3rd on the list, I immediately assumed cool as in degrees (mostly cloudy lows in the mid to upper 40s, highs in the mid 60s a chance of sun in the afternoon).  That was not the case.  They meant cool as in hip, as in “That’s cool baby, you know how it is, rockin’ and rollin’ and what not.”  Where the survey had no real criteria other than perceived “coolness” Forbes did compare the results to AOL city search data and discovered the cool cities tended to be leaders in the arts, have a large number of museums, restaurants, bars/nightclubs, theaters, and sport venues. So it is true, coolness does seem to equate general rockin’ and rollin’ and what not.    Not surprisingly, New York topped the list, but the Big Apple had to share the spotlight with Sin City.  Las Vegas tied for 1st eliminating a 2nd place thus demoting Seatttle to a respectable 3rd.  The rest of the ranking went like this: 4. Chicago, IL  5.  San Francisco, CA  6.  Orlando, FL  7.  San Diego, CA  8.  Los Angeles, CA  9.  Miami, FL  10. Washington, DC

I can proudly say I have visited all ten coolest cities.  I have now lived in 5/10 cities (albeit one of them very briefly) as well as frequented two others.  As to the remaining three, honestly, I can’t complain about those either.  Taking those same cities, I’m not sure how I would rank my list.  Would I keep Seattle at #3?  It does seem to have an extraordinary amount of theaters for a city this side.  It supports the arts, maintains a thriving music community long after grunge spiked interest in the scene, and has a number of posh eateries cultivated by notable if not name chefs.  That combined with the innovative ambiance of geeks from Boeing, Microsoft, Adobe and Amazon and Seattle definitely feels positioned to create a next big thing.  Whether or not it happens, the potential for greatness most definitely enhances the cool factor.

Day 8: On 15th Video

August 31, 2010

"On 15th Video

I will never forget the first time I stepped foot in Kim’s video in New York.  I was a film student and Kim’s was already a local institution for the film geeks.  Besides offering cult movies and edgy imports,  they organized their videos not by genre, but director–some might have even said ‘auteur’.  As a bright-eyed scrappy film student and hopeful director, it felt respectful in a way I hadn’t ever even contemplated.  It was a video store that not only catered to the film enthusiast, it catered to the film obsessed.  Flash forward to present day and the Kim’s I used to patronize is now closed–the contents of the establishment gifted to some town in Italy.  So much to my relief, upon moving to Seattle,  I was introduced to On 15th Video.   (I’ve been told that my current apartment was chosen for me, at least in part, because of its proximity to On 15th.)  It’s an independently run video store located in a charming old fire house and carries a spectacular collection of dvds, bluerays, (even VHS films.)  Within the first moment or two browsing I could tell that there is a certain amount of care taken to cater to true filmies.  A section of the back wall is dedicated to films organized by director and the adjoining wall has an all too pleasing cult selection.  They have an extensive collection of foreign film as well as British television series.  I recognize this is the era of Netflix, and I recognize the impressive nature of their vast catalog and expedience, but there is something so soul satisfying about a well curated video shop that I believe appeals to all film geeks of my generation.  So, now, happily, On 15th  has taken the place of Kim’s in my life, but its memory will always remain in my heart.

Day 7: The Sorrento

August 30, 2010

When you are new to a city, your first inclination is not to embrace the bold new differences, but to instead find those little things that are familiar, things that remind you of other places or cities you’ve liked.  The Sorrento Hotel off of Madison near the 5 (whoops, I mean I-5) is just a little out of place in its neighborhood.  Built in 1909 the hotel has a old historic feel and easily reminds you of how things might have been.  It feels a little too sophisticated for its urban neighbors. Nevertheless, reminiscent of New York City’s Algonquin, it’s something I find familiar and comforting.  A little hideaway where you can enjoy painfully witty conversation over extremely dry martinis.   Both hotels attract artists and literary types.  Seattle takes great pride in its title of most literate city in the nation.  (A statistic that’s been true for at least 3 of the past 5 years). So the display of books in the lobby are a welcoming sight.  There is a lot of dark old wood, a fireside room, and a beautiful “Top of the Town” penthouse that hosts events.  The hotel manages stately without being stuffy by staying hip while maintaining its roots. All this being said, my favorite detail about the Sorrento is a small one:  the floor mats in the elevator.   They bare the name of the hotel and are changed daily to indicate the day of the week.  What fun!

Day 6: Sunday Morning Blues

August 29, 2010

For years now, I have enjoyed a bit of New Orleans Jazz on Sunday mornings. (I am so totally partial to Leroy Jones)  It’s just a fun way to start the day, cook some food, and enjoy some soul.  Now just about every radio market worth its salt has some Sunday morning gospel program complete with their favorite Winan’s cut, but I prefer something a little heartier.  Something that goes well with grits.  Something grittier.  So, one of the best discoveries from the over-hyped local alternative radio station, KEXP, is Sunday morning’s Preachin’ The Blues.  Its self-proclaimed “three hours of the best blues, soul, and R&B” is a great alternative to my Mr. Jones–and besides grits, it goes also goes really well with blueberry pancakes and coffee.

Day 5: Volunteer Park

August 28, 2010

Nestled in the heart my neighborhood of Capitol Hill sits a park named for the volunteers who served in the Spanish American war.  The park is chock-full of notable items of interest.  Next to a fenced off reservoir is a water tower with an observation deck that conjures fairytale images of Rapunzel.   Further north you’ll find The Conservatory–a giant greenhouse filled with all sorts of gorgeous flowers and tangles of plant life.  The Seattle Asian Art museum faces downtown, its historic art deco building built in 1933 was the original home of  Seattle Art Museum.  In front of the museum are fish filled  lily ponds that are handsome enough to inspire one’s inner Monet.  Also this is where you can find Seattle’s famous Noguchi sculpture through which there is a perfect view of the Space Needle.  If this combined with the park’s acres of open lawn wasn’t enough to tempt an afternoon daydreamer, next to the park you’ll find the Lake View Cemetery where you can contemplate Seattle history as you stroll past the graves of some of its most prominent founding fathers (Doc Maynard, Thomas Mercer, & Arthur Denny) as well as Bruce Lee.

Day 4: Coffee Shops

August 27, 2010

So, it may sound completely hackneyed to say that Seattle has a lot of great coffee shops, but it’s hard to avoid because they are so ubiquitous.  Besides the known chains of Starbucks and Seattle’s Best (that the locals claim not to frequent, but c’mon they couldn’t all stay open on tourists alone!) there are a ton of individual shops that cater to just about every personality type.  There is the People’s Republic of Kaffe–for those Socialist types, there are biker coffee shops, coffee shops that only do espresso based drinks,  coffee shops/shipping centers, there are coffee shop/movie theaters, there are French themed coffee shops, Italian themed coffee shops, there are chocolate and coffee coffee shops.  Anything you can imagine with coffee–and usually free wifi.  I’m not a fan of the temperatures in this city, and it is another cold summer day with temperatures topping out at 65 degrees today.  Perhaps I can take solace in the fact that there is always a warm caffeinated beverage just around the corner.