Keeping the Romance Alive: Surprise Date

By Sunday, March 7, 2010 4 0

I sent an evite to Chris a few weeks ago inviting him on a surprise date in Seattle. Thankfully, he accepted my invitation, because it wouldn’t have been much fun without him! Or surprising, for that matter…

Yesterday we took Seattle Food Tours’ Belltown Restaurant Tour. It was, in a word, excellent. And delicious. And interesting. I can’t describe it in one word. First, it was the perfect thing for us to do now that we’re considering leaving the country. We are, after a lifetime of living in Seattle (well, suburban Seattle), finally getting to know it a little better.

So, we met at the Hotel Andra, a fun, luxurious new hotel that boasts Tom Douglas‘ restaurant Lola. There, we tasted his handmade pita bread with three spreads – tzatziki, a North African chili spread, and hummus made from cauliflower. Yummm. The pita? It’s soaked in olive oil.

Next up was Txori. Chris and I were ecstatic to find this Spanish tapas bar with a menu full of our favorite finds from Spain. Many of you know we had some complaints about Spanish food – it was a little more, shall we say, bland, than we anticipated. But that doesn’t apply to the tapas – the taste and the experience are delightful. Txori (scroll over the adorable birdy for a pronunciation lesson) features tortilla HispaƱola, boquerones, and calemares, to name a few of our favorites from Spain. We can’t wait to go back there!

Via Tribunali was the pizza stop on the tour, and delicious as always. Chris and I cannot say enough good things about Pizza Napolitana. The pizza we tried had no meat, but instead a type of smoked mozzarella made from buffalo meat that made it smell and taste like there was pepperoni. Oh yum.

Since true foodies always want sushi after their pizza, the next stop was Shiro’s. Now, Chris and I eat our fair share of sushi. We like it all, pretty much. Well, I am at least willing to try it all. I am NOT a fan of raw salmon. Tuna, on the other hand, I’ll eat pounds of. Raw, cooked, soaked in citrus, seared… please give it to me now. We tried a light and simple tuna piece with wasabi between the tuna and the rice. It was, to be frank, the BEST I HAVE EVER HAD. It needed no soy sauce, no get-over-the-squirmy-feeling-of-raw-fishiness, no… nothing. It was perfect. We also tried unagi, which is eel, and always a favorite. Chris, resident strong-flavor-lover, gushed over that. And drooled over the menu, which in true Pacific Northwest style, feature geoduck. For those of you reading who are not local, that’s pronounced gooey-duck. And it’s not gross, like it sounds. It’s a giant clam, basically. We can’t wait to try it!

Some frame of reference: When Bill Gates wants to have sushi at his house, he calls his friend chef Shiro. True story.

We enjoyed salmon crudo and heirloom beet salad with tarragon oil at Branzino, which boasted Bravo Top Chef contestant Ashley Merriman as its head chef. And by we, I mean I tasted it and Chris had twice as much. I did, however, learn why some people might occasionally partake of beets. Beets, in my opinion, taste like dirt. Not “dirt” the insult, but dirt the stuff you have in your garden. This beet salad was quite good though.

We finished up our tour with a brownie from Macrina, the best bakery in the world and the thing I miss most about working in Belltown, and a stop at a local wine bar. Now, Chris and I aren’t drinkers, so we were pleased to try a pinot noir grape juice cocktail. If you know me, you know that the only time I enjoy grape juice is in communion. I hate grape juice, but I love Jesus. But this cocktail was delicious, of course!

Have you noticed a trend? Good restaurants serve food I don’t like in ways I do like. This, my friends, is why I always try everything at least once. You really and truly never know.

Also at the wine bar, I stuffed my face with popcorn cooked in truffle oil and sprinkled with volcanic salt. The coolest part about that was experience the truffle flavor by breathing it in. Be warned: breathing popcorn may be hazardous to your health.

I totally recommend a Seattle Food Tour. An awesome way to experience your city, try new foods and have fun!