a few weeks ago i had a thought that put several acts in motion: i would like to spend more time in seattle. i live about 60 miles north of seattle in a town that offers daily affordable train service to and fro, making the possibility of a driving- and parking-free day in the city possible, which is to say a stress-free and pleasant day in the city.
this is not to suggest that seattle itself stresses me out. on the contrary. i used to live there and immensely enjoyed it. the prospect of taking in the sights, sounds and tastes of downtown seattle more than two or three times a year (that is to say less like a tourista and more like a resident) is a really appealing idea.
part of the appeal of going to the city involves sam. sam, in this case, is not a person, but rather the seattle art museum. sam is known, among other things, for its first-rate exhibits and convenient downtown locale. the current exhibit inspiring impressionism, which looks incredible, will run to the middle of september when it will be replaced by yet another tantalizing one, that featuring the work of early 20th-century american artist, edward hopper.
sam, it turns out, is not only a great place, but a great price. doing a little research i found out that a yearly membership pays for itself in two or three visits.
instead of just thinking about seattle and sam and how i'd like to go more, i acted. i purchased a yearly family membership. in the process i found the moniker to be true: membership does indeed have its privileges. museum members routinely get discounts at taste. taste is the wine bar and cafe located inside the museum that features tapas (small plates), affordable wines, and best of all locavore (locally grown), organic and sustainable food. (what could be finer: art, responsible and yummy food, good wine...)
after pondering which wine might be good to sip after a long day reveling in art and pounding the pavement i checked my calendar for the next available day to go to the city. now, at this point it's important to tell you that my first choice of days to make this trip was a wednesday, but a check of the calendar informed me that the wednesday in question would not work nor, for that matter, would any days that week. the first availability was the following monday, the third monday of august.
third monday in august it was. after i purchased train tickets, i had another thought: salumi is right around the corner from the train station and the train gets in around lunch time: perfect! salumi is, as its name would suggest, a meat shop and it is also a restaurant. it is operated by celebrity chef mario batali's family and is a seattle landmark (not to mention a vegetarian's nightmare). the meat is hand-crafted in the artisan style and it shows. the shop opens at 11:30 and the line at the door forms at about 11:29.
bizzaro but true for a foodie like me is the fact that i have yet to eat at salumi. i tried once, honestly i did. friends kate and omar, who were visiting one august week told me about the shop and together we made a trip there. but salumi was closed. and not just for the day, but for the entire month (apparently it is very italian to take a long vacation in august!). there was no chance of returning even another day during their trip.
i could not have been more excited to finally eat at salumi. the personal lead-up had been long and the reviewer ravings vast. let's just say food critics go hog wild about sinking their teeth into hot sopressata and lamb "prosciutto."
just looking at their online pictures makes one want to hide the hormel, that is for sure. so, salumi, it also was. we'd get off the train, grab a quick (or not-so-quick) sandwich and start the adventure off right. was this going to be a perfect day, or what?
or what. the saturday before the trip to the big city a friend told me that salumi is closed on mondays! yes, that's right, mondays. okay, i thought, no finochionna. we'll do that on another trip. i cheered myself with the thought that we could always grab a quick bite near the museum at etta's or maybe cafe compagne or even chez shea. we'd definitely not starve, that's for sure!
when we got to seattle, we realized that salumi is not the only place that takes mondays off. yep, so does sam. and to add insult to injury, sam is actually some mondays just for members. member mondays, as they are called which are normally the third monday of the month (OUR monday), but, for some strange reason, member monday in august was held the second monday.
not to be dissuaded--it was our first big day in the city in quite a while, after all--we made the most of it. we dined at etta's (somehow even the red hook ipa tastes better there--maybe its the grass-fed beef, home cured bacon and artisan cheddar cheese burger with, green tomato salsa and shoestring potatoes?), shopped at the filthiest ross dress for less you've ever laid your eyes on (there's even a seattle police officer working the door--no joke). we cruised the many shelves at elliot bay bookstore, where i bought several books, one of them anne lamott's grace (eventually) which was provocative enough to be the topic of a near-future post. we ended the day at--sigh--fx mcrory's, a sportsbar near the seattle stadiums that is well, a sportsbar (i'm not even going to give you the link, okay?). at this point in the day, i'll admit it: i did want it all to end. the day did go out with a bit of a whimper. but then the view of elliot bay and the puget sound on the way home was glorious. it's hard to stay grumpy looking at that...
there is always next time, as they say. and you can bet that next time will definitely come before impressionists leave sam and definitely NOT on a monday.
i don't know about you, but i've been soaking up olympic glory this past week, albeit from the confines of my comfy couch. i find myself engaging in the thrills and agonies of the contests, crying with those who get beat by that .0l second margin and cheering with those who win medals and break records. the looks on the faces of the winners--such ecstasy and pure happiness, if even for a moment, is exciting to watch. oh, and when our national anthem plays? foggettabout it, it's like a hollywood rain machine gets turned on in my eyes.
while i love the passion and excitement of the games, i also find myself feeling a little wistful, a little bit depressed when i watch them. i love watching athletes, who are in prime shape, young with so much of their lives ahead of them and so darned good at what they do. but from my vantage point (the couch and about 15-20 years older than most of the competitors), it's easy to feel like, well a loser.
growing up i had some olympic hopes of my own and, apparently, some good genes that may have enabled me to fulfill them. my father was a phenomenal athlete, performing just off olympic level in track and field. i played many sports growing up and found that most came pretty easily. i trained to try out for volleyball in college but decided to walk on to the basketball team.
as a pre-teen t i had tasted a bit of olympic glory in watching the '84 summer games held in LA. i wanted more. partly due to my dad and partly due to the wild popularity of long distance runner and american track legend mary decker slaney, i decided that i wanted to be a runner. i could just see myself standing on the medal stand, with a medal around my neck!
well, that didn't happen. life got busy, my running morphed into playing other sports and doing school and time passed. a lot of time. while, as i said above, i did play basketball in college, i only played for 2 years (much to my dad's chagrin), because the sport consumed my life, and i could see that, lacking pro-level skills, it held little future for me. besides, playing pro at that time (the 90s, before the wnba) meant moving to europe. it just wasn't practical. so, back to watching the olympics. i'll continue to cheer and cry and boo and hope--with and for our athletes. and then i'll get up off the couch and do what the rest of you are doing, going about life, in all its agonies, glory, pain and ecstacy. but sometimes i might dream, just a little about winning olympic gold myself. toward that end i've, researched some, ahem, sports that i may be able to train for, even in my antiquated state.
it's been, what, 658 dog years since i wrote here. i cringe to see that i've changed my oil since i actually posted some comments. but i think i'm starting to get why. i feel like i have to write something important. or i should say try to write something important (i'm not so uber self-confident to think that i ever achieve *importance* in much of anything i write!) anyway, to heck with gravitas and to heaven with gastronomy. i want to opine about an upcoming show i discovered, a pbs show that features the cuisine of spain, a road trip with mercedes coupes, a celebrity chef, and actress and groupies (aka, friends).
no, this is not a joke, although it does sound a little like the one that goes "there was a priest, a rabbi and a banker." it's for real. the show is called "spain...on the road again," and stars gwyneth paltrow, mario batali and two people i've never heard of but are apparently near and dear to "bats" and gwyn. the show's concept is simple yet oddly fascinating. take 4 unlikely travel buddies, give them sports cars to drive and point them in the direction of spain, where they are to eat just about everything they can get their incisors on for a duration of 1 season plus 1 month. film the trip and air it. sounds a little weird (can YOU imagine mario and gwyn chatting it up for 4 months??) but i'm thinking lovers of all things mario, gwyn, spain and/or food will find something to watch here. hey, i saw the youtube clip less than an hour ago and already i'm already thumbing through the spanish tapas cookbooks and decanting the malbec. but if you're having trouble wrapping your head around the concept, check it out for yourself here.
well, check out the show's site and then prepare yourself for the guilt that is inevitable (you'll be two-timing rick steves, and on his own network after all!). after you watch the show, which airs sometime in september on local pbs stations, check back here. i'd be interested to know if you found it better than any of the 43 food network shows aired on any given day that feature bobby flay grilling lobster tacos or rachael ray cooking a "yum-o" 30-minute meal.