Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

A Perfect Anniversary

In which we have baked pancakes, walk on two very different hills with very different playgrounds, go eat cake at Greenlake, find a very good dinner in a beautiful setting for our 22nd Anniversary, and chance on the perfect ending in the way we usually do.

All of which made me very, very glad that I married John so long ago and we've stayed together so well.

Jet is used to having "baked pancakes" for breakfast on Saturday mornings. They are otherwise known as Dutch Babies, and Isabel was game and started making them for Jet. We were all somewhat surprised to find that Jet ate a whole one before anyone was looking, so John scrambled to make more of them after I'd gotten up and joined the party. It was a great breakfast with Isabel's raspberry jam and plain yogurt.

Thus fortified, we headed up Somerset. It's a big hill, and at the top was Somerset Elementary school, which was rebuilt three years ago, though it was also built right when John moved into it as a kid. It was brand new then, and brand new now. The hike up Somerset was pretty good, and there were beautiful gardens all along the way including one yard with a plot filled with dahlias. Big spiky flowers that do better when it's cool. It's rare for us to see them, and with the hot spell here, the ones in that bed weren't doing that well.

There were Japanese maples, roses, and, best of all for Jet, blackberry brambles along the way. He saw some ripe berries, and we promised to pick them on the way back down.

There was a huge playground at the school, and we all explored the various implements of for getting dizzy, climbing, balancing and sliding, even though the equipment said that it was for kids between eight and twelve, it stood up to the rigors of being climbed on and slide off of by adults as well. *laughs* Jet loved the "dizzy machines", sticks stuck in the ground with very little friction and a foot hold so that one could stand on them, get a start around and then lean in to go fast and lean out to go slow... conservation of momentum at its finest.

Eventually we went through some maples back down, and stood by the roadside, picking dead ripe blackberries. With the exhaust and all, we promised to wash them before eating them. Without the lead and sulfur anymore in fuels, it seemed okay to do just that, and more prudent than it would have been a few decades ago. Besides, it was just what five people could carry in one hand while picking with the other. Surprisingly, that turned into more than six bowlfuls of berries! As Jet got to have them for both lunch and dinner, and everyone else got some for lunch. That was surprisingly good as the berries were ripe and sweet.

Isabel went to make a grocery run after lunch, and we stayed in the house, playing with the things we found there, and John helped set up their new digital TV and all the recording equipment that went with it.

When Isabel came back with the car, we left for Greenlake to catch up with the Bride and Groom of Thursday and a few folks of the wedding party we especially enjoyed meeting. It was good to see outintexas again and we ate cake, as they had extra cake for just this occasion but it turned out to be rather more than they'd anticipated. It was fun to see just HOW happy the happy couple was when we took a big chunk of it back home with us for John's parents and Jet. Hee.

It was great to talk with them in a more relaxed setting, and to tempt blackwingedboy with a blueberry run Sunday morning. It was also great to talk with other folks and show writeanya some of my knitting bits, and to give a boy one of Jet's two-piece pyramids, as he'd asked for one at the wedding, but Jet hadn't had time to make it then.

We left at about 5, and used the GPS to find our way to McCormick and Schmick's on Lake Union. I know, I know they're everywhere, but it was wonderful to see Lake Union right next to our table, watch the planes fly in and out and know that most of the oysters we ate were from mere miles from where we sat. And while we thought about I Love Sushi, we thought it might be more fun with Jet as he loves sushi and we almost always do I Love Sushi when we come and we thought it'd be nice to do something a little different. It was easy enough to find, and they seated us within seconds of our arrival, the greeter even sending our names up to the hostess on the second floor. She whisked us to a table, and the waitress was right there.

We went with the big oyster sampler to start, with Kumiai oysters from Guerrero Negro, Mexico, which were briny and crisp. Quilcene from Northern Hood Canal here in Washington that were a little chewy and musky. Snow Creek Oysters from Discovery Bay in Washington were small clean and crisp, sweet and clean. The Port Gamble Oysters from Norther Hood Canal as well, were also clean and sweet, but buttery and smooth, really nice. The Pacific Oysters, homeboys from Central Hood Canal were seaweedy, deeply briny, and were strong tasting, but probably one of my favorites as well. The Samish Bay Oysters from Hood Canal were meaty and soft, but only tasted lightly of the brine they'd grown in. I loved the contrasts between the oysters as they sat on the plate together, and going from one to the other it was obvious what their difference were.

I've always loved the quote, "Eating a raw oysters is like kissing the sea."

Not something we can easily get in Colorado, not with this quality or at these prices, as the dozen oysters here were the same price at the half a dozen even in Port Townsend. That was an interesting contrast.

I got a 5 oz "glass" of Chateau St. Michelle Chardonnay, which was served partially in the glass and partially in a carafe. John got a couple of beers that had a perfect head on them when they got to him, and they were both marvelous.

John got the Oregon Rockfish, crusted in hazelnuts, and accompanied by caramelized Washington apples and onions. I got the Alaskan Razor Clams, which were surprisingly huge, nearly the size of a cutlet of chicken breast, and breaded with panko crumbs and pan fried. We added a salad and a side of creamed spinach (which was gently cooked and seasoned in a light cream sauce, very nice). The breading on my clams was a little heavy, but the chewy sweetness of the clams was wonderful. John's rockfish was tender and well crusted, and the apples and onions were very nice indeed.

And it was wonderful to be able to eat that meal in a t-shirt and capri's and sneakers and have the waitress be perfectly attentive, the neighboring tables keeping to themselves (including two other tables of people in t-shirts and tourist garb), and not worry about it. I have to admit that I love the ability to dress casually and still be treated decently.

We took off soon after that, and with the magic of the GPS, went unerringly up the hill to where the Dilettante used to be up on Broadway. They'd moved. Just down a block or two, but we went by the old place and realized it wasn't there anymore, they'd moved into a chic little corner bistro and were calling themselves a "Mocha Martini Bar". Ugh. We rambled about, found parking by dint of sheer luck, and walked back to check it out. The desserts had gone mostly mainstream cakes, creme brulee, and cheesecakes; and they'd left out the Van Houten cocoa drink from the menu anymore. The Van Houten was my standby, and it's an odd, quirky thing, using Dutched cocoa powder, a little bit of sugar, a touch of anise, and it's made with water, not milk; but when done properly, it's a rich drink so dark that if you add cream it just disappears.

I wasn't impressed that they'd lost what I'd thought of as their signature drink, and only gained 'hot chocolates' that were more like melted chocolate bars with that level of richness and sweetness and chocolate liquored drinks.

So... we walked down Broadway for six or so blocks and walked back. I miss the kind of diversity that can be found on Broadway, and it was really great to just walk amidst it and just breathe it all in. To see the piercing shops, tattoo parlors, the Pho, sushi, burger joints, Korean BBQs, the shops with dresses and high heel boots for men, the smoothie and bubble tea shops, the theaters, the church with the ten foot rainbow banner on the front, and the bookshops. All in good repair with lots of business and bright lights, and right next to the QFC supermarket in a brick building that loft builders would have killed for.

Along the walk we happened on Vivace. We'd known that we'd been to the "main store" for Vivace years ago. Ah... I see... it was closed in 2008 due to an eminent domain seizure of the old Roasteria... darn. Anyway... I guess we happened on two of the three remaining sites for the business, which was the Broadway store and the sidewalk cafe which opened back in 1988. The business itself is 21 years old, which was really cool, as we were celebrating our 22nd anniversary, so it's nearly as old as our marriage. *laughs*

The beauty of the place is that the whole business is geared toward the best espresso experience ever. They take a beautiful cup of coffee to high art and science, including designing and using an espresso machine that can stay within half a degree of where they want it.

We each got a single, eight ounce cappucino, mine was decaf. I got a single Madeline cookie and John got a single chocolate biscotti. The barista ground our shots after we ordered them, drew them, and then the guy who does the microfoam on the milk got busy and poured beautiful hearts on the tops of our caps. I took a picture, I'll have to get it up when I can get my laptop hooked up again.

It was perfect. The espresso was exquisite, the beautifully microfoamed milk a perfect balance to the nuances of the coffee itself. The small sweet, as opposed to an overblown dessert, was exactly right after the big meal. As we sat outside on the sidewalk and watched people walk by, beautiful gay guys dressed to kill, men in business suits, couples of all colors and genders, people popping out from the Indian incense store next door with platefuls of pastries, and the construction across the street, we heard at least four people comment, "You know, that place makes the best lattes/espressos in Seattle."

One little girl went in to the store and said, "Starbucks!" and her father said, in hushed tones, "No. This is NOT a Starbuck's, it's a lot better."

It is a lot better. If you really want to taste what a Seattle coffee can taste like, go to Vivace. It's waaaaay better.

I'll admit I bought a pound of their green espresso bean blend to take home to roast and use for us. *grins* It's the only feasible way to get the taste to go home. The best thing about being married to John was the fact that he loved and appreciated the place as much, if not more, than I did, and that he bought me the pound of beans to take home as well.

While we sat there, he gave me a beautiful, tiny pearl he'd found in one of his oysters in Port Townsend, saying that it made him think of me, a rare and unexpected find. *grins* Awww... yeah, yeah, I know I'm being sappy, but it was really, really good.

We got home at 8, which made Jet pretty happy. We played and talked with him a bit and I found out that he'd ripped his pants when playing at the playground. When I got them off of him, I realized it was a nearly six inch long tear, and that it was giving way in all around it, too, as the shorts were pretty much worn through. Isabel was kind enough to lend me some cloth for a patch and her machine to sew it all back together with. It's probably going to last the rest of this trip and that's about it, luckily, we've just bought him three new pairs of shorts. I guess that's what happens when he wears his shorts every day.

By the time I got most of the ragged edges fixed to the patch it was pretty much bed time. And we have an early start for blueberry picking tomorrow. So I'd best be off to bed, but it was a really nice celebration and thanks for everyone's wishes!!
Tags: food, seattle, travel

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