So much to do, solittle time they say, but we managed to get our bobtail into downtown Seattle, WA,(double parked in two spaces with no parking ticket, golf clap everyone!) and check out famous Pike Place Market. Three expansive floors of every foodie’s fondest dream, the colors, textures, smells, and people were an absolute sensory overload. The stunning array of fresh organic produce in every available color known to man was absolutely breathtaking. The orange and purple hues of beets & carrots, the bright, crisp burgundy of raspberries, the deep reds, oranges, and greens of woven, wreathed chili peppers, the buttery yellow of bell peppers, all made a riotous crescendo of music for my eyes. The hustle and bustle of this market was a swirling, almost choreographed, dance for the senses. My first stop was at a little produce stand right outside the front doors of the market, under the farmers market sign. The young lady that helped us, Ms. Erin, was a delightful almost pixie like girl with a warm smile. She gave us some valuable information to make the most of our tight schedule and imparted “THE” must see spots along our journey. Right across the street from her was Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, and down the way, la petite bakery, along with Sur La Table that she said was a must.
I thanked her profusely, as we swapped e-mail and contact information. She seemed like a really cool girl and asked if she could show us the sights next time we’re through. That is a definite possibility! We quickly moved along to the main floor of the market to catch the show.
Our next stop along this cacophony of shouting merchants, hurried patrons, and vibrant colors brought us to the historic Pure Fish Food Market. Opened in 1911 by Jack Amon; Mr. Amon came to America from Turkey and began selling seafood from a stand here in Seattle at Pike Place Public Market. Both the city and the market were relatively new, but all the local folks immediately recognized the value of local fish and shellfish. Jack sold only the finest. I had the pleasure to meet Solly Amon, Jack’s son. He has run his father’s business for more than 50 years, which gives him the record of the longest tenure of any of the Pike Place Public Market’s vendors. We were astonished at the sheer size of most of the fresh shellfish, as their classification of jumbo far exceeds anything we’ve ever seen. Dungeness crab the size of a dinner plate, and jumbo grilling shrimp that Guy Fieri would’ve called a sea pony. The shrimp we looked at could’ve been saddled and ridden! The scallops were the size of baseballs and the only way I could think of to cook them through, would be a hot sear and finished in the oven. Huge!!! The Ahi tuna is what caught my eye, as it was so succulent, in it’s rich color, that instead of a deep red it was almost a royal purple. *Sigh*
All in all we could’ve spent a couple of hours trying to make our choices, but in the end, soaked up the experience and promised ourselves we’d be back. On a side note, Pure Food Fish Market can ship anywhere in the country! Check them out at http://www.freshseafood.com, and we’re off to the next must see!
Further down the common-way, we reach Market Spice. The immediate scent that hits our nostrils, is that of a rich orange and cinnamon tea, freshly brewed and being sampled by thirsty customers. It is the blend that Market Spice has become known for. They are currently revving up for their 100 year celebration at Pike Place Public Market. The vast array of herbs and spices lining the shelves was a wonder to behold. The layered richness of scent gave way to helpful and courteous staff, willing to tote down enormous gallon jars of product as many times as necessary to find the perfect flavor you’re looking for. My excess budget on this trip way slim, but I had to take something of this fantastic shop with me. Chris pointed out a lovely jar of pink Himalayan sea salt, with a grater packaged inside for the perfect application. Next, I discover some Spanish saffron, gorgeous and tightly packed in a small plastic jar, for freshness. In my quest for something to send home, I come across some star anise for my Grandmother. She likes to add it to some of her special Asian dishes. Last, but not least, two whole nutmeg just for me. Why, you ask? Simply to make me happy. You can also visit their website, http://www.MarketSpice.com.
We’re wanting at this point to stay. For a week, an afternoon, a month. We’ve barley scratched the surface of this amazing wonderland. Chris says I lit up just like a kid on Christmas morning. He’s right. I am simply delighted to be in such a unique, sensory rich, and culturally diverse atmosphere.However,our time is running out and I’ve been told that leaving here without witnessing the showmanship of the fishmongers at Pike Place Fish Market, would be culinary blasphemy. We wander over to the horseshoe shaped counter, known for the launching of fish from the mongers to the customers. We are greeted immediately by raucous laughter and the sing-song, showy, atmosphere of fish sales.Jeff Fitzpatrick, the young man that helped us, was a great sport about photos and a wealth of information. We just couldn’t get over how nice and customer oriented these guys and gals were. Lots of information at hand, they go through the process of whatever fish or shellfish you could possibly want, along with various shipping methods to be had. So if you’re flying back to New York, your fresh fish can meet you there for dinner! We thought we were going to miss out on the fish flinging fun, as our meter was coming close to running out(who knows how expensive that would be?). We were not disappointed though, as we were turning to leave Jeff motioned us forward in the crowd. We spied a lovely lady making her way behind the counter and Chris geared up for the video.(I’ll be posting this later on YouTube, I think it’s too big to put here. In the comments I’ll update the keywords and try to link it.)The young man assisting her had a great sense of humor and showed her how to catch her fish, waltzed around the iced stacks of fish on the other side, goosed a young girl out of the way, and prepared his throw. All of the fishmongers started to chant, and with a 1-2-3 count, the fish soared over the counter and into her waiting hands. The crowd cheered enthusiastically as many cameras clicked away, and Chris was well pleased that he caught it all on video.(These guys give a whole new meaning to catch of the day!) You can visit their website as well, http://www.pikeplacefish.com .