By Friday my trip had flipped to a culinary adventure rather than a beer vacation, which isn’t such a bad thing when you think about it. Exceptional food is not something to pass up, especially when it is paired with great beer. It also had something to do with the quantity of beer consumed on Friday, leading to some slight forgetfulness about what I had to drink (I also just stopped caring – oh look, another pitcher!). Regardless, here are the few notes I took on day four.
Needing to work through some of the bottles I purchased before coming back I opened a bottle of New Belgium Belgo IPA (Ratebeer). Aroma of dry hops and yeast, pale gold in colour with little head. This was a big disappointment – the crisp pear flavours didn’t mesh with the herbal hops, the body was thin and the beer lacked a dry finish to combat the sweet flavours of a tripel. Not to my taste.
Our dinner venue was Smith, yet another place that solely exists as a name (see previous posts on Linda’s and Quinn’s). This was the first bar/restaurant that I felt was trying too hard in its decor. Every available space on the walls was filled with an animal head or painting, giving a kitschy feel that I don’t think was intended. The decor was trying to impose the feel of a rustic country pub, rather than letting the warm, dark wood take care of that (in case it isn’t obvious so far, Seattle bars love their wood furniture, floors, ceilings, support beams, toilets…). The design fail was a shame, because my braised rabbit was exactly the meal I would expect at a pub on the English countryside – simple flavours, but tasty and good for the soul. The preserved lemon peel was a little too tart, but easy enough to eat around.
Smith was a good spot for local craft beer, though I don’t think that the Lagunitas Dogtown Pale Ale (Ratebeer) technically counts as local. It was nice to see that a well made pale ale exists in the states, with a generous light-copper malt and hopping that was slightly toned down compared to an IPA – basically a beer that could actually be sessioned. The Big Al Winter Warmer (Ratebeer) definitely counted as local ale and was a strong representative for Seattle brewers. A complex ale, but not overpowering – hazelnut, roasted malts, toffee, a little smoke. Even the hopheads at the table that normally eschew darker beers liked this. The final beer was the Odin Gift Ruby Ale (Ratebeer), which was a decent amber ale but not something I would have again. Caramel malts and berries, a little thin in the body. It didn’t help that it followed two strong beers. Smith turned out to be a pretty nice place once I got past the decor, though not a place that I would strongly recommend to people.
The drinking continued past this point but we were at a bowling alley ordering pitchers and I didn’t bother to ask what we were drinking because, well, it was a bowling alley. It didn’t taste like sweaty leather shoes, which is all I could ask for.
- Lunch – the lomo (pork loin) sandwich at Salumi (operated by the Batali family). Quite delicious, but the mole sausage that I got sliced was ever better. Mmmm, chocolate and spicy sausage…
- Our late-night drunken snack was tacos at Tacos Gringos. This small take-out joint is only open from 8pm and onwards, catering to the drunk crowd. The tacos are small for $2 a piece, but they hit the spot. The beef tongue was excellent, leading to a dangerous cycle of eating a taco and then ordering another. The only thing that broke the cycle was the shame of buying another.
- Two widely different tourist destinations were on the docket: Seattle Underground Tour and the Seattle Art Museum (with a Picasso exhibit). The Seattle Underground Tour nicely combines humour and education, looking at the history of the city and the stupidity of politicians. Bad off-colour jokes should be mandatory on more tours. The Picasso exhibit at SAM was excellent, as was their modern art collection. Not the biggest gallery, but one that is definitely worth a visit (and I’m not usually a big art gallery person).
- If you have a cupcake lover in your life (and, at this point, it seems that everyone does), you need to check out the Cake Spy Shop. I walked by it many times during my stay and was always confused because there was a giant cupcake in the window but it looked like they didn’t sell cupcakes. Eventually I mustered up the courage to go in and found a lovely (but, admittedly, weird) store that did not sell cupcakes but cupcake related merchandise. Most of it was made by the cute owner, an artist who makes cupcake drawings and turns them into cards, mugs, bags, etc. Knowing a cupcake lover, it was impossible not to buy these (along with a shushing cupcake-librarian notecard for myself). The owner and I chatted about Seattle coffee, giving me a couple of recommendations and showing a print she had just finished of a Ladro and Starbucks cup fighting.