Journaling my trip wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t tell you about my birthday surprise from Brett with a 2 hour walking food tour of Pikes Market…
We were asked to meet our group at 9:30 Saturday morning at the Starbucks across the street from the main entrance to Pikes Market. (note if youre there: this isnt the original Starbucks. That one is around the corner, but you’d see it if you walked out of Pikes further down by the Northern exit.) The weather reminded me of San Francisco. Warm in the sun, but chilly in the shade. A light jacket would have been a good idea since I’m almost always cold lol… but I forgot it so a Skinny Vanilla Latte had my name all over it:)
As we walked in we saw a large banquet table with a sign that read Savor Seattle, the company that does the food tours. I learned later that they had a gourmet tour as well if you’re looking for something a bit more upscale. If there was one thing I wanted to do while we were here it was a food tour, and my husband read my mind:)
After waiting in line for a few minutes, we saw others begin to congregate at the table and a younger man by the name of Nick had just walked in with a large satchel and a polo shirt. As he began clearing the table and greeting everyone we walked over to introduce ourselves. The tours are booked in groups of 12 max do that it stays intimate. Nick had our names down after the first introductions which was impressive (I’m horrible with that kind of thing unless I constantly repeat the names…) we were handed some walkie talkie devices and earpieces. It was great because we were able to hear him the whole time, and they had a reach of over 100 feet. You could get a sense of Nicks humor instantly and I really think his personality made the tour all that much more entertaining!
After getting the rundown and being introduced to his very pink umbrella so we knew where he was in a crowd, we entered the market.
We walked only a few yards before our first stop to savor some freshly made donuts tossed in sugar and served in a paper bag:)
Yum! Next we headed straight towards the main entrance where the seafood vendors are hollering back and forth while taking orders and packaging food for the crowds of people who can’t wait to get their hands on some salmon. I hoped we would go to one… The natural attention one would have to them almost kept me from seeing the Market Spice sign and store on the corner. We lined up and watched the butchers while our guide went in and grabbed a tray of hot tea from inside. As Nick passed them out, I noticed one of the vendors in the background hold up a sign that read: CINNAMON ORANGE CLOVE… Why? I figured out quickly that it was the answer to a pop quiz from our guide! Prize? An extra sample of the delicious tea:) the tea was warm and packed with flavor! I learned that the spices we buy from the grocery stores are packed with salt to preserve the herbs, which goes them a longer shelf life. This store doesn’t use the same method do the seasonings are pure, with a shelf life of 6 months, and has more then 220 spices to chose from! Before walking away we licked fresh ground smoked salt off the back of our hands that tasted like no other spice I’ve ever had. Don’t worry, we were given hand sanitizer to clean up with first;) this was already becoming one of the coolest things I’ve done with food, but we were just getting started!
Pike Place Fish Co. was next up. Woo hoo! I’d been reading about the Salmon that try get in this market every morning for weeks. We tried 3 versions of their smoked salmon, smoked alaskan king salmon, alderwood smoked garlic and pepper salmon, and a 48 hour smoked salmon jerky. The first smoked salmon was my favorite because you get that deep smokey flavor and a fish thats light and fluffy from fat and a 12 hr smoke. The alderwood smoked garlic and pepper was packed with flavor and I could picture having it again on a bagel with cream cheese. The longer 48hr smoke makes into salmon jerky that has been used for years because of its nutritional properties and compact size.
After a great show from the vendor, we followed our guide outside from the indie market just across the street to Franks quality produce where we tried slices of A tailors gold pear they were unbelievably sweet and juicy. We also had Cherries brought in from California that were huge! You’ll see Nick passing them out, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on them:)
Beechers was an especially fun stop because I had just seen them on TV a few days before in the latest episode of Food Network Star. They have 2 locations: this one and one in New York. They’re known for their 1 year old aged flagship cheddar. Beechers makes local cheeses from milk at the local dairies & cheese curds also known as Dairy Pop Rocks. Oprah listed them as having the best Mac and Cheese ever and it definitely was the best I’ve had so far! Although we didn’t get to try them on the tour, Brett and I went back Monday morning and also tried their Dungeness Crab and Flagship Cheddar Sandwich. So good!
I was so glad that this was a walking tour because i started to feel like i would need a marathon to work this food off… We followed our group back across the street and into a side entrance for the indoor market where we got to go behind the counter at The Chukar cherries to eat cups of Peach Cherry Salsa and another cup filled with one of each of the following: Dried Bing Cherries, Dried Bing Cherries covered in milk chocolate, A Cherry Juice
Cabernet Cherry covered in dark chocolate and cab essence, a Raspberry Truffle which was a white chocolate covered cranberry, and finally, a Candied pecan covered in chocolate rolled in powdered sugar… Sadly, I only took a photo of the last one because I was too busy taking notes on all of the different ingredients lol!
We walked out from behind the counter after hearing the history of the vendor and back out to the street where we headed around the corner and into Post Alley. It’s the Alley behind the main strips of vendors and restaurants facing the indoor market. Small crowds of people laid all over the area, eating and enjoying the beautiful day in Seattle. I couldn’t believe the line wrapped around the corner at Pike place chowder! People stood patiently and watched as others walked out with bowls of New england style Clam chowder made with bacon, heavy cream, celery and loads of fresh clams. Their Seafood Bisque was smooth and creamy. They use clams, dungeness crab, lobster, and other ingredients for a filling soup that would be perfect on a slightly cold day. Apparently, the shop won against top chefs from across the country with their New England Clam Chowder recipe, so I felt privileged to try it and could understand waiting in line. Luckily, because we were in a food tour, we sat on a half wall and were able to beat the line to try both soups:)
Two more stops were left on our culinary journey. One was the famous Piroshki Piroshki. I jumped up and down when I heard the name because I had seen the photo of Anthony Bourdain hung in the window the day before when Brett and I walked around the market to scope things out. I was too sheepish to ask if I could go behind the counter an take the same photo, but I’ll be sure to try next time if the crowd is any less busy. We must have passed by them 6 or 7 times while on our vacation, an every time there was a crowd wrapped around the building. They have big Apple Cinnamon Piroshki’s as well as a Chive and Cheese version that make your “inner fat kid” dance as you eat them. Since an anonymous donation to the vendor years before, Piroshki Piroshki donates all extra food at the end of each day to the food bank as a thank you for the generosity they once received when they were in a time of need. Our tour guide told stories about the company, and I snagged a CD from a street vendor named Whintey Monge playing guitar and singing in front of the first ever Starbucks for $10. Love her raspy voice!
Ellas Seafood Restaurant was our final stop, which was good because I was stuffed! They make Dungeness Crab Cakes that outshine any others I have had in the past. Ours were served in little one bit sizes with tarter sauce, but Nick let us know that if you eat at the restaurant and order them, they are much larger! I loved that they didn’t skimp on the crab and the tarter sauce really enhanced the flavor of the crab cake.
As an added bonus for doing the tour, we were handed coupon cards for the remainder of the trip that we could use with all of the vendors for a discount on all purchases! I would definitely recommend this tour for any foodie who is worried they may miss out on one of the many amazing food places in Seattle’s Pike Market! We loved our tour guide Nick, who made the tour so much more interesting and comfortable!
I hope you all enjoy the photos! Check out the food tour if you’re planning a trip to Seattle…
Lots of Love,