Category Archives: Seattle

What One Seahawk Does On His Day Off

Tomorrow the Seattle Seahawk’s football team plays one of the most important games in its history against the Washington (DC) Redskins. It’s a wildcard NFL playoff game where the winner moves one step closer to being a contender for Super Bowl fame. Okay, I know almost nothing about football, but I love to root for a home team, especially when they are playing well. Everyone here gets excited – the 12th man flag is currently flying off the top of the space needle, people with tickets to tomorrows game in DC are looked upon as heroes and yesterday a parade of people lined up to give the team a big sendoff as they boarded their plane. You can feel the fever wherever you go.

What I’m most interested in is the story of what one of the players, rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, does on his day off. He doesn’t sleep in – he says there’s plenty of time for that in the off-season. Instead every Tuesday, Russell and his wife Ashton go to Children’s Hospital in Seattle to talk and play with the children there. Many of these kids are very seriously ill — waiting for a liver transplant or dealing with leukemia – and spend very long periods of time in the hospital. When they see the Wilson’s, their smiles are electric.

Ashton says that she wants their visits to build up the spirits of the children and their parents. From what she can tell, it looks like they do.

Sportscasters say Wilson has poise beyond his years (he’s 24) on the football field. I think he shows a great deal of maturity by helping others on his only day off.

Rookie Seahawk’s quarterback Russell Wilson

Two Restaurants You Should Try

There’s nothing I enjoy more than good food and this week I had two outstanding meals at two different restaurants.

 

Tuesday I had the chance to dine on some tasty crab dishes at Duke’s on the Tacoma waterfront. Seven Slanted High Balls and Seven Savory Sliders make their Happy Hour happy. The drinks are served in slanted, slightly off-kilter glasses. I’m not sure whether the glasses straighten out after you’ve had a few high balls or not, but I highly recommend the crab slider appetizer served during Happy Hour. It’s a little taste of heaven and goes well with Lulu’s Margarita. Happy hour runs 3 p.m.-6 p.m. and 9 p.m.-close everyday, weekends included.

 

Another palate pleaser has to be the Dungeness Crab “Un” Cakes served with lime aioli, organic field greens and a citrus vinaigrette. The powers that be at Duke’s searched the Northwest for the best crab cakes they could find and after two full days of eating nothing but crab cakes determined that the worst part was the “cake” so they left it out.  The “Un” Cake is an outstanding dish.

Today I wound up at a YMCA orientation in Seattle right next to the Lunchbox Laboratory, a restaurant I’ve wanted to try for months. So, even though we’d just eaten, I insisted we at least try one menu item and since I was the oldest in the group, the rest relented. And they were happy they did.

The Mexican Cokes on the beverage list turned out to be a big hit as was the Chips and Dip Classique appetizer of handmade potato chips dusted with a rosemary-romano sea salt and served with a chunky mixture of garlic, onion and bacon for dipping.

Since I don’t know when I might return to this area of Seattle, I opted to share a Native New Yorker Burger with my grandson. Burgers are the specialty at this restaurant.

Their beef patties come from American Kobe-style beef, which tastes so much better than ground beef from the grocery store. The New Yorker lived up to its name complete with Monterrey Jack cheese, thinly sliced onions and sides of ranch and buffalo ketchup. Handcrafted smoked salts are delivered to your table and you’re told they can be added to the sides, like the skinny fries. I put bacon salt on my burger and it added just the right touch of flavor enhancement.

 

For a treat you can dine outside around a fire pit, which you’ll most likely need to keep warm about eleven months out of the year.

What’s your favorite restaurant in Seattle or Tacoma?

Heather Larson writes about the Pacific Northwest from her office in Tacoma, Washington, hoping she can entice you to visit and/or share your own memories of the region.

King Tut Exhibit Opens in Seattle

Tomorrow, May 24, 2012, the Pacific Science Center welcomes visitors to view Tutankhamun: The Golden King and The Great Pharaohs’. Today, I had the privilege of seeing this phenomenon as a member of the press. I love my job. Go if you can. It won’t be shown again anywhere else after January 6, 2013 and the Science Center expects to sell out.

Seattle hosted a similar exhibit in 1978, but the current one contains twice as many artifacts. People who attended in 1978 recall waiting in long lines. This year that problem has been solved – you buy tickets for a certain day and timed entry. So far 90,000 of those tickets have been sold.

Possibly the first flip flops. Photo credit to Sandro Vannini, National Geographic.

King Tut became a king at 9 years of age and forensic analysis says he died at age 19, probably from an infection in a fractured leg. Even at this young age, he had everything he could possibly need in his tomb.

More than 100 remarkable objects discovered in King Tut’s tomb are on display. I found the complexity and intricacy of the jewelry fascinating. Small beads and miniature cornflowers make up a necklace called the Gold Collar. A Necklace and Pectoral of Mereret looked unlike anything I’ve ever seen, but could almost be described as a pendant that was also a very intricately-crafted picture. Twenty-five amulets were found around the neck of the mummy.

Much of what was found in King Tut’s tomb was created specifically for the afterlife. A gold Pair of Sandals adorned his feet while finger protectors were worn over his rings and toe protectors covered his toes – all to protect him in the afterlife. You’ll find a model of a boat in the exhibit because the Nile River was the main source of transportation in Ancient Egypt. Thirty-five ship models accompanied the boy King in the tomb so he could boat wherever he needed to go after death.

You can tour the exhibit with an audio accompaniment, which I highly recommend. Different music, composed for each of the galleries, transports you back in time and helps you experience 2,000 years of Egyptian history. These ancient treasures remain one of the world’s greatest legacies. The beauty, preservation and stories behind each item evokes all kinds of emotions. Reserve your ticket as soon as you can.

King Tut's finger and toe coverings

Pacific Science Center members receive a substantial discount. Non-member adults pay $27.50 for Mon.-Thur. or $32.50 for Fri.-Sun. Youth (6-15) are $16.50 for Mon.-Thurs. and $21.50 for Fri.-Sun and children (3-5) pay $15.50 during the week and $20.50 for Fri.-Sun. Admission gets you into the Pacific Science Center for the day and if you can take advantage of that as they know how to entertain there.

Snow White and a Milk Flight

As a child I always wanted to be a ballerina and dance on my toes. Instead my parents signed me up for accordion lessons. If I’d known how hard toe dancing was then, I probably wouldn’t have minded the accordion. The special pointe shoes help keep your toes together, but the dancers still have to have tremendous strength in their feet and legs.

Courtesy of Pacific Northwest Ballet

While watching the Pacific Northwest Ballet School’s production of “Snow White” in Seattle this past weekend, I marveled at how many of the dancers spent prolonged periods of time on their toes. What a feat.

All the footwork looked clean and crisp. The 70+ students performing showed extreme flexibility and graceful movements at every turn. This was the opening performance of “Snow White” yet everyone seemed well-rehearsed.

I went to see this ballet with my daughter and three-year-old granddaughter, Kita. I thought Kita might fidget or even have a full-blown melt down having to sit still for awhile, but she never once took her eyes off the dancers. Upon arrival we were given a booster cushion for her to sit on so she could easily see the stage. Of course, there was a lot of movement on stage, brightly colored costumes and a King who narrated the action.

As you probably remember, in the story the Evil Queen, Snow White’s stepmother, wants to be “the fairest of all.” Every time she asks her mirror who is the fairest, it replies, “Snow White.” In order to get rid of her competition, the Queen tries to harm Snow White in a number of ways. Finally, disguised as a beggar woman, the Queen tempts the fair young maiden with a poison apple. Snow White can’t resist, takes a bite and falls into a deep slumber. It’s not long before a handsome young Prince happens by (after all it’s a fairy tale), falls in love and wakes Snow White.

When the Evil Queen discovers her nemesis is still alive, she tries to put a curse on the mirror and becomes caught in her own image for all eternity.

The entire ballet lasts an hour, which is just perfect for young children. At the end, the dancers were met with some well-deserved, thunderous applause.

There are only two performances left:  Noon and 3:30 p.m. on March 25 at Seattle Center’s Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. For tickets, visit www.pnb.org or call (206) 441-2424.

Kita trying to decide which flavor of milk to try next at the Purple Cafe.

We stopped for lunch at the Purple Café and Wine Bar in downtown Seattle prior to the ballet. There Kita was served a milk flight – glasses of white, chocolate, strawberry and caramel milk, which kept her entertained until her food arrived. All in all it was a totally kid-friendly outing.

Art at the Airport

Seatac Airport literally bursts with art of every kind and dimension – so much that the Port of Seattle (the airport’s overseer) offers a map of where the artwork is.

Glass, sculpture, photography and sound installations by both renowned and emergency artists are represented.

In the Central Terminal you’ll find Pacific Marketplace, a city streetscape with boutique shops, restaurants, a view of the airfield and public art. Designed by Fantress Bradburn Architects, this space encompasses 60,000 square feet and has 60-foot high ceilings. During daylight hours it’s flooded with sparkle and lights.

On the concourses you’ll encounter portraits of jazz musicians who have roots in Washington, talking water fountains (they gurgle loudly), mosaics, stained glass windows and more.

Art is displayed in the satellite train station, on the third runway embankment wall and wing ferns hover over the 188th Street Tunnel. Rotating exhibits grace the glass showcases.

Art installation of lost luggage over one of the baggage carousels at Seatac Airport

But until last night I had no idea that they’d created overhead art with lost luggage.

Indoor Skydiving Lands in Seattle

Indoor Skydiving Lands in Seattle

Last month, my grandson celebrated his 13th birthday with four of his friends, by skydiving indoors at the new I Fly facility located near Southcenter.

This experience rated better than any of those video games he usually asks for and gets tired of within a few weeks. Elias and his friends still talk about the I Fly experience and what a great time they had. And when they will return and get more skills checked off on their certificates.

 

I Fly uses a vertical wind tunnel that moves air up, creating an actual flying experience, not a simulation. Multiple fans located at the top of a large plastic tube produce and air flow that makes flying smooth and fun.

Professional instructors help you get your bearings because once you enter the tube you’re flying and to many that’s quite a surprise. What’s really fun for spectators is that after an instructor finishes helping his assigned group of “flyers” he or she then does tricks that only a skilled flyer is capable of.

For birthday parties, all the guests get a certificate of accomplishments and the guest of honor receives a video of their experience flying.

Children as young as 3 years of age may participate and there’s no upper age limit. Everyone looks like they are having the time of their life.

I would love to try this. The fun seemed contagious.

Reservations are recommended.

“Creep:” A Book Review

“Creep,” written by Jennifer Hillier, is a work of pure fiction or at least I hope so. Given some of the irrational behaviors reported by the news these days, it could be close to the truth. But I really think it is Hillier’s superb writing that makes the book a success.

According to her Facebook page, Hillier who is originally from Canada currently resides in Seattle and the book’s setting portrays areas in and around Seattle very accurately.

Named for Radiohead’s song “Creep” and appropriately mentioned throughout the book, the title is also the ultimate play on words.

When professor of psychology, Dr. Sheila Tao, ends her affair with her young teaching assistant, she’s not prepared for the lengths he’ll take to make her suffer. Tao’s fiancé appears to want to end their relationship when Sheila admits to having an embarrassing addiction. Besides her fiancé, not many people would care if Sheila took off for an indefinite period of time or so it seems when she disappears.

I hope that’s enough to make you want to read the book because I don’t want to spoil any of it for you. From the first page, I was hooked and spent many hours when I was supposed to be working, reading instead. Then I didn’t want it to end. I was rewarded for that. You will be, too.

Although a debut novel, the writing is skilled and professional. Characters are well-drawn, easy to love or hate, and follow the paths you’d expect them to. The plot, however, will keep you turning the pages. None of the clues planted go astray and all are wrapped up neatly. Honestly, I found no fault at all with this book. Hillier’s writing keeps me reading and wanting more – that’s something I can’t define and not very many authors have it. Part of it is flow and smoothness, but some of it is a secret quality that can’t be found in how-to-write books.

In August, 2012, Hillier’s new book, “Freak” comes out. I’ll be one of the first to buy it. It’s already on my calendar.

Jaunt Up to Joe’s Gardens

For the freshest and most delicious produce around, a trip to Joe’s Gardens in the Happy Valley district of Bellingham is in order. They grow tons of different vegetables and more than 300,000 potted plants.

 

For something very special, try their Romano beans. The flavor is nothing short of amazing.

Joe’s Gardens has been around since 1933, which says a lot about their success.

Fall brings beautiful braids of garlic grown from seed brought to the U.S. from Genoa, Italy. Shallots, apples, pumpkin and Fall squash varieties line the shelves along with fresh fruits and vegetables. All the crops grown on site are grown without pesticides. Quality and flavor prevail instead of prolonged shelf-life in a grocery store.

 

And everything is affordable, but hurry – Joe’s Gardens closes mid-October.

Come back next year in early March for bedding plants, vegetable starts, potting soil and compost so you can grow your own bounty.

A Ride-Along We’ll Not Soon Forget

About two weeks ago, my husband, grandson and I had the opportunity to take a ride with the Seattle Police Harbor Patrol Unit. This came about through a purchase I made at a fundraising auction. I’ve always loved seeing how the police work and have ridden along before, but always in patrol cars. This was a first and now my favorite ride along of all.

The sun gods offered us one of the most beautiful days so far this summer, so being on a boat on Lake Union made the time even more perfect.

The two officers who took us out shared all kinds of information about the Harbor Unit and it boggles the mind all the different events they have to be prepared for. Almost every officer in the unit dives, their boats have firefighting capabilities so the officers are also trained in firefighting and of course, they have to be skilled in boating. This is all in addition to their regular police training.

The Harbor Unit patrols both Lake Union and Lake Washington with a fleet of seven boats. Our Seafair celebration on Lake Washington this coming weekend is their busiest time of year.

During our tour, we responded to a call of a small oil spill from a docked boat. Nothing too dangerous, but a frequent occurrence for the Unit.

If you get a chance to ride with a police officer, in any jurisdiction, I highly recommend doing so. It truly is eye-opening.

The houseboat from the movie "Sleepless in Seattle."

Getting Cherry-ed

Everyone knows we grow apples here and then there’s the espresso stands – with one on every corner, you’d think they were mating. But did you know we’re one of the nation’s largest producers of cherries?

Actually we are the number one producer of cherries with California running second.

This past weekend I was privileged to go on a tour of a packing plant, an orchard and to savor some very delicious foods made with cherries. My favorite, of course – biting into a dark, red sweet cherry and savoring that first squirt of juice on my tongue. The cherry pies tasted mighty good, too.

Kate McDermott teaching cherry pie making.

Kate McDermott gave us a most informative and clever pie making lesson to launch our tour.

“Chill all your ingredients prior to creating the dough and putting the pie together, and you chill out, too,” says McDermott.

She also places a personal intention into every crust she makes and then lets the dough know she’s in charge. That may be why my pie dough never turned out before.

“Making a pie is like a meditation for me,” says McDermott, whose pie making tools all have a story behind them.

After a delectable and delightful dessert of cherry pie and ripe cherries, our group dined at Blueacre Seafood in Seattle.

I have never seen a Dungeness Crab as large as the one they served. Someone else ordered it and made our entire table jealous.

Dugeness Crab to die for