It's a magical feeling, getting up at 5am, even though your body is screaming for just a little more sleep. Driving through town while it's still dark and quiet. Boarding the airplane before dawn. Taking off as early daylight touches the yellow hills of the Palouse, height giving new perspective. Miles and miles of farmland. Drinking a little styrofoam cup of coffee and imagining what the day will bring in a new place, how you'll navigate it all alone. It feels new and fresh and exciting to hop on a plane to explore by yourself. It makes me wonder why we don't all break routine a little more often.
It's been funny living in Washington for over two years and yet never making it up to Seattle. It was starting to become a game, in a way. How long can someone live in Washington and not make it to the only part of Washington that people know? Two years and two months, I guess.
I had a good time exploring by myself, visiting the EMP museum, playing the keyboard in one of their sound rooms. Marveling at the glass works at the Chihuly museum. Shopping at Pike's Place.
But as usual, I was mostly there for the food. Raw oysters and a little sushi, to be precise.
Living in Eastern Washington, it is really hard to find quality seafood. You would think that at least the grocery stores have a selection, right? Unfortunately, you would be wrong. You would also be wrong if you thought that the fish guy at Safeway has a filet knife and could maybe filet a whole fish for you. Also, they only get deliveries on Tuesdays.
My priority was finding the best spot for oysters at a happy hour price. But what I realized is that happy hour oysters in Seattle is not like my favorite place for oysters in Brooklyn. At Maison Premier, you can get any specialty oyster they have for $1 at happy hour. Everywhere in Seattle, you can get $1 happy hour oysters, but only of a single variety that they choose FOR you. You want some of their other stuff? That's another $2.25 each, if you're lucky. Come on Seattle, give oyster freedom back to the people!
So I had the one-size-fits-all dozen at The Brooklyn (the oysters were fine but the atmosphere was way stuffy) and another at Elliott's Oyster House (a little touristy and pricey, being right on the water). I treated myself to a non-happy hour variety and got the $30 dozen at Taylor's Shellfish Farm. They were out of the Fanny Bay oysters, but I got to try the Shigoku, Totten Inlet Pacific, Virginica and Kumamoto, all from Washington. All delicious. Their salad with manchego cheese and side of green olives also did not disappoint. And it was fun to eat all the oysters at my own pace and not have to share with anyone!
For brunch, dungenness crab meat abound in Toulouse Petit's fantastic crab benedict... with "fine herbes." (Make-believe fancy conversation in my head: 'Oh, pardon me.' 'Quite all right.') And would you believe they have seven other kinds of benedicts alone, as well as tons of other Creole classics? I could probably eat here every day and never tire of it. They also have a fruit plate that would spark envy even among non-health nuts. Probably cause they serve it with a big bowl of condensed cream for dipping.
For sushi, we took refuge from a sudden deluge of rain at Japonessa. Although, now that I think of it, is rain ever sudden in Seattle? This fusion spot was completely packed by 5pm on a Saturday. Their creations, if not fun, can be a little over the top: the Super Bad Boy roll is packed with eel, snow crab, avocado, cream cheese and then deep fried and topped with spicy seared crab, chili aioli and soy glaze. I'd rather not even think about it too hard: it was tasty, if not a little overwhelming. Here's the Mexican Ninja, my preferred lighter dish, which is kind of like a rainbow roll with a little south-of-the-border spicy kick.
The drive home was pretty, lots of evergreens and mountains before making way for the rounder hills of the Palouse. Back to the routine, the less exciting restaurants, the boredom that comes along with kicking around the familiar. I know it won't be another two years before I make my way back to Seattle this time.