Recently, I took a trip to Seattle, WA to meet my sister and brother-in-law, who live there.  My parents joined us too, so it was a family affair.  We went to Olympic National Park, a temperate rain forest to the west of Seattle, across Puget Sound.  It was actually very sunny, warm, and resplendently verdant.  I mean, it’s a rain forest.

There were trees!

There were mountains!!

There was the ocean!!!


there were no ducks!  I had been hoping that when we went to Dungeness wildlife refuge we would see some, because one of my sister’s guidebooks promised waterfowl in the spring, but there were none.  However, between Seattle and ONP, we did eat some. [EDIT: we ate food, generally, that is.  not ducks.  why would anyone do that?]

1. Art of the Table

The northwest really takes the whole local, organic, ‘rustic,’ farm-to-table new american thing to its most extreme form, if not always in pretense than in ubiquity (but isn’t a lack of pretense part of the pretense of these restaurants?).  Anyway, because their menu changes weekly, according to season or whatever, what I specifically had specifically is relegated to the compost bin of history.  As I remember though: tuna crostini with rhubarb, fish cakes, and a cheese plate with pistachios and honey (for dessert).  The last was really the highlight of the meal; the cheese I believe was a camembert and paired wonderfully, and surprisingly, with the pistachios.  Probably the best part was the wine list, which included a lot of excellent northwestern wines.  The names of which I can’t remember.

albacore tuna crostini

2. Michael’s Seafood and Steakhouse

Found on my yelp iphone app during the short periods in which I actually had a connection, we arrived at Michael’s  after a long day of driving and strolling through the wilderness for a 8pm reservation.  The people at what was supposed to be our table were lingering, most likely lauding at length the recent performance of their daughter in Oberlin’s production of The Vagina Monologues. Anyway, this meant we had to wait, which led my sister to believe we were not dressed appropriately for this place and my parents (and I, to a degree) to believe that our type just wasn’t welcome in such a fine, caucasian establishment.  I don’t think either was true, though I wished they had given my mother something free to put her less on edge.  ANYWAY.

We were a couple miles from dungeness, so I thought I may has well have the crab cakes and the salmon.  The latter was cooked perfectly, something I appreciate more now, and the former were probably the platonic ideal of crab cakes (which itself is not the platonic ideal of crab-related food nor of savory ‘cakes,’ but I digress (or do I?)).  If anything the crab cakes had too much other crap, sauces and vegetables or whatever, around it.  But it was good.  We finished with a heavenly creme brûlée.  I love dessert!

crab cakes, michael’s seafood

3. Carmelita

This is a vegetarian restaurant that blew me away the first time I went there, a year and a half ago.  So I was eager to return.  Sensitive to vegetarian commonplaces, the first time I visited I was impressed with their creativity and with the depth and complexity of their dishes.  I was a little less impressed this time, but it was still the culinary highlight of the trip.  I started with the ‘smitten,’ described as “Old Overholt rye, Lucid absinthe, Plymouth sloe gin, rosemary syrup, lemon.”  For a rye drink, it was extremely bright with only hints of sweetness and rosemary.  It looked pretty too:

Smitten -Old Overholt rye, Lucid absinthe, Plymouth sloe gin, rosemary syrup, lemon @ Carmelita

Great way to start the meal.  We continued with the mezze pate, a sort of vaguely middle eastern appetizer, which consited of “Fava bean falafel, tahini sauce, tzatiki, romesco, marinated olives, house-pickled fruits & vegetables, Spanish Mahón – cow’s milk cheese, housemade pita.”  Delicious.  Third best thing of the evening.  I love pickled vegetables, so that was a hit with me.  The cheese was high quality and the cumin-encrusted pita bread was perfect for the various spreads.  Then I got the artichoke pesto pizza.  It was good, though not as sumptuous as the gruyere and spinach buckwheat crepe that my mother had.  The pièce de résistance, in any case, was the dessert we ordered, which was a “Macadamia nut & vanilla Pot de Créme, cardamom candied tuille.”  First of all, I love any hint of cardamom in any dessert.  Second, this custard was somehow both effervescent and substantial, rich in flavor but not overpowering.  It really put everything over the top.  Plus I just kind of like the vibe to these sort of vegetarian restaurants, their inconspicuously haute novelle-amérique style notwithstanding.

Macadamia nut & vanilla Pot de Créme, cardamom candied
tuille – Carmelita

So an ok food trip, especially considering everything was paid for.  An even better nature trip, which, at long last, included the local ducks-of-the-week community at Green Lake park, in Seattle:

more pictures:

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