Monday, July 15, 2013

Eating our way through Pike Place Market

Let's just say it is a good thing we had an 8 block walk from our hotel to Pike Place Market because we ate our way through the market today!  We took a tour with Savor Seattle that began at the famous gum wall and concluded at Etta's with crab cakes.

In the early '90's, the Market Theatre put in new carpet and told patrons they couldn't chew gum in the new theatre so folks put their gum on the wall outside the theatre and placed coins in it.  The preservation society asked the theatre to remove the gum so they did...and the patrons put the gum back.  So the preservation society asked again and the theatre removed the gum again...and the patrons put the gum back.  When the preservation society asked the theatre to remove the gum for a third time, the theatre told the society if they wanted the gum removed, they could remove the gum...gum is still there!
 First stop was Daily Dozen Donuts for some sugar and cinnamon donuts
Next stop was Market Spice for their Market Spice Tea.  It was a delicious blend of black tea, cinnamon, orange and clove.  We'll definitely head back on our return trip to pick up a box or two to bring home!
With a cleansed pallet, we then headed to the famous Fish Guys of Pike Place Fish Market for a little smoked salmon.  We tried three different types and our fav was the one our tour guide called the "gateway smoked salmon drug".  It was marinated in garlic and black pepper.  People will gather around the stall to see the fishmongers throw fish.  We'll head back on our return trip as my pics of them in action didn't come out so great. 
At two spots in the market, you'll see to giant bronze piggy banks.  Visitors are encouraged to drop in spare coins which are combined with 6% of the profits of all Pike Place Market vendors.  This money is given to the Pike Place Market Foundation which helps low-income neighbors of the market...whether they live, learn or work in the market area.

Time for some fresh fruit so we stopped at Frank's Quality Produce for bing cherries and the best peach I've ever eaten.  Can't believe a southern girl is saying a Washington peach is the best peach ever but there's no denying the truth!
Ready for some chowder!
Feeling all healthy from Frank's it was time for chowder!  We headed to Pike Place Chowder for the New England Chowder that won the National Chowder Cook-off three years in a row.  Yep, the best New England chowder came all the way from Seattle! 
The recipe was developed by the Chowder Girls of Charlestown Street Café and after winning the national championship three years straight, they were not able to enter the chowder contest for ten years.  So these girls developed a seafood bisque recipe and you guessed it, they won the competition two years.
One of the things I really liked about the tour is the balance of sweet and savory.  So after the chowder, it was time for something sweet so we headed to Chukar Cherries.  Because the walkway in front of Chukar Cherries was narrow, we got a vendor's eye view of the market as we stood behind the staff.  We tasted peach cherry salsa and five different cherries...dried bing cherry, raspberry truffle cherry, cherry bings (cherry juice is infused in the chocolate and then the cherry is dipped...this was my fav), dark chocolate cabernet and honey pecans.
Our next stop 
They make the cheese on-site and use a base of cheddar and gruyere cheese to make their very tasty Flagship Cheese.  Our guide John also works here as a cheesemonger so he was full of great inside tips about what to order here.  On our return trip, I'll definitely be returning for a grilled cheese made with their Flagship Cheese, fresh basil and tomato!  We also tried some of their famous macaroni and cheese...while this means absolutely nothing to me, Oprah called it the world's best macaroni and cheese. 
Pike Place Market is one giant family and everyone helps everyone and Piroshky Piroshky Bakery is a prime example.  The night before the store was to open, the owners were $24K in debt and only had $50 to their name...definitely not enough to buy the ingredients for their Russian pastries and the family was worried how they were going to open.  A Pike Place Market tradition is for a writer from the local paper will come out on the schedule opening day of a new store and write a review so there was no changing their scheduled opening date.  Word about their situation quickly spread the morning of their opening the family arrived and found an envelope with $1,000 from an anonymous donor.  The family was able to open and has been going strong since 1992.  It took over a year for the family to find out who the anonymous donor was and it turned out to be another Russian family with a store one street up.  In most places, Piroshky Piroshky would be seen as competition and left to flounder but not at Pike Place.  The other family was glad to see another Russian business in the area and did what they could to help.
All throughout the market you hear musicians and other street performers (or buskers).  Buskers are regulated in the market to maintain the overall feel of the market.  The way they know where they can perform and the maximum number of performers is to look for markers like this in the area.
Our final stop of the day was Etta's Seafood where we had a fabulous crab cake with a dill tartar sauce.  Oh my...what a great way to end the tour!
After the tour, we found a little café to have a drink and do some relaxing and people watching.  We took another walk through the market before heading back to the hotel.  Here are a few pics from the market.


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