Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Inside Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is a Seattle landmark and a very large place filled with strange and yummy things, so B and I signed on with a Savor Seattle walking tour, to learn and munch.

Stephanie, our charming guide, wore a microphone that broadcast directly to tour members' earphones. This allowed her to speak to all of us in a normal tone of voice, and we could hear her clearly over the market bustle, without disrupting the scene.

We tasted smoked salmon at Pike Place Fish, ducking the famous flying fish as they hurtled by. The folks here claim that the fish-throwing started simply as a way of getting business done faster, but I think they just wanna throw fish.

We also visited the 90-year-old Market Spice. We sampled their famous orange spice tea and a seasoning mix dubbed Healthy Heart (it's salt-free), which worked quite well as a savory appetizer or a sweet when mixed into cream cheese and served on a cracker.

We could smell the deliciousness emanating from the Russian bakery Piroshky, Piroshky long before it came in sight. The cute fish-shaped piroshky stuffed with smoked salmon was good, but the more traditional potato-onion-cheese piroshky was my favorite. I wished I could try one of the dessert varieties, but all those little bites were already adding up.

At Beecher's Handmade Cheese, workers were mixing and salting the curds in this huge vat as we peered from the sidewalk through the large window. "Twenty-four hours ago, this was grass," Stephanie announced as she passed around tastes of Beecher's Flagship cheddar.

The award- winning New England clam chowder at Pike Place Chowder was tasty, but to my surprise, I preferred the vegan "Lime in 'd Coconut" chowder. I licked the last of it from the inside of the shot-glass-sized plastic cup and made plans to come back for lunch. There are at least half a dozen chowder varieties on the menu each day -- smoked-salmon chowder, hmm -- and the indecisive can get a sampler of four.

Our last bite was this perfectly sized triple coconut cream pie from Etta's Seafood, the original restaurant opened by Tom Douglas, one of Seattle's top chefs. It would have been a good place to have lunch, after our tour broke up, but who could eat at this point?

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