We allotted a whole afternoon to exploring Pike Place, the iconic farmer’s market of downtown Seattle, so we thought it would warrant its own entry in our One Week, Three Cities series.
Our first stop – the first Starbucks, of course! The line was out the door, but we (well, mostly Martin) were there to pay homage to this mecca of frappuccinos and chai lattes. The drinks are exactly the same, so this visit is really all about the novelty of the experience.
Making our way back to the main entrance to the Market, lattes in hand, we spotted a sign for La Buona Tavola. Brittany at the Seattle Caviar Company had told us about a great truffle shop near Pike Place, and we knew we were in the right place. Rei H., the Truffle Queen, was so welcoming and helpful.
The store was quite crowded, but after asking her a quick question about the varieties of white alba truffle oil they had on the shelves, she went and set up a mini tasting just for us – a little shot glass sized cup of potato soup. First a sip of just the soup. Then she added a full dropper (1 mL?) of truffle oil and had us try again. Foodgasmic! We also partied it up with tequila shots (just kidding – but she did have us lick the back of our hands to try the truffle salt). Another fascinating product they carry – truffle caviar. The fishy flavor and dark tint come from squid ink, and the synthetic pearls very closely resemble “true” caviar. For our dessert tasting, a 1:2 ratio of white truffle cream to a Nutella-like chocolate hazelnut cream. YUM. We couldn’t resist – we left the store with a TSA-friendly bottle of white alba truffle oil and a packet of 10% concentration truffle salt. We’re definitely looking forward to using these gourmet ingredients soon!
Onward to the main atrium of Pike Place — the Pike Place Fish Market, where enthusiastic yells and tossing of salmon attracts thousands of visitors daily. A bit of a tangent here – my mom collects magnets from every state she has been to, so I’ve made it a habit to pick up some magnets during my travels for her refrigerator. My dad, however, is far less of a souvenir-receiving kind of guy. BUT – the last time I went to Seattle, I brought back some salmon jerky and he loved it. To this day, I think he considers it one of the best and most useful gifts I’ve given him. This time I made it a point to pick up some more so we flagged down one of the guys to scoop up a 1/4 lb for me. They store it in whole strips — you can see the long backside of the salmon, just like the fillets they sell at your local grocer. Awesome stuff.
At Rei S.’s suggestion, we stopped by Market Spice. Before you even enter the storefront you can smell the fragrance of dozens, nay, hundreds of spices and teas wafting through the air. Upon entering, you can’t help but notice the floor-to-ceiling shelves of jars, each filled to the brim with spices and teas ranging from the ordinary pantry basics to the unique rub mixes, tea blends, and even catnip!
I couldn’t resist its beautiful bright green color, so I snagged a 1/4 lb of matcha. We also brought home some catnip as a souvenir for Percee.
We spent hours wandering through the maze-like hallways and multiple levels that make up Pike Place.
From fresh produce stands selling the last of chantrelles of the season to rows and rows of dried pastas in every shape, color, and flavor imaginable to artists selling their homemade wares, there really is something for everyone here. On one of the lower levels, there’s a comic book and assorted geekery store called Golden Age Collectibles as well as a numismatic (and baseball card collectors’) haven. Then once you’ve had your fill of the Market, you can cross one of the skybridges over to the Waterfront to check out the many restaurants, toy shops, arcade, and more!
Sure it’s a bit touristy, but I can’t imagine a trip to Seattle being complete without stopping by for a latte at the first Starbucks, watching the guys toss fresh salmon at the Pike Place Fish Market, sniffing and gawking at all of the fresh fruits and vegetables, and exploring the nooks and crannies of Pike Place.
Check out Pike Place: www.pikeplacemarket.org
Located at 1st & Pike in Downtown Seattle
Check the website for hours
Check out La Buona Tavola Truffle Cafe: www.trufflecafe.com
1524 Pike Place
Seattle, WA 98101
See their Yelp reviews here.
Be sure to say hi to Rei the Truffle Queen if you see her! :)