Tacoma Explorations: Salmon Beach

One of my favorite things about my relationship with Josh is the fun we have exploring together. I had an adventurous spirit before meeting him, but it's so much more fun with your best friend. 

With moving to Tacoma, we've had the opportunity to explore our new town. You may remember my earlier post on my first few Tacoma explorations. The explorations have continued, and just last weekend I was at the salon when my hair gal mentioned she lived on Salmon Beach. Neither Josh nor I had heard of this place, but it sounded cool. So the next day, we hopped in the car to check it out.

It turns out it's only like 5-10 minutes from our home. It's a small waterfront community that started in the early 20th century. It's about 100 cabins built on stilts at the bottom of a steep bluff near the Tacoma Narrows. Many of the cabins are in original condition, and cabin 97 is even on the National Register of Historic Places. There is only parking lot on top of the cliff for residents, so visitors have to park further away and walk in. 

We had no idea about the walk and steepness and honestly we weren't prepared. We didn't have the normal baby carrier. As we parked to start the adventure, we were talking about how we forgot the stroller. Ha! That would NOT have worked at all, so good thing we forgot it. We did have the back-up carrier, so I strapped that on for Caleb.

As a visitor, you have to walk down the road for about a quarter mile to reach the resident parking lot and top of the bluff. Then you can either go down steps or just a sloped trail to get down to the cabins and beach. 

We headed down and we were greeted with these cool cabins. There is a wooden pathway between the bluff and cabins that you can walk along. At the one end, there is a beach with great views of The Narrows Bridge. You also get a closer look at the stilts of all the cabins. 

It's really quite quirky. I imagine it's hard to lug stuff up and down, so if you bring something down it usually stays down. The residents have really made it there only little community. And everyone seemed to have a kayak.

As we walked along, we met Roger "the historian" (this is how he introduced himself). He wrote one of those Images of American books, this one being, Tacoma's Salmon Beach. He was really kind and apparently his wife was the artist of the mermaid statue in my photo below. He offered for us to swing by his cabin, but only after we visited cabin 97 which is the cabin on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Caleb also seemed to enjoy all the sites. On the hike back up the bluff (work out!!) he was giggling and laughing the whole time (as his mom huffed and puffed up the hill). Asha was in on the fun as well.

It was a fun afternoon as we lucked out in some clear weather and a break from all the rain. We loved the views and enjoyed checking out a new place. 

Local Spotlight: Best Pizza Places

Happy Labor Day weekend! I hope you're out doing something totally awesome. Josh and I are having a lovely, lazy Saturday morning (with a drizzle outside). It feels awesome (even though the weather doesn't feel totally Labor Day-ish).

When I think of Labor Day food, I usually picture hamburgers & hotdogs. Bad news for you: I didn't go eat at hamburger joints and take pictures (please note: I did eat at hamburger joints, though). BUT, I did eat at pizza joints and took pictures. Pizza is in the same food family as hamburgers, right? That's a rhetorical question. Don't answer it.

That was my entirely-too-long lead in to tell you how this is list of my favorite pizza places in Seattle. Since my opinion is everything, that means this is the list of best pizza places in Seattle. You're welcome. Here we go (not in any particular order):

The Masonry

Josh and I stumbled upon the Masonry quite unexpectedly. We had just been to an event (honestly, I can't remember what event. I think maybe the winter Urban Craft Uprising). We were hungry and didn't know where we wanted to eat in Lower Queen Anne. We decided to just walk around and see what we could see...and we saw the Masonry. It was it's fourth day being open, so it was brand spanking new. We sat at the window and enjoyed a squash pizza with a spiced ricotta with a scrumptiously chewy crust. I fell in love.......with the pizza (people, duh, I'm already in love with Josh). I was thrilled to see it was featured in Sunset magazine last month. Just remember, Josh and I found it first. 

Delancey (and Essex)

This is a well-known pizzeria here, and has a rep for being one of the best already (even New York Times noticed it). So this isn't anything new. However, I'm here to tell you all the hype about it is valid. I like this pizza so much that it's where I had my birthday meal this year (it was a mid-week birthday, wahhh). They usually have seasonal toppings on the chalkboard, which you can add-on. The crust is thin, but not crunchy; a lovely chew that doesn't destroy your jaw. I love the white pie (minus garlic) with kale (when it's on the chalkboard). Yum. Better yet, Essex is next door (same owners). When you wait for your table at Delancey, just have a cocktail. Good things come in twos, eh? 

Pagliacci

This is our pizza delivery go-to, and it's delicious. It's no Round Table, or Papa Johns delivery. It belongs up in the big pizza leagues with the others on this list. It has great flavors options, and great crust, too. It's not really the wood-fired, thin crust neapolitan pizzas, but more traditional pizza with a thicker crust (but not crazy thick). I enjoy the Chicken & Spinach pie and add ricotta. The have stores all around the great Seattle area, hence why the delivery is so great. 

Veraci

You'll usually find Veraci at most of the farmer's markets here in Seattle. They bring a wood-fired oven with them and cook up pizza for all the farmer's market goers. You can purchase a whole pie, or just a slice (or two). It's very thin and sometimes has a bit of a crispiness around the edges. I love their florentine pizza Again, with ricotta (but it comes with it). I love ricotta on my pizza. If you haven't tried it, please do. Anyway, I like this for a on-the-go / quick bite since they are at the markets or have their small store-front in Ballard. (Sorry, just have this one photo).

Cornuto

Have you watched Gordon Ramsey's show Kitchen Nightmares? This restaurant was NOT on it. But when Gordon was running an episode at a nearby Greek restaurant, he apparently ate at Cornuto. According to the waitress, he said this pizza was true, Italian style and delicious. I don't think this waitress was lying; the pizza is great. And the ambiance is dark and romantic. It's a cozy place in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood. Josh and I usually split a pizza and get a salad. We tend to vary it up, but the margherita is to die for. However, the gnocchi is also melt-in-your-mouth good. We haven't gone yet, but I hear the happy hour is great.

Via Tribunali

Via Trib and Cornuto are sister restaurants, so it's no surprise that we like them both. The menus are somewhat similar, but each does have something different to offer. This is also a cozy restaurant and it's just up on top of Queen Anne, but there are a few more locations around town. We love to get the Via Tribunali Specialita della Casa, which is more of a calzone pizza. Perfectly chewy, fresh and delicious toppings. It's one of those pizza where the first few slices are so hot and fresh that you usually need to fold the slice sandwich style to get it into your mouth. (Sorry, it was dark when we ate there so the pictures weren't great).

Serious Pie

If you're a foodie, then you know Tom Douglas is the chef de la chefs of Seattle (along side Ethan Stowell and Matt Dillon). Serious Pie is Douglas' answer to pizza pie and it's pretty dang good. I really enjoy the pie with yukon gold potatoes - simply delicious. There are two locations, and both mostly downtown. I prefer the Westlake restaurant, which is also a biscuit place in the mornings (Serious Biscuit). You really can't go wrong here.

Kylie's Chicago Pizza

If you know me, you know my extended family lives in Chicago (or nearby). My parents were born and raised Chicagoans. They love Lou Malnati's and Ginos East, and I was raised up eating this upside down, deep dish pizza (we'd visit Chicago most summers). If you haven't had Chicago deep dish, then let me tell you something....it's filling and delicious. It's pizza you need to eat with a fork and knife, and a slice or two will do you (oh, sure you can eat more but  you'll feel that food baby later). So, we aren't in Chicago (obviously), but let Kylie's transport you. Note: Patxis just opened in Ballard and is also a good Chicago style pizza (we first tried this in the Bay Area). 

Tutta Bella

This was the first pizza we tried in Seattle. Our good family friends, Vince and Jonita, brought us along with Josh's parents. We haven't been to it in a while because we usually end up at one of the above places, but this is solid, wood-fired pizza. It's good for kids, too. Plus some great salads. It definitely deserves a place on this list of bests. This is my parent's favorite Seattle pizza, too. (Sorry, no pictures).

That's it. There are still many places to explore and test out. In fact, here's a place I'd like try: Mio Posto. And/or eat through this list. Hungry now? Go get pizza.

PIZZA PIZZA. EAT IT. (and enjoy).

Simply Coffee: Slate Coffee Roasters

Remember when Josh & I first moved to Seattle, I started my coffee tour? I dropped the ball on keeping that series going. I partially stopped because there are just so many places in Seattle and I couldn't keep up. There is definitely no shortage of coffee houses in Seattle. That's for sure. And all Seattleites have our favorite places, including Josh and I. But we had a recent discovery I wanted to share.

This recent discovery was Slate Coffee Roasters. It's a hidden little gem in Ballard. We stumbled upon it driving around, and decided to stop for a caffeine fix. And ever since it's been Sunday morning routine for breakfast before church. Our spot is right in the window.

Sunday Morning's at Slate

Mind you, this isn't like Starbucks or Tullys where there are flavored syrups and whatnot. Slate's main focus is the coffee - simply coffee. Not many fancy-dancy creations. Their menu is mainly coffee and milk in varying different ways with chocolate if you'd like. And the milk they use is local and organic, so it's fresh. 

Slate is more of a coffee experience than it is grabbing a quick caffeine fix for the go. They take their coffee rather seriously. They are sure to take time on each coffee so it's perfect. My usual is espresso + milk with a Splenda. I have an extreme sweet tooth, but honestly I could probably get away without the Splenda. But heck, I just like that extra bit of sweetness.

Then we enjoy a pastry. On Sundays, they get Tall Grass Bakery goodies. I tend to go for the cinnamon roll or the apple cornmeal muffin. But Josh likes the cream cheese danish. But on other days, they get Fuji delivered, which is also quite delicious.

The other weekend, we missed our Sunday morning visit (due to snow!) so we stopped in the afternoon. I got my usual, but Josh tried the deconstructed coffee. This is espresso, milk, and then espresso + milk. It's was fun to taste each on it's own and then together. We felt like true coffee snobs (snobs in a good way).

Slate's Deconstructed Coffee

And the folks that work at Slate are incredibly knowledgable and super friendly. Chelsea greets us when we come in (I don't know when she's not working, by the way) and knows our order. 

Chelsea, our favorite Barista

So if you find yourself in Seattle and wanting a true coffee experience, please visit Slate. And if my recommendation isn't enough, you'll be happy to hear Slate's been named one of the 20 hottest coffee shops across the US by Eater (props to Slate!). 

Note: This is part of my Local Spotlight Series.

Farms, Barns, and Root beer in Snohomish

First and foremost, let's get this pronunciation correct...it's snow-hoh-mish. Or, at least that's how I think you pronounce it. HA! I'm not a Seattle native, so I'm still learning. But I'm pretty dang sure that's how you say it (not to mentioned, I looked it up). 

I'm glad we got that covered. I feel like I can tell you about Snohomish, now we both know how to say it.

The other weekend (to be exact, I'm talking about July 27th), Josh and I adventured up to Snohomish. We didn't go out with the plan of exploring Snohomish, but that's the beauty of it, we just sort of ended up there. Here's how...

We started off just going to taste some root beer. Now this, we had every intention of visiting. It's a root beer store in Lynnwood (which happens to be in Snohomish County) that has over 100 different types of bottled root beer. Yes, over 100 brands of root beer exist in this world. The store is called (believe it or not) The Root Beer Store. Clever, eh? We learned of this awesome store from a show in the evenings here called Evening Magazine (yet, another clever name) where they featured the store. Maybe it was hot when we watched the clip, but that root beer looked delicious. 

We discovered they were not joking about the 100 brands of root beer. There were rows upon rows of root beers. The staff really knew their root beer too. We'd both never really thought about there being different root beers, and the differing tastes. It was quite entertaining. The main differentiator seemed to be strong versus sweet. The two they steered us towards were the Dang! Butterscotch and Frostie Vanilla root beers. So we bought those and a few others. Before we left, we shared a tasty root beer float in a frosty mug. Slurrrrrppp!

 Slurp...The Root Beer Store

Slurp...The Root Beer Store

 100s of Root Beers

100s of Root Beers

And the root beer is where the afternoon plans ended. Yet, it was still around 3pm, and weren't ready to go back home. Josh realized we were in Snohomish, and suggested we go visit a veggie stand. I was doubtful - a veggie stand? Really? We want to visit a veggie stand? Alllrighhhty then. So Josh plugged it into the GPS and off we went.

I drove doubtfully still unconvinced of Josh's veggie stand plan. But I drove onward trusting him and my GPS. 

We reached a road that winded down and then suddenly before us was open farmland. The sun was shining down, and my doubtfulness vanished. I secretly smiled to myself at the beautiful scenery (I say "secretly" because I was not quite ready to tell Josh he was right about this adventure to a veggie stand). 

Soon after reaching the farmland area, I saw a super-cool barn. I thought to myself, "oh man, I bet that'd be a great photo." But I whizzed right by in the car. Then another thought came to me, "what would Don Brown do?" And I knew the answer immediately without question: I had to pull over. 

Now pulling was another thing. It was a single road with barely space on either side. But I wasn't going to let this opportunity slip. I found an open driveway, and pulled in. I turned around, and managed to finagle my car in a small dirt spot along the road just down from the super-cool barn. 

Before reaching the barn, I was greeted by some calves. Hello Norman! I started to snap some photos, and Norman made his way towards me to say hello (or maybe in hopes of more food). Norman #296 was licking his chops in this photo (or was he picking his nose...hmm). 

 Norman, the cow

Norman, the cow

After the cows got boring, I moved on to the main event, the super-cool barn.  I really don't know why I think this barn is super-cool. I think it's just that it's old, and has a cool picture on it (dude, that's deep).

 Super-Cool Barn

Super-Cool Barn

As I was snapping shots of the super-cool barn, a  lady started yelling at us from a window of the house across the street. I thought for sure she was mad that we were taking photos of her property, and was going to tell us to leave (sad that I jump to that conclusion). To our surprise, we weren't getting shoo-ed off at all. Instead, she was directing us to go down the road further by the wheat for the best shot. Still shouting over the road, she explained that the wheat with the field and barn made a perfect shot. What do you think? A perfect shot?

As were were by the wheat, the lady came over to chat (whose name we learned was Barbara). We learned that the barn has been in her family for over 100 years, and the farm homes (e.g. the one she was shouting from) were built in 1910. The farm had cows (as we saw), sheep, and pigs. The two farmhouses were also hers and she rented them out for long stays (through VBRO). The one house, the one she shouted from, was her "White House" and was so cute & quaint. 

We chit-chatted for a bit, and since we had never been to the area before, she steered us to downtown Snohomish where there was a river and nice boutiques and pubs. So the adventure continued onward. 

Following her directions, we landed in the downtown area - it was cute as a button. Antique shops, boutiques, and pubs (just as she said) lined the main street. The buildings were older, and had so much character.sd

Josh and I roamed the town, and enjoyed the evening. We stopped in a few shops like the Uppercase Bookshop and Faded Elegance (those were my two favorite shops of the day). Then, we wrapped up the evening with dinner at Fred's Alehouse. Before heading home, we took a peek at the river

And that was our unexpected adventure. Who would have thought at a random idea to go to a veggie stand, would lead to a barn, that would lead to a nice lady, and would land us in a new part of Washington. Oh life, you're crazy! But I do love these life surprises. It's just nice to come across such unexpected treasures. 

I urge you to jump in the car, and see where it takes you! 

A Spot of Tea: Cederberg

New idea! New idea! (oh alright, give credit where credit is due...Josh came up with the idea). But I'm adding on a new category on my blog called Local Spotlight. If I encounter an awesome place / activity / person in Seattle, or the nearby area, I'm going to share it. This will mostly be for my Seattlelite friends, however, it could also serve as a way to convince friends & family that read this to come visit me. Excited? I am! 

Local Spotlight: Cederberg Tea House 

As some of you may know, Josh and I enjoy a good cup of tea. Remember my Tale of Teas, or Tea for Two posts? Well, if you didn't know, you know now: Josh and I like tea. Oh sure, you think because we are in Seattle we should only like coffee. Well, phooey!! You know we do like other beverages besides coffee. Tea being one of the top! In fact, I liked tea before I liked coffee (insert gasp!). 

Let's take a moment down memory lane, shall we? I'll always remember when I realized I liked tea. It's actually the perfect tea-spirational story. I was in London visiting my sister, and we stopped for an afternoon tea. We didn't stop because we were trying to be all British and have a "spot of tea," but because it was cold, dreary, and we were tired. I ordered tea since that seemed like the right thing to do. Then, I noticed my sister adding milk and sugar to her tea. I shrugged to myself and followed suit. Boy was I glad I did that! I finally discovered the trick to making that tea "oh so good" (in my humble opinion). 

Anyway, tea is good. I like tea. You get the idea. Now to Cederberg...

The other day, when I was looking through my blog reader, I came across an article on Serious Eats about a new tea shop in town - right in my very own neighborhood, Queen Anne. Tea, you say? In Queen Anne? I must read on! My interest was sparked even further when I learned it was South African. Say what? Tea from South Africa? This crazy cool. I need to try this place pronto. (Not to mention, the lack of tea shops near home ever since our dear Tea Cup left town...that definitely upped the ante).

After reading a bit more, I learned it was roobios tea. I had chai roobios before, and really liked it. But Cederberg does something very unique - shots of roobios. Yes, you heard me...shots of roobios. Apparently they grind the roobios so that it's super fine, then they pull a shot through an espresso machine just like you would a coffee espresso shot. 

Extremely curious, I sent the article to Josh with the intent of taking us there over the weekend. And that's exactly what we did.

When we walked in, we were greeted with friendly welcomes. It was a warm day, so we both opted to try something iced. Natasha, who we learned was one of the owners (alongside her mother, Cecile), kindly walked us through our options. Of course we got the roobios. I ordered an iced roobios latte, while Josh picked the Rooios Fresh (roobios shot + apple juice). 

 

 Roobios Fresh (left) and Roobios Latte (right), and Malva Pudding (underneath).

Roobios Fresh (left) and Roobios Latte (right), and Malva Pudding (underneath).

After picking our beverages, we decided we should fill our bellies with something sweet. I was thrilled to hear South Africans have a sweet tooth (if you know me, you'll know that I have a big sweet tooth, so big as to say I have sweet teeth even). But looking in the case, there we so many decisions! And I didn't know a single one of them (ok, except maybe the tart), but Natasha patiently explained each one to us. We ended up with the malva pudding.

 Pastry Case at Cederberg

Pastry Case at Cederberg

So this malva pudding, it looks like just a plain old loaf cake. But wait until you taste it. It's magical. Suddenly your taste buds are melting in pleasure. After Josh took a bite, he looked at me with his eyes wide open and pointing at the cake. Being that l've known him for 10 years, I knew this was the "This is so good, I can't wait to finish my bite to tell you" signal. I agreed; this cake was mighty fine. (Note: Malva pudding is int he bottom left of the pastry case photo).

As we finished up, Natasha came out and asked how we were doing. The answer: super, great, & awesome!  

One trip wasn't enough for us, though. We returned for breakfast the next weekend. This time, I tried out the hot roobios latte. Josh got the same. Another winner! They are so cute when you dine in. They bring your tea on a little tray. Isn't that nice? Along with a little cookie - yum! 

I love the look of the teas with the layers. (Josh wants you to know that the sausage roll is also quite delicious.) The roobios tea is hard to describe. It reminds me of a Thai Iced Tea in a way, but the taste is obviously somewhat different. It's sweet, but not crazy sweet (they do add honey & cinnamon, mind you), somewhat earthy, but totally smooth. Not sure if that does it justice, so why don't you just try it?

 Breakfast at Cederberg

Breakfast at Cederberg

 Roobios Latte

Roobios Latte

Did I mention yet how nice they are? Oh? I did, did I? Well, they are! Look at their smiling faces (below). Oh, and here's a peek inside. (Sorry for the blurry pictures, I forgot my camera and just had a iPhone). Oh yea, they are indeed both from South Africa, so you can't get any more authentic. Okay, maybe you can...the ground roobios tea is from Cederberg, the region in South Africa where the roobios tea is grown.

 Cecile (left) and Natasha (right)

Cecile (left) and Natasha (right)

 A look inside Cederberg

A look inside Cederberg

You know when you hear of something, how it then just starts coming up? That's what happened here. After our first visit, Josh came across an article. Then I saw more articles. So popular, check them out in the news: