Coffee in Seattle. Where do you start?
Throughout this summer, I will write a lot about where the good coffee is in Seattle. Here are some of the best places I have been to several times:
- Stumptown Roaster - The best coffee. Originally from Portland (our rival). The atmosphere is a little noisy at the location on Capitol Hill, but there are many locations.
- Lighthouse Coffee Roaster - Excellent coffee choices. The espresso is rich, smooth and sweet. The atmosphere is quiet enough to read a book and talk in a group of people. It is located on Phinney Ridge and parking is free and super easy to find, but car is by far the easiest way to get there (until Seattle gets a subway system to take you there).
- B&O Espresso - Haven’t been here in ages, but the last time I went there the food and coffee was excellent. I’ve heard it has changed, but if you want to check it out and share you own reviews on the place, it’s on Capitol Hill and is a fun place for a small group of four or five to have lunch.
- Honoré - In Ballard, this place is really well hidden. Make sure you find the exact address for it online. Tucked away in the neighborhoods, it has fantastic bakery items and to-die-for coffee. I’ve only been once, but I had a little trouble breathing in the place because of my nut allergies. So if you’re allergic to nuts, I wouldn’t recommend it at all.
- Le Panier - In the heart of Pike Place, this place almost never has an open seat. Le Panier feels like the French embassy. You walk in, and everything is exactly what you would expect to find in a Parisian patisserie (except there are chairs to sit down on, in European bakeries/patisseries you almost never stay there, only buy your bread and go. It’s very noisy, which isn’t surprising since it’s in Seattle’s biggest attraction: Pike Place Market.
There are many more places for coffee. Hundreds! Thousands! But I don’t have the time to write them all. I will continue to share my thoughts throughout the summer. The best thing to do is get a car (because this damn city still doesn’t have a subway system, and buses are too confusing) and drive through Seattle and go to the places where there are long lines… because if the locals are willing to wait for the food, it must be fantastic.
Seattle’s seasons explained.
I don’t understand it completely myself, but if you’re wondering how Seattle’s weather works, read this below. Seattle does not have 4 defined seasons, but rather two “spring”s, two “winters”, one “summer” and one long “autumn”.
January to March (winter)
Within these three months, Seattle is very cold between the 30s and 40s for the high. Low is between 28 and 34. There are a few days in each month that warm to 50 degrees giving out some sunny days. There are quite a few days that snow, but it almost always melts completely by the afternoon. A cold spell can happen like it did in November or December dumping tons of snow and ice for almost two weeks.
This month there is usually quite a few days that warm above 50 and possibly even 60 degrees that makes all Western Washingtonians near Seattle get desperate for summer. It’s sunnier, but the weather turns nasty again in May.
May to June (winter)
I may not necessarily call this “winter”, but it is certainly colder than April. The weather stays down in the 40s to 50s and is very gray and rainy. It the most depressing time because you’re expecting it to be warmer, but the April fools joke of warm weather teased everyone.
The weather warms up considerably with a few rainy days, but mostly sunny or partly-cloudy days. The temperature is between 50 and 70 degrees and fluctuates often.
These two months can provided a few 90-degree days (two years ago we had 4 days of 100+ degrees). There is almost never any rain and the grass is burned from the sun turning yellow and brittle. The lows are in the 50s to 60s often and the highs in the 70s and 80s. Again, it is very dry. No humidity.
October to December (autumn, couple weeks of winter)
The only difference between autumn and spring in Seattle is the trees turn bright orange and red. Autumn is increasingly rainy and cooler compared to August and September. It seems like every day is cold and rainy, because it really is. October thru December are exactly the same. It’s gray and dreary with continual overcast skies, though most years December has one of the year’s cold spells that dip down to 15-20 degrees for about one week dumping to as much as 1 foot of snow. This cold spell can also happen in late November just before or just after Thanksgiving.
Some people from Washington may disagree with me on some parts, but this is how I interpret Seattle’s weather patterns. Obviously, it really can change easily. Seattle’s weather is some of the hardest to predict in the country because the weather comes straight off the ocean and always changes once it reaches land.
Seattle Food Review on “Honoré”
Honoré Artisan Bakery
In Ballard lies a thousand or so exceptional foodie destinations. Prices ranging from $$$ to $, from bakeries to chocolateries and seafood to meat, this Seattle neighborhood has just about everything; certainly worth a visit.
My family and I visited this bakery after reading it in a magazine. This place is run by a French man in a small building and works laboriously in its homemade bread which explains at the prices. The food is fantastic, but as I’ve been to hundreds of other bakeries in Seattle as well a around the world, I have certainly had better. The coffee is fantastic, but that’s because it’s imported from an exemplary coffee roaster up the hill called Lighthouse. There is a charming courtyard in the back and would be a fun place to stop along a walk. The prices a very high, such as $3 croissants, $4 quiche and éclairs.
I would certainly give it a try, the information is provided here with more reviews.
If you love Seattle and its region, here’s one thing you must know:
Seattle is the economic, political and industrial capital of a proud and prosperous region, commonly known as Cascadia. This region is not surrounded by political boundaries, unlike the term Pacific Northwest, but by biological boundaries stretching from southern Alaska to northern California and east to the Continental Divide (map shown below). Why do you need to know this? Because of the many groups that are ambitiously trying to have Cascadia become the Republic of Cascadia and gain independence from its respective former nations, or “empires”, of United States and Canada. Cascadia even has a flag, designed by Alexander Baretich. The blue represents the oceans and blue, unpolluted sky while the white is the snow-capped mountains and below, the lush green rainforests and untouched landscape.
Cascadia would have over 15 million if it were to gain independence today, however some believe the population could explode when Americans, Canadians and other nationalities immigrate to Cascadia for a fresh new country with new ideals; that puts Cascadia about the same population as Holland. Cascadia would be the size of between Kazakhstan and Mongolia, or about 3 countries of France combined by land area and would rank in the top 20 economies of the world (Seattle itself has an economy similar in strength to Thailand). Cascadia exports wine as famous as California’s and is close to competing with French wines. Cascadia runs almost entirely by hydroelectric power alone and is one of the number one manufacturers of computers, aerospace and other electronics. Cascadia would begin with an extremely strong economy and large population.
Below is the map of the possible boundaries of the Republic of Cascadia. The continuously zig-zagging lines on its boundary represent the actual borders of the bioregion of Cascadia. However, if any independence movement were to be successful, I doubt we could tell Oregon: “Sorry, you just gonna have to drop off your southeastern corner. Idaho, that goes for you too. And Montana, we just want your western half.” It’s more likely that Oregon and Washington becomes independent and later annexes Idaho, western Montana and BC. But what Cascadia does promote is a much more efficient network of bike paths, unpolluted waterways and particularly and extensive rail infrastructure to encourage less usage of automobiles like that in Scandinavian and other European countries while rebuilding the lines to smaller towns like Pullman the university town, Walla Walla, Kamloops, Aberdeen and maybe even as far as Boise by rail. Education and health care would be a huge priority with are more liberal system while military would be a low priority and instead allow that sum of money go to its citizens of Cascadia and not invading countries abroad.
Anyways, I found it wise to inform all my followers about this movement in case you were to move to this region and find that you are soon voting to gain independence as a republic. If you are interested in this movement, go to http://cascadianow.org/ or follow the stream of posts on the facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/groups/104889922904957/; simply called “CascadiaNow!” on facebook. If you have any questions about this, feel free to ask me.
Disclaimer: I keep this blog as unbiased politically as possible, so I have not shared whether I agree with this or not. This also doesn’t express the opinions of Tumblr.com
New Find: Lunchbox Laboratory
Over Thanksgiving break, I visited this place for my friend’s birthday party, and I have mixed feelings about it. feel free to read the reviews about this place via the link below:
There was a lot of talk that this place had the best burgers in the country; I was beyond skeptical. Nevertheless, I was excited. I left to meet my friends who were late, so I sat down and they were friendly with me and set a table for 7 people. Once my friends arrived, we ordered as our eyebrows ascended at the prices. The milkshakes looked delicious and came in beakers (hence the place’s second word in their name: laboratory), however once one arrived at my friends place is was smaller than my glass of water and costed them $6. I could have made 4 large milkshakes at half the price. We waited, and waited, and waited. Everyone had tickets for a movie afterwards and were slightly late even though we arrived an hour and half earlier. Even though we had run out of conversations and my friends started to bounce balloons in the air after an hour of waiting in a half-empty restaurant, one cheeseburger was missing and my friend couldn’t eat. Everyone had to eat hurriedly to be on time for their movie. Despite the wait, the cheeseburgers were really good and the fries tasted like real potatoes, but some kind of oil was dripping out of my burger. I didn’t want to know what kind of fat or oil was used that helped me gain 2 pounds, but I enjoyed the taste.
Overall, it wasn’t the best burger I’ve ever had, and I am still wondering why my burger was leaking, but it was an interesting environment full of creativity. But you might have a better experience, so try it out if you have the money and time. But beware, the burgers on about $10-15!
Where to live in Seattle.
Whether it’s more rail transport being built in the area, the quality of schools, the abundance of parks or charm and character, each neighborhood provides something different.
-dream neighborhood: Queen Anne
-most fascinating: Pioneer Square
-affordable and attractive: Ballard/Fremont
-most exciting and fast-changing neighborhood: South Lake Union
I will be posting more about the neighborhoods either through pictures or opinions.
Today my family and I ate at Julia’s, On Broadway. Located on Capitol Hill, this restaurant is a little pricey but serves great food. Today was Christmas Day, so I don’t know if the selection was best (maybe a temporary chef took the place of the primary), but there were a couple sandwiches, burgers and salads on the menu, including hot buttery rum($8), beers and wines. The inside reveals a rather vintage themes with brick walls inside, large red curtains and fascinating objects hidden around. This one picture hung above our table looking like a 1950s poster, but was in fact a recent artistic poster of Lady Gaga. The sweet potato fries were fantastic, but my turkey and cranberry sandwich was very basic considering it was $11.
A fun spot for a group because surprisingly it wasn’t very noisy at all even though there were a decent amount of people in an open space. There’s a bar area, but there is seating for those under 21 as well. Very interesting place, but only for those who can spend $10-15 per plate.
Disclaimer - This is only one opinion, you might find it to be better or worse than my experience. In addition, I went on Christmas Day and this affected my experience as well.
What is Seattle? The Rome of Cascadia.
So as I have told you many times: Seattle is not the common American city you would think of. That said, each major city not only has its own culture. For example, New York and Boston are as different as pie and cheesecake, but are still rather close both located in New England and its East Coast culture. San Francisco and LA are as different as oranges and grapes even though they are in the same state, so you can imagine how different Seattle and the rest of the country is. Seattle shares similarities with Portland, over 174 miles south, as well as Vancouver under 150 miles north. Seattle is an espresso-loving capital of Cascadia obsessed with quality food, frugality and Euro-style everything. From small cars to perfected croissants, Seattle is delicate and takes it time focusing on details while to the south, I would say Portland does things rougher and more intense. In Cascadia, which is the more common name for the Pacific Northwest (and rolls off the tongue easier), Seattle would be the wine, Portland the beer, and Vancouver - well, maybe ale or hard cider, I don’t know. Portland is known for logging and talented with the ax, Seattle is known for everything else: the fishing, mountaineering, boating, coffee, aircraft, education, software and the arts.
So why have I written this extended description of Seattle and its comparisons? Because I want everyone to clearly understand why Seattle is not JUST a city, it is a capital. Seattle is to Cascadia as Rome was to the Roman Empire and London is to England. You understand now?
No you don’t. Not yet. Not until you have read about and visited the places I will list in the near future on this blog. I will write to you, my followers, and describe to you why Seattle is a heart of Cascadia and a future prosperous metropolis of this world.
What Makes Seattle Special
I made a list of the first three things that may be in other cities but are unbelievably strong in Seattle. The compact cars, recycling and walking culture is all over Seattle and you must embrace it when you’re here. These three things make Seattle unique from other US cities.
- Compact European Cars - There are so many tiny European and Japanese style compact cars that they outnumber SUVs and Pick-up trucks almost 3 to one. The Pacific Northwest is one of the only places in the country where a mid-sized SUV looks monstrous and a pick-up truck is just unecessary. If you want to “fit-in” with the Seattle culture, don’t get a pick-up truck or large SUV. The size of the cars in Seattle is vastly different from what you’ll see elsewhere in the country.
- Recycling - If you throw a glass bottle or cardboard box in the garbage can, don’t be surprised if someone helps you sort it out. Seattleites also compost now quite frequently and our recycling containers we put on the street for the truck to pick up are at least twice the size as our garbage cans… at least everyone on my block. My garbage can is tiny, yet we only fill is half way. Our recycling container twice the size and almost always overflowing. I am not kidding.
- We Walk - In some cities around the US, people have stared at me with a confused expression several times for walking and not driving my car. I wonder if they know how good it feels to walk? If you’re driving around Seattle, you give the pedestrians the right of way even if they’re jay walking. Don’t honk your horn at a pedestrian… that never happens.
Where I Stand on the 99 Tunnel
Gasoline is going to be $5 to $6 a gallon in a year, so why is Seattle building more highways? Sure, we’re detroying one so it sounds logical to replace it, but fewer people are driving these days anyhow… so why not replace it with transit? In five years more people will get rid of their car and take public transit. More and more people will realize how much cheaper it is to throw away their car and walk to the station.
The next tunnel dug under Seattle better be a subway. If not, it just shows that our American culture and mentality still cannot envision a future that looks like the Japanese and European culture of living without a car and walking to the train station. This is not the 1950s or 1960s in America where mass suburbanization took place. This is Twenty-Eleven, 2011: the twenty-first century. People are moving back into the city. Living in the suburbs is cheap, but not even close to as cheap as it was forty years ago. As the gas prices rise, so will the cost of living away from the city. Move close to the train station and be prepared for when gas costs as much as $7 a gallon.
So my point is… building this highway would help if gas prices are lowering or electric cars are as abundant as gas-powered cars, but neither are the case. Even if all cars were electric, traffic would still be an issue as the world population continues to rise significantly. Also, electricity would quickly acquire a tax once the majority of automobiles are powered by electricty for some way for the government to benefit from automobile ownership. All of this would acqure civilians to take public transit again. Rail will be used for many more centuries.
This world is changing. You must change with it.
Gas Prices making Frugality glare at Gluttony
I have never seen Seattle’s streets look so frugal and European in my life… for once frugality is piercing gluttony with a vicious glare. People walking everywhere all the time. Bikes in the street, on the sidewalks and chained to poles and railings. Bike traffic on those paved paths all around Seattle, such as the Burke Gilman trail. Crowded buses and trains speeding by with barely enough room to stand. Smaller cars are dominating the streets as frugality stares coldly at the gas-guzzling SUVs and pick-up trucks that once hogged the lanes and wasted precious fuel. What “high” gas prices have done to this area is more beneficial than most people think. It takes a lot to get one out of their car and onto a bus, train or bicycle; if it’s high gas prices that does it, so be it.
Governments are now trying to implement vast rail networks faster than ever to mitigate the effects from higher gas prices. Cities that are relient solely by 18-lane highways and automobile-dominant infrastructures fail to realize that when gas prices reach $5 per gallon, cities with vast rail networks and alternative transit will not see their economies plummet like other automobile-dominant societies. It’s important that our society knows how to avoid wasting energy by better insulating homes, not leaving electricity on unecessarily and walking places for groceries and commuting by public transit. It’s a changing world. We, the people, need to change with it.
I’m strange. I’ve lived in England and Japan, both of which have high gas prices. I’m not talking about what American’s think of as “expensive” gas. I’m talking gas prices equivalent to $7 to $8 per gallon of gasoline forcing them to use their legs and walk to the train station. I was once car-less when I lived in Nagoya for two years, and most people are very confused when I say that those two years without a car were the two greatest years of my life. The liberty of being able to leave the house whenever you want with just a hop on a subway that passes every ten minutes was incredible. I hope Seattleites are able to embrace a lifestyle such as that, but this country needs higher gas prices and more convenient and vast subway systems with high speed rail interconnecting every major city. That, unfortunately, won’t be for many many more years… if not decades. But it’s fun to think about.
Note: Notice how people are no longer complaining at the “high” gas prices. If gas rises a couple bucks in a short amount of time, the public willl complain for a couple weeks, and then it’s old news. Life moves on.
“It’s a changing world. People need to change with it.”
Unique Seattle: More Sushi, Less Tacos
For my first post about the unique aspects of the Emerald City, I had a hard time knowing where to begin when thinking about what makes Seattle “special and unique”. So the first thingI find interesting is the abundance of Asian food, which is different from most Southwestern states where Mexican restaurants are on every block. Sure, there are many Mexican restaurants, but most are not very good. Some of the best ones are tucked behind buildings or just a hole-in-the-wall with a long line. Unlike the rest of the nation, there is a Teriyaki or Chinese restaurant in every strip mall and several Japanese restaurants, but not quite as common. There are many Thai and Korean restaurants, but I may be thinking of the International District downtown. To prove how much East Asian cuisine there is, Uwajimaya, a store full of Japanese, Korean, Chinese and even Vietnamese food and products, is based in Seattle and has expanded into the suburbs since then. But you must look for the good Japanese, Chinese and Korean cuisine, just like any other city, there are many places that taste like the food was frozen.