Can you believe it is February already?! I can see 2012 flying by as fast as 2011 did. I am still high off of the #2daysinseattle trip that I took with Keaton last weekend. #2daysinseattle? You're probably wondering why it's formatted that way.
Let's start from the beginning.
I received an email from Klout in January indicating I was qualified for a perk - a weekend trip to Seattle! This campaign, hosted by the Seattle Convention and Visitor Bureau, launched last week with the goal of attracting more visitors to the Emerald City. Billboards, buses, and subway stations in Vancouver, Portland, and San Francisco were posted to do just that. Moreover, 10 "influential" social media users (all are on Twitter) from each city were granted a weekend trip to Seattle...and yes, I was one of the people chosen. I was thrilled.
I don't know exactly what Klout's formula was for choosing us, but based on the curator list, we were influential in the following topics of food (me), music, art & culture, and wine & drinks with Klout scores above 50.
Now, the reason why the title of my post is "#2daysinseattle" is this: if you are on Twitter/Instagram/etc. adding the hashtag enables social media users to see all posts tagged with that hashtag. It was really fun to click on the tag on Twitter to see all the other visitors' posts. It's real time and real fun. I was in the first wave of visitors. The 2nd is going 10th-12th and the last wave is going the 17th-19th.
So here you have it, loves. My #2daysinseattle:
- Friday, February 3, 2012 -
After I claimed my perk, I was contacted by the awesome DESA at Klout. She took care of scheduling my flight and hotel check-in. They set me up with Alaskan Airlines and the flight from SFO to SEA-TAC was only about 1 hour and 45 minutes. We landed at around 11:30.
Let me start off by saying that we walked everywhere. We decided NOT to rent a car. It would have cost us nearly $300 for Fri-Sat-Sun. Uh no. Walking in Seattle was a pleasure. The weather was perfect. Sunshine and crisp clean air. Couldn't ask for a more ideal weekend.
They also booked us at The W Hotel. Because we were walking everywhere, we appreciated that the hotel was so close to Pike Place and all the other places we wanted to go to for lunch. Claire at the W hooked us up with a "fabulous" corner room on the 22nd floor. Love. We were excited to see the table set up with a personalized platter of goodies. We enjoyed the pistachio-chocolate shortbread, caramel-y nutty apple morsel, and flatbread with tomatoes and goat cheese.
For lunch, we went to Mario Batali's parents' sandwich shop in Pioneer Square. Fearing we would miss some of the specials after the lunch rush, we headed over there right after we checked into the W. Fortunately for us, they only ran out of a couple of things. We opted for the mole salami and mozzarella sandwich - TO DIE FOR. I love the chocolate and spice in the salami. Incred. If I was not mistaken, Mario Batali's dad was at the register. He was so warm and welcoming. Loved it.
After our bite to eat, we headed to the International District of Seattle. Keat spotted a dim sum shop selling dumplings for cheap so we stopped by for char siu bao and dan tat. A little more walking and we finally found ourselves at the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience. I really wanted to just see their special exhibit titled, "From Fields to Family: Asian Pacific Americans and Food." It was a fantastic exhibit about Asian food history in the States. I loved how they included Filipino food! This exhibit was MEANT for me because I want Filipino cuisine to be recognized in America. Exhibits like this one educates and at the same time conjures memories and ignites ideas for the future.
Included with the admission price is a 45 minute-tour of the Chinatown Hotel and Yick Fung Company store. Our tour guide Don took us back into time. We walked the hallways where Asian cannery workers did almost 100 years ago. We saw the faces of the workers on newspapers and photos on the walls. We went into the room of the "Alaskeros" or Filipino migrant workers. It really was an emotional tour. I nearly cried when I saw a picture of a Filipino worker who looked like my Tatay! Thank you, AJ for suggesting this visit.
As a Fil-Am, the tour opened up my eyes to what my family had to go through to start a new life here in the States. My stepfather worked in Alaska when I was a kid and my granduncle sailed on US Navy ships across the Pacific Ocean after WWII. There was so much to learn at the Wing and it only makes me appreciate my family more. Without their struggles and the struggles of other Filipinos, we wouldn't be here today.
The exhibit and tour only made us hungry for Asian food, so we dropped by Pho Ba[c] just around the corner from the museum. The service is fab. I loved our server. It was like eating at a relative's house. We ordered spring rolls, Vietnamese coffee, and pho with rare steak. The broth was SO good. I have had a lot of pho in my life and this one is one of the best. Really. Something about it. IDK exactly. It was awesome.
We came here by accident. We were walking from International District back to the hotel. Keat had a hankering for coffee, so we stopped by the first Starbucks we saw. It just so happened to be at this really tall building. He ordered a drip coffee and started taking pix of his "first Seattle coffee." So touristy. THESE GUYS asked if we were visiting, as if it wasn't THAT obvious, and when we said yes, they urged us to go to the Sky Deck on the 73rd floor to see the sun setting. Eventually we would learn that this was the Columbia Tower - the tallest building west of the Mississippi. We knew we had to go up there somehow. Long story short: we raced up the escalators, asked the security guard how to get up there, we were told it closed at 5:00 (we checked in at 5:07), we pleaded a bit, but he got his manager to escort us up there...plus we were not charged the entrance fee. FTW! We caught the sunset by mere seconds. Any longer, we would have missed it. So gorgeous.
After a quick nap back at the hotel, we got ready for dinner at the Space Needle. Keat loves views, so we decided to see the city lights at the top of the iconic landmark. We had a satisfying meal of buratta, seafood stew, and a nice juicy steak. For drinks, Keat had a beer and bacon-infused vodka. Yup. He loved it. Me, not so much. But my milkshake called the Mount Rainier with chocolate, hazelnut, and Irish Cream was good enough that we did not have to order dessert.
Next: We walked back to our hotel and I TKO'ed.
- Saturday, February 4, 2012 -
Saturday was going to be a busy busy day. We started off with a complimentary car ride courtesy of The W, Starwood Hotels, and Acura. Called the Acura Experience, guests of the hotel can get a ride anywhere Downtown in the new Acura MDX. It was a pretty shnazzy car. Our great Acura Ambassador drove us to 1st and Pike where we were to meet with our Savor Seattle tour group. He did however drop us off in front of The Crumpet Shop...and you know what happened next. Keat got the pesto, tomato, and parmesan cheese while I got the lemon curd and ricotta. LOVE. The crumpets, which they make fresh in-house, was nicely crisp on the bottom and the middle was tender and pillowy. So good. My only regret was not grabbing a pack of crumpets to take home!
Savor Seattle Tour
Stop #1 - Starbucks on 1st and Pike
Stop #2 - Daily Dozen Doughnuts
With 2 minutes to spare, we met our Savor Seattle tour group at the Starbucks on 1st and Pike where we had a taste of a chai tea latte. After we got our headsets and introduced ourselves, we made our way to Pike Place Market! I waited all week for this! Once inside, we were treated to a yummy cinnamon sugar mini doughnut from Daily Dozen. BTW, our guide Santino is from SF as well. He was fantabulous!
Next we had MarketSpice's signature cinnamon-orange tea. Talk about a lovely tea to warm you from the inside out! You can't think of Seattle without remembering the Pike Place Fish guys who throw the fish from one side of the market to the other! Before any throwing, we tasted 3 salmon treats given by fish monger Ryan - smoked salmon, garlic smoked salmon, and salmon jerky. The first one knocked my socks off, but it's pretty much default that the seafood in Seattle is top notch. So fresh and so tasty.
Stop #5.5 - Rachel the Pig in Front of Pike Place Fish
Stop #6 - Frank's Quality Produce
Next we went to the other side of the market to watch fish monger Taho throw and catch salmon. It was a lot of fun to see and hear them chanting. Right in front of Pike Place Fish is Rachel the Pig. She is the mascot and piggy bank of the market. Next came Frank's Quality produce where we tasted crisp jazz apple and Bartlett pear.
Okay, let's stop for a moment. The chowder at Pike Place Chowder is amazeballs. It is no wonder why they have won so many awards. Because Keat is allergic to seafood, they provided a vegetarian and chicken chowder for him to try. So good (yeah, you're going to hear me say that a lot). We got a sweet treat next at Chukar Cherries with a lovely cherry salsa on tortilla chips and a quintet of candies: dried Northwest Bing cherry, milk chocolate covered cherry, dark chocolate cherry, raspberry truffle (a cranberry center layered with white chocolate and a dusting of tangy raspberry), and MY FAVE a honey pecan (a crisp, caramelized pecan doused in smooth milk chocolate and dusted with powdered sugar). I bought a pack of honey pecans to bring home to SF!
Now time for the rich stuff. We went to Beecher's Cheese and watched the separation of curds and whey. Their cheddar on hazelnut crackers was delicious! The same cheddar was used to make their macaroni and cheese...also known as Oprah's favorite mac n cheese. It was legit! Piroshky-Piroshky did not disappoint with their savory beef and cheese and sweet cinnamon apple piroshkies. My friends back home suggested this and I was so glad it was on the tour. Our last stop was Etta's Seafood where I tried the crabcake and Keat tried the apple sorbet. The crabcake was nicely crisp and went well with the tartar sauce. Great ending to the tour!
Ride the Ducks Tour of Seattle and Lake Union
In the goodie bag we received at the W were two complimentary tickets for the Ride the Ducks tour. Right after our Pike Place excursion, we walked to Seattle Center to catch the 2:00 tour. Our captain, Clem Chowder, took us to the Waterfront down to Miner's Landing, up passed Pike's Place, Pioneer Square and onto the freeway to Lake Union where we spent much of our tour. The water was lovely. Though it was chilly out, it was nice to spend time on the water.
Lunch #1 at Serious Pie
It was hard to believe we were hungry after the Ride the Ducks tour...but we were. Savor Seattle gave us a VIP card that granted us discounts to their partners and this was one of the places. Serious Pie was on the way back to the hotel, so we stopped by for some pizza pie! This was another place my friends urged me to visit - I could see why. The dry-cured meat plate with olives and almonds were a perfect start especially with those briny green chilies. The two pizzas were: 1) roasted hedgehog mushrooms with truffle cheese and 2) duck confit, leeks with creamy crescenza cheese. Talk about luxe pizza! This is one of those times I wish I had a second stomach.
Midway to the hotel, we decided to head back to Pike Place. On our way there, we stumbled upon a Seattle hot dog stand. I knew right away this was a place we had to stop at. I mean, come on! Grilled hot dog and CREAM CHEESE! Ahhhhh! There is no need to explain how good it was.
Yes, I'm a groupie. Recently, I reignited my love with coffee. We broke up for about 5 years. Now, I need at least 2 cups a day. I know, it's so sad. I didn't think I would be that type of person be a morning coffee drinker. Alas, Starbucks gets my mouth watering in the morning. Visiting the first Starbucks only made sense on this trip. Yes, groupie. But really...it's history! Yes, groupie. I heart Starbucks!
Our fried Kuya Chip sent us a text that morning to visit this wall. I don't know about this thing. Haha, I was amused, then grossed out, then determined to make my contribution, then proud I did my part in adding to the wall, then back to grossed out. Not for everyone, but it's fun!
By this time, we were EXHAUSTED! I was ready to knock out...but not before grabbing a Japanese hot dog for dinner! I ordered the Matsuri with nori strips, mayo, and teriyaki onion and Keat got the Jaga Beef Hash Hot Dog with yes, corned beef hash. I hate to admit it, but I preferred his over mine.
Next: I TKO'ed. Seriously. At like 7:00 pm. I'm weaksauce!
Before I move on, I just want to say that I LOVE Pike Place Market. There are so many different vendors and foods to try. Each time I came, I saw something new. I foolishly asked, "How is it different from the Ferry Building Marketplace in SF?" Looking back, you can't really compare the two. Each has its own personality. Its own landscape and climate. Its own vibe and flavor. If you haven't been, please go, especially if you love food like I do. The people who make and serve the food to you will only add to the experience and make your dish taste even better.
- Sunday, February 5, 2012 -
Our last day in Seattle. I was genuinely sad. I had a list of places I wanted to go to, but there was no way I was going to get to every single one of them. One spot I DEFINITELY had to hit up was Top Pot. Yes, another place my friends advised me to visit. Thank you, friends, thank you. I loved my Bavarian doughnut topped with luscious chocolate ganache. Don't you think my latte looked gorg? If I had more time here or if I lived here, I wouldn't mind just chillin' here and blog. The guys behind the counter were beyond helpful and enthusiastic about their doughnuts.
We HAD to come back. We did come the previous night before going to Starbucks, but they already ran out of many of their piroshkies. AJ suggested I get the chocolate hazelnut and salmon pate. I got the choc-hazelnut one for my sister back home and 2 salmon pates - one for AJ and one for me. To die for. Like AJ described...it melts in your mouth. It takes no effort to eat. So light, yet the salmon filling is incredibly tasty. Keat got the beef and cheese, the same one we had during our tour. It was still warm and fresh - so good.
Etta's was the last spot we visited during our tour the day before. I really liked their crabcake, so I wanted to see what else they offered. I ordered the market house corned beef hash with over easy eggs rather than the poached and Keat ordered "Etta's Breakfast" which consisted of two scrambled eggs, chicken apple sausage, duck fat fried home fries. My lychee white tea was a great drink - 1) it was nice and hot, perfect for this chilly Sunday and 2) I liked the sweetness it had. The corned beef hash was fantastic. It would have been perfect if I had steamed rice on the side!
I was determined to come to this Filipino-owned business after I watched a video of the store's history. While matriarch Mila Apostol was not there, we met her daughter Leila who started treating us like she was our auntie the moment we went to take a peek at the turo turo line. She served us chicken adobo with pancit and rice as we chatted about Filipino dramas, ticket prices for airplane trips back to the Phils...and Andrew Zimmern. He actually came by Oriental Mart and had their salmon sinigang! I made a vow to come visit Leila and Oriental Mart every visit to Seattle. I love the fam! Mabuhay Filipino food!
From the moment we got to Seattle, Keat wanted to hit up Miner's Landing because of the arcade. On the way there, we stopped by Frans Chocolate located at the Four Seasons Hotel. This place is chocolate heaven. We got a gift card in our goodie bag, but I would still buy these chocolate without a gift card. The salted caramels are extraordinary. We had the opportunity to sample one before purchasing a whole box. The moment I bit into the grey salted-spiked chocolate and buttery caramel, I knew. Sold. The hotel itself is lovely.
I apologize for not taking pix of Keat at the arcade and Miner's Landing. I was tired. We also went to the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop to visit the mummies and grab gifts for my coworkers. This area kind of reminded me of Pier 39, but on a much smaller scale. After relaxing by the Argosy Cruise docks, we headed back towards the hotel. On the way there, I noticed Sweet Iron Waffles, a joint I wanted to visit at some point of the trip. Hey, we were leaving, so we had to make it count. It was nice to have something sweet to end the trip - I had the maple and bacon and Keat had the basil, brie, and bacon.
Four words: I was so full.
My #2daysinseattle was amazing. I didn't want to leave at all! Thank you again to Klout, SCVB, the W, and my friends all over the Internets for making this trip possible. I am grateful for all of you! The places I didn't get to this time around are definitely on the list for the next trip to the Emerald City. Trust me, there WILL be a next time. I fell in love with Seattle and its history, people, and food. I absolutely cannot wait to come back!
Disclosure: This trip was made possible by Klout and Seattle's Convention and Visitor Bureau. As part of this perk, I received complimentary airfare and hotel accommodations for myself and a guest (my husband) as well as $500 spending money in the form of a VISA gift card. Not everything on this trip was paid for with the VISA card. There was no obligation to do a recap of our stay. The opinions in the post are my own.