Pizzeria Pulcinella…and other dining experiences in May

May (as it is my birthday month) caters to going out more often.   And yes, I had others to share in the variety of selections noted below.  The #1 choice this month was Pizzeria Pulcinella in Seattle, WA (southend of Rainier Ave).  Great for a date night!  It has an ambiance and a feeling as if you are in a local pizzeria in Italy.  The centerpiece of the pizzeria is the Valoriani wood fire oven from Italy.  The oven design allows the pizza to be baked in about 90 seconds at a temperature of 800 -900 degrees, which is a key element of authentic Neapolitan pizza.  We enjoyed a caesar salad, the Vesuvio pizza, and cream puffs for dessert.  Bridgette J. has been our server on different occasions…and is wonderful!  Rated best wood-fired pizza in Seattle in Seattle Magazine’s 2009 Best Restaurants issue.  http://www.pulcinellapizza.com/index.htm 

An overview of some of the others:

The Pumphousehttp://www.pumphousebellevue.com/ Bellevue, WA.  A Bellevue landmark since 1978.  A great selection of brews, some of the best hamburgers around (in my opinion), and a great place to gather to watch your favorite sporting event.

Brix Wine Cafehttp://www.brixwinecafe.com/  Kirkland (Juanita area) WA.  Happy Hour is served daily throughout the entire cafe 4-6 pm and the last hour.  Good to meet up with friends or co-workers.  Sangria.  Parking is limited.  A variety was sampled:  Truffle Fries, Chipolte Hummus & Grilled Flatbread, Brix Mac & Cheese, Prosciutto & Arugula Flatbread Pizza, Pesto Chicken Flatbread Pizza.

Chandler’s Crabhousehttp://www.schwartzbros.com/chandlers.cfm  Located in Seattle on Lake Union.  Deck with views.  Generous Happy Hour 3:30 – 6:30 pm and 9-11 pm nightly…selections tried were the Brie Wedge, Tempura Prawns & Asparagus, Colorado Lamb Riblettes, Crab & Artichoke Dip, and the Sliced Sirloin Slider.  Good size bar area.  Ira the manager on duty and the staff are top notch.

Matt’s in the Markethttp://www.mattsinthemarket.com/  Pike Place Market, Seattle.  A charming, intimate setting with views of Elliott Bay and the hustle and bustle of Pike Place Market below.  Although we were able to be seated upon arrival, reservations are recommended as this hotspot fills up quickly.  Lunch included Seared halibut fishwich with a cup of Seafood chowder, simple green salad (which includes bleu cheese, pumpkin seeds, roasted garlic dressing), chips & dip, and a custard style chocolate dessert.  This was my first time at Matt’s (after all these years in the Seattle area), and will definitely return.

The Red Househttp://www.redhousebeerandwine.com/default.asp  Renton, WA.  Tapas are the specialty of this local establishment with an extensive selection of wine and beer for both in-house and retail purchase.  Wednesdays offer wine tasting and food from 6-8 pm for $20 per person with a different selection of wineries each week.

The Met Coffee & Wine Barhttp://www.themetwinebar.com/ Renton, WA.  Located in the heart of downtown Renton, WA, the Met Coffee and Wine Bar specializes in Northwest wines (plus a number of others thrown in) by the glass or bottle.  Constantly rotating specialty draft beer selections…so, stop in to see what is on tap this week!  The coffee is top notch in this Wi-Fi hotspot.   Relax in the large armchairs and sofa in front of the cozy fireplace or gather with friends at a number of tables (that promote gathering).  Sample some light fare and on Tuesdays during the summer/Renton Farmers Market, join Mike, the owner for a barbeque out on the patio.  Join the wine club!  Every Thursday, join the loyal following for wine tasting from 5-7 pm.  Cheers!

Seattle Mariners Baseball

May 25-  Enjoy Baseball?  Want to see a ballpark that offers a great experience?  The Seattle Mariners and Safeco Field won’t disappoint…at least not this day with a win (5-3) vs. the Detroit Tigers.  www.seattlemariners.com

Safeco Field is a terrific ballpark for baseball.  It offers a view of the downtown Seattle skyline, the ability to watch the pitchers in the bullpen up close and personal and  .  It features a comprehensive, state-of-the art scoreboard system and a one-of-kind retractable roof (designed to cover not enclose the ballpark).  The Mariner Moose…the Mariners mascot, can be seen around the ballpark, in the stands, and in the Moose Den (at certain times during each game).  Take note of your surroundings as the Art in the Park is varied and impressive.  My particular favorite is the “quilt” made of license plates, discarded pop cans and other metals.  Also, located at the Home Plate Gate, a sculpture (chandelier) made of baseball bats.

A wide assortment of food vendors can be found here – Thai, sushi (including the famous Ichiroll), hot dogs, pizza, soft pretzels, microbrews, organic/veggie selections, Mexican fare, BBQ, Ivar’s seafood,  Kidd Valley burgers… and the garlic fries with the can’t miss aroma, Shishkaberry (chocolate covered strawberries on a stick), and of course the typical ballpark fare (along with some surprises). The club level offers the Terrace Club, specialty food selections, suites, and the Hit It Here Cafe.  The third level offers sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains, Seattle and Puget Sound.

 An ongoing suggestion:  more rock music…although I did like “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” 🙂

Prior to the game, we enjoyed Taco Tuesday (in the bar from 4-6 pm) at Elysian Fields.  It is located in the Stadium District (with two other locations around Seattle).  The restaurant has windowed garage doors that open to its patio which adds to the atmosphere during the nice weather.  The beer selection consists of beer from Elysian Brewing (I liked the Mens Room Original Red (KISW radio)) as well as a variety of “guest” beer.  The menu doesn’t fail to impress. On certain game nights, Elysian Fields has a special/limited bar menu and on the regular menu, a number of items have been tried (and enjoyed)…steamed mussels (or clams), steak sandwich (or salad), and the hamburger is a continued favorite.  http://www.elysianbrewing.com/elysianfields.html

Seattle Cheese Festival 2010

The 2010 Seattle Cheese Festival took place on May 15-16th.  Good weather and my love of cheese couldn’t keep me away this year (as I had not been previously).  http://www.seattlecheesefestival.com/   The festival takes place on the cobbled streets of the Pike Place Market – Seattle.

The event offers a sampling of dozens of artisinal cheeses from producers around the world.  There is a wine garden (mostly lower priced wines), educational seminars, and cooking demonstrations.  Also, there are over 35 Seattle area restaurants that offer a “Cheese Fest Best” dish during the week of the festival (the restaurants are not at the actual Festival).  My husband and I tasted some of the cheese offered and purchased a Roquefort (most cheese was available for purchase at a discount).  My favorite was a Gorgonzola from Italy.  Also, we liked that Mt. Townsend Creamery http://www.mttownsendcreamery.com/  brought some of their specialty cheeses as well.  The festival has a lively atmosphere but I probably wouldn’t go back anytime soon as the logistics are not well executed.  Many people stood in long lines while others would walk up to their destination and take their sample.   Frankly, if you stood in those long lines (as we did at the beginning), it would make for a very long day.  But cheese is always fun – isn’t it? Sample a variety of cheese at Whole Foods, take a class or try DeLaurenti’s Saturday wine tasting (which is paired with cheese).  DeLaurenti’s is a primary sponsor for the festival.

DeLaurenti Specialty Food & Wine is a must-see when visiting the Pike Place Market (or Seattle).  Whatever your culinary endeavors are, the deli offers the best specialty foods, cheese (hundreds offered) and deli meats around!  http://delaurenti.com/ 

Macrina Bakery & Cafe offered a number of different breads at the Festival.  Macrina offers bread, pasteries, cakes, catering, wedding cakes, and a number of delicious cafes serving brunch and lunch.   http://www.macrinabakery.com/  Oh Mamma Mia!

A number of notable mentions for take-out are Piroshky-Piroshky (did not try today) and Mee Sum Pastry.  A favorite at Mee Sum is the Pork Hom Bow.   On this day, we had the Pork Hom Bow and a Pork Stick.  http://www.piroshkybakery.com/  Of course there are numerous other notable options at and around Pike Place Market.  I will leave those for another outing on a different day.  Salud!   http://www.pikeplacemarket.com/

Emerald Downs

Horse racing at Emerald Downs on a Friday evening in May!   Emerald Downs is located in Auburn, WA and offers a beautiful view of Mount Rainier on a clear day.  If you have not been to a horse racing event/race track before, it is an interesting experiment.  It is fun to watch the people (and you see all kinds) and to get to know the ins and outs of the sport.  Purchase a program for $2.50 – you will find the number of races, the participants (name of the horse, owner, jockey, colors, etc…), and information on the types of wagers and on how to read a race page.  To get a head-start, check out the types of wagers online before you go.  

Emerald Downs first opened its to doors to race fans on June 20, 1996. It replaced Longacres Racetrack, which closed in September 1992 after sixty seasons of racing.  The Longacres Mile Handicap – a Grade III event, is held annually in August (and is the showpiece of Emerald Downs).   The race is open thoroughbred horses three years of age and older and is run on dirt over a distance of one mile (eight furlongs).  Part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge series since 2008, the winner of the Longacres Mile automatically qualifies for the Breeder’s Cup.

A variety of food and service can be had on the different levels.   The concessions and service at the food court/snack area might remind you of being at the fairgrounds but there are other options including a full-service restaurant (reservations are available) and in-house catering.  There is box seating, reserved seating, bar service, a members only club, and a view room or suite that can accommodate your next party or corporate get-together.  Or bring a blanket and lay in the Park.  A corporate outing attended years earlier proved to be a good time. 

 http://www.emeralddowns.com/

Queen Anne Delight

A few hours spent on Queen Anne Hill in Seattle, WA…

Stop #1 – Hilltop Ale House served up a hearty Diamond Knot “Summer” Brown Ale, Artichoke Hummus Pita Plate and a to die for “The Goat Cheese Salad”.  Ingredients for The Goat Cheese Salad include:  creamy goat cheese, rolled in olive oil and bread crumbs, then baked in oven, placed on fresh mixed greens tossed with roasted pecans, sliced red onion, oven baked herbed croutons with freshly made Sundried Tomato-Balsamic Vinaigrette.  http://www.seattlealehouses.com/  

Stop #2 – Caffe Fiore – http://caffefiore.com/   This friendly neighborhood cafe opened in 2005 serving all organic coffee as well as pastry/snacks.  There are multiple tables – some big enough to share with other members of the community and chairs on the front/side patio to take in the south sun… great way to spend a lazy afternoon.  The dark chocolate mint cookie is a delight.

Stop #3 – Top Pot Doughnuts – http://www.toppotdoughnuts.com/  One of the regions favorites!  Try the sprinkled Seattle Sounders doughnut.  Check out “Our Story” to find out how they came up with the name Top Pot.

Miles Traveled

Whether you walk, jog, or run… www.mapmyrun.com “empowers active lifestyles” or those trying to :).  Offers training tips, lists events, social connection, and allows you to track your own progress, create your own map, or get suggestions for a route near you… or wherever you may roam.  Another option:   http://www.run.com/ lists routes in other countries which is especially fun if you like maps and international travel.