Ticking off the Bucket list…. Dolce

When we last met, I was talking about my Bucket List trip to Alaska…. But there were a couple of smaller entries on the Bucket List that I ticked off, before and after – sort of like the Bread around my Bucket List Sandwich…

Ticking off the Bucket List – “Il Primo”

I have been lucky enough to have lots of young people in my life (and around my table) for the last decade or so. They all have left their mark, and it has always been a joy to see them grow from gauche teenagers to outstanding young adults. Of course, many have spread their wings, and one had not only left home, but left the country! And found himself settled just out of Vancouver. On the Bucket List holiday, we got to catch up and I, of course brought him tasty treats from home.. The opening highlight of my trip, was dinner, and long talks over short drinks…. It is true what they say about Canadians, polite and unassuming, and I was amused by the heading on the drinks menu at one of the places we ended up.. And I ate one of the best Mac and Cheeses, outside of homemade – a too generous serving, as it turns out, but you can never say we left dinner wanting more..

Our second dinner coincided with the first gathering for the Alaskan Cruisers, and it was one of those magic nights where you find yourself around a (very large) table surrounded by some of your favourite people, good food, many laughs, reminiscences and exciting plans..  Perfect!

Haz introduced me to Poutine, that Canadian national dish, seemingly very straight forward, but comfort food at its best. Chips, gravy and cheese curds. It was fabulous, and I tried it a couple more times on my travel, and never hit a bad one. It has set me on the hunt to recreate it now I’m home. Just trying to work out how to do the curds – which were tasty and the right amount of stretchy…. Watch this space… have been researching, and testing, until I can recreate its homely deliciousness..

poutine 1

The breakfasts too, were very generous and our sightseeing day in Vancouver saw me waddle round town after a VERY generous serving of Pierogi (Polish dumplings filled with cottage cheese and potato); not normally a breakfast food, but I’m never keen to walk past Pierogi! This, came served with a chorizo split in half and grilled rye bread, onions, poached eggs and sour cream! Truly the breakfast of champions, but it did defeat me, I sadly left the bread and eggs on the plate – pierogi being deceptively filling! My travelling companions chose those more typical brunch dishes of Waffles and Pancakes – served with that crispy bacon the Northern Americans are so fond of..

 

Foodie Tourist wise Vancouver was quiet; But post cruise we had a night in Vancouver before heading south to Seattle, and I managed to have yet one more serving of Poutine – served with slow roasted Brisket Southern Style – who knew it could get any better?? And we checked out a food market – I love seeing what other countries markets have on offer – and found Polish Sausages and pickles that would’ve have thrilled my Mother’s heart…

 

A quick trip to the Mall to fulfil the holiday needs of my travelling companions also found us eating a quick lunch – Japanese for Miss “Sushi” Seventeen… and a very tasty collection of dumplings for me. I’m not too proud to eat in a food hall, and have found its been a good way to gently introduce all my kids to foods from other countries… Miss Seventeen got to have a selection of all her favourite Nigiri and my dumplings included truffled mushroom, and pork and prawn – what more could a girl on holiday ask for?

 

In my early life, I lived a bit of a Nomadic life, born in Kenya, emigrated to New Zealand as a child, moved to the South Island for University, lived in 2 places down South, before moving back to the North Island and a couple more cities, before settling back in the beautiful Top of the South, some 28 years ago… And just before we started our family, we had the opportunity to live in Seattle for an academic year which was fascinating and exciting…

As the kids have grown up, I’ve taken to having road trips, mostly with my intrepid travelling mother, and some have revisited the places I have lived in… It’s been nice to walk some familiar streets, marvel at progress and meet up with some old Ghosts…

seattle

One of my Bucket List things has always been to return to Seattle. I was pregnant with our first born there, so it holds a very special place in my heart… And so late afternoon saw us catch the train from Vancouver to Seattle, which proved the very best way for these sore footed, slightly weary travellers. Spectacular scenery, books, gentle rocking and travelling through small North American towns… It also proved to be the easiest Customs entry into America I’ve ever done! No massive queues, no x-ray machines, just a polite check and then stamping of our passports, before we boarded the train, and then at the border another passport check and a sniff by drug dogs…  before we trundled to our destination!

 

 

Arriving in Seattle at night, I immediately recognised some of her more famous landmarks, and the railway station was just gorgeous! And I’m not sure if it was wishful thinking, or being greeted by a ghost, but I certainly felt like I’d come home…

 

Home for the next couple of days, was a quirky hotel in the University of Washington area (U-Dub); Miss Seventeen and I very taken with the Pineapple theme, and the obvious sense of humour evident in our rooms, and I also loved the 1950s retro look in the Public areas! It wasn’t the most expensive place I’ve stayed, but it certainly was one of the best.

 

Seattle?  Wow! We packed so much in the 3 days we were there, re-tracing our steps of 23 years ago; its funny how muscle memory kicks in, and once we found a familiar landmark, we managed to find our old apartment; the store we did most of our shopping; the neighbourhood and park I loved… I tracked down the Sausage shop I used to wander down to for lunch – European sausages being one of life’s pleasures – now, not just a take away place, but has morphed into a Tavern – but the selection of sausages and toppings still as comprehensive as ever!

 

We fitted in a Zoo for Miss Seventeen – where we both got to tick Brown Bears off our to do list; not in the wild, but housed in a lovely surround, and close enough to touch! It was nice to see a couple of our local friends – a Kea, and some Kune Kune pigs. As well as a close encounter with some of our Australian cousins – Budgies and Parakeets…

 

 

The last day, was definitely all for me…. A much longed for revisit to Pike Place Market – OMG! It had lost none of its magic, from the World Famous Fish throwing fish mongers, to DeLaurenti Speciality Food and Wine and the world’s oldest comic shop – with everything else in between.. If I could have, I would’ve tried the entire selection of glistening fresh fish on offer; and I spent ages lusting after the contents of the groaning Deli shelves.. but the most exciting was finding one of our local boutique chocolates on offer! #proudfoodiemoment… Pike Place Market is a must do for any visitor to Seattle, but those of a foodie nature, will feel like they’ve come to some Utopian other world; Fresh fish, meat, Piles and piles of luscious fruits and vegetables; spices; a deli second to none! And a few shops selling the tools of the trade for good measure.. Plus quirky stalls selling everything from first edition comics, to magic tricks and jewellery..

 

For the final piece of Seattle Magic, I ditched my, now foot weary and “done”, travelling companions and treated myself to a visit to the World Famous Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum… This has been on my Bucket List since I first caught a glimpse of it on a travel show… A Glass artist of extraordinary skill and vision, Chihuly makes large and stunning glass sculptures. So on a very hot Seattle afternoon, I wandered, mesmerised through the museum, so beautifully lit, and respectfully quiet, and then out to the gardens where I can only imagine the nerve wracking weeding that must go on, amongst his glass installations… A very talented violin busker played for us, over the fence, as we wandered amidst an almost Seuss like garden – albeit a very classy one! My photos can only hint at the stunning displays, and I was left soul sated by the end… As I left, I overheard a woman thank her kids and say “I can die happy now”, I can only agree!

I wafted past the gift shop – thinking that my house is possibly too chaotic to take a Chihuly piece home, and then wandered along a lovely stretch of “new” Seattle, where the stunning curves of the Museum of Pop Culture, and other sculptures lay….. Bliss

 

The Uber ride home dropped me off at the last place on my Bucket List, and from there, I retraced my steps through the last of the U-Dub district. Muscle memory kicking in again to find my way home…..

For me, this has been a trip of a lifetime. Friends, laughter, eating some of my American food guilty secrets (hot dog, soft bun, mustard and ketchup); High end dinners; catching up with ghosts from the past and making new memories; plus ticking 2 biggies off The Bucket List. What more could you ask for? I think if I ever won the lottery, I would plan endless trips to far off lands, with like minded friends and eat from street markets, and watch sunsets over the water…

Bon Voyage et Bon Appetit!

 

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