Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Breakfast at the Edgewater


My grandmother and I are both early risers. 
The other day we met up for breakfast and were rudely reminded that the rest of the world doesn't get up as early as we do... none of the eateries we could think of were open until 11 or 11:30.
After a bit of driving, we decided to head to Six Seven at The Edgewater, a hotel on Seattle's famous waterfront.

The view from our table was stunning. Despite the fact that I grew up here and often run along routes with similar views, I was reminded of why we attract so many tourists up here in the Pacific Northwest.

Being situated in a pretty luxurious hotel, I expected Six Seven to be pretty nice. And wow, were we blown away.
From the service to the food, the coffee (Zoka) and presentation, we were pampered. Everything was beautifully done and DELICIOUS.

It was also great to be able to dine out at a nice place without worrying about my allergies- I had fruit and an avocado/bacon/caramelized onion omelette with basil and goat cheese, and it was phenomenal. I'd had to talk myself out of the (glutinous) pancake stack and didn't regret it for a second.

Perhaps the best moment of the whole thing was this seagull who watched us for most of our meal, probably hoping we'd share.

What a beautiful place. Thanks to my grandmother for taking me out. :)

What's your favorite local breakfast spot? Comment below!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Travel Diaries: Florida's Emerald Coast

It begins at 4ish in the morning, when I land at the airport in Houston, Texas.

I hang around the airport for a couple hours, eating bags of Lays from vending machines. It's too early for any of the eateries in a domestic terminal to be open, and it's the only available snack I'm not allergic to. I'm starving and in desperate need of coffee, but potato chips will have to do for now.

Eventually my parents pull up to the already muggy passenger pick-up area. I head over to meet them, and proceed to surprise the heck out of my younger siblings.

They've just begun a 10 hour road trip to a beach in Florida and had no idea they would be stopping at the airport to pick me up on the way! It's a birthday surprise for my youngest sister, who has been begging me to visit for months. Little did she know!

After my parents and I brag about how we've planned this for four months and exclaim over how proud we are of pulling it off, and my siblings have had time to produce a sufficient amount of shocked expressions, we're on our way.

Before reaching Florida, we must drive through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. I sleep through most of of the drive, despite gulping from the 20 oz thermos of coffee my parents have passed to me in the backseat.

In Louisiana, there's a rest stop where they serve "free coffee and smiles"- we sip our free coffee
and walk a short loop around some alligator statues to stretch our legs.

I open my eyes again crossing "the largest swamp in America" (whichever state that's in...) and crossing the Mississippi river, then remain unconscious until we near our destination...

The rental condo my sister had found for us to stay in was a mere half mile from the ocean, with stunning views of the coast. From our deck we could see for what seemed like miles... Every morning we woke up to the sound of seagulls mingling with the distant rhythm of waves, and a gorgeous sunrise. In a word, it was paradise.

Every day began either at the pool or in the ocean, and we dipped in both at least once, usually twice each day. I preferred the ocean, as the Puget Sound back home isn't as great for swimming and it was fun to have the opportunity to play in salt water. The water here was so blue and so clear, the sand pale and soft, contrasting with the crashing waves... And is there anything so awe-inspiring and mystical as the endless, open sky?

We left the shores near our condo every day for a while to check out neighboring cities. Our first little adventure was the boardwalk at Destin. It reminded me a little bit of Sentosa in Singapore- a little bit touristy but quirky enough to be interesting.  There was a pirate ship, a zip line and a lot of places to get cocktails...

The next town we hit up was Seaside, a white-walled little oasis off another beautiful white sand beach. While exploring we found a juice bar and all got fresh, fun juices- mine had cilantro and pineapple! After having several mimosas on the beach over the course of the week I felt this was much needed.

In Rosemary Beach, the architecture took a turn for the more elaborate. My mother said it reminded her of Leavenworth, WA- a bit European.

It was definitely a more well-off area- we weren't able to actually go on the beach because we didn't have a key code to get past the gate.... still, we wandered a bit and ended up being able to get coffee, at a real coffee shop called Amavida, a luxury in Florida. Good coffee is hard to find in the south. Maybe it's because I'm used to Seattle, and hot coffee doesn't sell as well in a more humid climate... Most of what's in stores is just Community coffee (basically a cheap, Folgers-esque coffee) or similar. Even the Whole Foods only sold their line of Allegro coffee and like two other options, compared to the 20-30 other brands you'd find at any grocer in Seattle, often from local roasteries.

My point being that the americano I had from Amavida was life-giving.

Our last big stop before we drove back to Texas at the end of the week was a long fishing pier where dolphins were said to hang out. And they did! We saw a handful of them swimming around interrupting the fisherman who were trying to make catches. There was a giant sea turtle roaming around which we caught a glimpse of, too, but the dolphins stole the show.

Our final night ended with a firework show along this beach, after sampling alligator meat at a taco place for dinner. A weird way to spend an evening but super enjoyable.

All in all, a relaxing week of adventure, sand-coated bikinis, cocktails on the beach and salty hair moments with my family. What more could you ask for?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Bastille Day 2017


In case you didn't know, the day before yesterday was la fête de la Bastille! Bastille Day is the French Independence day, which falls on le quatorze de julliet every year, marking the day during the French Revolution when the Bastille was stormed in 1789.

When I went to Paris last summer I actually stayed in the area near where the Bastille used to stand- it's strange knowing I walked in places where history was made!

Besides the history, for Francophile Seattlites like me, Bastille Day is really just an excuse to do something that makes us feel a little more français.

Seattle has a few good places to satisfy your craving for all things French...

I'm sure I've mentoioned La Parisienne before. Smack in the middle of Belltown, it's surrounded by other coffee shops and eateries in a seriously gorgeous little neighborhood. There are tables outside next to leafy green trees, and the staff are kind and gregarious. Their pastries and sandwiches are délicieux as well.

Le Pichet is my favorite place in Seattle for a luxurious evening. They have absolutely amazing food, always serve you une assiette à pain et au beurre before you eat, and supply a few caramels with the check.

Le Panier is, admittedly, where all the tourists go, but the have the best tasting and best-priced pastries, macaroons and baguettes in town!

The Belle Epicurean on 4th ave downtown is another favorite because of it's classic French feel, plus you can sit outside and people-watch on account of all the hotels and business offices nearby.

Out of all these wonderful options, it was to Cafe Campagne, a French restaurant tucked into Pike Place, that my boyfriend and I headed this Bastille Day, mainly because it would be easiest to get to after work. I was also intrigued by their promise of live music and burlesque...

It was a beautiful, sunny day for a celebration.

We were gifted with stunning blue swathes of sky, warm but not too-warm weather, and the mellowest of afternoon breezes.

La fête took place beginning inside the cafe and spilling out and over the patio, filling the alleyway with throngs of people. It did feel very French with all of us cramped into this little cobblestoned space.

As promised, we were treated to live music, a small group of older gentlemen playing string instruments. They played the type of music you'd expect to hear in a French film, and one song that I assume from the reaction of the crowd was the French national anthem.

I loved that everyone was dressed up- some people with an over the top costume with stripes and berets, some just influenced by the simplicity and classic timelessness of French style. Everyone, some ladies I waited in the bathroom line with pointed out, had beautiful shoes (except yours truly, who was wearing the same shoes pictured in the With Sparkling Eyes heading- parts of the soles are beginning to peel off, but I wore them in Paris!).

There was also, of course, French food. We headed inside the cafe and ordered some pain au fromage et confiture de tomate, vin rouge, et des macarons chocolat! 

As with any good French restaurant, the inside was low ceiling-ed and had seating around the edges of the room, encouraging interaction between patrons. Dusty bottles of red wine lined the shelves and the menu was written in French.

I'm addicted to chocolate macarons!

After sitting inside beside a guy shucking oysters and enjoying our little meal, we returned to alley in time to catch an accordionist before the burlesque show.

He looked the part, with that cigarette oh-so-casually dangling from his lips. After he had been paying a while, Shanghai Pearl, Seattle burlesque artist, came out and performed a cheeky little bit to some classic French songs. 


Finally, we headed home, but first stopped for a cup of coffee (I'd gotten up for work at 5am and was beginning to feel it).

But isn't that a pretty French way to end an evening?