Before the story begins, let me explain the seemingly unattractive roof-top view of Seattle in the photograph above, as seen from the eleventh floor of the Warwick Hotel. What you see are mostly older buildings. But what the older buildings (and what is just beyond the horizon) contain make Seattle what it is. Near the bottom, left of center, is a neon sign on the corner of a brick facade. The sign is a chef. He is welcoming you to Dahlia Lounge, one of Tom Douglas' restaurants. Across the street from the Dahlia Lounge (made famous in Sleepless in Seattle) is Lola, another Tom Douglas restaurant. To the right of center is the Moore Hotel and Theater. We've attended many concerts at the Moore. Across the street from the Moore . . . just a little right but not seen in the photograph is the Buenos Aires Grill, one of our favorite steak houses. Just past all the old buildings, extending out of your view is Pike Place Market.
And now, the story . . .
I knew I wasn’t in Tacoma anymore when Peg and I sat down at the bar in the Palace Kitchen and there was a bowl of pistachios waiting for us with a glass tumbler for the shells. Tasty and elegant at the same time.
We had arrived too early for admittance to Jazz Alley, where we had reservations and tickets to see the Mose Allison Trio. We walked a hundred yards up the slight hill to the Palace.
After looking at the menu, I was almost sorry that I had made reservations for dinner at Jazz Alley. The appetizers sounded wonderful as we looked over the menu and glanced at the plates of fellow patrons at the bar. The chicken wings were huge and the if the nearest diner had turned his back long enough, I might have considered spearing a turnip and apple ravioli.
Eric, the bartender informed us the kitchen was open late, but Peg and I couldn’t see eating at Jazz Alley and then returning to eat again at the Palace. We settled for nuts and drinks. Peg spied Bitburg Lager. Peg's family was living in Germany when she was in high school. Her junior year, they lived in Wolsfeld, a tiny village outside of Bitburg and the Air Force Base. Peg and her year-older sister Pat were able to participate in Fasching (German Mardi Gras) with a local German girl and were introduced to Bitburger Pils. When she saw Bitburger Lager on the menu at the Palace Kitchen she had to have one in remembrance of her youth.
Near six o’clock we paid our tab and walked back to Jazz Alley. A large family group was in front of us, but when we were about to be seated the front desk informed our host that we were number one. He led us to stage-side where we chose the best seats in the house. Peg had a direct profile view of Mose at the concert grand, while I had to turn slightly to see a little less profile. Both of us got to see his hands and their reflections is the Steinway's highly polished black finish. We also had an unobstructed view of the bass player, Phil Sparks, and the drummer, Milo Peterson.
If I had laid down on the stage from where I sat my head would have rested on Mose’s right foot easy-on boot. Of course, my own feet would have been suspended off the stage. We were close.
We ordered a seared beef tenderloin appetizer with thinly sliced and chewy bread. There was a horse radish relish that added a little zing, but not heat. I loved the three little sweet pickles that did have some spice and heat. The helping wasn’t massive, but worth the $12 it cost. I would order it again.
Shortly after our appetizer arrived we were joined by Seattle-ites John and Jane. John had won tickets to the concert from KPLU, the Tacoma National Public Radio station that features jazz. He and his wife randomly attend concerts at Jazz Alley and John filled us in about the talent he's seen and his favorites. This was my second Jazz Alley concert and Peg’s first. As John and Jane ordered, Peg’s ears perked up when she heard him order a glass of Argentinian Malbec wine. She had missed that favorite wine on the menu. She motioned to the waiter and changed her order.
The food was wonderful. Peg had an excellently cooked salmon, while I had a Greek braised pork with red peppers and Myzithra cheese, gigante beans, white rice, and a dollop of dill yogurt.
My cousin Lindy tells of attending a fundraiser in New York. One of the guests at the event was Joanne Woodward. As Lindy returned from the restroom she told her friend about seeing Ms. Woodward, “It was if light was emitting from her.” Lindy’s friend asked if Paul Newman had been with her and she replied, “No, she was just with some little old man.” As soon as she said it, she realized of course that the little old man was Paul Newman. At Jazz Alley, I visited the restroom about ten minutes before the concert and passed a little old man in the hallway. I thought to myself, “I bet that’s Mose.” It was.
The concert was excellent. Highlights for me were Certified Senior Citizen and Gettin' There. I also really enjoyed the bass player on his two solos . . . one with a bow. From the way that Mose whispered page numbers through the suspended lid of the grand piano, I’m guessing that the bass player was new to the group or a last minute replacement. He had sheet music, while Mose and the drummer did not.
The concert lasted an hour and a half with one encore. I was disappointed that Mose didn’t end with his big hit "Seventh Son". Perhaps, he was tired, or perhaps he wasn’t energized by the less than full house. Too bad, because everyone there really enjoyed his performance. Peg and I walked back to our hotel (two short blocks) talking about the food, the fun, and the music.
"It takes a lot of effort and time
To push me over that line
Take a lot to piss me off
But you're gettin' there"
-- Mose Allison, Gettin' There
"When I discovered Mose Allison I felt I had discovered the missing link between jazz and blues"
-- Ray Davies, founding member of The Kinks
It has been years since we stayed at the Warwick Hotel in downtown Seattle. It’s in a great location. As with most of the hotels in Seattle we choose the particular hotel based on what our plans are for our stay. The Warwick is just two short blocks from Jazz Alley, so the choice was obvious.
Breakfast on day two was at the Brasserie Margaux on the first floor of the Warwick Hotel. The wait staff was attentive. I asked Asma, the waitress about the listed cranberry juice. “Is it cranberry juice or cranberry juice cocktail?” I enquired. She assured me it was cranberry juice . . . but she appeared within seconds with a jug of Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail. She apologized and I ordered pineapple juice.
I drank my juice and was sipping my coffee as I waited for our West Seattle friend Al Burrage to join me at mid-morning. To my surprise Peg walked in. I had left her sound asleep on the eleventh floor an hour before. She ordered a pot of tea and we again talked about Mose Allison from the night before.
The Numi tea bags were served in a small handcrafted treasure box. What a nice touch. Peg, of course, is interested in anything handcrafted. "Numi's vision is to inspire well-being of mind, body and spirit through the simple art of tea." How Seattle . . . by way of California.
Al joined us and we caught up on events and ordered breakfast. He ordered Eggs Benedict with an extra egg. He got that plus a bowl of additional Hollandaise. From all looks it was good. Al didn’t lick the bowl, but he effectively cleaned it all out with his spoon. If he had been in his own kitchen he might have licked the bowl.
Domingo, one of the wait staff, brought over a magnum of Champagne and playfully tried to sell it to Al. He was a kick.
My Brioche French Toast was surprisingly dry and stale . . . even with extra butter and maple syrup. The bacon was a little too crispy even though I had been asked if I wanted it crispy. This complaint is moot, however. Peg pronounced the bacon as perfect. The hashbrowns were worthy of a perfect rating from us both. Her mushroom omelet got an over-cooked score from both of us. The dinner menu is very appetizing, but will have to wait until next time. We’ve eaten there before and loved it. Our dinner plans for the evening called for dining with our granddaughter, Vanessa and dinner close to the Seattle Repertory Theatre.
Soon, Al left to do Al things and I took Peg to the University of Washington Book Store to do Peg things. Peg is ready to purchase a book at the turn of a page, but on this trip she was after sweatshirts. She bought one for granddaughter Vanessa for her birthday and one for nephew Tom Stedding of New York for his birthday present.
Vanessa's sweatshirt turned out to be the perfect gift at the perfect time. In the evening we had reservations at T.S. McHugh's Irish Pub & Restaurant from a recommendation by Katie Jackman at Seattle Rep.
I dropped off Peg a little before six at the restuarant and drove towards Ballard and Seattle Pacific University. Vanessa had a class that ended at six, so I couldn't pick her up until the class was over. Within twenty minutes Vanessa and I were headed back to McHugh's. Vanessa and Peg and already discussed the menu, so Peg ordered for all three of us: grilled chicken sandwich for Vanessa and Irish pot roast for me. Good choices.
The oversized UW hoody sweatshirt was a great choice. We presented the sweatshirt at dinner and it was worn almost immediately. The night was wet, windy, and cold and she's a freezebaby but hadn't worn a coat. We had a two block walk to Seattle Rep at the Seattle Center and the sweatshirt enveloped Vanessa. She never took the sweatshirt off until she was back at her apartment.
A friend of mine had been to Ashland, Oregon for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He had returned telling me about the best play he had ever seen. When I mentioned Equivocation to some theatre friends in Tacoma, they mentioned it was going to be performed at Seattle Rep. I was extremely happy. I would get to see the play as well.
The play debuted in Ashland and the Seattle performance is a joint effort between the OSF and Seattle Rep. The story concerns the Gunpowder Plot of which Guy Fawkes Day is still celebrated in the U.K. The theme is about truth. The acting was great as was the staging. How often do you see a naked butt, torture, and hanging, in person, these days. The main character is a playwright named Shagspeare (an alternate spelling of Shakespeare's name), who has been asked to tell the story of treason. Was there a treasonous plot? Or was there even a plot?
My favorite character was Shagspeare's daughter Judith. She delivers a soliloquy against soliloquys and states that all plays are lies, "They have a beginning and an end. That's two lies right there."
I had just watched an episode of No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, which dealt with the truth. In that story, Precious explains that she needn't tell a client the truth because he already knew the truth that his wife was having an affair. Precious instead "interprets" the truth to save the marriage and protect their son. Don't we do that every day and that interpretation is what equivocation hangs on. The play was great and Peg and I talked about the various meanings for days. You should read Peg's Review of Equivocation at Seattle Rep.
After returning Vanessa to the university campus Peg and I returned to the hotel and a good night's sleep. The next morning I went to breakfast and was joined shortly by Peg, who ordered Numi tea once more. Domingo stopped by the table and told Peg how lovely we both looked and stated, "Men never lie." He must have seen Equivocation, for I think he was telling the truth. I did look ravishing.
I ordered bacon without the "crispy" designation. It was perfect. Peg's eggs were also perfect as was the toast. Too bad about the omelet and the Brioche French Toast from the previous morning. Oh, well, they are almost forgotten.
We asked Asma about the pronounciation of her name. She emphasized the "s" instead of the "z" sound I would have given it. I was relieved, I would hate to see people with truthful names about themselves. I have a bunch of friends who could all be called "Smartass." That would just create confusion. How could we tell each other apart?
Peg and I left the hotel and Seattle with smiles and full tummies. The smiles faded once we got on the rain drenched freeway but the memories linger on.