We have our favorite hotels in downtown Seattle, but really our favorite place to stay is the 11th Avenue Inn on Capitol Hill. We stayed there a number of times before finding out about their basement apartment. Although I enjoyed the B&B fare, Peg did not always join me for breakfast in the dining room with the other guests, preferring to sleep in and relax. The 11th Avenue Inn actually is two houses, which are side-by-side. The owners occupy the smaller one and the B&B is operated out of the larger home.
The smaller home has a minimalistic basement apartment. It does have a low ceiling, which means I stoop down a little bit, but other than that it is really homey and even has beautiful, hardy fuchsia plants by the door.
With the apartment comes off-street parking. It's not only off-street but we can park only a few feet away from the steps and doorway. The basement floor sits about four feet below ground level, which helps keep us cool on really hot days and a little warmer during the winter. There are also windows with screens to give us cross-ventilation. The windows are by PlyGem, which opened and closed easily.
If we didn't have so much clutter, we could happily live in this apartment. Of course we'd have to have our big LCD TV monitors mounted on every wall, plus Peg would need space to work on her art and I would need my editing equipment . . . so perhaps we couldn't actually live there, but it's a thought . . .
David Williams, one of the owners gave us our keys and made a suggestion for dinner. It's the Solstice Café. He goes there twice a day for coffee. It's less than two blocks away.
We thought the Solstice might be just what we were looking for. We wanted to relax a little bit and then have a light dinner.
The Solstice was uncluttered with tables, booths, counters, and a balcony with a few more tables. We were there a little after five. The place was about 3/4 full, but in many instances that meant one person to a table or booth. You could figure that every single had their own tablet or laptop. Where there were two people, they sometimes shared a laptop. Excellent music with a driving beat floated through the Café.
Peg ordered a bacon sandwich, which came with a salad. I ordered an Italian sandwich, which came with excellent pickles and a potato salad.
We both ordered soup. My tomato basil was excellent. It was better than Peg's avocado room-temperature soup. Her bacon sandwich was better than my Italian sandwich and so was her salad. We didn't know it, but we would be served avocado soup the next evening as well. We didn't realize it then, but the soup here was better than we would have at Teatro Zinzanni.
Peg only ate half of her bacon sandwich, but saved the other half for breakfast. For a late evening snack we bought a couple of pastries, which were excellent. Sandwiches are not cheap in Seattle, however. Our bill with a nice tip was over $50 plus the cost of a cheesecake brownie and a cardamon swirl cake.
We shared our desserts about 8:30 and finished off the evening with a little TV and reading.
Thursday morning I left Peg abed and walked two short blocks to Broadway. Peg had remarked several times about us dining at Charlie's Bar & Grill on Seattle's Capitol Hill, I was starting to doubt my memory. I didn't think I had eaten there before and as soon as I walked into the restaurant I knew that I hadn't. I chose a seat by the window and ordered biscuits and gravy with a side of hashbrowns. I sipped coffee and wrote notes to myself before the excellent breakfast was delivered to me.
The hashbrowns were crispy bordering on burnt, but then I like that border. The biscuits were light and fluffy with sausage gravy, which had a nice tang to it. The eggs were perfect and the bacon was crispy . . . AND there were four pieces. What was I in heaven?
After a leisurely afternoon, Peg and I drove downtown. We left the apartment about five-fifteen and parked our car in the parking lot next to Teatro Zinzanni by five-thirty. Traffic was flowing in the opposite direction. We could have delayed leaving the apartment until six and still arrived in plenty of time for six-thirty dinner.
This was our third time attending the dinner and spectacle of Teatro Zinzanni. We were disappointed in the dinner, which really surprised us. It's a Tom Douglas menu. The avocado soup was pretty much tasteless, and the salad's red and golden beets were minced so fine you couldn't really use your fork to eat them.
I really enjoyed Joe De Paul, the four-foot six clown with the nightclub singer voice. He did one bit where he constructed a small city out of old boxes, a bunch of celery, the head of a Barbie Doll, and a couple of chess pieces. He passed out folded paper airplanes and then started taking off almost all of his clothes before he began acting out the final scene of King Kong complete with whizzing (paper) airplanes and the Empire State Building.
Two guests/entertainers at Teatro Zinzanni really were the highlight for us. One (Rachel Nehmer) was supposedly a representative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the other was a Frankenstein creation, "Junior" played by Ben Wendel. Bucking the trend of eastern European circus stars, Ben and Rachel do trapeze work learned at Seattle's School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts (SANCA). Separately they are beautiful. Together they are "Duo Madrona."
In a short interview Ben explained their history, "We were not planning for a career in the circus. We had recently graduated from Haverford College with Biology degrees and moved from Philadelphia to Seattle to take research jobs at the University of Washington. We came to check out the newly-opened circus school with recreational interest." The ex-lab partners were stunning with their flipping, catching, throwing, and grabbing, which is all done vertically and not swinging back and forth to take advantage of momentum.
While waiting for the moment in the spotlight at Teatro Zinzanni they wandered through the audience warming up the crowd. Ben jollied people up and made them laugh, which is difficult to do when you can only hulk and growl as "Junior." Rachel would stop and introduce herself as she took foundation notes. She sat next to Peg for a while, which meant I could admire beauty from only inches away . . . I mean for both Peg AND Rachel of course.
The evening set us back almost three hundred dollars, but that included dinner, wine, and non-stop entertainment for about four hours. Dinner and decent tickets at the Fifth Avenue would run about the same. Although we enjoyed ourselves, we talked about how much more we would have enjoyed attending with friends. After all if you can't laugh at your friends . . . I mean with your friends . . .
Friday was our busiest day in Seattle. Peg got up for breakfast even after the long evening before. Our friend Al Burrage joined us from West Seattle. He loves breakfast, too. We treated him to Charlie's.
Peg had chicken fried steak, while I ordered a waffle with a side of sausage links. Peg gave me her hashbrowns and I gave my poached egg to Al, which he added to his eggs Benedict. Peg and I shared, but Al just consumed. He wiped his platter clean. Breakfast was good.
After breakfast we sipped coffee and talked for a while before heading to our favorite Seattle museum.
It turns out we could have talked longer. We arrived at the Frye Museum over half an hour prior to their opening. Discretion being the better part of valor, we decided to visit the nearest McDonald's to avail ourselves of their rest rooms. Needing an ice cream cone had nothing to do with the short trip.
The Frye Museum never fails to satisfy our creative minds. Each time we stay in Seattle we try to visit the Frye. The Frye Art Museum is located in the First Hill neighborhood of Seattle, which is really close to Capitol Hill. The museum emphasizes painting and sculpture from the nineteenth century to the present. Always a treat. The exhibit this time was "Your Feast Has Ended: Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, Nicholas Galanin, and Nep Sidhu."
"Your Feast Has Ended" offers a visual cogitation exploring continuum, ritual, identity, and adornment. - "The artists in the exhibition–Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, Nicholas Galanin, and Nep Sidhu–work with the ancient and sacred in unison with the new and revised, bound by the belief that a people without myth and a society that fails to look upon itself honestly are destined to the same fate. The artists practice this belief through cross-disciplinary approaches to storytelling and employ time-honored and new techniques to create work that ranges from fine art, music, and performance, to film, graphic design, jewelry, and apparel."
I have no idea what that really means, but I liked it.
Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes accused Seattle police of violating his civil rights and assaulting him during an arrest outside a Capitol Hill nightclub back in 2005. Alley-Barnes was wrestled to the ground, punched and kicked in a struggle that started over his questioning an officer's decision to cite his friend for littering.
A Seattle Police internal investigation determined that the sergeant who ordered Alley-Barnes' arrest overreacted and violated policy. But the sergeant avoided serious disciplinary action because the investigation surpassed a 180-day time limit guaranteed by the officer's union contract. The sergeant is now a lieutenant. And so it goes. Alley-Barnes, who had no criminal history, was charged with obstructing and resisting arrest. When a video of the confrontation from a patrol car camera surfaced, a Municipal Court judge dismissed the case.
Alley-Barnes has exhibited sculpture and films in numerous traditional and new-media-based settings. Most of his pieces on display were found objects arranged in powerful and provocative presentations. My favorite was this simple piece of a red wool sweater, handmade moccasins placed on a background of an internment camp mailbag. For those of us who know about the Japanese internments during World War II this forms an instant emotional bond. Two of my friends in High School had fathers who fought in the famous 442nd Regimental Combat Team - "Go For Broke." The 442nd is "the most decorated unit in U.S. military history." It was awarded eight Presidential Unit Citations and twenty-one of its members were awarded the Medal of Honor during World War II. Virtually all of the combat team members of Japanese-Americans had family members interned at camps in Washington, Idaho, and California.
Perhaps the arrest of Alley-Barnes figured in his creation of this wonderful artwork, or perhaps he was moved by the best-seller The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet written by local author, Jamie Ford, which tells about the internment. Regardless, I loved the piece. The exhibit runs until September 14, 2014.
Al and I dropped Peg off at Dick Blick's on Broadway. She loves to look over their art supplies . . . and usually buys some. Al and I returned to the apartment where we talked about the art and old times. As Al walked out the door towards his car, Peg arrived. She enjoyed her walk and her visit to the art supply store.
Shortly after five we drove downtown. Again, we didn't really have any traffic problems. We were able to park about twenty feet from the front door of Theater Schmeater. We had tickets for the final production of Attack of the Killer Murder . . . of Death!. I've seen two other productions by "The Schmee" as the company is called. This was the first time we would experience their new theater. They moved from Capitol Hill. I enjoyed both previous productions and was looking forward to this extra "silly" play. We were hours early, but our plans were to walk to Pike Place and cab back.
It's been years since we visited Pike Place Market. It's been so long that in those days they didn't throw huge King Salmon, they threw smelt. We walked past our old favorite piroshki bakery, but had a tough time negotiating the set up of the weekend biergarten. The longest line we saw was at Starbucks. Go figure.
We already knew where we were going, except we didn't know where it was: Lowell's. This restaurant is supposed to be one of the best places for seafood. Two biergarten set-up people told us where to find the restaurant, which has space on three floors at the market. We found the market's main entrance, turned left and saw the neon sign and arrow.
We went up a floor and took a table by the window, which we loved. We were in our own little corner of the world. We ordered the lox appetizer to share. It was fantastic. When we return, Peg will order the lox appetizer as her dinner. The lox/salmon was prepared perfectly and came with red onions and plenty of capers. I think I will order the lox with a side order of halibut from their Fish and Chips when we come back.
We looked out on Seattle's Great Wheel on the waterfront below us. Our original plans were to ride the Great Wheel, but when we made those plans, the weather was bright, beautiful, and dry. Even though we could have had an enclosed gondola, I wanted to be open to see the sights high above the piers.
The view from Pike Place is outstanding. We could not only see Harbor Island and the port cranes, but also the ferries, Alki, and the Olympic Mountains. Maybe it wasn't as refreshing as an open to the world gondola, but it was dryer and warmer. And of course, there is no one delivering fresh Shirley Temples to my gondola on the Great Wheel.
For our actual dinner Peg had the salmon fillet and I had the seafood catch which also had a salmon fillet, prawns, and a crab cake. I really enjoyed the salmon. We both agreed it was just a little over-cooked, but then we had failed to ask for it to be under-done. Our bad. I gave Peg one of my three prawns which she loved, loved, loved. They were succulent. I also gave her half of my delicious crab cake. In payment she gave me half her salmon. It worked for me.
Michael was our server. He was helpful and friendly. He happily made recommendations and told us how the lox was prepared and mentioned his favorites. The steamed clams will be on my list for next time at Lowell's. We love seafood.
After dining we still had time to kill. Peg took care of that with a trip to the Polish Pottery Shop. We have several Polish bowls and platters in our cupboards. They are pre-dominantly blue with floral designs. They feel substantial and guests to our home always comment about them.
We had a PEO picnic a few weeks back on our deck. I grilled some chicken and apple sausages, which were served in one Polish bowl. In the other Polish Bowl I placed my freshly grilled peach halves, which had a little brown sugar on top with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. I don't know that people really saw the bowls, but it was a joy grilling beautiful food and placing the sausages in beautiful dinnerware.
I noted that we grilled chicken and apple sausage. Years ago this would not have happened. Actually, weeks ago this would not have happened. I love pork, but Peg saw a package of the chicken sausages at Safeway and brought two home. I cooked them up for her PEO sisters and everyone raved about the taste. Me, too. If the taste is good, I'll eat almost anything, but I won't forget about my favorite food group: PORK - bacon, sausage, roast, and pulled.
At the entrance to Pike Place Market stands a golden pig. Don't now why and I don't care, but I thought this photo of Peg and the golden pig was cute.
We crossed the street and within three or four minutes hailed a cab for our return trip to The Schmee.
We really enjoyed Attack of the Killer Murder . . . of Death!. It was a send-up of every mystery and sci-fi film of the fifties and sixties, from strange looking mutated-monsters to bizarre aliens.
The play was originally written on commission for Seattle Public Theater to be performed by the Youth Ensemble's graduating class of 2012. I can just imagine the fun those students had working on the ridiculous chunk of hilarity.
The sold-out audience of 49 clamored for more. The stage was filled with eleven actors. They crossed just inches from my feet, which I pulled back for their safety. You could tell the actors were having almost as much fun as the audience. Fortunately at the new theater there are bathrooms for both sexes. Unfortunately, the men's room only accommodates one man at a time, while the women's rest room has two toilets.
I had seen several of the actors perform before, but I really enjoyed the new actors as well. I still smile thinking about the dialog, the names, and the performances . . . and that's a good thing.
Two people that I really, really enjoyed were Allie Pratt who played Abby Watson the young PA, and Tim Moore who played Martin Van Handsome, a Dudley Do-Right look-a-like who played the leading man in the stormy night, remote island, multiple murder caper involving a film production crew. One of the more than interesting characters was Ashley Bagwell who played the by-the-book police detective following in his father's footsteps: Benjamin By-the-Book Booke Junior.
The next production at The Schmee is Seascape by Edward Albee (September 12 - October 11). Visit the website for more information and tickets. The following offering looks really interesting to me, The Art of Bad Men (October 23 - November 8) by Vincent Delaney. "It's 1945. Thousands of German prisoners of war live in camps scattered throughout the U.S. Some are dedicated Nazis, some are barely old enough to hold a rifle. What they all share is the fear of an uncertain future and the determination to reclaim their humanity. At one camp in Minnesota, an inmate production of a Moliere play may give them a chance - either to escape or to transcend."
Saturday morning saw us chipper and happily discussing the play from the night before. We packed up suitcases, books, and goodies and went to breakfast. We heartily recommend the 11th Avenue Inn if you are coming to Seattle for a few days. Great people and a great location for exploring.
We chose Julia's On Broadway, for breakfast, again only about two blocks from our apartment. We took a table sandwiched between the front door and the open wall to the street. It was a wonderful summer morning for eating almost outside. Although we had to put up with servers waltzing behind us and beside us on their way to the sidewalk, it was so pleasant we weren't really bothered by the distraction of being brushed up against.
Peg ordered the yogurt parfait, which she didn't like and I ordered the biscuits and gravy that I didn't like. I ate most of her breakfast. She was right the strawberries tasted thawed, but I like that.
I hate breakfast potatoes. I've run surveys online for our adventures and people prefer hashbrowns, so why even bother with other variations? My guess is that breakfast potatoes are easier to cook. Julia's takes pride in the fact that they make everything from scratch. The biscuits and gravy may be made from scratche, but they were just plain pasty and tasteless. Peg enjoyed my fried eggs, so I guess things worked out for us. If we left a little hungry our next stop took care of that problem.
Our last stop before leaving Seattle was the Dahlia Bakery. True we could have just dined on the sidewalk with Dahlia Bakery goods, but we would have needed a nap . . . and possibly another night at the 11th Avenue Inn.
I walked into the bakery and turned right around when I saw what looked like a fantastic bacon sandwich on great Dahlia Bakery bread. Before I got out the door, however I asked Peg to buy me a fig roll. We each had a sweet on the way home and we made it there with two "complete" loaves of fresh bread.
One loaf was made with cornmeal and kernels of corn. OMG it was perfect for dinner and breakfast. The other and smaller loaf was flax and wheat. The smallish slices toasted up brown and crunchy.
What a great three night trip we had. Class A Entertainment, Top Drawer Art, and mostly Excellent Food!!! We'll return, and keep returning. We would have stayed longer except we had dinner reservations and tickets for Sinbad back in Tacoma to finish off a perfectly charming week.