Who knew that the middle of August would be a good time to visit Seattle? The weather was perfect, but then we always plan for good food, shopping, and entertainment regardless of the temperature and a rain gauge. Throw a rock and roll legend into the mix, and you have a great adventure.
We were booked into the Villa St. Stefan. Tucked away behind six foot ivy covered concrete walls we were able to relax and rest in the surprisingly quiet neighborhood of Capitol Hill. Located on 10th, which becomes Broadway just three blocks south we were just minutes away from art supplies, used books, and a wide variety of excellent food. We took advantage of everything we could.
Our suite of rooms were large and comfortable. I think the villa only has one apartment, which the owners let out on a daily basis. The villa is one of the Washington State Vacation Rentals we chose to have listed on our website. From atop Capitol Hill we can be almost anywhere in downtown Seattle in minutes . . . unless there is a major traffic problem.
After a morning of shopping Peg and I decided to dine on Thai food at the Jai Thai. We've eaten there before stopping in late in the evening after a play. It's only a few blocks from the villa and we've never had a bad meal there, so it seemed like a good idea.
The restaurant wasn't very busy, which is a constant worry for most restaurants these days.
Many of our favorite places in Tacoma have steady customers, but with people feeling the bite of a wavering economy people don't eat out as often as they would have some time back.
I dropped Peg off by the front door and ended parking my car just a few feet from the side entrance. I walked inside and stopped to look at their buffet offerings. I had never seen a buffet there before, nor I had I ever seen a Thai buffet in Tacoma or Seattle. I joined Peg at a table by the front door. She ordered spring rolls and a sweet/sour soup. I opted for the buffet after seeing several of my favorite items in the heating trays.
Peg's sweet/sour soup was a little too spicy for her. I gave her three pot stickers and bites of my pad Thai and what looked like a haystack of finely shredded carrot strands. On top of my pad I added some orange chicken and tofu from an egg plant stir fry. From Peg's soup I spooned out some chicken and mushrooms for Peg. Out of the soup there was less of a spicy bite. We both enjoyed the contents of the soup, but Peg kicked herself for not choosing the buffet. Good value and decent food.
After lunch we retreated to the villa. We climbed the stairs to our suite and private bath. Peg read and played with her art materials, while I read Marley and Me before dropping off into an afternoon nap.
We were in no hurry. We were keeping our options open. What we thought we might do is stop in at Dilettante Chocolates located just a few blocks away on Broadway. Once there we could choose to have dinner or a snack or dessert before leaving for Jazz Alley and John Mayall.
I woke up at five-thirty just two hours away from concert time. Peg was beside me asleep. I nudged her . . . adventures are so unrelenting. We cleaned up and changed clothes and headed out the door.
We arrived at Dilettante's just before six. Peg selected a single chocolate for dessert. For dinner we each chose a slice of something decadent. While we waited for the slices Peg had a cup of coffee with a silver boat filled with chocolate ganache. She started off with a spoonful of the ganache, which she ladled into the coffee and then she would lick the spoon. This proved too slow for the effect she wanted. I think she poured half the boat into the coffee. The rest of the boat was poured onto our slices when they finally arrived almost half an hour later. You have to wonder about the length of time needed to cut two pieces of cake or torte or whatever we had, but then I think there was only the one waitress. However, it didn't seem that busy. In the end we scrambled to get downtown, park, and enter Jazz Alley. Traffic was light. Dessert wasn't.
Parking is free for Jazz Alley customers and it's just across the alley. That is so convenient. John Mayall and his band are currently on an almost daily touring schedule. They have been skipping their way back and forth over the border between Canada and the U.S. as they made their way west. Before Seattle they were playing in Victoria. The band will lose one day in travel heading to Indiana for their next gig. After that they finish their U.S. tour in Minnesota before taking off for a couple of months. Then it will be back to the daily grind with almost thirty stops in the U.K. in a little over thirty days from the end of October to the first of December.
Mayall's band is solid with a good bass player, drummer, and guitarist.
At the age of seventy-five John is trim and having fun. He took the stage first for a solo before having his sidemen join him. He performed Another Man Done Gone alternating between vocal and harmonica and then finally ending with the electronic keyboard. The crowd loved him.
Mayall easily glided between rock and blues. He has been playing one or the other for over sixty years. He taught himself to play piano, guitar and harmonica developing his own style along the way. In the late sixties when Eric Clapton left the Yardbirds the two of them began working together in the blues. This gave Mayall his first hit album. Mayall and Clapton have been the stuff of legend ever since. Super star rockers rose to fame from just rubbing shoulders and playing with Mayall. As Eric Clapton says, "John Mayall has actually run an incredibly great school for musicians."
Keeping up with Mayall and making their own contribution are: Rocky Athas, Greg Rzab, and Jay Davenport. Together they play an exciting blend of rock, jazz, and blues.
After we left the concert we did what most Seattle people in love have been doing at the end of their dates for over the last fifty years . . . we went to Dick's Drive In for cheeseburgers and fries. Dick's on Capitol Hill is located on Broadway, which just happened to be right on the way home. For Pierce County diners, the hamburgers taste kinda like burgers from Frisko Freeze in Tacoma's North end, while the fries taste like Pick-Quick from Fife.
We chose a deluxe cheeseburger and a regular cheeseburger, well actually we didn't choose those, but that's what showed up in our bag. The fries were greasy and wonderful. Dipped in ketchup they were exactly what we were looking for.
Back at the villa I dropped off Peg on the corner and then went to park once I saw she entered the house. Once I parked, walked to the front door and then climbed the stairs I found Peg looking for support from a Greek god, but he was giving her a cold shoulder. Peg had been having trouble with the keys, so was waiting for me to unlock our door. I could unlock the living room door, but was never able to get the key to unlock the bedroom door. As long as we could get in and out we were happy.
Once inside Peg read her book, while I continued with Marley and Me before falling asleep.
The next day I had a treat in store for Peg. After packing up, cleaning up, we headed back downtown for breakfast at Lola, one of Tom Douglas's restaurants. Peg had heard me rave about breakfast with Lola for quite sometime. This was her chance to see why I liked it so much.
We were able to park within a hundred feet of the corner restaurant. We were quickly seated and had menu in hand within seconds. A minute or two later we had water and coffee. Once we placed our orders it seemed like only a few minutes before our two plates of food were being placed before us. Obviously, these people have never worked at Dilettante Chocolates.
I ordered the Lola Special (two poached eggs, smashed garlic fried potatoes, Bavarian Bacon and a side of their home-made pork sausage. I have a friend who would probably have another heart attack if he ever had to pay $3 for a piece of bacon or a short little sausage, but it's a small price to pay for heaven on Earth.
Peg ordered the Summer Squash Omelet with bacon and potatoes. She was leery of the smashed garlic fried potatoes, but one bite was all it took. I offered her a sausage link, but she just asked for half of it. Within a minute she was asking for the other half.
The toast was perfect, the jam was perfect, the poached eggs were perfect, the bacon was perfect, the sausage was perfect, the smashed garlic fried potatoes were perfect, the omelet was perfect, the coffee was perfect, the service was perfect, and of course . . . the company was outstanding.