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Seattle, WA  12/01-08/06 (Day 220-227)
Hey Baby!

After so much time in Alaska, then on various islands, then in Canada arriving in Seattle, Washington is the first time in a long time that we feel like we’re in mainland America. Not that there’s anything mainstream about Seattle.

One of the first people we see in Seattle is chef Mario Batali crossing the street mid-block (he’s even larger in person). This reminds us that his dad, Armandino, has a small restaurant in food-crazy Seattle called Salumi and so begins our mangia marathon. We will not gross you out with the full compliment of everything we eat in Seattle, but we have to share a few highlights.

Armandino Batali’s Salumi is more sandwich shop than restaurant. Order at the counter, grab a seat at communal tables and enjoy pig in all its delicious incarnations. All the meat is cured by Armandino on premises and the non-pork options (pastas, gnocchi, soup, vegetables, etc) are homemade too. This attracts notoriously long lines so we are prepared to wait when we turn up for lunch but the pork Gods smile on us and we sail right in and order our sublime sandwiches. It’s so delicious that we seriously consider returning for lunch the next day but decide to give our arteries a break.

Local celeb chef Tom Douglas, who already runs a handful of successful hip and relatively high end restaurants in the city, has opened a more casual place called Serious Pie where we enjoy the seriously  delicious (if a bit oily) pizza and equally compelling salads.

Breakfast, as it should, usually involves Top Pot Donuts which may not be the World’s Best Donuts (we already found those near the beginning of the journey back in Grand Marais, Minnesota), but crowds still flock here for classic varieties and some pretty creative twists like the seasonal cherry blossom donut and one called pink vanilla.

Did we mention coffee? The best latte ever is made at a little French Bakery (no, not Starbucks) near the Grand Hyatt Seattle (read Karen’s full review of the Grand Hyatt Seattle for iTraveliShop.com) and Karen has more than her share.

When we’re not eating we manage to check out a few of Seattle’s sights including Pike Place Market (okay, that’s mostly more food), the Space Needle and gazillionaire Paul Allen’s Experience Music Project (EMP). Designed by Frank Gehry the strangely angular, oddly textural, brightly colored building is an attraction in and of itself.

Go inside and you find a pretty compelling collection of music memorabilia and history (the Guitar Gallery, make your own record room and the Hip Hop displays were especially interesting).There’s a big emphasis on Sly Stone, one of Allen’s personal favorites, and a lot of space and attention is also given to the northwest music scene’s contributions to music.

As we’re wandering through this area of the EMP we notice an item in an exhibit that looks strangely familiar. After a few blinking, uncomprehending moments we realize it’s a concert poster from the early ‘90s for a show in New York City by a northwest punk/riot grrrrl band called Bratmobile. The reason it looks familiar is that Karen was in the opening act, a band called Chia Pet which was formed with other members of Sassy magazine where she worked at the time.

Despite numerous signs telling us that photos are prohibited inside the EMP, we attempt to slyly take a picture of the exhibit with our cell phone camera but we’re caught before we can get a good shot, so you’re just going to have to take our word for it or go visit the place and check it out for yourself.

Above and beyond the music history in the Experience Music Project, there’s plenty of live music going on all the time in Seattle and we are delighted to be in town when one of our favorite sax players, Jessica Lurie, is performing at Jazz Alley with one of her many bands. This time it’s The Tiptons, an all-sax, all-female quartet inspired by Billy Tipton who was born Dorothy Lucille Tipton but assumed a male persona in order to play sax professionally—something good girls just didn’t do in the 1930s in Oklahoma.
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