Another in a series of quick escapes, Seattle is mere hours away and is teeming with activities: fine dining, hiking and adventure. It wouldn’t surprise me if Seattle had more coffee cafes per capita, shops line the streets in each unique neighborhood. Starbucks chain is based here, but many other roasters call Seattle home. A fairly constant stream of mist and rain and roasted coffee keep the locals hydrated.
A long weekend here for work and pleasure yielded numerous surprises. My last visit was eons ago, a significant lure are the lakes and water pleasures. Boating, water skiing and rowing are year around sports. I stayed with friends on Lake Mercer and an early morning wetsuit clad water skier traversed the shore for over an hour, a mesmerizing view on a crystal-clear day. Let us know if you would like to charter a speed boat and explore the island harbors, Paul Allen’s heli-pad/boat is floating in front of his Mercer Island waterfront estate.
A newly-found appreciation of local glass artist Dale Chihuly led me to the Chihuly Garden and Glass center. A few years ago, the New York Botanical Gardens presented a Chihuly exhibition and the juxtaposition of glass and garden setting transported me into the fan club. A small Catalina Island Museum exhibit two year ago entirely focused on translucent and pale pink sea shells was another Chihuly delight! Most of the Garden display in Seattle felt mundane after the gorgeous N.Y. Botanical setting, however there was one very inspiring room here. Amid eight galleries the Pacific Northwest room was my favorite.
Vibrantly colored American trade Indian blankets woven by Pendleton in the Pacific Northwest from the Chihuly private collection are displayed on an entire wall and are part of the exhibit along with woven baskets and glass pieces inspired by the blankets. The shades and patterns of these blankets provided inspiration to a large collection of his colorful art pieces. The room also displays a small (over 50 pieces) of his collection of Native American photogravures taken by Edward S. Curtis. His collection is only exceeded by the collection at the National Gallery. The combination of blankets and photos provide an impressive backdrop for this particularly inspiring glass collection.
Chihuly’s mastery of weaving and his love of Native American textiles played a fundamental role in developing his art. His early Navajo Blanket Cylinders series was inspired by traditional Navajo weaving. Beginning in the late 1960s, Chihuly collected wool trade blankets, produced primarily by the Pendleton Mill for trade with Native American tribes. In 1974–75, inspired by these blankets, Chihuly, along with Kate Elliott, Flora C. Mace, and Joey Kirkpatrick, perfected the technique of drawing with glass threads. His later Cylinders and Soft Cylinders greatly expanded this vocabulary of brilliantly colored imagery from glass threads and translated the folds and drapes of the blankets into glass forms. These pieces were my absolute favorites.
Seattle offers several five-star hotel options to satisfy all travelers. The Fairmont Olympic, built in 1924 is a grand stately building. The hotel offers refined luxury evidenced by Italian Renaissance architecture interpreted by soaring columns, massive chandeliers and old-world glamour. The central downtown location provides walking access to art galleries, shopping and restaurants and of course, coffee roasters. I loved the little on-site oyster bar Shuckers, which has some of the best seafood in town; the oak-paneled room feels like it has been a cozy home to diners for eons, the perfect location for a sip of champers on a drizzly afternoon.
The Four Seasons is close to the waters of Elliot Bay, in the heart of the city, with smashing water views; Pikes Place Market on one side and the Seattle Art Museum on another side. And the hotel has an exclusive Chilhuly up close experience. Take a VIP tour of renowned artist Dale Chihuly’s Boathouse on Lake Union, where you’ll see his colorful creations in progress. Then, make a private visit to his studio, where his intriguing installations come to life. The experience will include a glass-blowing demonstration for up to four guests. Included are two tickets to Chihuly Garden and Glass, private transportation to the Chihuly Boathouse and Chihuly Studio along with two complimentary cocktails and a commemorative Chihuly gift.
So many unique neighborhoods in Seattle, one of them includes a charming authentic Trattoria serving scrumptious Northern Italian feasts. Spinasse Trattoria Pastificio Artigianale is known for their handmade pasta dishes in a cozy rustic space, rezzies are essential; but I’ll share a secret, skip lunch and be at the door promptly at 5 pm and line up for a bar seat. As most restaurants with small bars, dining is an interactive affair with inside advice from the wait staff. In my experience, it always involves special tastes of exceptional wines or little morsels from the menu. In sunshiny weather, there are a few outdoor tables. http://www.spinasse.com/
Don’t miss the dramatic Deep Dive Bar, a speakeasy hidden below the Amazon Sphere Conservatory. Renowned chef Renee Erickson opened the moody atmospheric bar, wander down the curving path below the Sphere and enter into an underground cavern of beautiful collections of small art pieces, eclectic novelties chosen by collector and artist Curtis Steiner. Not only is the interior a hidden gem, the exotic drinks and extravagant snacks are also noteworthy. Items range from the bite-sized pink salmon caviar toast to the hearty crab tartine or Parisian gnocchi.
Classic cocktails are described in a multipage leather-bound book, featuring vintage scientific botanical drawings with Latin descriptions of herbs and leaves. Classic cocktails with unique imagery. Highlights include the Champs-Elysées. Cognac, Chartreuse, Honey, Lime, Angostura. A classic riff on the Sidecar, this one is named after the famed Parisian boulevard. This cocktail first appeared the Harry Craddock’s 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book, though little else is known about its history. Charlie Chaplin Grilled Apricot Cognac, Sloe Gin, Lime. The Charlie Chaplin cocktail was one of the premier drinks of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City before 1920. The drink is named in honor of Charlie Chaplin, the famous comedic actor and filmmaker who was best known for his silent films of the 1920’s. Stinger Gin, Giffard Menthe-Pastille, Cacao. The Stinger was not initially seen as a cocktail, but rather a digestif. Writing in the 1910s and 1920s, humorist Don Marquis’s “Hermione” refused to refer to the Stinger as a cocktail, indicating its status in upper-class society. Over time, however, the Stinger came to be consumed like a cocktail. My first tasting of a Sazerac was addicting, perhaps it’s the absinthe? The bar/restaurant seats only 30 guests. A clandestine gem.
Simply Seattle, a fairly compact downtown makes this a superb walking city.
Plot out dining, art galleries, and hours of exploration.