July 26, 2016
If you’ve lived in the Atlantic Northeast, it’s hard to eat Italian in the Pacific Northwest. Sure, places like Spinasse will impress, but when it comes to the neighborhood deli/market, pickings are slim. That’s why I was excited to try Pellegrini Italian Market in West Seattle – it brought me home for a minute and I could enjoy the very Seattle experience of the West Seattle Farmers Market while eating a Sicilian slice. The desserts were varied, colorful, and almost overwhelmingly abundant. It took some time to choose so I started with a nutella cookie and espresso while I thought things over.
The cookie was nutty and fresh with a healthy dollup of nutella (and went well with the espresso) but I needed something a bit more iconic. Enter the rainbow cookie!
These Italian confections are found all over the Northeast but are hard to get right, the main problem being that they get stale quickly (and this cookie was indeed on the dry side). They can also be too almondy or too sweet (this one had the right balance of both). But the real showstopper was the peach sandwich cookie:
Loved the crunchy sugar “crust” and loved the jam-like filling. With “pretty” desserts like this, I worry that the instagram value outweighs the flavor, but in this case, both were unbeatable. Verdict: Pellegrini tastes like home SWEET home. (Sorry for that one.)
July 16, 2016
If you’re tired of the retro decor/food scene, Shug’s probably isn’t for you. But if you are looking for a spot you can take your kids, hipster friend, date, or silent reading group, Shug’s will work for you! (Yes, there was a silent reading group there when I visited, and no, I didn’t ask how to join even though I really, really wanted to.) The space is light, friendly, and hip without being pretentious or gimmicky, and the location makes it a perfect post-Pike Place Market cool-down.
There are novelty items (which would actually be standard items in New York) like an egg cream and lime rickey, beer floats, shakes, sundaes, and house-made sodas. The Sundaes were the most intriguing part of the menu – the Brown Derby involves a Mighty-O donut – and I selected the Crested Lourie:
Coconut ice cream, pineapple, Grenadine, and cashew-coconut brittle. I gave the sundae a thumbs up overall, although the pineapple could have been fresher and the brittle would have been easier to deal with if it were broken up. My date got the Kitty Canutt:
Cinnamon ice cream, apple compote, and graham cracker crumble. I’d like to return and try their egg cream, malts, and sodas… and maybe that Brown Derby sundae. Because donut.
July 9, 2016
I don’t spend a ton of time in Pike Place Market or downtown Seattle, but for various reasons I’ve found myself there several times in the last few weeks. I’ve been surprised to discover the many hidden gems to be found below the market, on Western, including the newly opened Choukette – a bakery specializing solely in eclairs. Apparently, however, it’s not secret enough, because the shop was almost sold out by noon thanks to some unexpected publicity from Seattle Met and an eclair-loving populace.
There were, luckily, a few eclairs remaining and I was able to try the lemon curd and the salted caramel flavors.
To be sure, these works of art are meant to be appreciated by aficionados – while they are neither large nor cheap, neither are they bland, stale, or overly sweet. The pastry dough was light and pillowy and was the perfect accompaniment to the cream. The best part, however, were the toppings. The lemon curd was bright and tart, and the salted caramel was the right notes of sweet-salty. Hopefully this little shop can keep up with demand so that I can come back and try other flavors!
May 21, 2016
After a few rainy weekends, it was time for some carbs and coziness at Leschi’s trendy-but-classic Meet the Moon. The wide-plank floors and farmhouse feel complement the generously-sized cinnamon rolls and friendly service. Customers can get coffee and pastries to go at the counter or settle in at the bar or tables. Whichever you choose, do it early – cinnamon rolls were gone by the time I left (which was around noon).
I had dessert for breakfast and lunch – that is, I got French toast as well as a cinnamon roll. The Challah French toast was thick and caramelized on the top and bottom, with a berry compote on top. Fancy and addictive, if a little less custardy than I usually prefer.
The cinnamon roll was not only enormous, it was gooey, fresh, and simple with plenty of frosting. I wouldn’t have minded a heavier hand with the cinnamon but overall I think this place is a winner… and I still need to try the cocktails!
May 6, 2016
Who would have thought a waffle on a stick could be served up in so many delicious and creative ways? My Sweet Lil Cakes food truck does waffles, and they do them well. Not only are their recipes innovative and creative, they genuinely work. Everything, not just the waffles themselves, is nicely crafted and thoughtfully presented (especially considering it’s a food truck!). What’s more, service is friendly and full of smiles.
I was pretty excited to find this truck at Fremont’s Food Truck Rodeo, and ordered myself a healthy helping of Chocolate Waffle stuffed with Dark Cherries and topped with frosting, berries, and powdered sugar.
The photo doesn’t do justice to the excellence of this dessert, since you can’t see the “dark cherries.” I don’t generally prefer cherries in any form except raw, but these were different (and indeed, dark). Not too sweet, soft but not mushy, and nothing like the candied cherries I was fearing. I’ll need to hunt this truck down again to sample the other dessert options, and the savory ones too (chicken and waffle on a stick? Yes please!).
March 30, 2016
This cozy downtown coffee shop is known for its “latte art” – this goes beyond the usual heart or wavy pattern – but the beauty here is more than foam-deep. Try the Nutella mocha for a decadent pick-me-up (although the Aztec with cinnamon and other spices is also delicious):
The Moore Coffee Shop also makes sandwiches and sells amazing homemade tamales, but I came mainly for the waffles on my last visit. Made fresh while you watch, there are both sweet and savory options (I need to try the bacon waffle with marscapone cheese). Sticking with my theme of the day, I got a Nutella waffle with banana.
This simple combo has always been a favorite of mine (I blame/thank Paris for that) but I liked the American addition of maple syrup. Truly a treat.