2013 West Coast Trip: Seattle Day 2

Tuesday started out at the Bellevue location of Caffe Ladro, in the lobby of the Expedia building! This place came recommended by our friends at Seattle Coffee Gear, so we figured we would give it a shot.

Our impression? Expensive. Good coffee, but maybe not worth the high price. Also, their cups were made of thick paper, so they didn't come with an extra paper sleeve. However, upon handing us our lattes, our little fingers were burned to a crisp and we were grabbing for napkins to wrap our cups in. We were a little bewildered at 1) why in the world these drinks were so hot? and 2) why no one else in the cafe seemed to be burned by their cups? Maybe our little midwestern fingers weren't used to the Pacific Northwest scalding coffee temperatures. 

Anyway, on with our day! 

We headed to a different area north of downtown Seattle where Puget Sound meets Salmon Bay in a neighborhood called Ballard. There's a state park there that houses a system of locks  and a fish ladder to help salmon along their upstream route to their original home river. Or something like that? I'm not a salmon expert. But it was pretty and it was sweet to watch how the locks worked while we were there. 

Puget Sound begins - about 8 feet above the Salmon Bay area to the south. 

Salmon! 

Fish Ladder from above. Salmon "jump" over the series of ladders that provides safe passage through the locks area so they don't get confused and die off because they can't make it back to their home. 

View to the south of Salmon Bay.

After our trip to the Ballard Locks, we hit up a neighborhood nearby called Fremont. Known to be very artsy and kitsch among Seattleites, we got some coffee at a local roaster called Lighthouse Roasters, and were lucky enough to see their roaster in action, too! 

After looking around Fremont, we ended up eating one of our best meals at a little place called The Leary Traveler. I think it's more of a bar at night, but we were there at 12pm so no worries, friends - it was water to drink as usual for us. But the FOOD was amazing. They are well known for their "Belgian Frites" with housemade garlic or chipotle aioli. They came in a fun cone and they were absolutely amazing. Not greasy at all, and amazing flavor with just the right amount of crunch. Their special of the day was a wild boar and elk pasta bolognese - which my husband excitedly ordered. I got their steak salad and even though I order my steak medium-well (emphasis on the "well") - it was divine. Seriously one of the juiciest and most flavorful steaks I have ever had. The hubs peer-pressured encouraged me to try his wild game pasta, and it was seriously delicious, too! Plus I got props for trying something new like wild boar and elk meat sauce.

One of our favorite parts of Seattle was getting to hang out with one of our favorite coffee roasters ever. Loren found out about Velton through Seattle Coffee Gear, and we promptly ordered some of his coffee and fell in love. When Loren got interested in roasting coffee, he learned a lot from Velton in videos and from his website. He reached out to him before we left and asked if we could come out to his roasting facility in Everett, WA. We were thrilled when he agreed to let us come hang out for awhile! 






Sample roaster to make a small batch. He uses this to test various coffees to see if he wants to buy in bulk and use them in his blends.

 





We had a blast and Velton had tons of great tips and ideas. And he was a super nice guy with a passion for coffee. Thanks for letting us hang out with you, Velton!

We came back to the hotel after that and decided to head back into downtown after rush hour again. We were still so full from our amazing lunch at Leary Traveler so waiting until later in the evening to ingest anything else sounded like a good idea. Hubs watched the US vs. Mexico soccer game, and I took a cat nap. 

We headed back into the Capitol Hill district of downtown, which is several streets just lined with adorable restaurants and shops and coffeehouses. 
We were finally hungry again so after much indecision, we stopped into Blue Moon Burgers
I was a little nervous when their sign on the front door said,
 "We help people feel good about their bad choices."

However, once I was assured that I could get my burger with lettuce instead of a bun, I happily ordered the Hawaiian burger lettuce-style, and hubs ordered a burger called The Hangover, boasting a fried egg on top of a bacon chili cheeseburger. Try not to be too judgmental of our choices. 

Maybe we were just hungry because we hadn't eaten in 8 hours...but I'm not kidding you, these were the best burgers I have ever eaten. I'm not even exaggerating. Even my burger covered in lettuce (with pineapple and teriyaki sauce and onion and mayo and cheese!) was incredible. Healthy? No. Delicious? A million times yes. EAT HERE if you are ever in Seattle. 

Ok so once we finished our amazing burgers, we wandered around a little bit and found this precious little (very pricey) store called Eat Local. Kind of like a grocery store freezer aisle for the health conscious - this little place served frozen prepared dinners either in disposable containers OR in pyrex dishes that you could pay a deposit for and then return to the store for a refund (similar to the KC local Shatto dairy products). It was so fun and all of her ingredients were local, organic, and without any preservatives. There was an ice cream display case boasting organic ice cream with no refined sugars! 

We bought a pint to share of her chocolate brownie ice cream and it was delicious. 
You could taste the difference between ice cream LOADED with sugar and tons of preservatives and additives to give it the store-bought texture. 
This ice cream was like really good homemade ice cream with only a moderate amount of sugar (I think it was sweetened with brown rice syrup) and homemade brownies crushed up inside. Delish. 


The store had this cool grass covered cow in the entry. It communicates, right?

We took our ice cream and went to a coffee shop called Espresso Vivace, which boasts that they have perfected every aspect of espresso from the beans to the roasting to the espresso machines to the exact timing and how quickly you should drink it. These folks are intense, and their menu was full of drinks I had never heard of before. They have several house specialties, and claim that if you want to truly experience the best espresso of your life, you need to have them pull you a 1oz shot, and drink it in precisely 2 sips within 10 seconds. 

We skipped the stressful espresso opportunity and I ordered a soy milk latte. 

Yes I know soy is GMO and monopolized by crooked Monsanto
The barista told me the lattes are best with soy and I had already backed out of the 2 sip espresso. 
I had to salvage this experience somehow!

The latte was very pretty (this place also claims to have the upper hand on latte art), and also super delicious. Best I'd ever had? Not sure. I was kind of in foodie nirvana/coma at that point and everything within arm's reach was divinely delicious. It WAS good and considering I didn't even order any of the outrageously priced premium house specialty drinks, I'd have to say Vivace knows what they're doin'! 

We hung out until late, using the free wifi and enjoying the awesome September Seattle weather. 
Cool breezes. 
Amazing coffee.
 Organic ice cream. 
Best burgers ever. 
Hanging out with our favorite coffee roaster. 
An incredibly fun day.