Allison Miller, editor
Dining has always been an activity that brings people together. Today, in addition to bringing together family and friends for meals, dining at festivals and events can bring communities together to highlight anything from different heritages to local farmers. Communities are also brought together to cheer on our teams at local sporting events, and dining options at the ballpark now extend far beyond hot dogs.
July 16-18 – Seattle Center.
Every year, just as summer steps into high gear, our fine city celebrates the best that the Northwest food community has to offer with the Bite of Seattle. This year, the 29th annual event, which is admission free, will feature fare from more than 50 Seattle-area restaurants, greater than 30 food product companies, and some 150 different menu items.
Just a Bite! returns this year. For only $3.75, guests can enjoy small portions of foods from local restaurants at booths that are located north of the International Fountain Lawn in Founders Court. You won’t want to miss The Alley, which is hosted by Tom Douglas in the Alki Courtyard. For only $10, you can enjoy a multi-course meal with food samples from some of our best restaurants. Proceeds benefit Food Lifeline, a nonprofit, Washington-based food distribution organization dedicated to the mission of relieving hunger for more than 500,000 people in need.
Adjacent to The Alley, The Bite Wine Tasting will feature wines from nearly a dozen wineries. While admission to the wine tasting is free of charge, a modest fee of $15 gets you a Bite of Seattle tasting glass and allows you to sample a selection of five different wines.
Don’t miss these opportunities to try new dining options as well as several events where you can learn a little more about your food. These events include The Bite Cooks!, where a group of our region’s greatest chefs will come together on stage at the Fisher Pavilion to demonstrate how they prepare some of their signature dishes and to take questions from the audience. There is also the Beringer Great Steak Challenge, where 10 local contestants will compete to prepare the best steak in town; the Canstruction Challenge to benefit Food Lifeline; and the fourth annual Discover Wine Tour that features wines of Robert Mondavi and educated guests about food, wine and entertaining.
What’s New at Safeco
There are lots of new food items to try at Safeco Field. At the Northwest corner (Ben and Jerry’s former residence), Blazing Bagels serves an assortment of deli fare. It has kept the street front orientation and the service window near the left-field entrance (ground level).
Also on the ground level, near center field and the bullpens, Big Red’s has introduced flame-grilled chicken (presented similar to a fajita without the hot plate) and buffalo wings. The chicken ($10) was tasty, accompanied by guacamole, cheddar cheese and salsa, but the tortillas were obviously store bought.
Right around the corner you will find Home Run Hops with 18 beers on tap, including some hard-to-find brews such as Danger from Centralia (order as “Danger in a cup” so you sound like you know what you’re talking about) and Shock Top. And, if you want something stronger, a short stroll to the west brings you to the Bullpen Pub, in case you need to find the only location offering mixed drinks outside the Hit It Here Café and the club level.
Moving up to the main concourse, you can now find organic and vegan fare at The Natural near section 132, including vegan soup ($7), organic smoothies ($6) and gluten-free (but with nuts) snack bars ($3.75). And up near section 341, you can now get freshly make gyros and chicken sandwiches. The gyro was good, although perhaps a bit light on the meat. The combo option of adding a beverage and fries for a total of $9.50 is one of the better values in the park.
Shopping local farmers markets no only provides access to quality fresh products, but also extends the community aspect of dining to the buying of ingredients for the meal. Direct interaction between the buyer and the farmer serves to create personal relationships and develops community spirit.
As many of us have secretly suspected, the best farmers markets in the country are located in Seattle. Our community suspicion was recently confirmed – and shared with the national reading public – through the publication of a Travel and Leisure magazine survey. In the city of best markets, the University District market was voted No. 1 in the country.
The University District market is open year round, every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The market draws a wide cross section of shoppers and is one of the best places in the city to run into former classmates, colleagues, soccer parents, your banker and random social acquaintances.
Located at the corner of 50th and University Way NE, the University Heights lot is transformed into an open-air market and at the height of the growing season boasts more than 60 vendors. A plethora of products are exhibited and available, from shellfish to seasonal pies to breads and dairy products, including fresh butter, eggs, cream and milk. Flowers of every imaginable shape and color are on display, with bouquets created to order, varieties of fruit and vegetables (organic and conventional) – and goat meat.
The University District market is a member of the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance (NMFA), which consists of seven local markets. Time and date information for those markets can be found at www.seattlefarmersmarkets.org.
In every community, there are eagerly anticipated annual events. In Montlake, it is the Greek Festival at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox church. Every year, in late September or early October, the entire neighborhood and much of Seattle look forward to the weekend. Once the sign in the church yard goes up announcing the dates, the children (and some adults) count down the days to the start of the three-day festival when cash is exchanged for drachma tokens and one can eat until all cravings for Greek food are satisfied.
The parking lot is covered with a massive outdoor tent, traditional Greek food is prepared and sold on site – gyros, calamari, spanakópeta, souvlaki, pastries, and coffee. Young children dressed in traditional costume perform dances to loudly playing, taped Greek music on the stage positioned in the middle of the tent. Church tours are offered, as well as complete sit-down dinners.
Church classrooms transformed to markets sell baklava and many different Greek pastries, breads and cookies, made by members of the church. Other traditional Greek foods are also on sale including olives, pita, mizithra and many other selections. (St. Demetrios Greek Festival rates 5 stars from the editor).
Ever witnessed a Lutefisk Eating Contest? How about a Couture Coverall Contest? Well, you can find this and more at Ballard SeafoodFest.
In addition to off-beat events and vendors, SeafoodFest has an array of tasty treats. One favorite is the alder-barbecues salmon. Trident Seafoods donates 2,000 pounds of fresh salmon, which is tossed on the BBQ and grilled to perfection for SeafoodFesters to enjoy.
Another can’t-miss is the open-faced hoagie roll covered in butter, garlic, cheese and your favorite seafood. If you can’t choose between crab and shrimp, do what we do…get one of each. The balancing act is worth it. The 36th Annual Ballard SeafoodFest is coming up this July. Uffda!
Originally published in the June 2010 issue of the King County Bar Bulletin. Reprinted with permission of the King County Bar Association.