Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Kind Of Town

Yes, I am spoiled.  While it stinks that we had to leave behind dear friends in Boise, having the opportunity to meet up with Amanda in Seattle on occasion has been the cloud's silver lining.

Amanda is an art professor and artist (she's talented and fancy) who had a show at Seattle Pacific University.  I (ostensibly) went up to hear her lecture and attend the reception.  Also to hang out and have some kid-free, like-minded friend time.  It's good for the soul.

I was so glad that, in spite of a late start and getting a bit lost, I made it to SPU in time for the lecture.  When I got to the gallery, Amanda looked tired.  Ten minutes into the lecture her eyes were sparkling and her cheeks were rosy.  She was like a new person.  It is really fun to see someone who has a passion like that, and it's something I've always envied.  Fine art, elegant code, philosophy...people get excited about these things.  I always assumed that some day I would find my thing, and that I would have a job.  In a "field." Perhaps it's the exception, not the rule, for a person to be able to make a living doing something she cares about.  In any case, it was a real privilege to watch a good friend of mine do her thing.

It was a Thursday night, and the students cleared out quickly, as did we.  We loved Cafe Presse before, so we went back.  We were not disappointed.  We even had the chicken liver pate again. Then we shared a perfect plate of steak frites and, for the grand finale, shared a cup of "drinking" chocolate that was absolutely perfect.  It was thicker than soup, so we ate it with spoons. A Godfather cocktail was a tasty (if not very French) accompaniment.

We adjourned to our room at the Red Lion Inn on 5th Avenue. Upon being apprised of our status as harried mothers of young children in need of a getaway, the kind-hearted clerk had upgraded our room, so we had two queen beds and a view of the water.  It was a challenging place to drive around (many thanks to Amanda for bravely doing so), but the downtown location couldn't be beat.  Really, if you're within a few blocks of Nordstrom and Pike's Place Market, life is good.

On Friday morning, heaven smiled upon us.  I picked up the magazine provided by the hotel, looked for downtown places to eat, and found a French bakery called Belle Epicurean.  Of course it wasn't until we got there that I saw all the articles on the wall proclaiming its many accolades. It was like winning the lottery of pastry.  I love myself some baked goods, and these were better than anything I've ever had, even in Paris.  You must click upon the link and ogle the photos.  It's even better than it looks.  

After breakfast we headed off to Nordstrom (to make a return) and were slightly distracted by a stopover at Anthropologie.  I got a wool sweater I'd always liked that was marked down to $40 from much, much more.  A good deal makes me even happier than good pastry.  As does a good haircut, which is what I got next when we went to Rudy's.  I don't know that I'd recommend it wholeheartedly, though.  It's rather hit or miss, and Amanda's been on the "miss" end twice now.

We had lunch at the Seattle Art Museum's cafe before viewing the Edward Hopper exhibit. We shared a flatbread with smoked salmon, creme fraiche, capers, and fresh herbs, and we each had a dish of fennel and parsnip soup with pistou.  The soup was so good that it was actually my favorite savory dish of the trip.  As for the art, note to self for future reference:  preview everything before taking young children to a museum.  The last thing Nels needs is an early introduction to surrealism.

Stepping out the museum door, we saw that Fran's Chocolates was right across the street, so we did a little damage there.  Then we made our way the block or two to Pike's Place Market.  We visited the Left Bank Book Collective (a book shop that sells Nikki McClure prints and hoo boy smells like the unwashed masses) and then proceeded to the most excellent happy hour known to man at Cafe Campagne.  

We sat at the bar.  All of the servers were young, friendly, helpful, and extremely knowledgeable. It was brilliant.  Whereas most happy hours offer cheap food and hardly any breaks on wine, this happy hour offers cheap food and amazing deals on wine.  3 oz tastes run from $2 to $2.75, which means you can try all sorts of things (including sparkling wines) for a very reasonable price. Everything we tried was delicious, French, and not available at my local Fred Meyer.  We had food too.  Tiny lamb burgers on gougeres for $2.  Duck rillettes.  The best fries I think I've ever had, with a very garlicky aioli.  It was a magical time.

Perhaps too magical.  We still needed to go pick up my car where I'd left it at SPU the night before in order to avoid the outrageous parking fee at the hotel. And we foolishly stopped in at Nordstrom Rack on our way back. 

Thanks to the stress of the Friday night traffic and my inability to see very well out of my fogged up windshield, I ended up in the wrong turn lane on my way back to the freeway.  I'd given Amanda my map, and she didn't want to abandon me, so she followed.  Yes, she missed her flight by about 15 minutes.  It was the only flight to Boise that night, and she was supposed to be there to lead a field trip the next morning.

I was about half an hour past the airport when I got the call. Rather than have her spend all that money on staying in Seattle another night, I went and picked her up, and she re-booked her flight out of Portland for early the next morning. Normally a three hour drive at night (four with the backtracking) would have me nodding off, but there were a few factors that kept me awake. First was the pain in my knee which later morphed into an enormous tight knot under my shoulder blade.  Holy smokes, there's no sleeping with that kind of discomfort. Then there were the crazy patches of fog, which would go from negligible to pea soup in mere seconds.  Nothing gets the adrenalin going like realizing you're driving 65 mph and you can't see 10 feet in front of you.

We made it back to Camas alive, awake, and unharmed, and decided to make lemons out of lemonade by staying up and enjoying the kind of conversation that one can only have when polishing off a bottle of Calvados in the wee hours.

Two hours of sleep later, it was off to the Portland airport.  I dropped Amanda off and made my way home (through more dratted fog) and staggered into bed. Shaun got up with the boys and let me sleep a loooooooong time, despite his being miserably ill. That is why his crown in heaven will be so heavily encrusted with jewels.  And mine, despite my fondness for diamonds, will be lucky to have any sparkle at all.


Josh said...

I love your Epicurian tastes! Too bad we weren't allowed to (legally) drink on Biola Abroad. :)

Edward Hopper is my favorite artist. I saw a huge exhibit of his in London and another in Chicago. When Amy and I were in New York a couple of years ago, I tried to see another, but it was on loan to another museum.


Anonymous said...

Love your post, Gypsy. So glad you were able to get away and enjoy glorious kid free time with Amanda.

I'm thinking you will have plenty 'o jewels in your crown, too. (I'm anticipating cubic zarconia in mine!) :)

Karen said...

I'm so glad to get the scoop on your fun with my girl. So happy for your good times together. Hugs to all.

Gypmar said...

Josh, I am so glad I didn't really know what I was missing on Biola Abroad. It would have made me a little miserable to have to abstain. Our glass of house wine that was included in our Paris meal was the only time I broke the rules. I wasn't a beer drinker AT ALL, but it still seemed a shame to be in Germany without drinking beer.

Fortunately Shaun and I got to go live in Cologne later and become well acquainted with their delicious brew!

Gretchen said...

Oooh, what a lovely time! I'm jealous!! ;0) What a saint Shaun was to give you such a lovely break!

Hillary said...

That last paragraph is absolutely perfectly written. So satisfying.

Gypmar said...

Aw, thanks, Hillary. Can you see my grateful blushing over the interwebs?

Unknown said...

Gypsy, it sounds like such a lovely trip! Caleb and I are heading to Seattle on Friday, with only the one day in the city. I feel like I have an idea of what we'll need to make a priority to see. So glad you had some good girl time!