Seattle swept me off my feet. It had been on my list of places to visit for months and months, and I was constantly hearing positive things about it (besides the rain, of course). I got my chance to spend a long weekend in the city when I was flown out for a job interview at a big internet company, all expenses paid. Pretty fantastic deal right? My mom decided to tag along, and together we spent three incredible days exploring the ins and outs of this hilly city during one of their most spectacular weather weekends of the year.
We were most definitely not expecting to bask in sunshine for three days straight, but we learned very quickly that Seattle is known for their exceptional summer season. Apparently, unbeknownst to most, the city has one of the all around best summers of any location in the world. No humidity, sun everyday lasting from the wee hours of the morning to 10pm or later, and it is surrounded by water to boot.
Traveler beware this is a hilly city. It is certainly walkable with the right shoes and the right amount of stamina, but there are some steep ones dividing one neighborhood from the next. Most locals have a car, but unless you are planning to leave the city limits, a car is not necessary for a visitor. Taxis come quickly, and the drivers are as friendly as can be.
Speaking of friendly, this has got to be THE, hands down, most friendly city I have ever been to. Growing up in the tri-state area and living in Manhattan, I have acquired a New Yorker attitude. We expect things done fast, we have little patience, we are quick to grow angry or exasperated, and we are used to the fast pace of the big city. Fast walker, fast talker that I am, it took me no more than a few hours to adjust to the steady pace of Seattle. It is the perfect balance of efficiency and appreciation for time in this city. Let me explain. The people here are smart. They are inquisitive, intelligent, well-read, adventurous, accepting people. They expect efficiency as well, but they also appreciate the small day to day events that New Yorkers take for granted. Example: the cross walk. Seattle is not densely populated, and you will never feel the need to brush up against anyone on the sidewalk. So imagine my mother and I’s confusion at every crosswalk that said ‘Don’t Walk.’ In New York, we have pretty much stopped paying attention to what that pesty red hand is instructing us to do altogether; we walk when we want to because we are always in a hurry. So there we were, at an empty cross walk, no traffic on the horizon coming in any direction, with a few people standing on the other side of the street also waiting to cross. Why isn’t anyone crossing? We wondered. No one is coming, why don’t we all just go? Unlike the impatient New Yorker, the Seattle resident sees no need to race across the street if the traffic light says red. They are simply not in the hurry that we are used to. This was a bizarre realization.
As most of my travel is dictated by restaurant fare, I had taken the liberty pre-arrival of making a reservation at Spinasse in Capital Hill. Chef Jason Stratton brought his rustic Italian training all the way to Seattle from the hills of Piedmont Italy, and rustic Italian it is indeed. The restaurant itself has a wonderful, approachable, almost romantically casual ambience. It is the perfect size, perfectly spread out so that it does not feel crowded nor overly spacious, and the kitchen is visible behind the bar so that patrons can watch the helpers feeding pasta dough through the pasta machines, as all pasta is handmade in house. The portions are perfect size, and boy did my order-envy kick in at this hot spot. My mom and I went back two nights in a row- we simply could not get enough of the simple, molto delicioso fare, and we ordered enough for a party of six both nights. Together we weigh about 200 pounds, so imagine how determined we were to savor as much as we could before heading back to the east coast. The best part of Jason’s menu? It changes daily. His creativity is invigorating, and his restaurant is a smashing success. I would gladly fly back just for his eggplant cavatelli. Other favorites are haricot verts with hardboiled eggs and onions. The crowd favorite is the Tajarin pasta with butter and sage. Spinasse is a true artisanal restaurant run by people who understand how to utilize seasonal ingredients and who appreciate and genuinely love good food.