In my wildest dreams, I would fly around the world tasting news foods and meeting the people who grow them, make them, sell them, and cook with them. Then I would share my delectable discoveries and the delicious stories told to me by food loving people from around the globe. Sounds magnificent doesn’t it? There’s something about connecting with people through food that feels so effortless, fulfilling, and deeply good. Maybe Anthony Bourdain needs an accomplice. If so, I am available.
Until Mr. Bourdain comes calling, or I get the chutzpah to blaze a flirtatious food trail of my own, I have to do my best to “gastro-trek” every chance I get. Last year, I was sent to Seattle on business to attend The International Food Bloggers Conference hosted by Foodista. “Pinch me – hell yes I’ll go!” I thought when my company asked me to go and I calmly accepted the responsibility. It was an amazing chance to travel, eat, and explore one of my favorite foodie cities without spending much of my own moolah.
The conference itself was wonderful. I met many other food bloggers and heard some very inspiring, enlightening people speak on the panels, but I was at the conference to work and work is still work. On my final night in Seattle, my favorite part of the trip began. I walked about 6 blocks from my hotel, down to the holy grail of American, outdoor, farmer’s markets – Pike Place. I’d been there once before in college when I was dating a guy who went to school in Washington. I always dreamed of returning one day and renting a tiny apartment for a week so I could buy copious amounts of beyond fresh fruits, veggies, and fish then cook with abandon all day long, sipping wine and dining with new found friends. You can imagine my shock and disappointment when I found that my Hyatt hotel room hadn’t so such as microwave, let alone a Viking range … a girl can dream.
None the less, I was determined to make the most out of my one night at Pike Place Market. The produce was even more stunning and vibrant than I remembered. I stopped at each stand, jaw wide open, staring at what truly in season fruits and vegetables are supposed to look like. Produce in LA has been lackluster lately, even at Whole Foods and Bristol Farms and the goodness that was available here made that ever more apparent. I started chatting with the fruit stand fellow who was raving about their nectarines. My mouth is literally watering as I write this, remembering the juicy, tangy-sweet flesh that tickled my tongue as I bit through the tender skin. It seemed like this one piece of fruit and been injected with the flavor of 10 nectarines. I was officially eating the best nectarine I’d ever had. What a sweet, simple, memorable moment. With juice dripping down my fingers and an ear to ear grin, I strolled to the next stall feeling ecstatic to be tasting such incredible edibles from Mother Earth.
The deeper I ventured into the marketplace, the more colors caught my eye, jumping out like bright splashes of paint. Every fresh ingredient you could ever want seemed to be at this party, all looking their absolute best and ready for anything: a sumptuous pasta, a summer terrine, a fruit tart, or a smokin’ hot grill. Mmmmmm. Yes, it’s true my fellow food flirts … I’ll drool over a good looking zucchini and fawn over some sexy strawberries any chance I get.
I stayed as long as I could, watching the farmers and artisans close up shop. Once everyone shuttered, an eerie quiet hung in the air. This space, this place, was meant to be bustling, busy, crowded, and chaotic. The food frenzy that ensues daily is the lifeblood of the people who work at Pike Place and it feeds the souls of those who come to shop. But this artisanal-animal had gone to sleep for the night, so I ducked into Etta’s Seafood, to escape the calm and continue my gastro-trek.