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Bus Fare Blues

Exploring the hidden corners of Seattle

Tag Archives: food

Pike Market at NightPike Place Chowder is one of those must-see stops for anyone visiting Pike’s Market. It’s a tiny shop with plastic chairs, tucked into a picturesque corner of Post Alley, a few steps from the fruit vendors, fish hawkers, and hordes of camera-wielding tourists. The menu is fairly simple: five types of chowder along with a few salads and sandwiches that I’ll probably never get around to trying. The chowder! Oh, is it good. Alisha bought a cup of red Manhattan and I got the white. The broth is so thick it’s almost cheesy and the clams were incredibly tender; they almost melt in your mouth. At around $6 a cup it’s not the cheapest soup you can find, but it’s well worth the cost. We’ll have to go back and try the salmon chowder.

I asked the lady behind the counter where they get such delicious clams and she leaned in and said “I’ll let you in on a little secret: Washington clams are great flavor-wise, but if you want texture you have to import them from the Atlantic.” Maybe this Northwest classic isn’t as Northwest as I thought, but it sure tastes good.

Tip: go in the morning when the soup is fresh. After a few hours the clams will get tougher from sitting in the broth. They open at 11am, just in time for an early lunch.

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Durian Rice CakeWe’ve always been intrigued and a little terrified by durian — if Andrew Zimmern hates it, it’s got to be bad (although Anthony Bourdain seems to love it for some reason). We first smelled durian at one of the fruit markets in Chinatown. Whole durians are usually frozen before transport, so they arrive covered in ice and (I’ve heard) much less smelly than before. You could still smell them a good 15 feet away – a distinct odor of especially ripe old laundry with something dead underneath.

I was checking out at Hau Hau Market in the International District the other day and the cashier lady picks up this weird yellow package and says “You try. Is good.” So I put it in my cart like a good little boy and brought it home. It was durian rice cake.

It stared at us for a week.

We were feeling adventurous today and decided to try it. For starters, it looked more like a brick of C4 than a delicious pastry, but we weren’t deterred. We opened the wrapper (hand-wrapped with cellophane tape in San Gabriel, CA) and there in its pungent glory, a thick yellow slab of durian-flavored goo sat sandwiched between two layers of chalky rice flour — a Newton from hell.

We broke off a small piece and each took a bite. The chalk (I mean rice) layers were dried and crumbly like month-old sandwich bread smushed between two schoolbooks and left to age. And the filling…yikes! The taste was somewhere between Circus Peanuts and fresh fiberglass resin; very chemical, with a faint lingering odor of rancid onion. Alisha made a stink-face and spit it out immediately. I somehow swallowed my bite and dared a few more nibbles of the yellow filling, trying to figure out what durian actually tastes like. After I somewhat learned to ignore the harsh initial flavor, there was a delicate raspberry-like finish at the end, a tingly sweetness like aspartame on the tip of your tongue.

As I type this article I keep burping up an awful turpentine smell. Your welcome.

Glad we were willing to be adventurous and that we found something positive to say about this stuff. Not sure we’d try it again, unless we needed a good opportunity to gross out our few friends.

Location: Hau Hau Market 412 12th Ave S # 101, Seattle, WA 98104

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Yakima Fruit Market

Cinderella Pumpkins, Bothell Fruit Market

I was visiting a friend in Bothell yesterday and noticed a fruit market on the side of the road. I had to stop and take a look. The produce was incredibly fresh and a little on the pricey side, although I was able to scout a few deals. The Fuji apples were only $.99/lb and were deliciously sweet and slightly tart – quite possibly the best apples I’ve ever tasted, and HUGE! Easily three times the size of some of the apples you buy at the grocery store. We’ve scouted various roadside stands around the state and even braved the tourist trap barns on I-90, and we’ve never had apples like this. The Honeycrisp get rave reviews and fetch a higher price, but in my humble opinion Fuji is best.

Produce, eggs, local dairy products, honey, herbs, and mushrooms — all local too. Why can’t every town have a market like this?

The fruit stand has been in operation since 1938 and is open from April to October.

Location: 17321 Bothell Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011

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