Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Gluten Free Dining - Seattle Area - Good for You!

Delectable Sensations to be had

Dietary restrictions can really put a damper on traveling. Whether you suffer from Coelic or Celiac Disease (gluten sensitivity) any other allergies, or from food intolerance (immediate adverse reaction to food, no histamines involved) you can have a hell of time finding a restaurant that caters to your needs. Or better yet satisfies your cravings.

In Seattle you'll find a good number of fine eateries that will make you forget you're on a restricted diet —while the memory lapse won't get you into trouble.
Check out Bamboo Garden in the lower Queen Anne Hill neighborhood, a couple of blocks north of the Space Needle. Just tell your server restrictions regarding preparation of the dishes you wish to order.
The Bonefish Grill on west side of Lake Union, provides a menu with with clearly marked GF dishes.
At Cafe Flora in Madison Valley, know for the vegetarian dishes, you'll also discover non-dairy and gluten free options on the menu.

Up the hill from Cafe Flora, in the same hood, you'll find the Impromptu Wine Cafe Bar where chef Dan promises to create a great meal for people: "…who have felt tentative about eating in restaurants".
Visit The Flying Apron Bakery in Fremont for organic, gluten free and wheat free products, often sweetened with alternatives for sugar.

Three times hurray for Lombardi's Neighborhood Italian in Ballard, where you may request a GF menu.

On Sundays Restaurant Zoe waves corkage fees, so feel free to bring your own bottle to enjoy with a meal especially created with your sensitivities in mind.

A great choice on lower Queen Anne Hill for dinner and drinks before or after the theatre is Ten Mercer. Best is if you notify them ahead of time, so they can accomodate your dietary needs. For spur of the moment visits, ask for the GF menu they have on file.

Wild Ginger, a popular Pan Asian Restaurant across the street from the Seattle Symphony on Third Avenue can accomodate most dietary needs. Their kitchen caters to Triple Door one of the hottest music venues in town with eclectic programming.

National chain restaurants such as The Old Spaghetti Factory (although mentioning a pasta joint under the heading "gluten free dining" seems a bit odd), the Outback Steak House (same owners in Seattle as Bonefish Grill), PF Changs and Red Robin offer gluten free options upon request.

Previously published at hotelsbycity 4/16/2007

Coffee Shops in Seattle with Wireless Perks

Hot Spots

There are a great number of independent free (or mostly free) wireless coffee shops in Seattle. Places where you can buy your Java, bring your laptop or iBook and get online. The web site WiFi Mug offers an impressive list of hot spots all over town, as well as lists focussed on neighborhoods, from Alki Bakery on Alki (Beach) in West Seattle, to Tea House Kuan Yin in Wallingford and Grateful Bread in Wedgewood.

Check WiFi Mug for individual hot spot policies.

For every chain coffee shop in Seattle, there's usually an independent alternative kitty corner, or right around the bend of the road!

Previously published at hotelsbycity 3/25/2007

Great Views of Mount Rainier from Seattle

From the sky

The plane you arrived in may have skirted Mount Rainier, but driving from SeaTac Airport to the Emerald City you'll have turned your back to that giant ice cream cone. But there are plenty of opportunities in town to turn around and try for a face to face.

Now don't get all excited, there are those who have visited Seattle many a time, and still have to see "Tahoma" or "The Mountain" as the Native Americans called Mount Rainier. Even on a clear day you can't be assured of the view. So, know yourself lucky when that photo opportunity occurs and take a picture, right away.

The lay-out and planning of the University of Washington Campus is such that you may find that Photo Op the moment you put foot onto the Central Plaza (Red Square)in front of Suzello Library. Direct your gaze south at the Drumheller Fountain, et voilà! Well, maybe. I wish you good luck. By the way, a virtual tour may be worth your while, click on the link next on "Begin tour" in the upper left hand corner, and you are on your way.

Oh, yes, and spring is THE time to see the cherry blossoms on campus!

The lively neighborhood just north of downtown is called Queen Anne. Locals speak of Upper Queen Anne and Lower Queen Anne. Upper naturally refers to the top of the hill, and Lower, you got it, to the foot. An avenue appropriately called Queen Anne Ave. leads from the bottom on the south side across the top to the northern side, and Ship Canal, the waterway which separates Queen Anne from Ballard. But we won't go there now. Half way up the southern slope of Queen Anne Hill you'll find a street called Highland, and Kerry Park Viewpoint. On a good day (which, again may not be a clear day) you'll see Mount Rainier behind the skyline of downtown.

I've missed many a photo op because I was driving. That's right, both hands on the steering column please?!
But I kid you not, the best views of Mount Rainier may be had while driving along, minding your own business. For instance, you've been to Golden Gardens, and you're returning to your hotel downtown. You're driving south from NW 85th on 15th Ave. NW. All of a sudden you see Mount Rainier in all his splendor in the SW. Wow! What do you do? Go around the block, try again? Or just file it under Photo Ops and for future reference?

Another thrilling moment may occur as you're heading to your home away from home after a visit to Greenlake, Woodland Park Zoo, or later in the season the Woodland Park Rose Garden. There you are, on Aurora, also known as #99 (click on the link and come along for the ride) and there he is, glorious, and amazingly large and frightening near by. Before you can ask yourself: What happened, has the Mountain started on a walk-about? He'll be back to the usual proportions, or rather, lost to your view. Enjoy looking out over Union Lake and please, mind the traffic, everybody always seems to speed up when crossing the Aurora Bridge.

If by any chance you're heading for Columbia City or Borracchini's Bakery on Rainier Avenue, you know you're going in the right direction as long as you see the Mountain at the end of your path. That is, if he's allowing you the view.

Again, good luck, and remember, Photo Ops may also be stored in your mind.

Previously published at hotelsbycity 3/23/2007

Top 10+1 Off Leash Parks in Seattle

Let 'em run and stretch your legs as well!

On the days that I need the car, Pooch and I drop Beau off at work, so I can run my errands. Pooch knows what's coming, no matter which neighborhood we're in, her nose tells her long before we get there, that we're close to one of her favorite Off Leash Areas (OLA) in town. Now it's got to be said, any OLA we hit is her favorite. What's more, she'll forget she's just finished running with her palls of the moment, when we come in the vicinity of another OLA. Throwing her head back, pointing her nose up in the air, she'll start that typicle Basenji yodel, spiced with the Terrier's powerful yap. Yep! That's right, before we know it the next favorite OLA comes in sight.

Now if you ask me what my favorite OLA is, I've got to admit, it's all got to do with my personal needs of the moment. If I want to stretch my own legs, I might choose Westcrest Park in West Seattle. Plus points are the walk-about for owners and dogs through a park-like setting, you can actually get somewhat of a work-out yourself, another is the separate area for smaller dogs (the large ones can be quite boisterous), the size of the grassy and sandy area, and Real Bathrooms near the kiddy play-ground and pick-nick area. The lawn outside OLA is great for flying a kite!

For a pretty good walk, and a magnificent view of the city with great photo ops, Jose Rizal gets big points.

If my errands take me to N.E. Seattle, and I have some time at hand, I'll stop at Warren G. Magnuson Park at Sand Point Way. This former Navy facility is by far the largest OLA in Seattle proper, and there's (sweet water) beach access! Once Pooch has had her run, checked messages and left some herself, she's fine being leashed again for additional walking in the magnificent Magnuson. I've been there on a stormy day, with winds gushing and sprays of sweet water frizzing my curls, a wonderful inland treat of ocean shore force.

Pooch's all time favorite (even if she doesn't know it) might be Luther Burbank Park on Mercer Island. Located in the middle of Lake Washington, this OLA has splendid beach access.

Another well known large OLA can be found at Marymoor across the parking lot of Sainte Michelle's Winery. While this is a great park, reports are that a lot of dog owners are irresponsible and leave 'do' lying around. Yugh Bad, Bad Owners (YBBO)!

I've run into (Yugh!) the same problem at Genesee, an otherwise pleasant and convenient neighborhood OLA.

YBBO's are the worst and ruin it for everybody else.

Help keep our OLA's clean! Scoop up yer dogs' poo.

Previously published in hotelsbycity 3/22/2007

Best Waterfront Restaurant with View of Seattle Skyline

Dine with View of Seattle Skyline

If you read this today March the 20th, you are just in time to make reservations at Salty's for the Three Rivers Winery event tonight. Select wines, a five-course dinner and a smasing view of Elliot Bay and downtown Seattle for $95 per person.
If you read this on any other day, make it a point to check out Salty's anyway. The food is great, the wines are choice, and the service pleasant. Evenings with live music and a comfortable bar add another reason to visit this well known and respected West Seattle destination.

Previously published 3/20/2007

Monday, April 7, 2008

Cellar 46º Seattle

If you are a wine lover, and you plan to be in Seattle for the weekend of March 24 and 25 pencil in a visit to Mercer Island's newest wine shop Cellar 46º. Owner Ryan Allison and his team celebrate the opening of this new venture with food, wine tastings, music and other festivities.

If the real thing is anything like their web site, you'll be ushered into a wine cave, with dark wood, atmosphere lighting, barrels of the good stuff, that's for sure.

Previously published 3/17/2007

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Volunteer Park in Seattle

Ten reasons to visit Volunteer Park when in Seattle.

1. On your way there you'll get to see some of the beautiful Capitol Hill neighborhood with its majestic homes

2. The center piece of the park, the Seattle Asian Art Museum (SAAM) designed by local architect Carl F. Gould, to house the original Seattle Art Museum (SAM) when it opened in 1933, is an attractive specimen of Art Deco architecture.

3. SAAM has an impressive permanent collection, as well as often outstanding traveling shows.

4. The view of Seattle Center, with Space Needle, from SAAM's parking lot is breath taking.

5. A stroll through the park is a delight, especially in spring when Rhododendrons are abloom.

6. Jogging around the Reservoir, which is set between trees and acts like SAAM's own miniature lake, gives you ample delights to look at while exercising.

7. Stairstepping will never be the same after you hike up (and down and up and down) the water tower.

8. The Volunteer Park Concervatory located in a delightful Victorian Green House is a must for plant lovers. Lovers of ferns have to see the renovated Fern House.

9. The Park is a perfect peaceful place for a brown bag lunch. Sit beside the wading pool, on the lawns or on one of the benches, and feel what's it's like to live in Seattle.

10. Last but not least, you may catch the sun setting in the heart of Isamu Noguchi's "Black Sun".

Previously publised at hotelsbycity 3/17/2007

Kosher Restaurants in Seattle

Kashrut Dining

Bamboo Garden Vegetarian Cuisine, certified kosher by Va'ad Harabanim of Greater Seattle is conveniently close to Seattle Center is a great place to dine before or after the Opera, the Ballet, the Theatre, or a Game.

If you really crave kosher Indian cuisine, you don't mind going the extra mile. In this case drive to Renton. From downtown you can take the scenic route, following Lake Washington Boulevard to Seward Park, then Seward Park Avenue to Rainier Boulevard, all the time skirting the lake. When you see no more water, and Renton Airport (with all those cute little airplanes) appears on your left, you're almost there. Pabla Cuisine is located in the mini mall, on the western side of Rainier Ave., straight across from Fred Meyer Shopping Centre. Mr. Harnek Pabla has run his family owned business in this spot since 1998. Pabla is certified kosher by Va'ad Harabanim of Greater Seattle

If now is not the time for a drive "south", you can always wait until the Sonics have moved to Renton…

On the other hand, you don't have to drive to Renton for some exquisite kosher catering, Nosh Away will be happy to come to you, that is, if you have a grand affaire, a business gathering, banquet, or any other event that calls for kosher catering. Nosh Away is Glatt Kosher as well as certified kosher by Va'ad Harabanim of Greater Seattle.

Previously published at hotelsbycity 3/15/2007

Fine Paper in Seattle

Paper Find

Are you the kind of person who brings back paper from trips? And I don't mean printed material, but hand thrown, mulberry based, blossom leaves adorned out-of-this-world gorgious sheets of why call it paper? Well, in Seattle you'll find likely minded others at De Medici Ming Fine Paper.

Previously published by hotelsbycity 3/14/2007

Write for Free?

From the get go I was concerned I'd be giving away too many words for free on a blog. So my entries were short. After January 14 I even doubted I should continue my quest to find out whether one could really make money writing for another company's commercial blog. My doubt is rising, but Im still on.

Pets are Welcome

Home away from home for pooch

As a dog owner who has traveled across the United States more than once, I've got my eyes peeled for hotels that allow pets. Although not reviewed, W-Hotel downtown Seattle scores high at first sight. Their $25 per night and $100 one-time cleaning fee may be among the steepest you'll find around town, it also buys you and your canine companion lots of services: toys, treats, bedding, dog-sitting, dog-walking and more. Located at walking distance from the Freeway Park your Pooch will be able to pick up his or her messages at any of the many trees, after or even before you've checked yours (the park is a WiFi Hot Spot).

If you plan on attending a tour of the Seattle Central Public Library, designed by OMA, it's nice to know the W-Hotel is less than a block away from the building's site.

Previously published by hotelsbycity 1/15/2007

Top Ten Green Projects 2006

We've got some truly "Green Buildings" in our Emerald City. In recognition of Earth Day 2006 the American Institute of Architects (AIA) named Ballard Library and Neighborhood Service Center designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson of Seattle, one of the Top Ten Green Projects in the United States.

This project, the first major building designed within the new Ballard Municipal Master Plan Zone, consists of the 15,000 square-foot Ballard Library, a 3,600 square-foot neighborhood service center and 18,000 square-feet of below grade parking.

Fifteen years ago Ballard was still a sleepy neighborhood, today it's one of the city's most attractive pedestrian areas. Make a day-trip of your visit to the library. After taking in all of the building's features, topped by the green roof, check out the neighborhood shopping area, and the multitude of good restaurants that will no doubt satisfy your other green (or omnivore) cravings.

AIA Jury Comments:“One of the things we were looking for was projects that are truly integrated. The roof is the real expression of this building: it vents, it’s a green roof, there are photovoltaics there; it’s a bit move that does many things at once. Beautiful buildings will be preserved, and this is very much part of sustainability. This will be a 100-year building because people will want to save it. Everyone would want that library in their neighborhood. This is the kind of building that can be a catalyst for change—pushing individual buildings as well as neighborhoods to become more sustainable.”

Previously published by hotelbycity 1/14/2007

Croissant Fourré in Seattle

Hotel lounges are among my favorite places to read the paper, watch people and talk to strangers. Some are more welcoming to non-guests than others, or have more of a neighborhood-meeting place feel to them. Such is the case with the cafe and tearoom of the Panama Hotel in the International District. Excellent coffee, a long list of tea choices, good Panini and a choice of sweets make a visit extra attractive. Croissants can be had at any coffee shop, but if you're lucky you may find there's a croissant fourré left on the platter. They're called almond croissants here, but I swear, the first time I bit through flaky pastry in sweet almond paste, my upper lip dusted with powdered sugar, I had visions of early mornings in Paris and Strasbourg.

Previously published by hotelbycity 1/13/2007

City Blogging

Early in January of 2007 I responded to a call for writers on Craigslist.