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Spotlight: Sweet and Savoury in Seattle


Posted by : Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite, Fri, Feb 04 2011

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Last year I had the good fortune to attend the International Food Bloggers' Conference in Seattle - my first visit.  I didn't have much time outside the conference events, but there were a few spare minutes where I did what any dedicated food blogger would do - find good things to eat!

Though I was only in Seattle a couple of days, I fortunately had friends who were ahead of the game and managed to score us a table at Delancey, the brainchild of author Molly Wizenberg (her blog, Orangette was one of the first ones I ever read) and her husband, Brandon Pettit, who mans the wood-fired pizza ovens. The couple opened this pint-sized pizza restaurant in the summer of 2009 on a small budget, all chronicled on Orangette - if you have ever dreamed of opening a restaurant, you might want to take a look at Molly's blog to read what you already suspect - it's a whole lot of work and a true labour of love.  An excellent product and word of mouth have kept them busy ever since and even though the menu is small, Pettit proves that doing a few things really, really well is better than trying to overstretch one's resources.

The restaurant, though small, lures in crowds of pizza enthusiasts Wednesday through Sunday with offerings such as the White Pie ($14) featuring house-made ricotta, fresh and aged mozzarella, garlic and Grana.  If you're lucky you will be there during padrón pepper season - if you like spice, you will fall in love with this pizza.  The dough is the star of these pies; thin and crisp with a good "chew" factor and delightfully charred edges, it transported me back to a summer travelling through Italy.

Delancey is small, it can be loud and you do have to wait for a table unless you arrive right when they open (they will take reservations for parties of six or more only). But it's worth it.  The atmosphere was welcoming and homey - the service efficient without being in your face and the food…. absolutely fabulous.

I dined with eight other food bloggers and we ordered every pie off the menu. Yes, there were many, many pies. And none we didn't like. 

(Look at the size of those lobster tails!)

One of the "must see" places on my Seattle list was, of course, The Pike Place Market.  Markets are one of the first things I make a beeline for in a new city, often visiting more markets than museums, because I truly believe you can learn a whole lot about the culture of a place by checking out what people eat and where they buy it.

Founded in 1907 and now spanning more than nine acres, the Market is a huge draw for food enthusiasts visiting Seattle.  Home to more than 200 year-round commercial businesses, 190 craftspeople, approximately 100 farmers who rent table space by the day, 240 street performers and musicians, and more than 300 apartment units, the Market attracts some 10 million visitors a year and is considered one of America's premier farmers markets.

(Freshly-baked crumpets!)

Seattle City councilman Thomas Revelle proposed a public street market with a view to connecting farmers directly with consumers. This "Meet the Producer" philosophy is still the foundation of all Pike Place Market businesses.  You can meet some of the producers here.  Fish, seafood, fresh produce, flowers, baked goods, pasta, groceries, spices - you name it, it will be at Pike Place Market.  You can take in the market on your own, as I did, or take a tour. The main entrance to Pike Place Market is located at First Avenue and Pike Street.

As I mentioned, I was in Seattle to attend IFBC, which just happened to be held at the Theo Chocolate factory. Yes, a chocolate factory. And 300 food bloggers. A marriage made in heaven!   Theo Chocolate is the only organic, fair-trade, bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the United States. (The name Theo comes from the Greek name of the Cacao tree - Theobroma Cacao, Food of the Gods). Their award-winning chocolate and commitment to social and environmental responsibility has garnered them much press. Theo's founder, Joseph Whinney, pioneered the supply of organic cocoa beans into the United States in 1994. His dream was to build the first organic chocolate factory in the US, as prior to Theo's inaugural chocolate run in March of 2006, all organic chocolate available in the US was manufactured in, and imported from, Europe. According to their website, Theo's standards and practices include:

  • Using only pure ingredients that are grown sustainably. Sourcing ingredients locally whenever possible.
  • Partnering with growers by ensuring they earn a living wage and have access to education for their families.
  • Honoring and respecting their employees and suppliers. This is possible due to the unique fact that Theo controls every step of their own manufacturing process.
  • Using green energy sources to power their factory.
  • Using sustainable packaging and printing methods.
  • Educating about social and environmental accountability 7 days a week through public tours of the artisan factory.

I was fortunate enough to take a short guided tour behind the scenes (you can book a tour here), learning about the origins of their cacao beans, their ethical and sustainable practices and the true meaning of "bean-to-bar".  Theo follows their beans through the entire manufacturing process, only producing small batches of their chocolates, true artisans of chocolate.

With some truly unique offerings, Theo has something for everyone, from the die-hard adventurous eater to someone craving simple plain chocolate.  Salted vanilla caramels not your thing? How about toasted coconut, spicy chile, coconut curry, bread and chocolate or chai tea chocolate bars?  Theo also offers dark and chipotle sipping chocolates and "Big Daddy" bars in marshmallow or peanut butter. You are guaranteed to find something you like in the tiny retail store.

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1415 Northwest 70th Street
Seattle, WA 98117, United States
(206) 838-1960

Theo Chocolate
3400 Phinney Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98103, United States
(206) 632-5100

Mardi Michels is a full-time French teacher and part-time food blogger based in Toronto.  Her blog, eat.live.travel.write  focuses on culinary adventures both near and far because she travels as often as she can!


Posted: Fri, Feb 04 2011 by Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

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