Trip to Seattle 2011

Hello everyone! I am back. I took a month long hiatus which was truly necessary. Over the last month I went on a trip to Seattle with Devin. He had some work to do, and he had lasik eye surgery. While there I found myself swamped with school work, and the same fate awaited me upon my return to the island.

Right now things have slowed down for just a moment. However, I know they are going to pick back up. I have to start writing two more papers for anthropology and human rights class. I also need to finish up my large paper psychology class. The psychology paper is the largest paper I’ve ever had to write. There is actually a maximum on the number of pages (20), but there is also an expected number of pages (15). I also have to cite 15 different sources. Yikes! While some of you in masters programs or phD programs might think that this is nothing, well I”m sure you remember when you had to write your first paper of this length and quality.

In the past I’ve strived for straight A’s, and I’ve earned them. However, this semester I know I simply must strive to complete my work with some quality. This is exactly why I’ve not been participating in the Gluten Free Ratio Rally, like I had hoped to do. I know there are many bloggers who have jobs, school, kids, etc. that can do both but I’m just not one of them.

Leaving Maui

 

Anyway, back to the trip. I did remember to take pictures of my food as much as possible. You don’t really need to see what I had for every meal, but I took pictures of the best things I ate. While I didn’t get into the city to eat much, we did dine out a bit near our hotel in Bellevue/Redmond. Did you know that this is where Microsoft is located? They’ve actually acquired quite a few more buildings and a lot more land since I lived there six years ago.

I don’t eat out much on Maui because of the lack of knowledge about celiac disease and gluten free dining. However, in the Seattle area I felt quite safe dining out. While I ate at chains a bit, I also did dine in independent and small chain restaurants. In the major chains it was awesome to see the calorie count on the menu boards. I definitely took notice of it. I also stuck to water because I know it can be easy for people to become dehydrated while traveling. Plus, it’s healthy to drink water and no extra calories are added to a meal through the beverage.

One of my main lunchtime dining options was Five Guys Burgers and Fries. I actually ate at one of these in Florida. They originate from the southeast, but they’ve made their way up to the northwest. They only fry french fries in their fryers, and they know to change gloves and have one person handle the order when you say you’re gluten free. Just order your burger without a bun, and get ready for an awesome burger experience. While it’s not the best hamburger I’ve ever had in my life (that would be at Market Fresh Bistro in Makawao), the combination of burger and fries in a place which uses healthy fats (peanut oil) and quality ingredients is awesome. The price is not too far off from a McDonald’s value meal in Hawai‘i for a burger, fries, and a drink. The size of an order of fries is so big (even the small) that you can split it with someone. I also suggest going for the small burger if someone isn’t very hungry. Cutting out the bun does make it a little smaller, but with all of the toppings there’s still a lot to eat. I always ordered by burger all the way. Instead of putting the mayo, mustard and ketchup on my burger they always put it on the side for me. I thought that was good thinking on their part as well. If you’re ever in a location with a Five Guys, I really suggest you try it.

Bunless and All the Way

 

Not gluten free, but look at the size of that thing!

 

A couple of times we traveled to West Seattle to visit friends. The first time over there we dined at a restaurant named The Matador. It had this gothic, Spanish vibe to it. There were also big flat screen televisions above the bar with sports on. There was something odd about the whole thing, but the atmosphere wasn’t the most shocking part. When I told the waitress I read online that they have a gluten free menu she quickly ran off and grabbed me a real menu. It was leather bound like everyone else’s menu. It felt nice to have a restaurant offer me a gluten free menu that they hadn’t just printed out. I asked about the the chips, and I was told that they do fry them in the same oil. They even mentioned it on their menu about the other fried items, so I just wanted to make sure. The fact that they mention that on their menu was amazing! I’ve never seen that listed on a gluten free menu before. I chose to have these delicious tacos with an guajillo-ancho chile sauce over carnitas and chorizo. The chorizo was spicy and amazing, as was the sauce. I wish I had been able to go there again. There was one in Redmond, but there just wasn’t enough time with all we had going on.

Tacos at the Matador (it was very dark in there)

 

The other place we dined in West Seattle was Taqueria Guaymas. It was small, and reminded me of Maui Tacos or Jaws. The food was inexpensive and there was a salsa bar with a lot of options. They didn’t make their own chips, so I felt okay with ordering some. Once again I had tacos, but this time I chose fish. While they weren’t the best fish tacos I’ve ever had, the guacamole was very good and the company I had was amazing. This meal was an opportunity to bring a few of our friends together. They didn’t know each other before the meeting, but they seemed interested in hanging out afterward. They’re all music junkies, and two of them are in a band called Seeing Blind.

Thank goodness Devin drove. While visually very cool, tunnels scare me!

 

Speaking of the girls in Seeing Blind, we dined out with them a few nights before at a place in Ballard called Señor Moose. It is very authentic Mexican food, and even Gluten Free Girl recommended them on her website. While some old reviews on the place weren’t favorable for gluten free diners, they’ve really changed their ways. Our waitress was a little annoying when she made a “Well, good for you” joke about me being gluten free. However, I still had a good meal. This really was an amazing restaurant, and our server did know everything on the menu that was not safe for me to eat (which was very few items). I decided to order the Mole Colorodito De Tututepec Vegeteriana. They describe the dish as “Potatoes, zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, and mushrooms covered in mole of 25 ingredients. Served with mashed sweet potatoes and salad.” I describe this dish as “Oh my god, can I have more now!” The flavors were so complex and brilliant. The sweet potatoes tasted like something out of this world, and I can only pray that I eat there again. I am proud to sport a sticker from there on my school binder. I only wish I had a car to put it on!

 

MOLE COLORODITO DE TUTUTEPEC VEGETARIANA (those are Meliass's fingers)

 

After dinner with the girls we went back to their place. They pulled out their instruments, and Devin got to join in. He’d never played with them before, but he was so glad he got to this time. If they lived nearby they’d be playing all of the time. Melissa has an amazing voice, and Jessica is brilliant on the cello. They’re such sweet girls and I truly miss them.

 

Fantastic Musicians!

 

A couple of places I don’t have pictures for include Red Robin and Chipotle. I think I got a little glutened the first time I ate at Red Robin (I had a chicken sandwich done protein style with some fries). The second time I ate there I had a cobb salad with more fries on the side (I took a bunch of them back to the hotel for a mid-day snack). We met up there for lunch with one of our West Seattle friends since she works nearby in Bellevue. Red Robin is one of those places with the print out menu, and the food is alright. It’s better than Applebees or one of those places by far. They also keep a separate fryer for the fries. They’re different from the Five Guys fries. Red Robin has steak style fries where Five Guys has a thin style fry with the skin on. If made to choose I’d probably go with the Five Guys style fries. The oil imparts a better flavor, and I like the skin on. Chipotle turned out to be really good. We ate there twice as well, both times for dinner. I like Chipotle’s philosophy, and I like that they keep a notecard behind the counter for their employees who may be unsure about gluten or other allergens. Gloves are switched, precautions are taken to keep things separate, and I like that I can see it all right in front of me. I just have one major thing to tell you about Chipotle: eat the carnitas. Seriously, do it. I’m not a big pork fan, but the carnitas here are amazing! Their chips are also safe.

Dinner with another friend at Ikea was pretty good. I stuck with the salmon gravlax and felt fine afterward. I really like their elderflower juice. Yum! I also know that in their freezer case they have gluten free desserts. However, I think I’d rather have a jar of the pickled herring. *drool* My dad got me hooked on it when we went to Ikea in Florida.

With the same friend we tried a Thai restaurant near our hotel, but I wasn’t impressed. Their green papaya salad was pretty bad. It had way too much fish sauce. However, our friend’s boyfriend said their drinks were mixed quite strong so perhaps if I’d had one I wouldn’t have cared. It was good to see our friend so happy with her new partner.

We didn’t dine out all of the time. I cooked dinner a few nights. I needed food that didn’t require a lot of prep work, or more than two burners going at once (as that’s all I had in the hotel room). So, I chose to do curries and rice. A jar or curry paste, a can of coconut milk, and some frozen veggies plus tofu equaled a delicious dinner one night. Another night a pre-mixed curry sauce poured over vegetables and tofu made a yummy dinner. While in Seattle I learned that Progresso had just switched a bunch of their canned soups over to being gluten free. So, I picked up a couple of those for our last few days there. It was so nice to eat clam chowder again. Thank you Progresso!

Thai Red Curry made in our hotel room

 

So, that’s our trip recapped in terms of food. In the end though, it’s what happens around the food that is important. I really love all of my friends there and I hope we can figure out a way to see them more often. I hadn’t seen half of them since we moved six years ago. Thankfully our friends in West Seattle come out here once a year to visit family.

The weather was beautiful the entire time we were there, however I hear it took a down turn just after we left. We kept joking that Seattle was trying to tempt us back by having beautiful weather and clear skies. In the time that I lived there I’d never seen Rainier from anywhere. This time I saw her majesty in all her glory from I-90. I even sat in Lincoln Park down by the Fauntleroy Ferry for a while in the sunshine. That’s an oddity for me since most of the time I spent in Seattle (8 months) I didn’t see a whole lot of sunshine.

Traveling is fun, and traveling means seeing people I’ve missed and love, but coming home is always so wonderful. I’m glad to be back here, even if I am still swamped with school. It’s easier to be swamped when I am not in a little hotel room.

I’m glad to be back, and I hope to write something again before the month is out. Heck, Halloween is coming up and there’s a lot going on. I’ll have to tell you about going to the Maui County Fair (or as they are trying to rename it: Maui Fair). I also have a cookbook to give away soon, and some product reviews. My love to you all. Be well!

UPDATE 10/12/2011: You can now find my reviews of The Matador and Five Guys on Travel Gluten Free.

6 thoughts on “Trip to Seattle 2011”

  1. Hang tough with your schedule! Hopefully things will settle down once those papers are off your plate. I find a glass of wine (or two) helps any writing project. =)

    Cheers, Pete

    1. Thank you! Wine doesn’t quite work for me as I’m a light weight. However, a good cup of tea is calming and helps to get the synapses firing.

    1. Thank you Haley! Yeah, I have a few papers to do right now so I’m just so stressed out that everything feels huge.

      Seattle can be a fantastic place to visit, for sure! Especially if you have time to enjoy it. I just didn’t this time around.

      I hope school is going well for you. I was thinking today about how difficult a master’s program must be if my BA is this difficult. Much luck and sanity to you!

  2. You got lucky! I live in Seattle and ate at 5 guys- the one in Lynnwood. I got glutened, despite being real clear about everything I needed. :(

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