TripTuner reached a key company milestone last week when we exhibited at our first trade show in Seattle. What a wonderful place to “have” to visit when most of the country is breaking heat records. We were greeted with perfect 75 degree and sunny weather — just what Seattle’s Convention & Visitors Bureau ordered. We were so taken by our visit that we have decided to feature the city as this week’s #WhereToGoWednesday locale.
We were in town for the Destination Marketing Association International’s 2012 annual convention. Although the convention kept us busy most of the day and into the night, we still managed to delve into some of the city’s flourishing food scene. You might want to check out some of these spots the next time you are planning a trip to the Emerald City.
The event’s opening night celebration took place on the waterfront at Bell Harbor. Located just up the waterfront from foodie Mecca Pike Place Market, Bell Harbor offers stunning views of Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountains, and the Seattle Skyline. Against this backdrop we were treated to some of the state’s top culinary and viticultural delights. Here are a few standouts:
Dusted Valley Vintners
This Walla Walla winery was the most memorable for us among the many excellent options at the event. The Syrah was smooth and flavorful with a silky finish and the Rosé was perfect for a warm Seattle evening — very similar to a Côtes de Provence. As the Dusted Valley owners say, “The first two glasses are for your health, the second two are for ours.” Let’s just say that the owners should be feeling pretty healthy these days. (Although the winery is located in eastern Washington, they do have a tasting room about 30 minutes northeast of downtown Seattle that would be worth a visit.)
After treating our palates to an array of fine cheeses and slurping away at the oyster bar, we were looking for something a little more substantive. The tender and juicy steak from Seattle’s El Gaucho fit the bill. Serving 28-day dry-aged Niman Ranch Angus Beef, El Gaucho prepares its steaks on a one-of-a-kind charcoal grill in an open-exhibition style kitchen. Whatever the process, the outcome is pure delicioso. We were tempted to stop by their downtown Seattle restaurant another evening to sit outside on the waterfront deck and take advantage of the perfect weather, but simply ran out of time.
This swoon-inducing chocolate is made by the first organic, fair trade, bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the United States. Theo’s growers earn a living wage, the factory is powered by green energy sources, and packing and printing methods are sustainable. Most importantly however, the chocolate is divine. The factory, located on Phinney Avenue in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, is open for public tours daily. In addition to learning all about how chocolate is made, you get plenty of tasting opportunities.
When in Seattle one must take advantage of both the city’s famous seafood and its many Asian influences. Killing two birds with one stone, we ate at this award-winning downtown restaurant the second night of the event. With menu items that span the Pacific Rim, from China to Indonesia, Malaysia to Viet Nam, Wild Ginger makes almost everything — including fresh coconut milk, egg noodles, and oyster sauce — from scratch. We were blown away by both the black pepper scallops and Thai spicy clams.
Bizzarro Italian Café
Featured on the Food Network, this tiny café in Wallingford was the perfect spot to toast with friends on our last night in town. The restaurant’s vibe is fun and unpretentious — it’s decorated mostly with flea market finds — while the food is seriously good. There is no doubt that I will be back again for the clam linguini with crispy house-cured pancetta and roasted jalapeno.
Although it may seem from this blog post that all we did was eat, we actually had a productive and enjoyable show as well. Check out our Facebook page to read some more news about the show and to see how one attendee ranked us vs. a giant established travel site. These are exciting times for TripTuner. #JustTuneIt