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Alethea Myers

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Popular Cutters crabcake with corn succotash

Situated just north of Pike Place Market in Belltown, you’ll find Cutters Crabhouse. This writer has regularly lunched at this restaurant with its incredible waterfront views for well over a year now. In this time, the food, view, and friendly, professional service provided have made this a consistently good experience and reason to return. Although seafood is featured on their menu, Cutters also has a great selection of other fare to choose from. Their fettucine, for example, isn’t a bland white sauce typically found in most eating places, but a mix of fresh spinach and tomatoes in white sauce, sprinkled with bread crumbs.

According to Brett Gardner Howell, Executive Chef, their most-requested dish is the crabcake with creamy corn succotash, made with both Alaskan and snowcrab meat. The crab sandwich is flavorful, mixed with artichokes, shaved onion, parmesan, cheddar, topped with a tomato. All of their food is from the Pacific Northwest, sourcing the next door market and fresh, local venues whenever possible. For example, their menu currently has local Beecher’s fried cheese curds as an appetizer and Mick’s Jelly, both sourced a block away, and excellent when served together. Cutters has a “Fresh Sheet” which changes every 2-3 months, in addition to their seasonal menu, and they always have a soup of the day.

Concerning those panoramic views: Cutters Crabhouse has expansive windows, looking south over Victor Steinbrueck Park to Pike Place Market, eastward spanning the Big Wheel, working waterfront, ferries as well as other boat traffic, and the snow-capped Olympic Mountains across Elliott Bay. Even on a cloudy winter day, it’s pleasant to eat here.

Beautiful view at Cutters Crabhouse, even on a cloudy day

They often partner with Pike Place Foundation, and recently won a 2017 Hoofprint Award for their ongoing support for these events, donations and their participation. “Cutters Bayhouse” was the original name when it opened in 1983, and has remained at the same location. Longevity extends not only to the business but to some of the people who work there: 15-and-20 year anniversaries were recently celebrated for two employees. And families are made welcome with activity sheets that kids can draw on, as well as on the large white paper “canvas” spread on each dining table. As Chef Howell commented, “The best thing about our restaurant is our people. We take a lot of pride in our family atmosphere.”

Cutters Crabhouse, on many levels, is a cut above.

Left:  Cutters’ Kale & Romaine Caesar Salad with Oregon Bay Shrimp.      Right:  Delectable Beecher’s Cheese Curds & Mick’s Jelly

A smaller Italian restaurant, Mercato Stellina, opened December 1st less than a block from the north end of Pike Place Market. It creates a diverse compliment to its neighbors in the same building: the long-established and fine seafood restaurant Cutters Crabhouse, and Mercato Stellina’s also newly-opened sister restaurant Chavez, which serves Mexican food.

Mercato Stellina has an intimate feel: the narrow galley shape of the space, low lighting, sophisticated high-end music, and the combination of tables and counters, some at which you can directly watch chefs/cooks as they prepare your dish. Seated at another counter, you can sometimes glimpse head pasta maker Joe Obaya creating fresh pasta for the restaurant through a glass pane. He has worked extensively in the restaurant business, doing his internship at the Herb Farm after culinary school years ago and now exclusively forms pasta for both Mercato Stellina as well as Cantinetta’s two locations. Last summer, Joe spent time in different areas of Italy researching and shopping for good Italian pasta-making machines and also studying techniques used by generations of pasta makers in the little town of Lecco.

Mercato Stellina’s Tagliatelle and also Sausage Pizza.   All photos:  Alethea Myers

Some of the ingredients on the menu are somewhat adventurous, such as utilizing unusual seeds grown at Steel Wheel Farm in Fall City, WA for pickled watermelon pieces (similar to sharp chutney) which accompanies honey on the burrata cheese antipasti. Or giant Alaskan octopus, cracked raw egg, rabbit, and toasted grasshopper, all featured on different pizzas or pasta.

Aspects of the menu will be changing out 4-5 times per year depending on the season, including some cocktails, and eventually may include a special Market Menu that features specials of the day. If you live in this zip code or work in the restaurant industry, you can receive 10% off your bill with their Neighborhood Discount. A 20% service charge is added in lieu of tip.

 

1 of 6 great entries for the Gingerbread Village: Historic North Seattle.  Design/Creation: Callison RTKL, Hargis, and Chef Lee Baldyga.  Photo: Alethea Myers

“While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads” seems an apt description of what creators were thinking for this year’s Gingerbread Village in downtown Seattle. The Sheraton Seattle Hotel has hosted the display for 25 years and they’ve moved it this year to the main floor of nearby City Centre (1420 5th Avenue). Our city’s top architects and master builders team up with Sheraton Seattle chefs and their culinary teams to create what could be termed “advanced gingerbread”: sugarplums & other candies, colorful Chiclet gum pieces symmetrically adhered to create a wall, gingerbread pieces become brick walls or a bridge, LOTS of frosting, and some even feature moving parts (such as a trolley on a track, or the Ballard Locks doors swinging open). This year’s theme is “A Celebration of Seattle” and each fairly-large creation features areas of the city, either in the past or in the future. They are a delight to look at, and you can vote for your favorite one.

Not only is the village visually appealing, but donations made (online or at the exhibit) will benefit the research of the JDRF Northwest Chapter, a non-profit with a vision to see “a world without Type 1 diabetes”. Previously the organization focused on diabetes in children only, but that has expanded since it affects adults as well. Different children were chosen to be JDRF Elves, and are represented by each team that completed each gingerbread creation.

The WA Athletic Club parking garage is located right next to the City Centre entrance on 6th Avenue, and after 5 pm on weekdays, it’s currently a $7 flat fee to park there. This is one of the parking options if you don’t live or work downtown and need to drive to see this year’s display.

Gingerbread Village Viewing Hours (until January 1st):

Mon.-Thursday    6:30 am- 11:30 pm
Friday                      6:30 am- 12:30 am
Saturday                 8:00 am- 12:30 am
Sunday                    8:00 am- 11:30 pm

MORE GINGERBREAD EXTRAORDINAIRE

The life-size gingerbread house in the lobby at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.  Photo: Rachel Dooley

Another fun and labor-intensive gingerbread display is at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel (411 University St.).  Walk through a life-sized gingerbread house in the hotel lobby, admire the Festival of Trees which has been hosted for 40 years, or take your kids to the Teddy Bear Suite. Donations benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital, another worthwhile cause.

Come enjoy these “sweet” holiday traditions!

As a chocolate lover, you might understand these terms: Dark, milk, white, infused, nutty. 70%, 80%, 90% cacao. Drinking chocolate versus cocoa. “Country of Origin”. And, a skinny mocha…hold the whip, please. The Northwest Chocolate Festival 2017 is the perfect opportunity to practice this lingo and discover even more about this sweet global obsession. This year, it takes place November 11th and 12th, at Smith Cove Cruise Terminal, Pier 91, near the southeast corner of Magnolia (close to both Belltown and Queen Anne). 

When attending the Northwest Chocolate Festival for the first time, one is struck by how immense the chocolate industry is, based sheerly on the number of exhibitors that are represented here. Over 100 chocolate industry vendors will be at this year’s event.  Artisan chocolate makers from around the world and USA, including a number of local crafters, offer samples of their products at each table you stop by. It truly is a chocolate lover’s dream: truffles, single-origin [world region] chocolate bars, liquid chocolate for drinking, syrups, and other incarnations.

But buying and tasting chocolate aren’t the only available activities at this event: 
What if you want to craft your own artisan chocolates or incorporate more into your own cooking?  There are cooking demonstrations and classes for that, led by professionals in the industry. And suppliers who sell chocolate-making equipment and supplies, to get you started.

What if you want to become a professional “taster” or turn your chocolate obsession into a career? Professionals in that field will lead you through what to savor to determine the quality in a piece of chocolate and other educational demos.

Chocolate begins life as pods hanging from a cacao tree.  Photo: CT Cooper

Are you’re interested in the process involved in a fruit pod hanging on a tree in the southern hemisphere ultimately becoming refined piece of chocolate? Or how carefully cultivated crops are yielding a better life for small farmers? Or how chocolate consumption can lead to better brain health?  Yes, yes, and yes.

The saying goes, Life is short; Eat chocolate. And, if you feel so inclined, celebrate this at The Northwest Chocolate Festival.

Their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1257237424388358/?active_tab=about

One of the relaxed working spaces within the rotunda/ commons at Madison Centre.  Image: madisoncentre.com

Madison Centre, a 36-floor office + retail building with numerous features has opened at the southeast corner of Madison Street and 5th Avenue. Plans for this building were sidelined for 10 years during the economic downturn, but recently Schnitzer West, the real estate developers for this property decided to move ahead. They received comprehensive focus group feedback before proceeding to create a building striving to serve their tenants’ varying needs for collaboration, connectivity, and privacy, with relaxed amenities. The end goal was to increase everyone’s productivity and efficiency.  In essence, a “next-generation workplace”.  It’s LEED-certified and has an excellent walking score of 98, being centrally-located in the downtown Seattle core, near the downtown Central Library.

A suspended spiral staircase leads up to this 3-story high rotunda and commons area at Madison Centre. Image: NBBJ architects

FEATURES OF THE MADISON CENTRE:

  • Every floor has floor-to-ceiling windows, including the 3-story rotunda and commons area via a spiral, suspended staircase, accessed from the street
  • In the Gathering Place/Rotunda (i.e. Lobby)
    – Fireplace and its towering pillar, from a stone quarry in Minnesota
    – A suspended spiral staircase that leads up to 3-story glass rotunda area and commons
    – Exposed wood slats in rotunda, adjustable for natural light
    – A 5,000-plant Green Wall to improve air quality, reduce noise, and ease stress
    – Extremely fast elevators (from ground floor to roof in about 24 seconds
    – Premier coffee shop on NW corner of rotunda
    – 5-star concierge service
  • Rooms & Work Spaces
    – Site-Wide Connectivity:  Wi-Fi is everywhere, so tenants can work anywhere in the building.
    – Fireside Lounge
    – Common work spaces (both individual and team) and lounge areas off lobby
    – Cafeteria for tenants
    – Library
    – Private quieter rooms available for reservation
    – Multiple, shared conference areas: boardroom (elegantly furnished, fully equipped), other spaces with adjustable space
    – WA Athletic Club-run fitness center (5,000 SF) for tenants
    – Wellness Center (for health services, such as flu shots, etc.)
    – Conference Center with adjoining catering kitchen (12 to 130 people)
    – Able to control energy usage, lighting levels and temperature from anywhere
  • Other Spaces
    – a 480-stall Garage and Bike Storage with abundant security cameras. There is also showers and a locker room for those who pedal to work.
    – Rooftop deck with 15-foot glass walls to minimize wind. Lounging areas and green space are part of this deck.

Madison Centre is currently at 30% capacity, having newly opened last week, and tours are available.

Madison Centre’s rooftop deck.   Image: madisoncentre.com