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Alethea Myers

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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

Steamposium, like a sleek Jules Verne futuristic submarine, is gliding into harbor on October 27th – 29th. The Bell Harbor International Conference Center on the waterfront near Belltown is hosting this gathering for those who love Steampunk.

For those not familiar with it, a simplified explanation of “Steampunk” is wearing period costume, often from the Old American West or English Victorian era, accompanied with advanced, futuristic weapons and other gadgetry built from materials readily available in the 1800s. Pocket watches, gears, and goggles abound. There are also variations on this, such as post-apocalyptic themes. The word is derived from “steam-powered”, such as devices like the steam locomotive (train) from that era, and is based on early science fiction literature.  Jules Vernes’ “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, and HG Wells’ future-predicting work as well, are two examples. One of the earlier examples adapted for the screen was “The Wild Wild West”, a series which ran on television from 1965-1969. It was based in the American West and featured two government agents, outfitted with advanced gadgets, who travelled by an adapted steam locomotive with special features (like an escape tunnel built in a fireplace) to track down masterminds in crime.

 

Another example of British Victorian Steampunk is the movie “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, based upon a graphic novel, among many other examples.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Steamposium takes place a few days before Halloween, and is a good excuse to showcase your garb and gadgets, or just admire other people’s handcrafted cosplay while walking around the convention. You can take classes/workshops on various aspects of Steampunk, drink tea and watch a fashion show, attend a mad science fair, or shake your metallic gears at a live music concert. Actor Billie Piper, who was Doctor Who’s companion for a number of seasons, who also appeared in Penny Dreadful, will be there, as well as her Penny co-star, Reeve Carney. Billie also played the key role in a PBS adaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park years ago. (Check out an upcoming celebration of Austen’s life & writing, called JaneFest at the University of Washington on November 4th, to admire clothing from the Regency era.)

So feel free to flash forward on the time-space continuum (using your 1800s ray gun to get there, of course), and enjoy yourself at Steamposium.  Your future self will thank you.

Ever notice the colorful lights in Etta’s Seafood restaurant? And did you know there’s a lunch card deal for us regulars?

Named after the daughter (Loretta) of local restaurateur force-of-nature Tom Douglas and wife/partner Jackie Cross, Etta’s is located a ½ block north of Pike Place Market on Western Avenue. Set against a backdrop of mostly black and brown tones, colorful lights from Kasala (located a few blocks away) illuminate and highlight the interior space of the restaurant. A definite bright spot on an overcast Fall or winter day.

Dining there is also a highlight: all food and most drinks are locally sourced from the Northwest. They even cure and smoke their own meat and seafood, often purchased from Pike Place Market. Fresh vegetables from their farm in Prosser, WA, are prepared and served on their menu during the growing season, which is May through November. Certain menu items shift in a subtle way to match that month’s bounty. Vegetables currently being featured and where they originated from (along with some fun drawings) are sketched on their chalkboard near the front entrance. Below that, Tom’s autographed cookbooks are displayed for sale, and multi-colored, fish-shaped chewy candies invite you to take a spoonful. The True Cod Fish and hand cut Chips accompanied by a unique, good coleslaw, are definitely worth repeating, and the Dungeness crab cakes are excellent.

Chalkboard inside Etta’s front door, as well as autographed cookbooks, food rubs, and candies.   All photos: Alethea Myers
The lunch card.

For those of us who frequently eat lunch here, you can request an Etta’s lunch card, which your wait person or manager will initial at the end of each visit. After purchasing 10 lunches, your 11th one is free. That’s a significant savings, and a good incentive to keep returning.

Seattle Restaurant Week is coming soon, October 15th through November 2nd, in which 165+ local restaurants offer 2-3 course lunches for $18, and 3-course dinners for $33. Etta’s is participating in this event, and you can view their special menu here.

 

 

There are only a few days left of this year’s Fleet Week on the downtown waterfront. Five, large ships are in port from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Royal Canadian Navy. And you may have noticed the over 5,000 sailors, many in spotless white uniforms, who are also in port. Fleet Week has been a longstanding Seafair tradition, dating back 67 years, in honor of the civilians who serve our country.

One of these naval ships is docked near Belltown (see above photo). To see it from this vantage point, walk west two blocks on Lenora Street from Western Avenue. This will take you beneath the 99 overpass, past a parking lot on your right, and out onto a bridge walkway. And just for kicks, when you’re done looking out over the waterfront, look down over the railing at this fun mosaic at your feet.

The mosaic at your feet.  Photo: Alethea Myers

Free, informative ship tours are still available at Pier 66, 69, and 90 on Elliott Bay from Friday, August 4th through Sunday, August 6th. Here are two sources to read more specifics about the Fleet Week schedule:

http://www.seafair.com/p.aspx?pID=schedule/294&
http://www.kitsapsun.com/story/news/2017/08/02/ships-arrive-seafair-fleet-week/534074001/\