Next stop Seattle
Seattle is a beautiful city, especially if you're lucky enough to land there on a sunny day, which I happened to do last week. But for me the visit for The Family Dinner book tour was memorable for another reason...the best sandwich I have ever eaten!!!
It happened accidentally while running around to bookstores signing copies of The Family Dinner. This is an important author activity because signed books receive an author's signature sticker (and cant be returned!). Once you get that, the bookstore rewards your in person effort with some prime real estate for its display.
We had just come out of the very cool Elliott Bay Bookstore ready for a quick bite to eat before the book event that evening at the historic Hotel Sorrento. We started looking around for a bowl of soup, or anything that wasn't fast food, when we stumbled upon The Melrose Market. This is a large space divided by independent food vendors...one for artisanal cheese, one for grass fed beef, a wine bar, of course a coffee bar, and a small fab restaurant, Sitka and Spruce, from Seattle's leading farm to table chef, Matt Dillon. Chef Dillon's corner spot is like eating in your own kitchen, only better. Locovore and Nube Green storeowner Ruth True described it as "Going out to eat with your family, or just feeling like you're with family." I think that sort of sums up where the new food movement is headed.
Now, with all of these incredible aromas swirling around me, I was really getting hungry. That's when I noticed, nestled in the corner Homegrown (can you hear the swell of orchestral music?), a self described "sustainable sandwich shop." With a name like that I knew the food had to be good. OMG was that sandwich good! First of all, I had never seen a broccoli sandwich on a menu. Chef Rob Milliron came up with this idea using balsamic onion spread, marinated broccoli, homemade roasted aioli, melted Jack cheese and incredible organic whole grain bread made fresh daily from local Essential Bakery.
I was now left with two pressing questions. The first being how soon can I get back to Seattle? And can I possibly replicate this myself? Broccoli sandwich...where have you been all of my life?
The whole concept of the Melrose Market was such a lovely experience -- it truly had the feeling of the future, very modern and 21st Century. Markets as afternoon and evening destination points for organic local fare and entertainment. The shopping mall must have felt this way when that idea first appeared, only these new markets are healthier and offer a much more enriching, (ful)filling experience. Hold the chemicals please and shorten those food miles. One stop shopping, sipping, munching. The perfect date night -- instead of dinner and a movie it's a date with your dinner and we all know how strong and lasting connections can be made over good, delicious food.
This new trend in restaurants can be spotted in NYC too, with Eataly, and the pop up restaurants nestled inside of produce markets. It's a true lifestyle change -- a place to visit, experience, learn, eat, shop. The seeds have been planted in The Melrose Market and with some sun, a little Seattle rain and, most importantly, TLC by innovative and caring chefs the food scene in Seattle is cooking!