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Travel Episode: Seattle, The Foodie's Mecca

Main Floor of the Market

Visiting Seattle never disappoints me it's one of my favorite foodie meccas. As a culinary instructor, I am always learning something new to pass on to my students. Eating my way through Pike's Place Market has always been one of my favorite culinary experiences. Here are a few of my can't miss places I always make sure I stop at.

I recommend one of the many Culinary Walking Tours available in the area, I have done a couple over the years and they are well worth the time. My favorite was Savor Seattle, it's here where I first heard our tour guide describe herself as a "Food Evangelist". I love these tours because I always learn about the culinary history of a city as well as get to eat the best it has to offer at the same time. If you plan to go, check for the local festivals, One one visit a few years ago, we stumbled upon an Italian Festival going on near the market and got to see some local culinary talent on stage and got to sample the local Italian seafood that Seattle is famous for.

A roundup of my favorites

This trip I stayed a few blocks from the market, so I got to go early Sunday morning to see who was up and what was happening at 7 am. I was on the hunt with a few hundred other folks for fresh pastries. I gravitated toward the ones with the longest lines. This one happened to be Le Panier, a Very French Bakery.

Grateful it wasn't raining, I cued up with the other socially distant customers and chatted them up while I was waiting in the line around the block. One guy was on the phone with his girlfriend who was waiting in another line next door for a different product and he was giving her instructions on his order while she was giving him the same. When I asked, they said they always divide and conquer the lines otherwise they would never eat! I also met an airline pilot who swore this place was the best bakery in Seattle and he never missed the stop to load up on the croissants. Well, they were right, the most sublime Almond Croissants were had along with a Pain de Chocolat and a few others for the road.

New Outdoor area out the back door of the market

Sur La Table - Right outside of the market, this is the ultimate gear store, need some parchment paper? How about all your kitchenware for your new Yacht? They have got you covered. They will sharpen your first knife free and 5$ after that for the others. I think all the stores probably do this.

Produce at the market- Too numerous to mention here, it would be fair to say that most were Italian, and the product was amazing! Loved all the fresh vegetables, so vibrant and enticing.

Market Spice - In business since 1911, this is the place for hard-to-find spices and teas. The smell alone is worth the trip and the funky signs bring me back to the old days of the coops.

Pike Place Fish - Yes, they are the guys that throw the fish when someone orders it. These guys are true entertainers! They are always the center of attention at the market. Great for mail order.

Cyrus Saffron- I knew all saffron was not created equal, but these folks are experts! Organic and grown in the dry hot climate of Chelan, WA, they are part of the USA Saffron Trade Association and work hard to expose counterfeit and poor quality saffron producers. I bought the saffron salt and I LOVE it. I sprinkle it on vegetables, Rice, and mucho other dishes.

Pike Place Chowder- This one was on the culinary tour a few years ago and is still going strong. The Smoked Salmon Chowder is heavenly, I love it with a big dash of Tabasco.

Seattle Cutlery- I adore this store, I always find something to buy there for souvenir gifts for friends. It has the most amazing selection of Japanese knives I have ever seen this side of Chicago.

Chukar Cherries- There are lots of orchards in WA, so it's not surprising that there are stands that solely sell fruit. They also roast nuts in a copper kettle and have the best chocolate-covered cherries too.

Beecher's Handmade Cheese- Their flagship cheese is aged 15 months, it is a cow's milk cheese, semi-hard with a robust, nutty flavor. I love to go there and watch them make it and have a grilled cheese sandwich.

I ended my tour with dinner at Duke's Famous Seafood- An institution of all things seafood, it was marvelous and the drinks were top-notch as well. I was usually on a Halibut kick while I was there but this time I had a sampler plate with Prawn, Scallop, and "Un" Cake Mixed Grill. They have 5 kinds of Champion Chowders on the menu- Clam, Lobster Mobster Pernod, North by Northwest Seafood, Rajun Cajun Corn Chowder, and A Chowder Sampler.

Here is my tour in 3 minutes...

This recipe is a copycat recipe from the Pike Place Chowder House printed in the All Roads Lead to the Kitchen Blog, link provided under recipe.

Make the best-smoked salmon chowder ever (inspired by Pike Place Chowder in Seattle) in your own kitchen.


  • 12 ounces baby red potatoes, scrubbed

  • 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided

  • 1/2 of a large yellow onion, small dice (heaping cup)

  • 2 stalks celery, small dice

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 3 cups water

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 3 cups half-and-half

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1" chunks and softened

  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons drained capers, rinsed

  • 1 pound hot-smoked salmon

  • salt (optional and as needed)

To serve:

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • hot sauce

  • sourdough or crusty bread


  1. Steam or boil the scrubbed potatoes until they are just barely tender. Drain (if boiling), then set on aside on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. When they are cool enough to handle, dice them.

  2. In the meantime, heat 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of the butter over medium in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onions and celery and cook until they are translucent ~5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and black pepper; cook for 1 more minute.

  3. Add the remaining 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) of butter to the pot. Once it has melted, sprinkle the flour over, a little at a time, until it is all incorporated. Let it cook for 1 minute to get rid of the floury taste.

  4. Add the tomato paste, water, and reserved potatoes to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.

  5. Stir in the half-and-half, cream cheese, capers, and smoked salmon. Let it heat slowly until it is almost simmering, then turn off the heat. Taste first, then add salt as needed (it may not need any - mine did NOT. It really depends on the saltiness of your capers and salmon).

  6. Serve while hot with bread, passing the black pepper and hot sauce for people to add, if they like. You can also cool the soup down, then refrigerate. Gently bring it back to just a simmer (don't let it boil hard) for a few minutes before serving.


  1. If your smoked salmon was canned (only use really good, high-quality stuff if so), add the salmon flavored water around it to the pot, as well.


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