Things I LoveU.S. TravelWining/Dining


January always kicks off with something near and dear to my heart … that would my birthday on the 8th that is shared by a cousin, nephew, friends and, of course, The King.  The first celebration was both for me and also in honor of the daughter’s full-time job (indeed a reason to celebrate).  Off we went to Osteria Mozza, pretty much my favorite L.A. haunt.


Papparadelle with Oxtail Ragu



I kept to my typical “day-of” observance with spa treatments and a strict no-work policy. Was it ideal that the night’s entertainment was a  Bruin basketball game at Pauley Pavilion? Not so much, until the Bruins provided plenty of birthday fireworks with a double-overtime win against Stanford .. ! 


The next day it was off to celebrate another impending life milestone, a baby shower for my Seattle-based niece and a weekend spent there with my sisters. I have been to Seattle a number of times but not during the winter months, with temps in the high 40’s and periods of rain.  This is a beautiful city, surrounded by water, that does have many days of no-gray weather! (At least the folks who live here tell me that is so ..)  

Pretty good view of iconic Mt. Rainier from the plane on approach to Seattle

The first place visited is as associated with Seattle as Microsoft or the Space Needle, and that is Pike Place Market (est. 1907).  What’s amazing to me is the array of gorgeous produce up here in the dead of winter — much of it locally grown — and of course the fresh seafood and shellfish.  


Waiting to taste our
 Pink Lady apple 




Football-obsessed Seattle having a bit of fun with their opponent’s QB —
Seattle beat Carolina and then Green Bay en route to the Super Bowl


The aforementioned sisters planned a beautiful and delicious dinner in my honor at the Purple Cafe and Wine Bar in downtown Seattle.  We enjoyed a wonderful Malbec to accompany the many shared plates in this gorgeous setting — formerly a library — with dramatic circular wine display.  I am blessed to have these “girls” in my life and we love these celebrations.  
Roasted Brussel Sprouts

From top:  Lobster Mac & Cheese;  Spicy Prawns with Frites; Fresh Trout

Happy birthday girl ..

The family was together for breakfast at a very cool place called Portage Bay. Everything was delicious, but hand’s down the best and most unique aspect was the toppings bar … for pancakes, french toast and waffles!  That was a first for me and, yes, I definitely took advantage.




was very happy to enjoy a wonderful lunch plus get the inside story of life in the Northwest from very close friends who are recent transplants to Bellingham (90 minutes north of Seattle); especially from the husband, who had been a lifelong resident of Los Angeles (the wife originally hails from Alberta, Canada). The short answer is they are loving life there, with four distinct seasons, one of the largest Trader Joe’s in the chain (we must have our creature comforts), no state income taxes (other taxes make up for that) and many other reasons. Photos from Agrodolce follow (quinoa with poached egg; amazing bolognese; sablefish cake benedict).  If you are in the Seattle area, I highly recommend this restaurant. 

Marion Heyn & Ed Sugar

I was on my own for the rest of the day so it was off to the movies (“Wild”) as I knew EVERYONE else in the area would be watching or attending the Seahawks game.  The streets during this time looked like there was a government-mandated shutdown and no one was allowed outside.  Never seen anything quite like it…  

The baby shower took place at a very unique and fun event space somewhere on the outskirts of Seattle (as long as Uber found it, that’s all that mattered).  We were treated to delicious Mediterranean fare from the food truck Fez on Wheels and got a chance to meet family and friends of the parents-to-be.  Now just counting down to meeting the baby-to-be!   



This was a really fun game with the guests’ photos above
Guess who?

Speaking of Uber, the return trip to the hotel was not up to their usual standards, and I commented so via follow-up email.  I was happy to learn Uber reads these comments and, among other things, deducted a portion of the fare.  Smart business.

Finally, while I didn’t make this particular trip (just made all the arrangements save buying the tickets), the hubby and son left early the day after my Seattle trip to go to Dallas and see our family’s beloved Buckeyes win the NCAA National Championship.  The son is a recent grad and the hubby’s family has a long connection to The OSU via Cleveland roots.  If you’ve never been present to witness your team’s victory at this kind of event, it’s hard to convey the pure joy … 

Well, every team has one of “those” guys … (aka Big Nut)