No appointments booked for the day, so the plan was to amble, and amble I did. My walk started off a little like Will Ferrell’s character in Elf as he makes his way from the North Pole to New York City “I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.” Though with me it was a case of passing the Frank Gehry designed Experience Music Project Building, walking in the shadow of the Space Needle and through a big red spider-like sculpture before getting to Downtown Seattle.
First on the list to visit was Pike Place Market, and I spent most of my day walking back and forth through the various floors taking a look at all the nooks and crannies. It’s a major tourist destination in Seattle, and people flock to the central fish stall to watch the stallholders, hoop, shout and throw fish about. Like Granville Island Market in Vancouver, the produce looks incredible, but I’m not sure how much of it gets sold here – with such a tourist bias it feels more of a ‘looking’ place than a buying place.
Meat stalls were few, and it’s understandable with such a bounty from the sea. The main meat stall Don & Joe’s Meats is usually in the main market but due to some construction work it had been moved temporarily to a darker quieter corner across the street. It had a good selection of meat, and the best looking lamb that I’ve seen yet in North America.
In addition to the permanent market stalls there were some Farmers Market stalls on the street selling local vegetables and a section of the market also had tables that were available to smaller food producers and craft stalls. Here, there were two stalls selling jerky and pepperoni. Of particular interest was Happy Mountain Farm – they raised Miniature Cattle breeds, offered farm tours and actively marketed their products by essentially ‘franchising’ – they had little leaflets on the store for those with an interest in selling their products, whether it be by establishing a stall, selling to retail customers or by setting up a website and selling the product online.
Mid morning as I wandered, I caught sight of the tail end of a food truck. It was shaped like a pig! I attempted to follow it, but even as it drove through Downtown traffic it had the edge over me. It felt like a modern urban hog hunt. I’d seen the truck before on the Food Network’s Eat Street and had hoped to visit if I was to come across it. Sadly it wasn’t to be.
The next stop was Salumi, an Artisan Cured Meats shop/cafe close to Pioneer Square. A couple of people on the trip had asked whether I’d be visiting, so I thought it would be foolish no to. The venture was the retirement dream of Armandino Batali, who’s great grandparents had opened an Italian Food Store in Seattle in 1903 a mere block from the current store. Armandino’s son is American restauranteur and television personality Mario Batali. The store had a familiar, relaxed, lived in quality – largely thanks to the ‘family style’ seating – when I arrived, the place was packed and it felt as if we’d stumbled into a party for an Italian wedding.
I ordered a salumi platter with some bread, and when I mentioned my interest in charcuterie they sliced a couple of slices of extra spicy coppa to top the platter. Later on I went back to try the pancetta, lomo and culatello. They had a good choice of salami – the platter consisted of salumi salami, soppresata, finnochiona, mole salami, anise pepperoni and smoked paprika salami.
Trade was brisk at the store both with sit-in and take-out customers, I was the only person with a platter, everyone else was buying sandwiches. It could well be a cultural thing, there are so many places selling thick meat filled sandwiches here that it’s the norm, but it’s hugely encouraging to see such an interest in cured meats.