Monday, April 1, 2013
Pike Market, Seattle, Washington
So, as luck would have it, my travels for my day job have brought me to the city of Seattle. I had the good fortune of staying in a hotel just a few blocks away from the famous Pike Market. Naturally, I couldn't resist the opportunity to take a look and snap a few photos...
The market is one of those leftovers from a bygone era- much like Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market. Judging from how busy the place is, and the quality of the produce, it's a shame that places like this aren't a centerpiece of every city. Philadelphia's market came into being because it lived on top of a major rail hub, so was the first stop for fresh foods from all over the northeast. Pike Market formed for different reasons- a huge percentage of all the fresh fish caught in the country, comes off the waterfront just behind the market. Instead fo a rail hub, Seattle is a major seaport, and is the gateway for seafood caught by fishing fleets throughout the Pacific Northwest and Alaska- so it has a very different character.
The centerpiece of the market is the Pike Place Fish Company- where the famous fish throwing happens. The staff wasn't actively throwing fish when I was there, but they still drew a crowd. My photo only covers about a third of the counter- the selection is impressive, and everything is so fresh it hurts. There are other fish coutners in the market, but this is the biggest, and, placed right at the main entrance, the one that gets the most attention.
Aside from the fish, the market is a veritable maze filled with everything under the sun. Not far from the Pike Place Fish Company was a small stand that seemed to be drawing a fairly decent line- The Daily Dozen Doughnut Company- featuring fresh mini donuts by the bagful.
The mini dounts were made fresh in front of your face. I couldn't resist sampling a few. These donuts are about one bite each, so I didn't feel too bad about samppling the whole variety.
My favorite was the cinnamon-sugar donut- mostly because they were still hot out of the fryer. They had a slight crispiness that yielded into a warm, soft interior that just melted in my mouth. The chocolate glazed donuts were not hot, but the chocolate topping was thick and fudgy. Even the powdered sugar donuts still had that tiny bit of crunch on the outside that elevated them. Six great mini donuts for just about $3- I'll take that deal any day.
Many of the stands and shops are rightfully proud of their wares- and offer free samples- ultra fresh products like this practically sell themselves. I was tempted by the local raw honey that comes in blueberry and raspberry varieties.
The market features a wonderful variety of lcoal produce- including these wonderful blood oranges.
The variety of fresh vegetables is astounding- if you look closely you can see all types of exotic mushrooms, rainbow carrots, and the unusal fiddlehead fern fronds- which are actually somewhat common in the area. In the northeast, you would only normally see these in parts of Maine, rather than anywhere near the more metropolitan areas I usually haunt.
Of course, there's the meat. The market features a number of purveyors of meats, sausages, and such. It's not all about fish, although it can seem that way sometimes.
The market also, naturally, features lots of places to stop and enjoy a bite to eat. You can literally find anything here, including italian specialties like the ones you'd expect to see on the east coast.
Overlooking puget sound, you can see why a fish market would become such a center of activity. It has both appeal to tourists, and it has ultra-fresh produce that that the locals crave. You would think that, aside from the tourists, the market would tend to draw an older crowd, used to a bygone era when you walked to a local market to get your produce for the day- but surprisingly, the crowd in the market is surprisingly young. Perhaps, old traditions like a central fresh market may become common again.