An Exciting Adventure in Pike Place Market

An Exciting Adventure in Pike Place Market

Back in March, we took a trip to visit friends and ended up spending an absolutely fantastic day in Seattle. We filled the morning with a food tour featuring Pike Place Market and the afternoon with segways, which turned out to be way more awesome than we anticipated.

Since then, my husband and I have been talking about things we’d like to do if we got a chance to go back. Our summers are busy. We usually get a lot of visitors because (as I’ve mentioned) we live in wine country. And when the province isn’t on fire, our area is absolutely gorgeous.

But we managed to find a week could visit with our Seattle friends before summer’s end. We had to squeeze it between the husband’s latest round of teacher training and our friend’s preparation for the D23 Expo – but we managed.

Because all four of us had an action-packed summer up to that point, we planned almost nothing for the visit, simply allowing it to play out according to our whims. Luckily, the hubs and I did manage to hop over to Seattle so that we could spend an afternoon wandering Pike Place Market – the top of our wish list.

The goal was simply to explore.

Pike Place is magical. That might sound cheesy, but it’s been my experience. Every time we go, even if we just pass through, we notice or experience something new. Cities tend to be static places. Businesses set down roots and people are inevitably drawn to the ones they most enjoy or find most rewarding to visit.

Markets are special, though. Even if they have permanent establishments, they also tend to have rotating spaces where stalls might change on a weekly or monthly basis. This makes them a liminal space, in constant flux. You wander inside and you never know what you might encounter. That’s what makes it fun.

Unlike our last visit, we set off without a plan. We chose an entry point to the market and decided we would simply enter any store or stall that drew our attention. Since we had spent a lot of time wandering the upper portions of the market, we headed straight for the lower floors this time. And it did not disappoint.

We found ourselves in a book store that seemed to feature Asian mythological beasts – especially cats. It was nestled among several small collection stores which offered baubles from various areas. One had several Japanese dishes and anime figurines. It’s easy to imagine these places are selling nothing but junk. Yet there’s an energy in that part of the market, as if each of the wares is just waiting to lure the right person into the shop so they can take home their latest treasure.

We started in familiar territory.

In order to catch our ferry, we skipped breakfast. So we quickly found ourselves craving food. We returned to the upper level in search of bites we could share and found ourselves outside Beechers Cheese. We visited this place during our trip in March and had been hoping to catch a lull. The line was short, so we decided to go for it. After all, if you’re lactose intolerant and you’re going to splurge on cheese, it may as well be the world’s best mac and cheese!

With our taste buds still buzzing, we headed farther down the street. I had been hoping to grab a piroshky, having fallen in love with them on the food tour. But when we arrived, we noticed that all of them were quite large. And probably quite filling, given their contents. Not wanting to fill up on a single dish, we moved on (with the promise to come back if we were still hungry later).

We ended up diverting to find a bathroom and, on the way, we stumbled upon a dumping place. It was there we ended up doubling back. We ordered eight dumplings smothered in two very different but equally delectable sauces and perched briefly at the bar to devour them.

Though we spent a little more time wandering the restaurants along the street, we didn’t end up eating much else. Our plan had been to order small sizes from a bunch of places, but it seems the market is more geared toward full meals. (Or at least the part we ended up in seemed that way.)

My husband quickly adapted his plan, however. With our stomachs momentarily satisfied, we headed toward the craft and open market portion of Pike Place, where my husband hoped to find samples. We were not disappointed.

We allowed our interests to guide us.

I realize this post might be a lot more interesting if it had pictures. But my husband and I were both so engrossed in our activities that we forgot to take any. Though we did grab plenty of business cards.

Growing up, one of my favorite yearly activities was the Selinsgrove Street Fair. It happened every year at homecoming. They would close the main street in town and line it with craft and food stands. As a teenager, I spent all day wandering up and down the street, eating and making sure I checked the wares at every stall.

Wandering the Pike Place craft market was kind of like that but on steroids. It is HUGE. And there are so many amazing crafts to choose from! We collected cards and websites from several different stands. (We’re planning to move soon, so we’re trying not to accumulate a lot of extra stuff to move.) But my goodness, are we lucky we escaped without emptying the bank account!

There are so many extraordinary things to choose from in Pike Place. I found at least five leather-bound journals I’d love to have. A stand that made cute stuffed creatures (named after a character from my favorite book no less). And some beautiful printed photography we’re planning to buy when this whole house thing gets sorted out.

And though it took a sharp eye, my husband found plenty of samples to satisfy his craving.

We tasted everything we could.

There are so many amazing things in Pike Place Market that it’s hard to make sure I mention them all. We found some truly amazing berry jams and spent at least five minutes sampling the various combos. It took an incredible act of willpower not to buy one of each. Some of the combinations seemed strange at first, but it turns out fruit and ginger taste fantastic!

Wandering a little farther we found ourselves at Pappardelle’s where we got to try a sample of chocolate pasta. Everyone we’ve talked to about this thinks the idea is disgusting, but we rather liked it. The chocolate flavor is subtle and we haven’t stopped talking about the idea of a dessert pasta.

The same stand had a selection of oils and dressings out for sample. We agreed on several that were good but ultimately ended up only buying one for our hosts. (Which they loved!)

Moving along, we found ourselves beside the Chukar’s Cherries stand – another we had visited in March. After trying a few of their options, we settled on two packs of dark chocolate covered cherries to bring home.

But perhaps the biggest highlight was the beef jerky stand. I wasn’t able to taste the ‘life changing cheese’ (my lactose pills had worn off by then), but the jerky was outstanding. After a short argument over whether we should go for teriyaki or chili flavor, we walked away with a pack of teriyaki flavored jerky for the road.

Last, but certainly not least, we visited the Market Spice shop where they also mix their own loose leaf teas. Even my husband (the man who once hated tea!) was charmed with their signature cinnamon-orange tea so we brought a box home with us.

There are many secrets left to discover.

We rounded out the afternoon with a trip to Left Bank Books, which is one of the most interesting book stores I’ve ever visited. (And I’ve been to a lot of book stores.) My husband had obviously read about the store online, though it was completely new to me.

I found a ton of books I’d have liked to bring home (if not for that whole moving thing). After taking some time to explore all the sections, we reluctantly headed toward the ferry terminal. But not before we agreed we both would have liked to spend more time in certain sections.

Of course, we made the most of our trip out of the market by exploring more of the market. We ended up in a geek store and, frankly, I’m surprised we escaped in time to actually catch our ferry.

Overall, we had a fantastic time exploring the various craft and food stalls. We even speculated about how fun it would be to rent a small apartment nearby so that we could choose each day’s meals from among the fresh offerings. In the end, we agreed there are a lot more hidden gems to discover among the market’s many halls.

3 Replies to “An Exciting Adventure in Pike Place Market”

  1. That sounds like such a fun day.

    Is there anything like this market where you live?

    Here in Toronto, we have Kensington Market and Saint Lawrence Market. They both seem to have sort-of similar vibes to Pike Place.

    1. Sadly, there isn’t really. We have a farmer’s market in the summer, and we have some pretty interesting restaurant-related areas downtown, but nothing that really showcases the local produce and culture like this. We do have a small festival every Canada day down at the water front, but I always find myself wishing it was bigger. I know there are a lot of local creatives to discover and it feels like they kind of get lost in the shuffle.

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