This weekend we got away without getting too far away. J booked a weekend at the The Watertown in the University District. At under six miles from our house, we were never far from home. One of our extra long walks once took us from home to the U District. It was nice to be in familiar surroundings yet explore new places.
Friday evenings the hotel offers complimentary wine tastings for guests. Last Friday they offered two tasty choices - Carabella's Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley in Oregon and Tomassi Valpolicello Classico Superiore. Both were really tasty and affordable (assuming the hotel doubled the price of a bottle...a quick web search verified this assumption). The next morning we hit the breakfast bar. It was really good. However, they served only Starbucks drip coffee. It's awful, plain and simple. We tried it Friday evening after wine tasting and thought we had simply reached the bottom of the pot. However, Saturday morning we knew it was just bad coffee. Strong in an unpleasant way and burnt in flavor. This is pretty typical of Starbucks coffee. If you must go to Starbucks, and please try not to go, stick with the fluffy drinks - the drip sucks. So the first thing we did both mornings after breakfast was walk somewhere else for coffee.
It was dry Saturday morning so we hit the pavement. Bulldog News had the answer to our coffee woes on Saturday morning. Plus, we took advantage of our Chinook Book coupon for some free fair trade coffee beans. Bulldog has a pretty good selection of beans. Their own coffee that they serve was OK. Could have been the barista. My rice latte was so hot I couldn't drink it for several minutes. There is no point to heating the drink to that extreme. Give me a break, I want to drink it the same day I buy it and I would like to actually taste the ingredients. But they have a fabulous publication selection.
We hit the University District's Farmer's Market which is still up and running through February. Only a handful of vendors but the swiss chard we saw was beautiful (keep reading for the swiss chard recipe from the Cafe Flora Cookbook we used on Sunday night). The Ave. is seedy, let's just make that clear right away. It's ironic that such a prestigious university sits so close, in addition to the affluence of the surrounding neighborhood, but man oh man, The Ave. has some desperate souls shuffling it's sidewalk. I suppose one could compare it to Broadway but the folks on Broadway appear more down on their luck. Sure, Broadway has lots of drugs and homeless youth - so does The Ave. But The Ave. seems to have the section of that population that was too down on their luck even for Broadway. Crazed people. People ready to snap any second mingling with college kids from upper middle class parents and the general urban hipsters and the elderly and the rest of us.