Thanksgiving for Two

fallAs we work our way through November, the first of the big holidays is right around the corner.  As lovers of food and wine, Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays.  But this year, our original plans fell through and Thanksgiving will be just the two of us.  So, do we cook the big turkey?  Indulge in a fancy meal at a restaurant, or perhaps a little of both.


A Little About The Vintage Gourmet


Hiking in the Cascades

The Vintage Gourmet blog has been around for a few years – owned by Jen (me) and Eric – sometimes referred to JenEric.  It started as an online photo album and journal of our move from California to Seattle, and the adventures we were having in our new home.  It originally debuted as Seattle Tales.  Our target audience at the time was our family and friends as we embarked on our new journey in the Pacific Northwest.  Eric has done the majority of the writing and the photography.  I mostly posed for photos and did some proofreading.

As we settled in to normal life, The Vintage Gourmet blog started to collect dust.  We’d post here and there Continue reading

We Will Miss You Seattle…

Jen and I left Seattle three months ago for a fantastic opportunity in California. And while I can say with all certainty that it was a sound career decision, it has come at a cost. We spent 3 wonderful years in the Pacific Northwest and have very fond memories of the scenery and people who made this area arguably among the best places we have every called “home”. Simply put, we miss it tremendously.

Fortunately our beloved city by the Sound is a short two-and-a-half hour flight from Burbank Airport. In addition, we have a wonderfully supportive friend and family network in Cali – so I suppose it is important to take a moment and recognize all that we are thankful for. Nevertheless, we still find ourselves longing for that spur-of-the-moment ferry ride to neighboring Bainbridge Island for wine tasting at Eleven, dinner at Hitchcock or an afternoon beer and burger at the Public House. And who can forget our favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant Serafina (miss you guys) next to one of the best damn cocktail bars in city: Cicchetti. Or how about our afternoon strolls to the ballpark or to the Clink for an exciting Sounders soccer match. Sunday afternoons in the quaint and bustling Ballard scene or a leisurely stroll along the waterfront in Fremont.  Honestly, I could go on-and-on! Continue reading

Seattle Snow Storm – Jan 2012

The weatherman said it was coming. I wasn’t a believer and vowed not to give way to the hype. After all, everyone loves a snow day! So the best thing to do is not get your hopes up. But then again, the thought of kids racing down the hill on sleds stirred thoughts of classic Americana, Norman Rockwell style, with puffs of warmth billowing from chimneys and laughter echoing in the streets! I can just see it now, visions of the Saturday Evening Post right here on our street. Nah, put yourself in check. I mean, it seemed highly unlikely that we would see 6 inches of snow in the hood. And that’s when I made my bold prediction to Jen: “It’s NOT going to snow”.

We awoke Wednesday morning and rubbed the sleep from our eyes. Instantly the thought rushed into my head, could it be? I slipped on my PJ’s, socks and slippers. Brrr, it is quite cold in here. A few cracks, pops and stretches later, I made my way to the window. Why was it so dark? Perhaps I had misread the time? Strange that I could’t see out of the skylight. Oh, perhaps because it was completely blanketed with snow! I quickly moved to the next window and instantly realized that my doubt in the weatherman was completely off-base. And by 9:00 AM, the streets were alive with fellow Seattleites frolicking in the winter playground below! It was at this moment that the day was officially labeled Snow Day 2012!

We made our way downstairs, gulped down some breakfast and cup of coffee, wrapped ourselves in warmth and charged out the door. The sky was clear and the snow was really white! I know that sounds funny, but considering that I am a California kid, it is not something I am accustomed to. It’s particularly interesting how a layer of snow can make everything appear so uniform, so clean and so perfect. Something about the consistency of color appeals to the eye, hiding the blemishes of the old neighborhood and giving life back to the sparse trees. There is a certain nostalgia that emerges and just about everyone is captivated by it. Of course, we live in an area where snowfall is very uncommon. I can understand how those who have to live in these conditions with more regularity have a dramatically different view.

My first peek outdoors on day 1
 We’re at the base of the ski slope!
 Looking down our street from the top of the hill.
Jen looking rather cute in the backyard.

It seemed after that first day the magic would leave us as quickly as it came. We hadn’t seen any additional snowfall and the weatherman was foretasting overnight rain. I wasn’t about to question him twice. I suppose the neighbors heard the same news as they sledded their way to pure exhaustion. Finally, the streets fell silent and we prepared ourselves for the daily grind. All-in-all, it was a good Wednesday.

Much to our surprise, the next day brought more snow…much more snow! It came down from early morning to the late afternoon. At first the cold weather conditions kept sledders indoors, but as the wind subsided and the conditions improved, there were just as many people out on the second day as the first. So I decided to take a break from work and go for a walk with Jen. Here are a few shots from our jaunt:

At the very top of our hill on 71st Street.
On the way to Starbucks.
The big ski slope at 65th Street.
 This dude was moving!
 And there he goes – long way back up!
Up on Phinney Ridge, making our way to lunch.

We did have a good laugh at our cat’s expense. Maggie is always trying to find a way to sneak outside. She’s an indoor cat with limited skills so her outside time is infrequent and monitored. Well on this particular occasion with snow about 5 inches deep on the deck, I opened the door and took a step back. Wasting no time she leaped out the door burying all four paws deep in the frigged snow! Just as soon as she hit the deck she was back inside with a look of shock on her face. With a whip of the tail she turned, gave us a nasty look, chattered off some kitty expletives and scampered off. People: 1, Kitty: 0.

And so it went. Lunch on the ridge, a warm afternoon coffee at Starbucks and a nice inviting home to thaw our bones. Plus 2 full days of snow-filled fun! Sure I could be back on the Central Coast of California in 70 degree weather, but then again I would have missed a life experience that I’ll remember for a good time to come. Thanks Seattle, much appreciated!

Last photo taken on Thursday night of our Backyard.

To see more Seattle Snowmageddon pictures, click here >>

First Post in 2011 – We Bought a House!

How time flies! I suppose the biggest news in our lives is that we recently bought a house (more pictures posted soon, we promise). It’s a lovely 1925 Bungalow in the Phinney Ridge neighborhood, roughly 5 miles north of downtown Seattle. While we will miss the hustle & bustle of the city, we are quickly (and quite happily) getting used to the down-tempo-city-neighborhood feel. I suppose it just fits our lifestyle a little better.

Fortunately there are some really great spots within walking distance of our front door. These smaller venues give off a more local feel as opposed to the corporate chains & tourist spots that are more prevalent in the downtown area. Another perk, the prices are much more reasonable which means we can save up for that kitchen remodel we’re planning later this year – woot woot!

Our new place is also close to a fantastic little gem that is Green Lake. There is a 3-mile loop around this lake with really beautiful views of the water. The path is lined with classic Seattle homes residing in the adjoining neighborhoods, including Green Lake, Wallingford and our very own Phinney Ridge. Plus there are nice little restaurants, cafe and pubs along the way providing much needed “nourishment” during our “exercise” outings.

This morning I received an email from a co-worker which merely read “wow” followed by a link. I thought our readers might find a little humor in this short newsclip!

Thanksgiving in Seattle

The weather was cool, football was on the television and we had a full day of good food and relaxation ahead of us. We had done our shopping as well as our homework and had a solid plan for a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner! Now I must admit that it was a little strange being away from family during such a festive time of year, but we made up our mind to serve a helluva bird-day feast and I’d say that our dinner lived up to the most pretentious of any food connoisseur’s critique!

Our turkey breast marinated in sage, rosemary and thyme (does it get any more traditional than that?) along with a little olive oil, garlic and lemon juice to add our own flair. The stuffing was enhanced with sausage, butter, sautéed onion and celery giving it a little something extra that paired very well with the bird. We topped our meal off with sweet potato spears immersed in brown sugar, butter and maple syrup as well as fresh asparagus roasted to perfection! Our evening was complimented with a few tasty Eggnog Martinis to warm things up and a lovely Baileyana Pinot Noir paired with our feast!

For those that have not visited us here in the Emerald City, here are a few shots of our apartment to give you a feel for our surroundings…

Dining Room Table set for two!
 Warm and inviting home just perfect for our Thanksgiving experience
 A very bountiful dinner
An after dinner game of Backgammon over wine!

In the end we found a way to make our Thanksgiving holiday homey and warm. It just goes to show that a little love and attention can go a very long way. It was a day that neither of us will forget anytime soon!

Gobble Gobble!!!

Seattle Snow Storm – Nov 2010

Jen took this great shot of a loan pedestrian braving the elements

It’s been 11 months since we decided to make the Pacific Northwest our home and we have done our very best to enjoy everything this beautiful area has to offer. Now, with nearly a full Winter under our belt (Jan 2010 – Nov 2010) we are excited to celebrate our first full year as Seattle residents in early January 2011. Restaurants, sporting events and walkabouts have helped us gain a full appreciation for our new home; and now it’s time to embrace the official start of the holiday season with a firsthand taste of true Winter conditions! The first snow storm of the year dropped over 4 inches and we just had to get out and take a peek.

So we wrapped ourselves in Winter armor worthy of a frigid adventure, grabbed our cameras and hit the streets. It was 9:00 PM on 11/22/10 and we were at the height of the storm with winds whipping through the city, tugging at our scarves and wool caps testing our will. It’s interesting to witness snow in these conditions as it offers a rare opportunity to see wind patterns weave through the buildings, gusting along the streets following the contours of the city. We even managed to pull off our gloves long enough to snap a few photos to share!

 Looking down from our balcony at the Metropolitan Tower
 Maggie taking in the snow sights
 Snow covering our balcony at the Metropolitan Tower, Seattle
 Nordstrom sign weathering the storm in downtown Seattle
Footprints show how deep the snow was on our deck
 Downtown view from our balcony showing snow-top roofs in Seattle
 Windswept streets of Seattle during November 2010 snow storm

A short time later we found ourselves “cozying up” in a local bar ordering a few cocktails and enjoying the storm behind a barrier of windows! Oliver’s was just the place to take in the sites while warming our spirits.

Rumor has it that more snow storms are on the horizon; we say bring them on, there is nothing like a true winter holiday season! Cheers!!!

Angels Over Our City

Every year Seattle hosts Seafair, a collection of summer celebrations that span late July through early August. The event culminates into a three-day weekend extravaganza on Lake Washington featuring hydroplane races and a screaming Blue Angels air show. Turns out this festival originated in 1950 and has been a cornerstone of summer life for Satellites ever since – huh, who knew!

I was fortunate enough to experience the first day of this festival from the deck of a 120′ yacht. Ah no, it wasn’t mine, but for a small town boy it was quite a treat. We had front row seats to the hydroplane qualification rounds (boats with jet engines strapped to them) which were amazingly quiet considering they reached “bat outta hell” speeds. But the best show was performed by the Blue Angels as they executed an aerial ballet that was nothing short of jaw-dropping. I was awestruck as the planes approached near supersonic speeds and passed just a few hundred yards in front of us – I have never seen anything moving that fast pass by so close. I actually saw the vapor cone (yeah, I just used the words “vapor cone” in a sentence) which apparently occurs when an object is traveling at or above the speed of sound – or so say the genius minds at Wikipedia! Needless to say, it was an experience that I won’t soon forget.

Saturday we didn’t make it down to the water (the weather was just, well, bad) but spotted the planes as they climbed out of their hair-raising maneuvers to gently glide above the Seattle skyline. So we did what we should have done and sat on our balcony with cocktails in hand and snapped a few shots to share!

Blue Angels circling from our balcony!
Racing over Queen Anne!

Fortunately Jen and I managed to make it down to the banks of Lake Washington for the Sunday installment. The weather wasn’t the best so the Angels performed their “low show”. It actually worked out quite nice despite our best attempt at procrastination, as we left the house 30 minutes prior, found a spot and caught the whole demonstration without a hitch! I guess no one can say that city livin’ doesn’t have its perks…

The Angels in formation
Angels performing their finale maneuver – the “Flower”
My first video upload! I’m sure you’re impressed.

Beauty in Contrast

Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge

For those of you that have read our previous posts, you know that I have a 30 minute commute each day to and from work. You may also recall that I cross Lake Washington each day over the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge or the Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge depending on traffic. But you may not know that these are the 2nd and 3rd longest floating bridges in the world, surpassed only by the Hood Canal Bridge which lies roughly 30 miles Northeast of Bellevue here in Washington. While I have not crossed Hood Canal, if the views are anywhere as specular as Evergreen and Lacey, then a trip is well warranted!

When the sun is out, the mountains and surrounding trees radiate vivid colors of amazing contrasts.  On stormy days the surface of the lake becomes a chaotic display of colliding wind swells forming peaks that seem to be in perfect concert with one another. Since both routes are literally floating on the water, crossing the bridge gives you the sensation of sailing along the water line which lies just a few feet below the rush of traffic. Views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains make up a remarkable backdrop with Mount Rainier and Mount Baker visible on clear days. The University of Washington’s Husky Stadium and adjoining Union Bay are also viewable along the Evergreen Bridge.

It is a bit difficult to snap pictures while driving at 50 MPH in traffic, but I did manage to get a few shots from the car. In the pic above you are looking southeast at the shores of Mercer Island on the left and Seward Park is the darker landmass on the right. The shot at the top of the page is looking due east toward Mercer Island – these shots were taken in close sequence as you can see the same truck in both photos.  Clearly a gorgeous day, I will make sure and capture and post a similar shot during stormy conditions so you can see just how much different things look; equally beautiful, but different nonetheless.

I generally take Lacey on the way to work and then Evergreen on the way home.  This not only affords me a change of scenery, but typically makes the trip in to work a bit faster. On the way home as I round the bend on I5 South into Seattle the views are equally spectacular. I will stop soon and try to capture the skyline at night just to get a feel for the grandeur of it all. I must say it is comforting to know that somewhere in the heart of that metropolis lays a very comfortable and serene home; I guess that is yet another example of how the contrasts in life can often deliver the most memorable impressions. This is certainly no exception.

More to come…

McClung Style

Street view of Pioneer Square

As Super Bowl weekend approached, both Jen and I wrestled with who to root for. Manning, brother of Eli and commercial comic extraordinaire, definitely holds a place in our heart. I mean, how can you not like the guy? And then there are the Saints of New Orleans, still recovering from one of the worst national disasters in US history and led by a grizzly quarterback that has a look and style of play that takes you back to those ruff & tumble QBs of the 70s. So the scene was set and it was to be the highlight of our weekend – or so we thought!

Friday was a night in, with cocktails, city lights, music and laughter. The week was behind us and it was time to take in some relaxation. We recently purchased a nice little compact bar from Crate & Barrel and it was time to put this little bad boy to work. Somewhere around our fifth Vodka Cranberry / glass of wine, we decided to find out if Elton John and Billy Joel would be performing near Seattle anytime soon (there is a longer store to this that I won’t bore you with). A quick Internet search later and there they were, the tandem was to appear at Key Arena in the Seattle Center, a short 10 minute Monorail trip from our apartment. Jen sprang into action navigating multiple ticket vendor sites, checking prices, comparing this one with that one until about an hour later we closed the deal on two eTickets. In less than 24 hours we brainstormed the idea, purchased our passes and secured plans to watch two legends engage in a fierce piano dual that promised to be nothing short of spectaclular!

Saturday, like many weekend days, was an adventure that wasn’t planned until our feet hit the street. We decided to explore urban transportation by jumping the SoundTransit Ligh Rail to Pioneer Square. This historic district of the city hosts Seattle’s first Skyscraper in Smith Tower. The worn brick streets and old buildings can at first appear a bit “seedy” (like the classic looking alleyway pictured to the right), but after one’s eyes adjust to the surroundings you quickly realize that the area is quite beautiful and picturesque. A wide assortment of traditional pubs and restaurants line the busy streets that host an eclectic mix of city dwellers and tourists alike. Patrons browse shops tucked in historic buildings adorned with iconic advertisements of days past. The infamous Seattle Underground Tour is offered at a fair price; without a doubt something we plan to do soon. We stopped for a fabulous lunch at Collin’s Pub while sunning ourselves in the front window as we engaged in some entertaining people watching! Shortly after taking in a rather large lunch we strolled home through the streets of Pioneer Square, the Financial District and Pike Place Market as we made our home to prepare for the evening’s event.

Click to Enlarge – Elton is on the Left, Billy is on the Right

Well let’s start by saying this: if you have an opportunity to take in this concert, we highly recommend that you do. This is a show that certainly lived up to the hype. The arrangement gives the audience an opportunity to see these icons perform together as well as on their own, with the show lasting nearly 4 hours! At one point toward the end, the 60-year old rockers stood side-by-side to acknowledge a crowd that roared with applause, and we couldn’t help but to notice that Billy actually appeared shorter than Elton! How could that be? Sure enough, we looked into it and Elton towers over Billy by 2″ at 5’7″ and 5’5 respectively. You know what they say; good things come in small packages. They do say that, right?

Anyway, after the 4-hour concert we had a nice light meal at the Palace Kitchen, one of many local Tom Douglas restaurants in the area. On a side note, all 6 of his eateries are well-known as some of the best Seattle has to offer – many of which are right around the corner from us here at the Metropolitan Tower. We shared a few appetizers including the grilled bavette steak, dungeness crab with avocado and a delicious “plin” a piedmontese style ravioli and called it a night.

Sunday morning arrived and game day was upon us. We thought about the various venues that we had to choose from, and after failing to get a table at Fox Sports we settled on the Tap House Grill. The food was great, service was good and we relaxed and watched the entire game from start to finish. Incidentally this was the very first restaurant we visited back when we took our trip up to the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia in 2008. With that we watched the Saints march to victory and while we celebrated for American’s newest team, our heart sank for Payton. But we all know that will not be his last shot to win another ring!

And so came to close another fantastic weekend with great weather and adventure. One month in and we are truly loving it, and the best part is that there is so much more to explore. Stay tuned…