Wednesday, May 22, 2013

One Hundred Thousand Visitors!

We've hit 100,000 visitors! Wow!

When I started this blog three years ago, I had no idea that anyone would actually find and/or this blog. It's fantastic that people are enjoying the blog and I look forward to the next 100,000 visitors!

Thursday, May 09, 2013

A Local's View of the Pike Place Market [2013]

You're planning a trip to Seattle? Great! That means that you'll probably be visiting the Pike Place Market, which is a vibrant and bustling place full of some of the best produce, crafts, bites to eat, and oddities available in Seattle. For more than 100 years, the Pike Place Market has served Seattle and today still draws  about 10,000,000 visitors a year.

Locally known simply as "The Market", the Pike Place Market is truly a special place. Locals and visitors actively use the market year round as a place to visit on the weekend, explore with friends, and to buy fresh produce or amazing fish. I personally love visiting The Market and usually walk through at least once or twice a month, and even more when the weather is nice and I have an excuse to visit. I also have a long history with the market: I got one of my first haircuts at the barbershop (It is still open) on the lower level and I've been regularly visiting the market for over 20 years. It's a constantly evolving place that has appeal for nearly anyone. It is easily one of the top "do-not-miss" attractions in Seattle.

However, the treasure that is The Market today was almost destroyed in the 1960s. In 1963, the "Pike Plaza" development was proposed for the site. It would have been a complete urban renewal of the market, clad in concrete, and focused primarily on business and the automobile. These developments were in style at the time in Seattle: We lost a Carnegie library that was replaced by a modern building; Our train station underwent an underwhelming transformation and was recently restored; I-5 cut through the city like a hot knife; and much more was planned to make Seattle more adapted to the future as it was seen from then.

The Pike Place Market was meant to live on in a new building in the Pike Plaza development, but the budget called for a parking garage that was many times more expensive than the new market replacement. It was also argued at the time that the vendors were what gave the market character and that the buildings don't matter (never mind that the vendors evolved with the buildings). In 1971, the market was saved from such a dramatic and complete revision by the public, who voted to renovate instead of devastate. Instead, the buildings were renovated and restored with an eye on historic preservation. The result is one of the most famous and popular public markets in the US. But what about the market today? Keep on reading after the break!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

The New King Street Station in Seattle!

The King Street Station first opened its doors for the public in 1906, but the 107 year old station recently reopened the doors to the past. Seattle's main train station has undergone a fantastic renovation and restoration to its original splendor after a modernist refurbishment in the 1960s or 1970s. The results make the Kind Street Station Seattle's newest destinations for visitors and a place for locals to rediscover.

Situated south of Seattle' business district and adjacent to both the stadium district and Pioneer Square, the King Street Station has long served the traveling public. The station was designed by member of the team that designed Grand Central Station in New York and was a classic station. The station serves the Sounder commuter service that connects Everett, Seattle, and Tacoma; trains headed to Vancouver BC and Portland;  and destinations further afield such as Chicago via the Empire Builder Line or Los Angeles via the Coast Starlight. But things have not always been well for the station.

Take a look:

Photo: Joe Mabel via WikiMedia

Photo: Beaster725 via Flickr
The "modernization" in the 1960s or 1970s left the station looking miserable. These photos photo what it looked like just a few years ago. It was a step up from the greyhound bus station in town, but not by much. The dropped ceiling at the top hid the original detail of the building which has now been restored. That low rectangular window in the picture above is visible on the left of the photo below.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Lay's "Do Us a Flavor" Review and Round Up (Plus Blueberry Flavored Lay's Chips from China)

In the last few months, Lay's has put out three new flavors as part of a "Do Us a Flavor" campaign to pick a a new permanent addition to the Lay's line up. We've seen in the past some pretty crazy flavors like Crab or Kebab flavored chips in Russia, but these new ones are pretty uniquely American: Chicken and Waffles, Sriracha, and Garlic Bread. How do they stack up? I found a batch of all three in a gas station, so let's take a look!

Roscoe would raise an eyebrow at this.
First up, Chicken and Waffles! This one is actually one of my favorites, although it wasn't universally agreed on. The chips are sweet like syrup with a more subdued fried chicken flavor in the background. It's a very different flavor from what you usually get with chips: Salty and sweetie as opposed to one of the more typical pairings.

Cheesy garlic bread had a relatively flat flavor and didn't stand out against the others. Even the lady at the gas station warned that these were the least favorite flavor by general consensus. The chips had a salty and almost sour cream flavor to go with the garlic. Not exactly the best.

Finally, we have the favored flavor going in: Sriracha flavored chips. They were starkly red, but ended up being a very mildly spicy chip. Overall, it was very good and by the end of the evening this bowl was completely empty. In fact, all of them were... except for the garlic bread.

The last flavor that was new to me was the classic BLT. Bacon is in right now for many people and this was a good chip. You could taste all of the different flavors, including tomato, lettuce, and bacon (of course). And I do love me a BLT...

If I had to declare a winner for this chip taste off, I would probably call it for the sriracha or chicken & waffles. Both were good and the chicken & waffles is something that you don't expect... like blueberry flavored Lay's potato chips. 

Yes. They exist. Or at least they did. These are from Shanghai where I came across them and had to try them. And you know what? They're actually pretty good! Sour, sweet, and salty. The next time I'm there I'll have to try the cucumber flavor...