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I didn't mean to leave this long before posting again, this month ended up being much busier than expected with searching for a house to buy and other events (including my birthday which I spent with friends in Oxford and ate at Benares, which I may write more about at a later date). I returned from a wonderful trip in America in late July, one that I am sure to remember for the rest of my life. Since then we've had intermittent net access thanks to our provider which finally seems to be fixed, but beyond that I've felt a little reluctant to return to the online world. Perhaps I've just needed a break or maybe it is something more than that, but I do want to document this most memorable trip here.
I loved spending time in Seattle, the city will always be close to my heart. We were able to meet up with friends and ate some excellent food (thank you to those who message/emailed me recommendations; we weren't able to get through all of them on this trip, but I will be returning on my own more often in the future so now I will know where to go!) The city is so damn photogenic so it gets its own post, I will post about the rest of the trip in the next few days. I hope that all of you have had a good summer so far, I look forward to catching up. :)

We stayed at Hotel Max as we lucked across a good deal. It had a high hipster quotient, which I guess should be expected, and it seemed to be full with random touring bands. The decor was somewhat bizarre and like most fashion hotels it was more style over function, but overall the beds were comfy and the rooms quiet which is all we need. The lobby with the painting of the nude couple could have been elegant, but then they had to go and ruin with it with the wall pictured below the cut. ;)

Hotel Max

"I know, let's throw everything on the wall with no restraint whatsoever..."

the doors to our rooms

We had some pretty superb sounding recommendations for breakfast places, but none of them were within walking distance of our hotel so we settled on Lola just by looking at the menu in passing. It turned out to be such a good find that we ate there again the next morning and even for dinner before our flight back to London. I like to watch the expression on people's faces when I tell them about the octopus and belly pork dish, "octopus, for breakfast!?" but it was seriously delicious. The omelette was packed with crab and the sausages as dense as the ones from Lincolnshire.

Philip & Jackie on our first morning in Seattle, they didn't look nearly this perky by the last day of our trip.

pacific octopus, belly pork, giant beans, green garlic, ramps, sunny egg ~ dungeness crab
and fontina cheese omelette with pork-maple sausage, mashed garlic-fried potatoes, toast

grilled salmon sandwich

During the 80's my mother worked at a vintage clothes store in Pike Place called Dreamland. While she worked she put me in a nearby daycare, but they ended up being abusive towards me and when she realized she switched me to this daycare at the market itself. It was the best daycare ever, when the kids couldn't sleep we were given back massages to relax (something that would never be allowed these days) and I had my first "boyfriend" and kiss at age 5 here, I even remember his name was Benjamin.. ha. ;)

best daycare ever

firefighter competition

elegantly attired French woman strolling through Pioneer Square

postcard shot

Thank you to interimlover for recommending Matt's in the Market for dinner; the food and service were excellent. The head waiter sat us down at a table near the door, but he didn't appear satisfied with this so he offered us cocktails while we waited for a better table near the window overlooking the market (at first the Londoner side of me thought this might be a ploy to get us to spend money on cocktails while making it sound as though they were free, but I was pleasantly surprised that they weren't on the bill). My scallops were perfectly cooked and Jackie's octopus in charmoula was probably the best dish of the meal. The red wine was memorable and I searched for a bottle to take back to Jean-Pierre to attempt to prove to him that good wine exists outside of France, but it proved impossible to find. The one thing that's always difficult for us to get used to in American restaurants is how quickly people eat and leave, this is an alien concept to most Europeans. We are very used to spending many hours talking and eating a meal and even though the restaurant was full when we arrived we ended up being the last people to finish; the staff were very good to us and not impatient at all, they sat at a table nearby and enjoyed drinks with their friends while they waited.

dry gin martini

philip ponders the menu ~ grilled octopus with fingerling potatoes, charmoula, lemon

piquillo rellenos - salt cod, potato, olive oil, piquillo peppers, chimichurri ~
seared sea scallops, potato-fennel-leek hash, piquillo pepper-jamon serrano vinaigrette

empty restaurant

I finally got to see the Rem Koolhaas desgined Seattle Public Library in person and once again it was an example of style over function in parts, but overall I loved it (even if it's confusing as hell and Philip and I got lost when we went off exploring). Also they really should have reconsidered using metal for the staircases as I was wearing shoes with wooden heels and I was acutely aware of my every clanging step echoing through the building.

the womb room

On our last day in Seattle Macsen had a meeting at Microsoft so they picked him up downtown and took him to the mothership in Redmond. The rest of us occupied ourselves with further exploration, then we waited in the lobby of the Westin for him to return. He came back with two of his Microsoft contacts, Will and James, who are Australian but live in London (he's met Will before in London). They bought us all drinks courtesy Microsoft so I had a few lemon drop martinis and we chatted for an hour or so, they're friendly guys and they said we should meet up again when they return to London. After we parted ways we had just enough time to have a quick dinner at Lola before flying out.

lemon drop martini, courtesy of microsoft


slow roasted leg of lamb, preserved lemon marmalade
~ tagine of naturally raised goat, dates, pistachio, cinnamon flatbread

The tagines were incredibly good; my goat dish in particular which fell off the bone.
As good as the homecooked tagines I ate in Morocco.

Current Music:
Vaccine - Disappearing Acts
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On August 21st, 2008 04:17 pm (UTC), localcharacter commented:
Yay Seattle! and thanks for all the yummy pictures.

I'm glad you got to Matt's; it's one of my favorite places, when I can afford it. I wandered in one day, I guess 11 years ago now, having been inexplicably drawn by the name. Matt himself is a very friendly guy who will happily guide you to dishes and pairings you wouldn't have thought of.
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On August 22nd, 2008 12:53 am (UTC), nomi replied:
It was a good place, we would certainly return. I'm surprised I had never been there before with it being around for so long. :) From his manner we at first thought the maitre d' was Matt, but we weren't sure. Does he have long hair?
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On August 22nd, 2008 12:59 am (UTC), localcharacter replied:
Usually, yes: long blond hair, plus a goatee or something like that, kind of a small guy. Might've been him!
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On August 21st, 2008 04:47 pm (UTC), heuteistmeintag commented:
elegantly attired French woman strolling through Pioneer Square

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On August 22nd, 2008 12:44 am (UTC), nomi replied:
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On August 21st, 2008 06:48 pm (UTC), zanfur commented:
Well, blast! I'm a Seattle local, and would have loved to show you around town. Oh well, perhaps next time.
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On August 22nd, 2008 12:33 am (UTC), nomi replied:
Thanks for the offer. :) I lived in Seattle as a child and have been visiting for most of my life so I know the areas fairly well, but when it comes to where is actually good to eat these days I am out of the loop.
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On August 21st, 2008 09:35 pm (UTC), somabrak commented:
I rarely read full entries on LJ any more, but I never skip a single one of yours, even after all of these years. :)

When I visited Seattle a few years ago, I stood outside of that library for a few minutes waiting for someone, and debated whether to go in. Really wish I had, as I could see the colorful walls from the outside, and it looked like something I should see. Regrets!
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On August 22nd, 2008 12:20 am (UTC), nomi replied:
I know what you mean, I think that is essentially what most livejournal users do these days (I can't blame them in this environment of information overload, I do it too). Even so it is good to know there's some interest here still, after all this time. :)

If you return to Seattle definitely step in, just beware of getting lost.. it took Philip and I several trips up escalators, down the elevator, and wandering through a labyrinth of rooms before we found Jackie again and made for the exit before we became even more disorientated. ;)

Edited at 2008-08-22 12:24 am (UTC)
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On August 21st, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC), crankmagnet76 commented:
Heh heh! We stayed at Hotel Max on our last trip there. I found the Intimacy Kit very amusing. Pity it was only a business trip :)
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On August 22nd, 2008 12:07 am (UTC), nomi replied:
haha yeah, Macsen said "there's a dildo on the minibar" which isn't the first thing you expect to hear upon entering a hotel room. ;) I read one review where they said it looked like someone had opened the box, used it, and put it back in. *shudder*
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On August 22nd, 2008 01:09 pm (UTC), gael commented:
I've been looking forward to your USA travelogue! :) Excellent pix and prose as always. Is that salmon sandwich from the place we used to swing by when you were being fitted for your wedding gown? Shun gave me a tour of the new library when I was there, as well as the new justice center, which is surprisingly groovy. If I worked nearby, I'd eat my sack lunch there from time to time. xo! :)
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On August 30th, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
Yes, same place and I think the same guy working there.. he didn't remember me this time though. ;)

Never seen the new justice center, didn't even know there was one.. yet another thing to add to my ever-growing list of things to do in Seattle. Next time I'd love to get together with Shun as well, I miss him!

xo. :)
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On August 23rd, 2008 11:13 am (UTC), jameswotsit commented:
i feel hungry after this post. having said that, octopus, for breakfast? nice read, i love travel posts.

i found your journal because i did a search the other night for yann tiersen (or was it sigur ros?). i've added you, hope you don't mind.
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On August 30th, 2008 11:07 pm (UTC), nomi replied:
I guess it also helps if you like octopus in the first place. ;)

& hello, good taste in music! I don't mind at all, nice to meet you. :)
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