Seattle - Where Work and Food Meet

August 3rd - The Road to Seattle

The day started strong.  I didn't have problems lugging my carryon on the train.  I changed seats from the middle to the window.  I had chai.  And it seemed like my flight was going to have WiFi!!  I might consider finally paying for WiFi on the plane.  It just seems so futuristic...

Brian was the one that first alerted me to any danger.  "Did you see your flight is delayed??" Huh??  It was barely even 130p. I wasn't checking my on-time record. Actually, chances were I wouldn't have checked before I left anyway, almost ensuring an audible, "Maaaaaaannnnnnnn..." when I checked the departures at O'Hare.  So I checked the AA app.  Sure enough.  The flight out was at 830p.  The delayed time - 930p.  Ok, so I had a little longer to hang out at work.  No biggie.  Luckily, work actually imploded today, so I could have stayed in the office until my departure time and still could have kept going.  But I'm not going to chat about work.  I need a glass of wine first.  And I don't think that's wise on this flight.

I moseyed on down to Pastoral for a Caprese sandwich.  Hey, if I was going to be delayed, I deserved a treat.  Sure, I had a Rice Krispie one in my bag, but still...I needed dinner!! I made it to the Blue Line, then O'Hare.  It was O'Hare where I started to get annoyed with the world.  Or maybe I was just annoyed with people. More specifically, the woman and her devil-spawn.  I'm not kidding.  I felt bad for the woman (especially since she was also pregnant.  She has to be carrying Damien 2 in there), because her kid was losing her mind and was a whirling dervish.  The kid kept running into me and pulling on ropes.  For someone who has no need for children to ever be in my general vicinity, I have a surprisingly high tolerance for kids at airports.  I get that no one is entirely happy at an airport or on a plane.  And kids can't repress that plane-anger as much as adults can.  So they tend to lose their minds.  I feel bad for kids.  I feel bad for parents. But this kid?? Devil. As the kid was being dragged by her mom through the security line (the kid's arm HAD to have been pulled from the socket, cause there was some force behind that drag), the kid saw me looking and her eyes started to sparkle.  It sparkled in the "Oh yeah, I know what I'm doing" kind of way.  I shuddered and never looked back at that kid again.  I don't know where the mom and kid went, but if I saw them on my flight, I'd try to rebook for another day. Cause...damn...

When I got through Security (had the full body scan again.  Score!!  Sure hope I don't end up with Cancer... ;) I headed for my gate.  Sadly, the departure time was supposed to be 930p. Now...950p.  It meant a really late arrival to Seattle.  And I had been up since 4a.  I didn't expect this to go well.

This trip itself was a bit of a surprise.  I didn't think I was going to get on a plane again until...well, the trip I didn't want to jinx.  I had gone to Seattle last year for the Comcast Cablepalooza, but I knew I'd burned through way too many vacation days to be able to take a few extra days for this event.  After two "Sorry.  I can't go." emails to my rep, I was told that this was actually a pretty important event and very work related.  We were learning all about a whole new system in the market.  So I asked Angela...since this is work related, "Can I go to Seattle and not take days off??" The answer was obviously yes as I was sitting at the airport waiting to board my flight. Nicely done.  And thanks to C-K.  The fun part...I doubt Management other than Angela actually knew I was doing this.  Hee...

The flight itself was generally uncomfortable.  Not in a "Spirit Airlines" kind of way (nothing is that uncomfortable), but in an "I've been up since 4a and just want to get to my final destination" kind of way.  Thank god I was able to change to the window seat.  Otherwise, the possibility of sleep would really be difficult. Plus, from the moment I got on the plane, it smelled like feet.  I just prayed the smelly feet weren't mine.

The middle seat was taken by a teenage boy.  Twitchy McGee, as I assume his name to be.  Poor kid just couldn't get comfortable.  He put his head on the tray table.  He tried the head rest. He did his best to curl up into a ball.  The most comfortable he seemed to be was when his head was resting on my shoulder.  Yes, it was that kind of flight.

The bright side for the night was that the driver was easy to find at the airport.  When I checked into the hotel, it was about 130a.  I was tired.  Really tired.

August 4th - The Luncheon and The Palooza

It was an early morning for us.  This was not because the events were super early.  Nope. It was about food.  It's always about food.  I met Kate in the morning for crumpets.  Now, Jodi and I went for crumpets last year.  Jodi wasn't sure what to make of me last year when I said, "There's this crumpet place we HAVE to try.". And who would??  Seriously, who eats crumpets?? And what the hell is a crumpet??  Then, we ate.  Within moments, Jodi and I had devised a plan to bring crumpets to the masses in NY and Chicago.  Possibly through food trucks.  Possibly through storefronts.  So I knew crumpets were necessary.  Luckily, Kate's boyfriend lives in Seattle and they both knew about the Crumpet Shop.  

I walked in and the place was just as I remembered.  I looked at the menu and my eyes began to glaze over.  The possibilities were endless and my mind began racing.  Do I go sweet or savory?? Should I get the groats again??  (psst...groats are like oatmeal...like the buckwheat oatmeal I ate in Moscow...oh, I did love that milk porridge).  I hope they have chai this time.  What time is lunch today??  Ooh!!  I forgot about the scones!!  I decided on chai, a lemon curd and ricotta crumpet and a scone.  Suddenly, Kate and I were devising plan to open NY and Chicago crumpet food trucks.  I took pictures of our food and sent them to Jodi.  I'm pretty sure she was ready to murder me.

Lunch was being served at a place in Seattle that, well, it really doesn't matter where we were. It was a harbor-kind of location.  The Comcast folks wanted to show us a good time, and apparently, "normal" Seattle-fare wasn't going to quite cut it.  They had two Top Chef contestants create a menu for the day.  Love. It.  Now, I don't know most of the Top Chef people.  I watched Top Chef Desserts.  And I don't know if I even finished watching that.  But I know that Top Chef Chefs are there for a reason, so I was all in on them feeding us.

Before I get into the food, I have to make an announcement. I'm not going into what we learned or anything super job-related. Cause, this is very much not the place. I'd hate for my musings (assuming rightly or wrongly that someone is reading this) to get anyone in trouble. Especially me. So this is going to be strictly about the food with a little bit about the party. If you came here thinking it would be an expose on the Media Buying/Planning world, feel free to walk away now. No harm done. Now, back to the food.

We were the first group to arrive to the event. A waiter was ready with white wine and a honey lavender sparkling lemonade. I started with the lemonade. It's not my normal choice, but I had only had about 4 hours of sleep and I was wearing heels. Wine would have not been the best choice. And the lemonade...amazing. Seriously.

Before lunch, we were given the Top Chef Cookbook and got it signed by the two Top Chef contestants. Fabio Viviani and Yigit Pura. I was a little swoony over Yigit. Especially since when he signed my book, he said I had great eyes. Sure, as he put it later, he's a "Gay, Liberal, Buddhist from San Francisco" but it wouldn't be the first or the last time that a Gay Dude would make me swoon. It's kind of my deal.

After the cookbook signing, we were ushered into the dining room for lunch. The wine was poured and the presentation began. During the presentation, both Fabio and Yigit stood up to explain their dishes. Fabio started off with some "naked" gnocchi in a mushroom reduction. I have a love-hate situation with gnocchi. I enjoy it very much, though I don't like potatoes. I think in my brain, I have to be under the impression that gnocchi is not made with potatoes, so I'm actually able to enjoy the pasta. Weird. And this gnocchi was good stuff.

The next course was Fabio's fish course. It was a rockfish with a polenta cake (another love-hate situation...this time, the texture of polenta usually gets me), cherry tomatoes and a vanilla sauce. Yes, vanilla. While I didn't lick the plate at the end, I did get very close. Vanilla!!

Yigit was next on the docket with his dessert. He lost me early on as he discussed the best dark chocolate in the world. "It will change your life." Yeah, Yigit...not so much. I don't care for dark chocolate and it gives me headaches. Though not much stops me from consuming dessert in any form. This dark chocolate was a pudding in a glass with cherries, cookies, chocolate cake and whipped cream. I can't deny that I scooped up everything in the glass. I liked the cookies because it gave the dish a bit of a much-needed crunch.

And with that, the luncheon was over. Kate and I had grand plans about what we could do during the few hours between the lunch and the Palooza. But once we got back to the room, we both collapsed into a heap. She texted me an hour or so later and we just decided to meet at the bar for Happy Hour in a few hours. This was fine with me as I just woke up during an episode of Doctor Who and began watching an episode of Top Gear.

After a while, I fixed my bed hair and went downstairs for Happy Hour, where a very odd thing happened. I didn't want wine. I felt for a moment like the earth had stopped rotating on its axis. I didn't understand this feeling, but as I held the glass of wine in my hand, I realized that I just couldn't do anything with it. I had a few sips, but gravitated more towards my glass of water instead. I may have also drank someone else's glass of water, but no one noticed. I wasn't about to say anything.

We all got into busses and drove to the place where CablePalooza was being held. It was the same as last year, but I couldn't say where exactly it was. No worries. As we pulled up, the University of Washington marching band was there and we waited to go in. Oh, marching band...love it...

Once we were able to go in, we made a loop to see what the networks were doing this year. The Top Chef boys were there to take pictures with, along with two of the Real Housewives (didn't matter who they were as I don't watch the show and they all looked the same) and Wendie Malick. Now Wendie Malick is adorable. She is so very thin, but not as tall as she seems on TV. Maybe it was because I was wearing heels, but she wasn't much taller than I was with her heels. I think she just looks so tall because she is just so thin.

After we made our loop, we waited in a 30+ minute line for the Tarot Card Reader. Fun!! I've never had my fortune read, except for a "palm reader" at a party about 10 years ago, so I didn't know what to expect. Most of the results will stay with me and not broadcast in a blog (it was mostly a work-related reading), but the takeaway was that yes, I very much am a Taurus and that I need to let go of things. It was fascinating.

Post-reading, Kate and I found some food and we found some martinis at the CNN Martini Bar. I don't drink martinis. I don't drink anything harder than wine. It's better for many reasons. But I thought it might be fun to consume a raspberry martini. And after I tried the martini, my first thought was "this is the only alcohol I can drink tonight." Cause that was strong. very strong.

We took some time and wandered around the event. We got candy from the DIY Candy Bar. We made a flipbook "video" where we were wearing boas, giant glasses and inflatable musical instruments. We raced video game cars. And then we parked ourselves in front of the dueling piano players. I do love dueling piano players. And being very sober, it was fun to just hang out. Especially when the dancing began. I won't deny that Kate and I were dragged out on the dance floor. I'm sure video exists. I don't want to think hard about it.

I'm pretty sure we were on the last shuttle back to the hotel. Our rep kept telling us that we had to meet him at the hotel for a night cap. Considering how drunk he was at that point and how completely sober we were, we almost ran from the bus to the elevator in our hotel so we weren't noticed. Then again, we could probably tell the rep that we were there and "How could you forget you hung out with us??" Though that's probably meaner than I want to be.

August 5th - Food and More Food

We slept in a little today. All I had to do was pack to go home. Well, and eat breakfast. On the way to the luncheon yesterday, we saw a place called Sweet Iron. While on the bus, I looked it up on Yelp. It was a Belgian Waffle joint. Not in an IHOP way, but a Belgian way. Kate and I had looked at each other and said yeah...this is breakfast on Friday. And it was. We walked the block and went in to the sweet smell of sugar and buttermilk. I ended up with a lemon and blueberry waffle with a chai. Now the chai...not good. I need more sugar in my chai and I just couldn't get it to be good. But the waffle...we need a Belgian Waffle joint in Naperville. It was very good. And it seemed to continue my "Lemon Breakfast" theme.

I made sure to schedule my flight home a little later in the day so I could make a stop at Salumi. Jodi and I went to Salumi last year and we were beyond happy. The food was amazing, the Batali sister liked us and the picture of the food at Salumi is the one that gets the most hits on Foodspotting. Both Jodi and I kept telling Kate that we HAD to go here. We left breakfast around 10a and we started walking to Salumi. They opened at 11a. The plan was to get sandwiches for the road, then head back to the hotel. A car was picking me up at 1p.

We made it to Salumi at 1045a. We knew we were there, because we saw the line of people waiting. It was almost like the experience at Hot Doug's. Salumi is a small place. People lined up are there for a reason. As we waited, we strategized. I read about a Fig, Goat Cheese and Procuitto sandwich on Foodspotting. It seemed like something that would make it on a flight pretty easy. Then we started thinking about things. "We could always get a meat and cheese plate." "You know...something little, since we're not really hungry." So we did.

Kate, her boyfriend and I made our way to the back of the building and spread out the meat and cheeses. Let's just say that there was a good amount of moaning. We had nearly finished up and a woman sat down with her grandchild. The kid (probably about 8) had no interest in being here, but she was super chatty with everyone behind the counter. It turned out that she was married to the register guy. Which means she knew the stories and got extra food. Which meant we got extra food. The woman gave us some lemon pasta salad (!!!!!), bread with sauce and a meatball. Let's just say that the meatball made me want to get back in line to buy a meatball sandwich. I was not hungry in any way, but that meatball was magnificent. When I go back to Seattle, I WILL be getting a meatball sandwich. The best part was Kate's boyfriend. When the woman offered him a chunk of bread with the amazing sauce/gravy, he turned to her and exclaimed, "I like you." So cute.

But lunch had to end at some point. We waddled back to the hotel area and separated for good. I had a small amount of time before I had to go to the airport and they had the rest of the weekend in Seattle. But before I went back to the hotel, I had one more stop to make.

The second time I was in Seattle with Mom, we found an amazing pastry place that served croissants that we still talk about. This place, Belle Epicurean, was next door to my hotel. So I had to get a few croissants for the road. Mom was the lucky recipent. Apparently, they also traveled well.

The flight home was uneventful. Before I knew it, I was home. I opened my fig sandwich around midnight. And it was as good as I'd hoped it would be. The trip to Seattle was short, but we ate enough food to last for a while. And that's what it's all about.

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