It's not all that often you hear a person with Celiac Disease boasting about eating cake and pastries and cupcakes and almond cookies...and oh my! Well, I'm pleased to announce that this past weekend on a quick get-away to Seattle to visit my dear Aunt, I did just that - ate gluten free pastries galore!
Going to Seattle or Portland is almost like a pilgrimage for a Celiac, knowing that the Mecca of safe and delicious goodies awaits us all if you know where to go and how to find them. Thanks to Shauna James Ahern, gluten-free blogger extraordinaire and author of "Gluten Free Girl," I was well armed with a multitude of safe places to eat, as well as, from diving in to some of my own research on great places to find wonderful food and treats that fill my soul with happiness and don't poison me! Seattle is the bomb, as the Gen-Y'ers say.
On my list of "must eat at's" was a lovely little bakery that's recently moved to the Fremont District of Seattle called The Flying Apron. Bill and Jennifer Dowd, the father-and-daughter pair, who started the Flying Apron Organic Bakery in Seattle's University District, brings a passion for making a better world to everything they do and are now at their new location. When we walked in the door I was overwhelmed by the beautifully arranged breads and pastries filling an entire glassed-in bar, each delightfully labeled with all of the ingredients which I kept reading thoroughly, over and over again, not believing my eyes! Trying to choose a pastry was like buying a new car this particular morning - so many fresh-baked choices that I haven't tasted in almost a decade - oh geez where to begin because let me tell you, one was NOT enough! So after a moist and zesty piece of raspberry coffee cake, it was time to dive into the chai frosted cupcake that my Aunt and I shared...see for yourself ~ oh and don't think I left this bakery without a little pink box of take-home-on-the-plane treats, in hand.
It was truly a delight to be able to walk into a bakery and choose something lovely to eat and to feel "normal"...that might not make sense to those who are able to consume gluten and wheat flour, but trust me when I speak for those of us who rarely stumble upon these hidden treasures when I say, it's special!.
Now hoping that I'm not giving off the impression that all I do is eat and seek out calorie-laden desserts, another highlight to my Seattle weekend was a walk through the new Olympic Sculpture Park along the bay. It was built in place of what used to be a landfill and has truly transformed the waterfront giving the natives and we tourists even more beauty to enjoy in the magnificent outdoor setting, while taking in the incredible views and beauty of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. Admission is free to the park, by the way. Just one more delight to enjoy while in the Emerald City...and instead of finding the Tin Man, you might run into the Tin Tree. And take a close look - no rain - beautiful blue skies. That "always raining thing" is a myth to keep us tourists from permanently inhabiting their land!
Other than discussing my Aunt's incredibly creative and vibrant dwelling place, which IS amazing but a little too private to share with the world, there was one other noteworthy stop on our weekend fun-tour...a lunch at the San Sebastian-style Basque Pintxos/Tapas Bar Txori...aka...little bird in Basque (Euskera). This delightful Euro-style bar was just what the man behind the curtain ordered (get it?Emerald City, Dorothy and the land of Oz) after a morning of walking all around downtown Seattle...in the sunshine I might add. Txori's menu is very authentic, meaning that you do feel as though you are in the Basque Country savoring delicious tortilla Espanola, amazing cheeses, chorixo cocida, and of course some Txakoli Txomin - the Basque bubbly that you won't find in very many locations outside of the Basque Country, oh and we can't forget to mention the flan that we had to try along with our cafe kantoi...espresso, milk, caramel, cinnamon and whipped cream.
Now here's the best part about eating at Txori if you are gluten intolerant - you can! In spite of the fact that pintxos/tapas are almost always sitting atop a piece of real bread, the Txori chef was totally accommodating and very meticulous about preparing my food correctly, while maintaining its true integrity - Gora Euskadi! ha
One last note...Txori's sister restaurant is also located in Seattle...The Harvest Vine, located on East Madison. It's definitely more geared towards the food connoisseur looking to experience a traditional, full Basque meal vs. tapas. Boy, do I wish I could just tap my heels together and be back there now, savoring the delights of the Basque Country, right in Seattle.
Txin txin to the Emerald City ~ Enjoy!