Getting to Know Seattle: The Pantry

Seattle has no shortage of extraordinary, innovative places to eat. A new one to me, site of Matt’s 40th birthday party, is The Pantry in the Ballard neighborhood of the city. The Pantry is a small place, with one long table in the center, a fixed menu, and the multiple-course meal is cooked and served right there. I gather The Pantry also offers cooking classes, which sell out as soon as they are posted — I think I heard one server say they offered 45 or more classes each month.

We had enough family and friends gathered to take over the whole place, which was really fun. A server greeted each person arriving with a glass of bubbly, and hot appetizers were passed while we were outdoors on the small patio. I wish I had grabbed a menu. One was a spectacular arancini, another geoduck on a home made potato chip, and a third was some sort of lightly battered fritter. When we sat down there was a delicious salad, a hot veggie course, and then the main: lightly done fresh salmon with pasta in a delightful lemon sauce. Wine pairings as appropriate, liberally poured. The dessert was a coconut creme pudding — it had a fancier name — with liquored fruit and additional toasted coconut on top. Really good coffee.

The whole thing took 3 1/2 hours, as a leisurely and well-enjoyed meal should — this is the antithesis of fast food.

Most of us took an Uber or Lyft there and back, to account for the alcohol. I didn’t have that much to drink — my body can’t tolerate it any more — but I was surely glad to be taken home rather than driving.

Matt’s birthday would have been special in any case, but The Pantry was a real treat. Highly recommend if you find your way to Seattle.


Rochester friend J. sent me sunflower seeds as a housewarming gift. Just an update: there were six seeds, and two started to grow and then withered. The other four are doing great. I’m optimistic. 🙂

Getting to Know Seattle: Too Expensive to Live Here

A second friend has just told me that she and her longtime partner are leaving Seattle because it’s too expensive to live here. K. owns her condo and her partner contributes to expenses, but rising condo fees and unpredictable assessments have made staying there untenable. They are moving to Walla Walla, a college town about four hours southeast of Seattle. Walla Walla is much less expensive, the pace of living is slower, and as a college town, there are a lot of cultural and educational events to make life interesting.

My former hometown of Rochester, NY, was struggling to revitalize a pretty dead downtown after the demise of Kodak and the loss of most of Xerox, Gannett, Bausch and Lomb, French’s Mustard to other iconic companies. Seattle is at the opposite extreme, struggling to control the bad effects of rapid growth: constant traffic, rising prices, and a surge in homelessness.

This wonderful city can’t become a place where only the young, the rich, and the tech-savvy can afford to live.

Getting to Know Seattle: Lilacs and Heat

My gardening friends are invited to weigh in on this, but I’m guessing from observation that lilacs don’t like heat. The lilacs in Sara’s yard have just come into lush bloom, and then we had a couple of 80 degree days — unusual for Seattle at any time of spring or summer. The lilacs, most of them, quickly went from lush to brown.  Ouch! I’m glad she was able to take a few cuttings to put in her new home last weekend, when things were still peak.

The Difficulty of Supporting Israel

Jerry and I went to Israel in the 1970’s with his father, Max. The trip was wonderful, and for Max — whose family emigrated from Russia under persecution when he was a little boy — a deeply spiritual experience. Jerry and I always intended to go back.

I had the chance to go recently, and declined. I’m not so sure I still support what Israel has become. NY Times opinion columnist Michelle Goldberg expresses my concerns well:

Here are a couple of key excerpts from the piece:

The juxtaposition of images of dead and wounded Palestinians and Ivanka Trump smiling in Jerusalem like a Zionist Marie Antoinette tell us a lot about America’s relationship to Israel right now. It has never been closer, but within that closeness there are seeds of potential estrangement.

Trump has empowered what’s worst in Israel, and as long as he is president, it may be that Israel can kill Palestinians, demolish their homes and appropriate their land with impunity. But some day, Trump will be gone. With hope for a two-state solution nearly dead, current trends suggest that a Jewish minority will come to rule over a largely disenfranchised Muslim majority in all the land under Israel’s control. A rising generation of Americans may see an apartheid state with a Trump Square in its capital and wonder why it’s supposed to be our friend.”

Travel: The General Weirdness of People

One of my news feeds, Significant Digits, has this notification about American Airlines:

American Airlines is taking a page out of The Book of Leviticus and issuing a list of banned service and emotional support animals that cannot be brought aboard flights starting July 1. This list includes amphibians, ferrets, goats, hedgehogs, insects, reptiles, rodents, snakes, spiders, sugar gliders (would love to know the story behind how this animal earned an extremely specific mention), poultry, waterfowl, birds of prey, all animals with tusks, horns or hooves (with the exception of the noble miniature horse), and any animal that smells bad. The policy is due to a 40 percent rise in the number of people transporting a service or support animal between 2016 and 2017.

I’m all in favor, but moved to wonder who would attempt to bring any of these creatures on an airplane in the first place.

A sugar glider, by the way, is “a small, omnivorous, arboreal and nocturnal gliding possum.” If I were seeking emotional support, a little flying possum that lives in trees and eats everything wouldn’t be the first place I’d look.

I did read about the woman who tried to bring a peacock onto a flight at Newark Airport, but I myself have never experienced a flight with a weird animal on board. Have you? I did see a woman marching a small pig in harness through SeaTac airport, and I felt sorry for the creature, who was not navigating the shiny, slippery tile floors well at all.

Getting to Know Seattle: Chickens

As I’ve said before, chickens are allowed in Seattle neighborhoods, although not roosters. I passed these while out walking, and chatted with their owner who was out front picking weeds. She has a mesh pen and roost for them in her front yard, but she said they prefer to be out of the enclosure. She’s trained them to stay right around her house, on the grass between sidewalk and street. I think chickens have small brains for the size of their bodies, and didn’t think they could be trained. The owner said that if they stray too far, she grabs them up and puts them back in the pen. They don’t like that, so they behave and stay within range. Who knew?

Getting to Know Seattle: Bainbridge Ferry

Louise and I went by ferry to visit friends who’ve moved to a lovely new condo on Bainbridge Island. Bainbridge is quieter than Seattle, has more of a small town feel, and it’s not quite as pricey. I wouldn’t like so much to have to take the ferry back and forth every day, but it’s fun for a visit.

Seniors get an Orca pass that allows us to use any part of the transportation system for a buck — that’s both ways, to Bainbridge and back. Quite the bargain.

You get the best view of downtown Seattle, and without having to sign on to one of the harbor tour boats at a much higher ticket price. Really, can you beat these views?