Food and Travels28 Aug 2009 11:22 am

If you have ever been to downtown Seattle you know two things about parking: there isn’t very much of it, and it’s expensive when you find it. We hit pay dirt when we found a parking spot centered squarely in front of the world famous Pike Place market, steps from the first Starbucks and the waterfront. We sat in the car for several minutes, dissecting the directions on the signs, determining if it was alright to park where we were.

After finding out we had an entire HOUR of free, prime spot parking, we rushed out to run our various errands. I wanted to visit some spice merchants, and my mom wanted to visit the first Sur La Table store. It focuses on high quality, unusual kitchen items.

The only problem was, we had just an hour. Add to that the insane numbers of tourists, complicated alleys and aisles in a cramped market, very hot weather and unclear directions, and I wasn’t sure I’d make it back to the car alive.

I was looking for a speciality spice store somewhere in or near the market, but I had neglected to look up exactly where. Without an iPhone or any directions to guide me (stupid!) I went up to a lady working at an information booth.

Me: “Excuse me, do you know where World Spice is?”

Her: “You mean Market Spice?”

Me: “Uh,” (consults map) “…sure.”

Five steps away was indeed a spice store called Market Spice. I fought the crowds and pulled up to the counter in the tiny, hot store and started asking for spices. The clerk told me they had some of the items, but not all of them.

Fine, I said. Then I asked “So do you not carry everything on your website in store?”

She gives me a blank look and said “We don’t have a website.”

That’s when I knew I was in the wrong spot.

She had already bagged up several spices, so I took what I had, paid, and left. Market Spice had some of the more common spices on my list, but I was missing a huge component of the very special spices I had come all this way for.

market spice, pike place, seattle

Market Spice had many special sugars and a lot of tea, but was not the place I meant to go!

I knew something wasn’t right, so I headed to the place I knew could help: Sur La Table. In there, two employees helped direct me to World Spice Merchants.

“Oh, it’s on Western!” (he made it sound so easy!) “Go down the stairs by the big steel pig, under the construction, and follow your nose. You won’t miss it.” a guy told me. His coworker said “While you are down there, you should go to Spanish Table. It’s amazing!”

I thanked them both heartily, and rushed off. With about 25 minutes to go before I had to meet my brother and mom back at the car, I whipped into World Spice. A very helpful mustachioed man helped me with my list, and I was out and running. I even had time to spare to visit The Spanish Table, a store specializing in Spanish and Portugese products and wines. They had the most amazing cheese section…

World Spice Merchants. I really could smell it wafting down the street. Those boxes were full of spices. They seemed to have have huge turnover there, so I’m hoping everything is super fresh and flavourful.

No time to stop for dim sum pastries.

Naturally; a photo of the first Starbucks.

I saw these two cafes beside each other and wondered how my boyfriend Mike would ever decide between the two.

Drinking a Fukola Cola right infront of the market at our incredible parking spot. You can read my review of Fukola on my blog in development, Supper With Friends. (more on that a bit later)

Naturally we went to Whole Foods as well, in Bellevue. Look at their freaking beer section.

whole foods bellevue beer section


Here’s my haul from the trip. I used to go crazy over the clothes shopping in the States. I guess you can tell I’m aging because now I spend more money on food and beer.


But what was in the bags?

Two kinds of olive oil, spices from all over the globe including Ethiopian berbere, stinky asafoetida and true cinnamon, more masa harina, Fat Tire and Mirror Pond beer, Virgil’s root beer, two kinds of fresh marshmallows, chocolate, jam, tea, lentils and three kinds of popcorn.

Overkill? Maybe, especially considering when I got back I found out Calgary has a new spice store, Silk Road Spices. I can’t wait to visit it.

It has been a while since I took a road trip to the States, and it makes a huge difference in what you can bring back, weight wise. I’m shocked the CR-V made it over the mountains back home again, actually. Thanks for driving, Mom!

2 Responses to “How to do Pike Place Market in under an hour”

  1. on 28 Aug 2009 at 7:28 pm Variety is the Spice of Life

    I made some garam masala with the bounty of this trip, and it added a new dimension to my curried okra. It’s a shame that this selection of spices isn’t available in town, but I also look forward to ordering from Silk Road.

  2. on 04 Sep 2009 at 9:02 pm foodiesuz

    Those are some very sweet Seattle photos! We were there in March…very very nice.