August 2011

The Water Guide

From this Issue

With soaring 30-foot ceilings and booths that sit along an expanse of windows, Black Bottle Postern wouldn’t seem half as edgy if it weren’t for its locale: smack dab in shiny new Bellevue.

South Lake Union is a neighborhood that barely existed five years ago, and so we’ve watched as the essentials have been checked off steadily over the years. Good coffee at Vivace. Check! Cozy lunch spots: Nollie’s, Yellow Dot, Row House Cafe. Check! And now, thanks to Tom Douglas, we can check rowdy college pub (for grownups) off our lists.

I’ve been waiting since deep, dark winter, when Uneeda Burger opened, to plant myself on its sunset-facing patio on a warm summer night.

WHERE: Winthrop, Washington, in the Methow Valley.

The Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire cometh—now with pirates! This year, in addition to ye olde lineup of regal knights, saucy wenches and creepy jesters, organizers have added eye-patched, “arrrg”-spewing mateys to the mix. We suspect it’s a blatant attempt to widen the crowd appeal, and we’ve got a few ideas of our own for how to get more Seattleites to the fest.

You may remember Seattle’s last frozen yogurt explosion back in 2008, when national chains like Pinkberry and Red Mango hit town and spawned countless imitators. Way back then, it was all about the flavor—frozen yogurt that actually tasted tart, like yogurt (as opposed to previous ice cream imitators a la TCBY).

Thinking about taking the plunge? Here’s a look at what kind of cash you’ll sink into boat ownership—first the purchase price, then the combined annual expenses of insurance, maintenance and moorage.   Illustrations by Vidhya Nagarajan

In the beginning, there was yoga. Next, hot yoga caught fire. But for Seattleites, even that wasn’t enough of a mind-body challenge.

Keep your fingers and toes (and children) close—for the 10th year in a row, the talented kooks at the School of Visual Concepts (SVC) are putting on a letterpress wayzgoose, and that means the 2-ton steamroller will be back in action.

From the briny smell of Elliott Bay wafting over downtown to the sight of sunlight sparkling on Lake Washington during a summer morning commute; from the lapping sound of waves against docks and kayaks to the taste of our drinking water—some of the purest in the world. And—we’ll say it—the feeling of warm rain splattering down our necks during an unexpected drizzle.

Dig It! We’ve got so many clams, you could say it’s an embarrassment of bivalves. Manila clams, in particular, are easy to dig and nearly foolproof in the pot. They live right below the surface on gravelly or muddy beaches around Puget Sound; use a three-pronged garden cultivator to scratch them out of their lairs.

Rumors of a giant squid dwelling beneath the Tacoma Narrows Bridge are probably bunk. Probably.

Though they’re rarely hot and sunny, Washington’s coastal beaches really bring the drama: wild, ever-changing weather, vast stretches of windswept, solitary beaches and fantastic, eerie sea stacks.

In the world of wine, each vintage is a new chance for perfection, and with so many new wineries on the scene in Washington, we are experiencing something like a perfect storm. With more than 80 tasting rooms now west of wine country, there have never been more opportunities to taste Washington wine.

Lake Washington: Recreation Heaven
The very existence of Lake Washington, a recreational haven and scenic backdrop par excellence, may be the perfect tonic for the rigors of city life. How many a sweet summer day was created or capped off with a swim, sail or paddle in the lake, or simply a stroll along its shoreline?

West Seattleite Ralph Naess, 48, drinks water straight from the faucet. As manager of the public and cultural programs at the Cedar River Watershed—the more than 90,000 acres of natural habitat and protected water near North Bend that is the source of Seattle’s tap water—Naess has been quenching the public’s thirst for knowledge about local water for more than 18 years.

You might have noticed a bit of an obsession with iconic Northwest landscapes in our travel and outdoors issues this year. In May, we celebrated the craggy mountains that frame our horizons. This month, we turn to our love affair with those other defining natural landmarks: our vast and varied bodies of water.

Seattleites tend to approach yoga with an intense earnestness, so how refreshing to find two practitioners who bring a critical, humorous eye to the practice.

Seattle-based cartoonists Scott Kurtz and Kris Straub decided last year that they wanted their own reality Web-TV show. They had already proven that their style of “bro-mance” banter attracts a following, and they received the green light from Penny Arcade TV (an online entertainment video channel). The catch: They needed to fund the production themselves.

WHY WE LOVE THE LOOK: A busy mom of five and the owner of Gourmondo Catering in South Park, Bainbridge Island resident Leinonen doesn’t have time for two separate wardrobes. Instead, she incorporates the equestrian riding pants, structural tweed show coats and high-end cowgirl boots she wears to the barn into her 9-to-5 ensemble.

Seattle gardens and yards tend to hit the dried-out doldrums in August, so it’s a good time to kick back with a glass of cool lemonade (garnished with homegrown mint, naturally) and think about how to refresh your approach to planting. Here’s a look at what’s new—and what’s past its bloom—according to local gardeners, along with some help to get you started down a new garden path.

The ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan—triggered by the March 11 earthquake—has federal officials asking tough questions about nuclear safety in our state.

Washington’s only commercial nuclear reactor, the Columbia Generating Station, is located on the grounds of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in south-central Washington.

There’s something in the air at local farmers’ markets: “Customers cannot walk by one of our…booths without stopping to smell the aroma of our tacos cooking,” says owner and chef Jaime Mendez. The scent comes from the Mayan annatto seasoning, Mendez’s signature ingredient. All ingredients at Los Agaves Catering are sourced locally, including the meats.

Braised goat

Lorna Yee spices up summer tacos with roasted corn salsa and tender, flavorful goat meat.

Juicy and supersweet, local eateries love to put peaches into everything this time of year, from pies to cocktails. We think that’s peachy.

Tommy Gun

Bar owner Erin Nestor (of The BottleNeck Lounge in Madison Valley) opened Tommy Gun (1703 E Olive Way; 206.323.4866) in March just a couple of blocks away from the future Capitol Hill Light Rail Station. The Prohibition-era name is a nod to craft cocktails and serious camaraderie.

On those days when our Seattle summer doesn’t live up to its potential, I like to head to the tiny tropical oasis that is Tamarind Tree’s bamboo-tree-lined patio for the beachiest lunch around: goi thom toui, or fresh pineapple salad ($7.50 at lunch, $9.50 at dinner).

When comedian/musician Reggie Watts begins his act, he might have a British accent—but that won’t last long. Soon his inflection morphs into that of a typical American rapper, or maybe the stentorian tones of a commercial advertiser.

My column “Statues of Limitations” (March 2011), on the topic of local icons that I’d like to Photoshop out of the picture if I were Seattle’s Stalin, generated a lot of debate. I came down against Fremont’s Troll and Lenin statues, and the Darth Vader–ish Columbia Tower. I said the Pioneer Square totem pole was a dubious symbol, and I kicked “Hammering Man” in the shins.