We came into town for a specific meeting and while we looked into a couple of other formal meetings, they didn’t happen – but we did end up hanging out and chatting with several really neat folks, at Microsoft and elsewhere, as well as having dinner and going wine tasting with daveon and staying with the ever-friendly elimloth and spiritmoving . They met us in Bellevue Monday evening to help us stay awake over dinner at P F Changs (the lemongrass shrimp and garlic noodle is yummy). Tuesday we had brunch at the Essential Baking Company, which means a nice drive along the edge of the water and then a fun wander around Pike Place Market and a book buying accident at Elliot Bay books (well, it's 80% off second hand books to make space for the move to Capitol Hill) and dinner with Dave & M & bouncy dogs (did covering the keyboard in rice save it?)
Wedneday we went hunting saimin but while Spring Hill looks delicious it isn't open for lunch and doesn't list Saimin on the menu so we had fish and chips at Alki Point, with a bit of a diversion over the viaduct and back. Then we went hunting Molly Moon's ice cream, with a bit of a diversion around Montlake and back (hint; Pine isn't where we thought it was and the GPS is Always Right). Then our first meeting was, amusingly enough, in the Lucky Strikes bowling alley (where they have private suites and I discovered I can't bowl if the ball is too heavy - I need a wimpy UK 8lb ball). Then a full day of meetings and geekings, through to dinner at Daniel's Broiler in Bellevue; the 21st floor, blackberry martinis, rain on the windows and the chance for a more informal discussion. Thursday morning I discovered that the traffic cop who once stopped Simon for suspicious pedestrianism was quite right; only the crazy English would walk from the Hyatt to the Hilton. The forced march was replaced by comedy moments of 'which lobby are you waiting in then?' but we finished up having lunch in El Gaucho with @stefanweitz talking about the new Cray SMPs and hardware margins (and Bing of course) and coffee with @fxshaw talking over what innovation is for in technology terms and in publicity terms. Then we scooped up @brendacooper to talk about writing and what citywide fibre could enable and who, if anyone, you trust with the derived information from the sensored city. And finally we descended on Rene and Selene and went off for yummy dinner at Preservation Kitchen in Bothell: risotto cake and calimari with artichoke and code in citrus broth and bacon wrapped chicken and pork on hazelnut risotto and seared duck and a Lenore red wine of which I shall quaff (nevermore)...
Up early as Selene scored everyon reservations on the factory tasting tour at Theo chocolates. They buy in fair trade beans, work closely with growers (not quite as closely as Tcho but they're not as controlling about the flavours either) and make yummy chocolate; they do plain varietals (74, 84 and 91%), dark chocolate with mint, orange, chile or almond cherry, milk with toasted coconut or pink peppercorn and cherry and then some weirdy flavours - chai was ok, coffee was excellent, coconut curry was bizarrely excellent, fig hazenut was chewy nice, cocoa nib brittle was nibby. The tour is more talking than walking because the factory isn't that big and doesn't run much on weekends, but it still smells *wonderful* and it's always cool to see huge bins of cocoa beans.
After all that nibbling we needed real food; Silent Heart Nest is pretty real (vegan vegetarian low GI). The spinach cheese mushroom scramble with sweet potato biscuits was, again, yummy and it's nice to find Yogi chai that's not too sweet. The over to Woodinville with D&M to discover that Chateau St Michelle is tourist-tat mass-market wine and Januik is delicious wine where almost everything is top notch (though I like my viogniers with more honey and body than pale floral passivity); the merlot, sauv blanc, sangiovese and novelty hill cab sauv were all excellent. The Red Hook Brewery was A confusing and B heaving; the sofas by the fire at the lodge next to the Herb Garden were much nicer, as were the pigs in the piggery and my glass of sauv blanc. Dave produced a technical friend for us to geek with (nice to meet you David!) and we headed off to the Lenten Feast at CammLan with Rene and Selene.
Mediaeval food comes pretty much all at once and as long as you're setting it before Henry VIIIth, you have a real bread trencher instead of a plate (Henry invented washing up by saving on baking with slices of wood). The first course was herb salad and grilled prawns and salmon in sauce and sturgeon in sauce and an open grilled dish I'm blanking on the name for and something figgie; the second course was fish in hazelnut sauce and oyster in sauce and sweet roasted garlic and apple fish pie with fig and a pear pine nut sauce concoction, all served with wine and mead and singing between the courses - I must remember the one about the friar and the maid and the hanging blankets and the farthing and the whistling in the well.
On the way to CammLan we passed a fallen tree stump that had been painted or pyrographed with a multipoint star design with circle highlights; delightful!
next - trying to get something for the flight to Vegas that isn't, please gods of travel, a middle seat each...