The Local Life: Seattle

We love our Amazonian superfoods and Chinese herbs, but when it comes to recent trends in nutrition nothing beats the ‘local’ movement!  We get an over-sized thrill out of taking a trip to the farmer’s markets or making dinner sourced from producers within our own community.  It would probably puzzle our great-grandparents, who knew no other way, but for many in our generation being in touch with where our food comes from is something of a novelty!  It’s in that spirit that we’re asking our friends and readers from around the country to share their favorite local resources with us!

We start our look at local life with Seattle: a town rich in natural resources and populated by more than it’s fair share of serious craftsman and green foodies, all adding up to a local scene of legitimate interest!






Puget Consumer’s Co-op (PCC)

At the age of twelve, I tasted marinated tofu at PCC for the first time–my first exposure to a local co-op. Since then, PCC (Puget Consumer’s Co-op) Natural Markets has grown up and into gorgeous storefronts throughout the region. It also just so happens to be the largest consumer-owned natural food retail co-op in the country. This is the best place to find local produce at the height of its season, an organic deli (my favorite is the vegan perfect protein salad), crunchy bulk foods, wild, free-range and grass-fed meats and artisan desserts (including gelato!) all in one spot – not to mention cooking classes in state-of-the-art test kitchens and the sort of aesthetic smorgasbord that could easily rival any Whole Foods. And you don’t have to be a co-op member to shop here!

Best Farmer’s Market/ Local Experience:

Pike’s Place Market

This is the West Coast, and we’re right on track with the wave of once-a-week farmers’ markets cropping up in every neighborhood all over the country. But I have to give credit to Seattle’s original market in heart of the city: Pike’s Place Market. This is where fishmongers famously huck salmon over customers’ heads and – I have to say it – it’s also the location of the first-ever Starbucks cafe. Despite being something of a tourist attraction, this is also the place to come for whatever has been fresh-caught and brought in from Elliott Bay just a five minute walk from the market, for Dungeness crab caught just up the coast, for flowers and vegetables in season from local farmers and for some of Seattle’s best local artisan foods, like Market Spice teas and Beecher’s Cheeses. And unlike the neighborhood markets, Pike Place is open daily year-round.

Top Outdoor Recreation Location:

Rattlesnake Ridge

You think of Seattle and it’s hard not to think of REI, evergreens and outdoorsy hiker types. Rattlesnake Ridge is one of those places that perfectly embodies the Northwest: hiking through a forest on the edge of snow-capped mountains. Less than an hour drive from Seattle on the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Rattlesnake boasts a four mile round-trip hike from the lake to the ridge that takes about two hours and gains nearly 2,000 feet of elevation to dazzling views. Kids and dogs are a common sight on this trail and it’s packed on any sunny weekend that Washington weather affords.

Best local resource unique to your town:

Roaster: Espresso Vivace 

Vivace has set the standard in a coffee-centric Seattle culture for the very best. David Schomer literally wrote the book (Espresso Coffee: Professional Techniques) for making perfect coffee under very precise roasting and brewing standards, not to mention perfecting free-pour micro-foam for latte art. Once a small coffee cart and a roasting room, Vivace has expanded into a beautiful retail location across the street from Seattle’s flagship REI and has a new storefront in their original Capitol Hill neighborhood. Rumor has it that their standards are so stringent, their barista employees are required to back-bar (stocking milk, etc.) for six months to a year before being allowed to pull shots and steam breve. THESE are Seattle’s true coffee roots, regardless of any big name Seattle cafe chains you may have heard of.

Chocolatier: Theo Chocolates

Theo Chocolateis the first organic, fair-trade, bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the US and they are serious about their identity as a sustainable and eco-friendly product. And what a delicious product it is, including Coconut Curry Milk Chocolate, Fig, Fennel & Almond Dark Chocolate and Ghost Chile Dark Chocolate Caramels. Yum. And best of all, you can channel your inner Charlie Bucket and tour their factory in the Fremont neighborhood, sampling as much chocolate as you like along the way.

Best restaurant utilizing local resources:

The Corson Building

Under the creative direction of chef Matt Dillon, winner of the 2012 James Beard award for Best Chef: Northwest, The Corson Building is up to great things. In a revamped villa in an industrial district of Seattle, The Corson Building is a microfarm, restaurant, community food center and much more. Not only do Dillon and his team care for an on-site garden and chicken coop (which you are free to peruse with your aperitif before sitting down to eat), they actively partner with local farmers and food purveyors to offer the best local, sustainable, seasonal ingredients.The dining experience is much like a dinner party with a pre-set menu, one seating time and communal tables. One of my favorite of their endeavors is their meal series inspired by Angelo Pellegrini’s “An Unprejudiced Palate” – a local Italian immigrant-turned-professor’s classic take on the good life of wine-making, gardening and cooking. They also host an annual Bastille Day bash, cider making parties and cooking workshops.

Favorite local getaway:

Skagit Valley/ Bow Edison

One of my favorite local getaways is to hop in the car and leave the city long behind on an agro-road trip through the verdant farmland known as the Skagit Valley north of Seattle and along scenic Chuckanut Drive to the coast. Turn off the interstate onto highway 20 and head north again on the Farm to Market Road, making sure to stop at Rosabella’s sweet apple orchard and cider tasting room. Then it’s another stop in the blink-and-you’ll miss it town of Edison, Washington (pop. 133), a hidden epicurean’s dream. In the space of two blocks, you’ll find the Breadfarm turning out gorgeous artisan loaves, the confections of the Farm to Market Bakery and Slough Foods specialty foods shop and deli, with local salumi, wine and fresh cheeses. Then it’s back in the car and up highway 11/ Chuckanut Drive, which wends its way through evergreen forests and along the Pacific Coast. Larrabee State Park is a fabulous spot to make use of those picnic wares, and to take in an afternoon hike and elevation views of the Samish Bay. Then it’s just a short jaunt north to Bellingham, Washington. Chuckanut spits you out in the adorable village of Fairhaven where you can stay the night at the boutique Chrysalis Inn and Spa, take an evening stroll in the village and congratulate yourself on an adventure off the beaten path.

Favorite Farm to Table experience:

Local Roots farm dinners

For anyone familiar with Outstanding in the Field, an organization that stages gourmet meals onsite at organic farms across the US, there’s maybe nothing more appealing than the image of a long table between rows of crops, covered with white linen and the glint of wine glasses, ready for a lovingly prepared feast on the very land from which the food was cultivated. It’s a great idea, and Local Roots Farm, active in Seattle farmers’ markets and with a burgeoning CSA program, makes it a point to partner with their chef friends and host their own Farm Dinners throughout the summer. They may have been the site of an Outstanding in the Field in the past, but with dinner and wine at nearly $200 a head and a table so long its other end might be past your sightline, these more intimate, less pricey (by at least half) Farm Dinners are comparable, and I dare say preferable. What’s more, the roll-call of chefs who have made these sumptuous meals include the very best of Seattle’s restaurant scene. An inimitable experience supporting some very worthy artisans.

How Do You Go Local?

Living local looks different in every city and we want to know all about yours! Give us the down-low on going local in your city and you could be featured next! Download our form HERE and return to us at hello@thechalkboardmag.com. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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