The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 08.05.07


Big clams, steep hills, lots of java

I've just been to Seattle and back. When you visit this West Coast village you notice two things. You go up and down in Seattle and there is no escaping endless hills and climbs.

Just try to avoid steepness by utilizing the switchback method that forest companies use at high altitudes and you will fail in your wandering. It is an exercise in futility with an emphasis on the exercise part. Call Seattle the San Francisco of the Northwest.

The thing is that all these descents and ascents lead to extraordinary beauty and are well worth every amount of energy spent. As a bonus, there is lots of fuel waiting at each destination to help you through your alpine quests and, trust me, you will need it.

Seattle weather often delivers a combination of mistiness and cooling cloud cover when not actually drenching you. This makes for slippery streets and humid clothing but does away with that pesky need for sunscreen.

Grab a magnum of any one of the famous brands of Seattle coffee along the way to banish any fears of making your way to the finish line.

Seattleites know that placing a coffee joint on each and every corner is not overkill but a function of sheer necessity. Caffeine is the substance that keeps the West Coast economy going and wild-eyed city workers will not dispute this I think. Heck, even the salmon leap great heights and climb fish ladders around here. What the halibut do for fun I know not.

And what the geoduck (pronounced gooey duck) clams might do with those appendages is another thing altogetherů. Here, horsy, horsy and whoa Nelly! John Wayne would be proud. Or is that John Holmes?

Seattle's urban mountain treks may not rival those of Mount Rainier or Baker but are akin to Mount Saint Helens in terms of an explosion of culinary treats. Washington wines have recently erupted in their goodness and, with any luck, will replace coffee at every corner if I have my way.

WineBucks anyone? I'll have a half/half carafe of Cab/ Syrah/ Merlot- with a splash of Chardonnay to go SVP and hold the soy and spirilina please.

A downward or upward jaunt to famous Pike Place market will have you drooling and sweaty in no time. As you witness fish tossing by edgy mongers with nose chrome and face piercings, you will be amazed at the tattoo work in abundance on the vendors themselves.

Not all of them sport Doc Martens and hippie dresses but it seems that alternative is still the fashion of the day. No sign of bad paintings of the likeness of Kurt Cobain, thank goodness, or I would have had to delete his presence immediately from my iPod.

Pike Place market is the closest to Nirvana you may come for giant shrimp, crab, and all manner of foodstuff. That is unless you have visited Granville Island market in British Columbia, just a ferry ride north.

Mind you, Homeland Security ensures that what was once a simple day trip to Vancouver's market now requires months of preparation and document gathering. Kurt would be so proud.

Speaking of grunge, Seattle was once known for its hometown band Pearl Jam. Unfortunately, the only jam found now is in a line up at the border.

I wasn't sleepless in Seattle and the libido was pretty good, if I do say so myself. What with the caffeine, shellfish and assorted glimpses of walking- fit maidens while at a Mariners game, I could think of nothing better than scarfing down a one-pound hotdog and grabbing a taxi to the hotel in a hurry.

Seattle is Skookum, Tillicum, and all that. It throws a good Potlatch, too.

Try Wiki for more on native West Coast lingo, geoduck clams, and assorted Seattle delicacies.