I was recently in Seattle for the International Food Blogger's Conference (IFBC). While I was there I had the privilege of visiting Seattle's famous Pike Place Market, one of the top rated farmer's markets in the world! This was my second time visiting this phenomenal market, and along the way I managed to pick up a few observations I thought I would share!
Whatever you do, don't drive.
Not only is a parking space incredibly hard to find... it will cost you at an arm and a leg (which you could spend on some delicious farmer's market goodies instead!). Not only that, but navigating through the pedestrians will be nearly impossible.
Bring a friend.
I brought my hubby along for the trip and his crazy antics made an already fun experience even more enjoyable! Plus, I now also have affirmation that the salmon piroshky (see below) really was as good as I thought it was.
Bring your best re-useable shopping bags.
I love my farmer's market basket more than anything else, but it wasn't practical to carry around downtown Seattle (plus due to room constraints I was unable to pack it). Instead, I used my favourite re-usable shopping bags that Sarah over at Stop Nothing But Time crocheted for me, which fit a ton of stuff and are incredibly sturdy. Be sure to bring your sturdiest, roomiest bags, because if you're anything like me you might end up buying more than you intended to and can use all the space you can get.
Try all the samples
The samples, oh the samples! There's everything from any kind of nut you could possibly imagine (the roasted hazelnut booth still graces my dreams), to freshly sliced fruit (my mouth watered just thinking about this), and even different types of organic honey, syrups, vinegars, and spices. Come with an empty stomach, leave with a bag full of goodies you know you will love because you already tasted them all.
Get to know the vendors.
Nobody knows more about the products that the vendors themselves. For the most part, they love chatting about their products, and want you to be as informed as possible about your purchase. Do your selves both a favour and chat with the vendors, get to know them, get to know why they stand behind their product. This wonderful woman sells spices, and even though I was just browsing, her passion for growing organic herbs was so evident I knew that whatever I purchased from her would be of premium quality. I purchased her "Tuna Sammie" and "Pike Place Market" blends, and my only regrets are that I didn't buy more! These spices are fast becoming my favourite, and if I wouldn't have taken the time to have a conversation with her, I may have never known!
Try the fruit.
Oh, the fruit. I live near the British Columbia border, so most of the fruit I consume is of premium quality as is. I have to say, nothing I have ever tasted in my entire life compared to the fruit at the Pike Place market. The raspberries were plump and fresh, begging to be plucked from their containers and eaten right on the spot. The peaches, the sweetest and juiciest peaches I have ever encountered, were giant and the absolute perfect ripeness - they barely made it back to our hotel room before being consumed. We also tried the mangos, pears, and honey crisp apples, all of which were outstanding quality. I'm not sure if the same person works everyday, but the fruit guy on the day we went to the market was HILARIOUS. He had us in stitches the entire time we were trying fruit - a virtue in itself that makes the fruit stands worth visiting.
Walk through the fresh flowers.
The flowers are absolutely GORGEOUS. Just walking through them is a treat for all of your senses. Take in the beauty of the floral arrangements and let their essence tickle your nose. If you're from the area, or have someone that you could gift these too, each bouquet is less than $10, which is a steal of a deal for how luscious and fresh these flowers are.
Cross the street and visit the first ever Starbucks
No coffee lover can go to the Pike Place Market without visiting the most famous coffee shop in all of Seattle. Across the street from the market lies the first ever Starbucks. At it you'll find Starbucks memorabilia you won't find at your local start bucks store, and a giant pig made out of coffee beans that the locals lovingly call "Pork & Beans". There's usually a lineup, so if you plan on taking a picture in front of the store, be sure to take it quickly - the last thing you want to do is get between Seattle folk and their coffee!
Check out the businesses across the street.
Whether you are looking for salmon jerky, piroshky, ginger beer, or feel like watching cheese curds being freshly made, the businesses across from Pike place are where it's at. I tried piroshky for the first time (a Russian pastry that's traditionally stuffed with beef and cabbage - the smoked salmon and dill piroshky was calling my name though so that's what I had). Be sure to visit these shops for souvenirs, or just to check out some great tastes of Seattle.
Try not to get hit by a fish (or a crab). No really.
If you get a chance to check out the fish throwing, you're in for a treat! The fish is so freshly caught that it comes directly out of the ocean beside the market - the fish throwing is how they stock their shelves during the busy market. If you're lucky enough to see this happening, be sure to get out of the way or else you might get hit with a giant fish! We were lucky enough to watch giant king crabs being thrown, what a treat that was!
Most of all, don't forget to have fun!