Umm… There’s Rain in my Wine…

Odds are that you live near someplace that does a roundup of local restaurants in a central location and then invites the public to come and ‘taste’ or ‘bite’.

I looked forward to the Bite of Seattle every year, but about five years ago I stopped loving it and I haven’t been for the last two. Too many people, it’s the same food (how many teriyaki booths do you need?) and most egregiously, it fails miserably to represent the Seattle culinary world.

Which is why I love An Incredible Feast. A match-up of local farms and top-notch Seattle-area restaurants, it’s truly representative of the food scene here and is everything the Bite of Seattle is not. It costs $65, and that keeps the riffraff out (about 500,000 of them), and the Incredible Feast really is incredible. Within five minutes of entering, I’d eaten 5-spice rubbed pork belly, a scoop of curried goat on a corn and black bean cake, and a fantastic peach spritzer made with peaches grown in Eastern Washington and blended with seltzer water that was the final word in summer refreshment.

Too bad it was a peekaboo into October. To say that it was a grey day or a misty day or that it rained a bit wouldn’t do justice to the curtain of water that fell on the city. Last year was a shorts and flip flops kind of day, this year was Patagonia and North Face. My camera was collecting so much rain that the lens fogged up, and my notes quickly became too wet to keep. When I realized I couldn’t eat and hold my umbrella, I left it behind. Food trumps bad weather always.
The crowd took it all in stride and like soldiers familiar with the trenches, we closed ranks, and everyone shrugged and said, “This is very Seattle”. My friends staked out a table under a tent and I was sent out to return with food. Sliders from Moxie, a sip of Campagne’s chicken soup with Rickman Gulch chickens, a perfect beet, ricotta and pistachio salad. A fantastic pancetta and grilled cheese sandwich,tuna with white anchovies and leeks. Mussels and cherry tomatoes. Two rounds of Boat Street Café’s rye crepe with pork confit and peach jam. A swallow of a delicate lemon and cucumber soup. And more. So much more. Gluttonously more. I left, stuffed. Looking through the guidebook I was handed at the door, I see now how much I missed. Because of the rain, if the line was too long, I left it for the next pass, which resulted in a highly unscientific and spotty approach to canvassing booths. The crazy sugar hounds that patiently stood 15 deep and dripping wet waiting for a scoop of peach gelato don’t seem so nutty to me now. And I’m kicking myself for missing Tilth’s peach tartlet. How could I be so stupid? It was just a little rain and there’s always room for dessert.

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