I have been on blogging holiday lately, so I thought I’d come out of hibernation with something tongue-in-cheek. Merrilyn and I had happy hour at this awesome Mexican restaurant on Roosevent called COA. (We had one of those Living Social coupons.) As we subsequently walked the neighborhood, we found this hidden treasure. Feast your eyes!
I just happened to be down in Seattle’s Pioneer Square last Friday and decided to finally track down Intrigue Chocolates, a chocolatier which specializes in French-style truffles. I have known about Intrigue and its owner Aaron Barthel ever since I played an open house at Davenport Cellars, one of the plentiful boutique wineries here in Woodinville, and I have run into him a couple times since. So, mobile Google Maps in hand, I discovered his lair. It is sort of hard to find, but totally worth it. They don’t have a storefront on the street. Rather, you go up a stair and down a hallway and then ring a bell to be let in. Having to hunt for the place lends to the intrigue, don’t you think? (Pun intended!) And it means you are serious about chocolate! (And who shouldn’t be?)
Aaron has been in business for about seven years. After earning a BA in ecology and botany, he “stumbled” into making chocolate truffles through a recipe in a horticulture magazine. Some friends started a catering business and hired him to make their breads and also feature his truffles. “Starting to develop my techniques and recipes as an employee was a great way to begin,” Aaron told me, and after a year or so, he then took the plunge to start Intrigue. After several years working out of a combination of his and his friend’s living spaces, he consolidated his operation into the current location at 76 S. Washington Street.
How does one describe his creations? To quote a Pioneer Square blog post: A defining quality of Aaron’s chocolates is how fresh and natural they are, as they are often organic and local. New flavors rotate in and out according to season.The truffles are not to be munched on in the conventional sense, but are designed to melt in your mouth. The truffles lack the distracting hard shell and are dusted with cocoa power, leaving the taster to discover the complex flavors of the chocolate as it melts. Aaron is generous with his samples, and I tried several. Each one seems to tell a story as it gently melts in the mouth. Being the frugal sort I am, I bought only two of the Vrai Chai truffles, and now I’m kicking myself for not buying more. I guess it gives me an excuse to return soon, don’t you think?
They have a lovely website, aptly named www.intriguechocolates.com and be sure to sign up for their newsletter so you can keep abreast of events where his chocolates are featured. Oh, and did I mention that their chocolate is 100% organic and from sources which follow ethical and fair trading practices? All the more reason to pay them a visit!
A little hard to find, but impossible to forget…
Top photo courtesy of Share the Square blog at www.pioneersquare.org.
Yes, it’s true. I LOVE bookstores. I especially love bookstores that have some sort of food/beverage option available. I’m hanging out at Vios Cafe here in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle. It is attached to Third Place Books. This is a great place to get new and used books, they have a totally awesome vibe, and they often have book signings. Last time I was here, I picked up a copy of John Perkins’ “Hoodwinked”, an eye opening exposé of the corporatocracy.
What is a “Third Place”? To quote their site:
Sociologist Ray Oldenberg suggests that each of us needs three places: first is the home; second is the workplace or school; and beyond lies the place where people from all walks of life interact, experiencing and celebrating their commonality as well as their diversity. It is a third place. In his celebrated book, The Great Good Place, Oldenberg discusses how the cafes, pubs, town squares and other gathering places make a community stronger and bring people together.
I should qualify my opening remarks. I LOVE the small independent bookstores, not the large chains. It’s hard to find them these days, and it’s sort of ironic that the big chain, Barnes & Nobles, is now struggling thanks to Amazon.com. It is my hope that the small bookstores that have survived will continue to survive, especially if they become a “third place”.
There are two Third Place locations. The other is in Lake Forest Park, a suburb northeast and adjacent to Seattle. They have a five-restaurant food court, no less. And did I mention that the Ravenna location also has a pub cozily nestled beneath the cafe?
What about you? Do you have a favorite bookstore? Tell me about it.
My guitar-slinging buddy Scott Burnett has been my partner in music-making crime for close to 30 years. We have written a lot of songs together, I did session work for him back when he was a music producer, we can usually be spotted gigging together, and lately we have been collaborating on a light-jazz/latin/easy-listening/perfect-for-wine-swilling CD.
Meanwhile, he has been gradually establishing himself as an artist. I don’t recall when he started painting, but it’s been at least several years, and he has been getting serious about it the last two years. I don’t know much about art, but his work reminds me a little of Kandinsky or Klimpt given Scott’s penchant for building larger pieces out of small geometrical shapes.
If you are in the Seattle area you simply must visit Cafe Lulu (on Latona and N 65th) and check out his art up close and personal. Here are pictures of his art featured on its walls. And have a great espresso drink prepared with love and care. You can see more of Scott’s art on his web page lifeisontheground.com.
Merrilyn and I were playing tourist in Seattle’s Pioneer Square a few weeks ago. At Occidental Park they had a tree sock exhibit. There must be some giant serger hidden somewhere in the underground city to make these puppies. Anyway, I posed for this picture with a silly wistful expression. Someone pointed out that I seemed to be missing a leg. I don’t remember if I intentionally positioned myself in front of the comedy club, but there you go. The socks were strategically positioned a few feet up from the ground because these trees are frequently urinated on by the local indigent population.