Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Seattle explorations: hunting coffee and pastries around the city during my IFBC trip

At the end of August, I stayed in a Seattle neighborhood called lower Queen Anne during my travels to attend the International Food Blogger Conference organized by Foodista and Zephyr Adventures. Queen Anne charmed me immediately due to the fact that the Scandinavian bakery Nielsen’s resides in its quarters.  
Rumor has it that among several bakers at Nielsen's, an actual Dane is involved in the business (although he is now semi-retired.)  Danish flags hanging over the storefront lured me in with the promise of marzipan.  
The Danish symbol for bakeries, an upside down golden pretzel, hangs in Nielsen's like a beacon of soul-satisfying buttery dough, magic, and bakery euphoria. Anyone familiar with Denmark knows what the pretzel means, and it means good things for the passerby.
upside down gold pretzel, the Danish symbol for bakeries
Aside from Hygge in LA and Andersen’s in Santa Barbara, I have yet to visit a bakery in the states that offers some of the same pastries I once enjoyed in Denmark: Napolean’s Hats (a hat shaped cookie with a ball of marzipan in its core and chocolate on outside of the hat),  Snitters (a combination of sweet pastry dough layered with custard and white icing), and poppyseed pastries.  
Pictured above, Nielsen's poppyseed pastry (left) and the Snitter (right)
Naturally, the theme of any typical Danish bakery visit is wonderful, wonderful marzipan, and Nielsen’s was no exception.  I started and ended my tour of Seattle with a stop at this charming little bakery, which left me nostalgic for Copenhagen, a place I have missed ever since I finished my study abroad program five years ago.

Among my personal belongings, I count a Nielsen's pastry box as the most important while en route to the airport. My luggage sits here as I wait at the bus stop for my last ride into downtown, where I will catch the light rail to the SeaTac Airport.  Perfect snack for a passenger awaiting flight? Definitely!
Queen Anne also endeared itself to me because it happens to be the name of a tasty brew from a delicious coffee shop Cafe Lladro, named for their first store location (now one of many) in the upper Queen Anne neighborhood.   As a die-hard coffee enthusiast, it was essential that I try as many good cups of joe as possible in Seattle, a city proud of its coffee culture. This led me to places including  Vivace, and Victrola, where I purchased their Ethiopian Sidama Ardi coffee at the suggestion of the friendly barista. The conference provided a steady flow of Cafe Vita coffee throughout the weekend to add to the constant and wonderful supply of caffeine running through my veins. And though I may have looked a little jittery on the light rail ride to the airport, I wouldn't have had it any other way.
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