Sunday: A Day of Bucket List Accomplishments

After starting out my two week adventure in a fast paced way, I decided that Sunday was to be my designated lazy day. What this translated to in actuality: Allison saying that she will do laundry.

Did she do laundry?

No. Allison did not do laundry.

Anyway, let the story continue.

Sunday was destined to be a lazy day for a number of reasons.

1. Three days of walking around the city and being lost can be a bit tiring.
2. It was a beautiful, perfectly idyllic cloudy Seattle day meant for coffee and reading.
3. A mysterious hostel roommate entered the room at 1 AM, passed out in the bunk above me (in what I’m assuming is a drunken stupor), snored so loudly it was like listening to a chainsaw move its way through a forest of pine trees, and then she haphazardly left at 6 AM.

Needless to say, I was a bit sleep deprived, and just ever so slightly confused. This mysterious encounter was by far the weirdest roommate experience I’ve had at the hostel as of yet.

So as I wandered downstairs for breakfast that morning, I made my way directly for the coffee pot and bananas. I gave a longing look to the toasting bagels and the giant muffins lining the counter, and sat down with my breakfast.

The hostel was bustling with activity that morning, as everyone was preparing to leave on the rest of their adventures. Sunday is mostly departing day. The hectic nature of the hostel further supported my need for a relaxing day that didn’t involve hiking back and forth across the city. So with that being said, I went upstairs to my room with every intention of doing laundry.

I even went so far as to sort my clothes.

(Still didn’t do laundry.)

But since sorting laundry is obviously such tedious work, it was time to read a book. So I grabbed a brownie that my mom made me, snagged my book from my backpack, and made my merry way downstairs. I poured myself a cup of coffee, and sat down in the comfy chairs in the TV room, and started to read.

Reading doesn’t happen in a hostel. At least, it doesn’t happen for me.

I attract awkward people.

I blame my gigantic eyeballs. I have a perpetual deer caught in the headlights, can’t run away look.

IT’S A TRAP!

So, if you didn’t guess it, I made really awkward friends with some really awkward and bitter Iraq vets. Now, I’ve met some vets in my time, but these three were by far the most awkward, depressingly bitter, and disenfranchised individuals I’ve ever come across. Meeting them was a unique experience. They told me their life stories, unleashing their bitterness as I sat there in silence, just listening to them.

Kadesh, a woman in her mid-30s with bubble-gum pink hair and tattoos trailing up and down her arms and back, changed her name after leaving the Army, never wanting to find herself connected to the government with the same name as before. She wouldn’t tell me her given name. She wants to design clothes in Chinatown. She has shrapnel in her chest from a car bomb in Afghanistan, and she covered them up with tattoos and funky thrift-store gothic chic clothing.

The other vet, let’s call him John (he never gave his name, only his life story), is an interesting fellow. He reminds me of an old labrador that was abandoned at the dog shelter. He, too, walks with a limp, and his hands are giant and scarred beyond belief. His entire body, from his left leg up to his right shoulder, is wrapped in tattoos of stars and butterflies. He’s been shot, blown up, beat up, and abandoned. He was Army Special Forces and did three tours through Iraq and Afghanistan. John has a fair amount of problems from his tours, one of which seems to be a dependence on narcotics and similar such things.

Let me tell you, it was an eye opening experience.

Also, quite possibly one of the most awkward experiences I’ve encountered in life, made more awkward by the fact that these two seemed to have bonded to me like two baby ducklings, and now follow me around the hostel whenever they see me.

Back to the story of Allison not doing laundry…

After making my escape from Awkward John and Sad Kadesh, I decided it was time to find me some food. I was absolutely starving, because a banana and coffee do not a lasting breakfast make. With that being said, I made my way to the Chinese market just around the corner from my hostel.

So I grabbed my backpack, my wallet, and some sunglasses, and I headed out to the Uwajimaya Market.

Wandering around the market was a blast in and of itself. It was an odd collection of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, American, and fresh fruits and veggies.

I spent a food ten minutes in the coffee and tea aisle, hoping that I could fin something to take back to the hostel and hoard away for my own delights.

I found this AMAZING chai spice mix that smelled heavenly, but alas all three flavors had soy lecithin in the ingredient list, which ultimately resulted in this sad face:

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But, I did find this awesome dinosaur bottle (which appeared to be a clever way to get children to take vitamins), and the much beloved ORANGINA!

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After wandering the market for a little while, I discovered a few other hidden treasures. One hidden treasure would happen to be these odd little sweet rice balls I found buried in the frozen food section. Surprisingly, they didn’t have any of my normal allergens in there.

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Now, I did find a meager gluten free section at the market, but it wasn’t particularly forthcoming, so I continued to wander on my way through the store.

After about a half hour of walking through the store, my hunger pains were getting much worse, so it was definitely time to be heading back to the hostel with some food before I turned into an evil monster. However, the world smiled upon me one last time as I made my way to the cashiers. Right at the check out, designed to taunt you into buying candy, was CHOCOLATE!

Now, chocolate is always a reason to celebrate. However, finding dairy free/soy free chocolate is a reason for ecstatic celebration.

I’m not ashamed to say I spent $10 on this 90% dark chocolate.

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While it has a bit of a grainy texture (because it’s literally just ground up cacao beans and coffee beans and some sugar), man is this chocolate TO DIE FOR! This needs to be available in Colorado.

Anyway, I got back to the hostel, and I promptly unpacked my wares and fixed myself a snack:

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The joys of living in a hostel are many (and quite honestly a bit odd), but one of the perks is a giant kitchen where you can store food. My more expensive, and precious, items like my almond butter, my jam, and my chocolate made their way up to my room with me, where they were promptly stored in my locker for safe keeping.

Now, the hostel kind of frowns on you storing food in your room. I’m sure it’s a perfectly logical fear, probably stemming from the fear of bugs and mice infesting the rooms of the hostel. But sometimes, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

And having food allergies: girl’s gotta be a food hoarder.

After having eaten my lunch, and taking a bit of a nap, I again contemplated doing laundry.

Nope, still not doing it.

So I headed out in hopes of an adventure. And this adventure had one goal in mind: to chop off my hair.

New city, new adventure, new look.

The prospect of cutting off my hair was a scary one, because you see folks, I haven’t cut my hair shorter than down the middle of my back in six years. But sometimes you need change.

So with that in mind, I wandered the streets of Chinatown with Siri in hand, while she mockingly told me that I was turning the wrong way down the streets. She really needs to work on her empathy.

It was a pretty exciting afternoon on the streets of Chinatown, because I was able to mark something off my Bucket List as I wandered in hopes of a stylist.

I’ve always wanted to end up caught in a rainstorm in Seattle. Stuck outdoors as the big fat rain drops slowly descend and then quickly pile up until it’s just a downpour that catches you completely unawares.

It happened. And it is probably one of my favorite experiences in life.

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Luckily, I was only about two blocks away from Instyle Salon where I was going to say goodbye to my long locks.

When I told the stylist that I wanted to cut off most of my hair, she was immediately excited at the prospect. So, with language barrier fully in tow, my iPhone and her iPad we exchanged pictures until we mutually agreed on a length that would be fully suitable.

My heart stopped beating just a little bit when she took that first full snip and chipped off six inches in one full go. I was committed to this haircut now. So we continued, and the hair just kept coming off and droves.

I felt so bad for my stylist. She was wearing a white shirt and some white pants. Definitely not ideal for cutting off over 8 inches of dark hair…

Her shorts were basically black when she was finished with my hair. She was definitely going to need to do laundry. It’s a good thing that I wasn’t the one who had to do it, because let’s face it, that wouldn’t happen any time soon.

When she finished with my hair she was so excited, but she gave me one look and said:

“Oh honey, you want to do eyebrow wax too? I give you 75% off, only $5…”

When a little Asian woman looks at you with sympathy and offers you a $5 eyebrow wax out of pity, you take that and run.

And when you get home, you spend the next two hours wondering just how horrific your eyebrows/unibrows were to warrant a $5 pity wax…

Anyway, this was the result of brand new hairstyle!

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Yep, it’s drastically different. And yep, that is a Star Trek tshirt.

Now, it may have been a relatively lazy Sunday in regards to full blown adventures, and it may have been a little bit lame in regards to vacation experiences, but hey…I found chocolate. And a dinosaur beverage.

Oh, and the laundry still isn’t done.

So to recap:
Allison is really bad at doing laundry.
The Chinese market was an odd success full of weird finds.
Rain in Seattle is better than Colorado rain because it doesn’t result in hypothermia.
Sundays are the best days for making odd, not-very-important life changes (such as hair).

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The Aimless Wanderer: A New Perspective on Seattle

Day Three of Seattle held many fascinating adventures for me. It was a day completely free of goals.

I suppose it may be strange to have a goal of no goals for a day traveling a new city; so please, let me explain.

I didn’t have any aims to visit a particular musuem, to see a particular iconic site, or to relive any iconic movie scenes. I didn’t plan on visiting any one particular restaurant, and I didn’t have any plans to visit a particular bar.

My goal of no goals was to simply go forward. So forward I went.

First, I wandered the streets around my hostel, looking in at the tiny storefront windows of the Chinatown bakeries. I’m a glutton for torture, apparently. I’m pretty sure I left tiny little salivating nose prints (much like dog window art) at this local shop, where the pastries smelled to die for, and from the looks of pure enjoyment on the store-goers, the store offers delicious foods.

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After torturing myself with visions of pastries never to be had, I headed down Jackson Avenue, no idea in what direction, but the Waterfront was on my left and Downtown Seattle was in front of me somewhere. I knew that eventually I would end up somewhere fascinating. In a city this large and teeming with so much diverse culture, how could I not stumble across a secret wonder?

And as I wandered with no aim in mind, I watched the city awaken in front of me on a Saturday morning. It was not a disappointing experience. The sun had already risen and was shining on the buildings downtown, offsetting the cloudy skies that were rolling in, offering hints of blue here in there in skyline. As I walked, I kept my eyes open and wide, looking at the storefronts of the city streets around me. Luckily enough, within a short walk of my hostel I found two different small museums.

The first:

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This little museum offers $4 admission to adults, and $2 admission to children. It’s a small, one roomed museum funded partially by the city, and partially by the proceeds from museum entrance. At 10 AM on a Saturday, I was the only one touring this little museum; though it’s quaint and small, there is a fantastic feel to this museum as it pays homage to the history of Seattle’s police force. It’s not much, but worth the small price of entrance, which let’s be honest folks, is cheaper than most cups of coffee.

After my small diversion, I continued every further on down the road. Still walking down Jackson Avenue, I diverted briefly to a side street, when I saw this sign:

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Now this museum, is definitely a hidden jewel in the city. It’s completely free of charge, being funded by the National Parks, and it’s open to the public every day of the week. It’s a small museum, two levels, that offers a unique perspective on the history of the Klondike Gold Rush. My favorite part of this little place was the actual set up of the exhibits. The curator decided to take a uniquely human perspective on the Gold Rush, rather than just a historical perspective.

Sure, you had the requisite historical newspapers and images detailing what/why/when/where/how, but this was effectively brought together with the story of five separate individuals from different cultural, social, racial perspectives, as well as different ages. As you walk through the exhibit, you get to read about their lives at different points of time within the Klondike Gold Rush.

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Nordstrom’s story was one my favorites throughout the museum. He was originally a Swedish immigrant who came to the US with no more than $10 in his pocket. While that was still a decent amount of money back in the day, it was by far more impressive to see what he did with his experience. Apparently, after wandering the Washington wilderness in his attempt to make it to the Klondike Gold Rush, when he finally made it to the encampment and had a hot cup of coffee and fresh sourdough bread, he said it was the best drink and meal he had ever had.

I think it may have been the exhaustion, because surely camp food couldn’t have been THAT amazing. Who knows though, maybe it was.

Once I left this little museum, I headed back out to Jackson Avenue, and made my way ever further toward the water. I reached the corner of Jackson and 1st Ave, and decided to turn right. Saturday morning had unfolded a world of new smells and sounds, and it looked like 1st Ave was a gateway to a whole new world (read in a Disney-esque musical voice).

Down the road, I came across this tantalizing sign, and had to walk into the building, which housed a collection of small boutiques, book stores, and of course, delicious pastries.

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Sadly, there was nothing edible to eat, and I again left behind some nose art as I drooled over their menu of delicious loafs of bread and sandwich menu.

By this time I was absolutely starving and in search of lunch. I learned I was actually wandering in Pioneer Square. You’re not lost if you’re just wandering. Luckily, my wandering streak allowed me to happen upon this little restaurant — a small two man kitchen more reminiscent of a seedy dive bar than a restaurant up to health code.

However, the best restaurants are always the ones that look the worst inside and out (at least this is the case in regards to quality Mexican food in the south), but who actually sport pretty damn spotless kitchens.

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Now, Mediterranean Mix boasts at being the King of Falafel, providing quality New York style pizza, and a FAMOUS Philly cheesesteak. I’m not sure about the others, but they did have some pretty damn good falafel.

I chose this restaurant for a plethora of reasons:

1. Mediterranean food typically tends to be a decently safe bet for dairy free, egg free, soy free, gluten free, peanut free concoctions
2. Chicken Shawarma and Basmati rice is actually one of my favorite meals of all time
3. Falafel is basically the best street food to exist
4. I was starving.

Despite a pretty strong language barrier between myself and the waiter (let’s call him Bob, for simplicity’s sake), I was able to convey my allergies and my dining predicament. With a puzzled look over my oil inquiries, and my (very sad) desire to leave off their homemade tzaziki sauce, I managed to place an order with Bob.

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Oh man, was it worth it. I was a little bit worried about eating the food, considering the language barrier we encountered. However, the basmati rice was flavorful, perfectly seasoned and tossed with saut├ęed tomatoes and cilantro to give it a bit of an extra kick, and the chicken shawarma was quite possibly some of the best I’ve ever had in my life. And I’ve had a fair amount of shawarma.

And the falafel? Mmm mm good. Granted it was missing out a bit on the tahini spices to give it a lil extra oomph, it was still moist and flavorful. I wouldn’t say that Mediterranean Mix is the King of Falafel, but I would go so far as to say maybe the Duke of Falafel would be a pretty good title.

After I ate as much of the giant dish of food as I could, I was still left behind with the remains of at least two more meals. For $10 I got the biggest helping of Mediterranean food that I couldn’t possibly finish. I didn’t want to throw away my food and waste all that money, and I didn’t want to carry around my remaining food for the rest of the day.

So, with one goal in mind, I decided to head back to the center of Pioneer Square, an area filled with beautiful Native statues, and filled with what appears to be an ever-growing populace of homeless individuals in the Seattle area. With my goal in mind, I headed back around the corner to Occidental Avenue to find my square again, and approached a kind gentleman who smiled at me when I approached, and didn’t seem to try and shrink into the shadows like his companions.

His name was Ephram, and he had the kindest eyes, lined with wrinkles from what appeared to be years of smiling and squinting in the sun. He wore colorful beads around his neck, matching the Native statue he sat beneath; and despite his circumstance, he had the most cheerful disposition.

Ephram was joyous. Talking to him, I couldn’t help but smile and be delighted. We exchanged hellos and handshakes, and I offered him the remains of my food. I was worried that he would think I was rude, or that he would somehow take offense. But talking with Ephram, I can’t imagine him taking offense at anything in life. He had a cavalier attitude and a simplistic positivity that was utterly contagious.

I asked him which would be better for the day: the Seattle Giant Ferris Wheel or Pike Place Market?

He advised me as follows:
“Go to the Ferris wheel and enjoy the view of the water and storm clouds.”

With words like that, how could I go anywhere else but back to the Waterfront? And boy was Ephram right. But first, I had more wandering to do.

I meandered my way around Occidental Avenue and then back to 1st Avenue, looking at the shops around me, and enjoying the scents that wafted out of storefronts, designed to tantalize the tourists on their way to Pike Place Market.

I came across this tiny little shop that appeared to have the MOST DELICIOUS chocolate chip cookies on earth. And judging from the looks of pure bliss as customers bit into them, I would say it was a pretty good assessment.

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Sadly, this little shop did not offer any cookies that were dairy free, egg free, soy free, peanut free, and/or gluten free. There weren’t any cookies that were free of a single one of these. Alas, I walked out of the store a little sad at heart and continued on my not-so-merry cookie free way.

Soon, I found myself at Cherry St, where I decided to wander up the hill a bit due to a tantalizing sign about a bookstore. So I made my way up Cherry St until I found this awesome little store that specializes in murder mysteries.

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While pure murder mysteries and suspense thrillers aren’t my normal cup of tea for books, this store was fantastic. It was a small little shop, homey in its abundance of giant comfy leather chairs that had obviously been well loved, and walls lined from floor to ceiling with different sub-genres of mystery novels.

This store also had a fantastic collection of autographed books. There was an entire section of autographed James Bond books that you could pick up for a cheap $20-$30.

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After touring the mystery titles in this little book store, it was time to move on further into the city.

It was time for the Waterfront.

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The Seattle Waterfront is completely different during the day than it is at night. The streets were just teeming with life, tourists and locals, and filled with a chaotic energy that just fills you with excitement at the prospects of the Waterfront. During the day, I was met with the strangest sites, two of which included these little dogs dressed up to attract attention and tips.

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These dogs were some of the most mellow Chihuahuas I’ve ever come across. They sat there, chill as can be, with hoards of people around them taking picture after picture of them in their little dresses and wigs.

After I took my pictures of the chill Chihuahuas, I turned the corner and stood in line for my tickets to the Ferris Wheel.

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While in line, enjoy these great pictures of the back of the Seattle Aquarium (which is most definitely on my to do list).

Once I got to the front of the line, I got my ticket for the Ferris Wheel.

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Because I was a group of one I got to join a group of three in my little bubble. We got to ride the wheel a total of three times around, and it was beautiful. The view from the top was gorgeous, but all around it was just amazing to see the Waterfront beneath me, and the just all around.

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It was great getting to look down on all the diners on the piers, hidden underneath the great wheel.

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At one point in time we saw Seattle Search and Rescue doing some training missions. However, this poor dummy was just left in the water, stranded, for about twenty minutes before they came around for him at last.

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Eventually though, the dummy was rescued. No fake hypothermia for him! But the view of the Space Needle and the buildings of Downtown Seattle was just fantastic.

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The view of the water, just slightly tumultuous, and the skies grey and cloudy with just hints of blue, was the perfect and iconic Seattle weather for people watching on the piers. And with my last round on the Ferris Wheel, I took this fabulous picture from the top:

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And with my exit back down to grounded reality, I was taken back through to the Waterfront Carousel, filled with hoards of people, and little children clamoring over one another to ride the Waterfront horses, lit up with soft lighting, hiding the chipped pain on the hooves.

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Well, after I made my way through the crowds of the Waterfront, I walked across the street, again wandering aimlessly toward nothing. And again, I was rewarded with some hidden places in the back streets of Seattle.

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This sign tantalized me with ideas of a quaint Irish pub, and let’s be honest here, who doesn’t love owls? With a name, and a sign, so cute, I simply had to find my way to wherever Post St actually existed.

Eventually, I did find the street, on what appeared to be underneath another bar, and hidden in an alley, underneath the Main Street of 1st Avenue. Luckily, the Owl n’ Thistle appears to cater to the lost and wandering, and post signs around corners to guide you to their doors.

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Sadly, the Owl n’ Thistle didn’t offer any food that I could eat; however, they did offer a wonderful atmosphere and an imported cider.

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I had never had a Magner’s cider before, but it was quite delicious. It had a nice oaky taste to it, more reminiscent of a Strongbow cider. Though a bit crisp and acidic at first, the flavor definitely developed into a nice finish that went down smooth and quick, without an overly sweet taste that tends to be more popular with American produced ciders.

The pub was mostly empty when I was there, and if I were a local, this would probably be my evening hangout. The prices were nice, but the Owl n’ Thistle is all about the ambience. Leather bound books line the wall, and low lighting with old, lightly dented, copper tables and cracked leather chairs and booths filled the building. The pub was sectioned off in different areas, offering a fantastic setting wherein you could have light conversation, and nothing was overly boisterous. The design was fantastic for acoustics and general atmosphere.

Let’s just say I was in love with this place.

So, to relax, and enjoy the setting, I pulled out my book, and enjoyed my drink.

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For me, this was perfection in regards to the height of relaxation.

I know a number of people who find it uncomfortable to go out alone, whether it’s dining, drinking, or anything. Obviously, I’m not really the type.

Read as overly independent and introverted.

I prefer to do things alone. When you go out alone there are no expectations. You don’t have to look attractive. You don’t have to be entertaining. You don’t have to put on an image of extroversion.

If you couldn’t tell, I like going on solo-adventures and moving at my own pace. So, it was with great joy that I sat down and read my book and drank my cider in complete seclusion of this cozy Irish home-away-from-home pub.

Alas, with the bottom of my glass visible, it was time to find my way home.

So I paid my bill, and bid adieu to my barkeep, and wandered back out into the city streets, looking for my way back to Chinatown.

It seemed my day of wandering helped me learn the confusing streets of Seattle. Without staring at maps, and relying solely on the few streets I had memorized, I made my way back to 5th Ave and King St, the entrance of the International District.

It was about 6:30 PM when I finally crawled my way into my room, and kicked off my shoes and collapsed into bed. A hard day of wandering the city streets, with very little downtime for actually just sitting and relaxing, it was time to unwrap an Enjoy Life bar, throw on the pajamas, and lay in bed with some music and a book.

Day 3 in Seattle: The Traveling Allergen participated in cruel and unusual self-inflicted punishment as she toured bakeries and wandered the city.

Stay tuned for more updates on my gastronomical adventures in the Pacific Northwest, and lots of pictures of my non-food related adventures!

Hopelessly Lost in Seattle

Today, was quite possibly, one of the most wonderful adventures I’ve ever experienced.

Before I go into detail, let me just do a brief list of all the things I managed to pack into my day:

0. Got off on the wrong bus stop
1. Breakfast of booze and bacon in the city
2. Coffee on top of the Space Needle
3. Touring the Chihuly Gardens and Glass Museum
4. EMP Museum (also known as a nerdy girl’s dream museum)
5. Made a wrong turn — hopelessly lost
6. Made five more wrong turns — even more lost…
7. Got on the wrong bus
8. Got off the wrong bus
9. Made another wrong turn
10. Got on the right bus
11. Finally made it back to the youth hostel
12. Got hungry and decided to try fresh Seattle seafood
13. Missed the bus to the waterfront
14. Walked down to the waterfront (DIDN’T GET LOST!)
15. Found some seafood
16. Walked back to the hostel (AND DIDN’T GET LOST!)

Now, my day started off quite early. For some reason, my body decided that six hours was enough sleep, and it was high time for me to introduce myself to Seattle. Luckily, my hostel starts breakfast at 6 AM, so I was good to go for coffee, oranges, a particularly overripe banana, and some grapefruit juice.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I wistfully stared at a few of my fellow early risers as they wolfed down croissants, bagels and cream cheese, and muffins. Luckily, I don’t think they noticed my lustful stares at their flaky pastries. Or, if they did, they chose to ignore it.

Finally, about 7 AM, I made my way toward downtown Seattle. My aim for today? To do the truly classic touristy things. And you simply can’t go to Seattle and NOT see the Space Needle! Little did I know that there were SO many other things to do right next door.

So, I ventured into the city. Good news is I got on the right bus. Bad news is I got off on the wrong bus stop. However, it did allow me the opportunity to (somewhat) aimlessly wander the early morning streets. I found myself a number of small cafes and coffee shops that seemed to cater mostly to the pastry-abled world. Sadly, I’m pasty-disabled. Therefore, I continued to wander around, until I came across a most unusual place, full of punk rock spunk, in what appeared to be a bar open for breakfast.

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Since it was still early, and no one was open for touring local spots, I decided I would sit down and plan out my day. Well, moderately (read loosely) plan where I was going to go.

I would be a great Hobbit.
Why, you ask?

Well, I’ll tell you why. I’m short and round, and I THOROUGHLY believe in the importance of a Second Breakfast, particularly when traveling. Luckily, my food allergies limit my options at Second Breakfast, so I was only able to partake in some bacon and a mimosa.

I was a bit disappointed.

For having been around for so long, Five Points Bar was rather lacking on actual taste in both the food and the drink area. First, my bacon was burnt, and honestly tasted like they salted it before frying it up in the pan.

Bacon does NOT need to be salted. Trust me on this, and just step away from the salt shaker.

Second, though my mimosa was made with fresh squeezed orange juice, it was made with subpar Prosecco.

C’est la vie.

Luckily though, by the time I finished my juice and bacon, it was a semi-decent hour for touring the city. With that being said, I Hobbit-strolled my plump Second-Breakfast-filled-self over to the Seattle Center, which luckily enough, houses the Space Needle (as well as a collection of other wonderful places).

Here, at the base of this beautiful work of architecture (which looks like a fantastic floating spaceship circa 1940s imagination), I purchased my duo ticket for my ride to the observation ticket, and it’s prompt follow up to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum.

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Now, if you’re going to go to the Space Needle, I highly suggest that you go early in the morning. With my launch time at 9:15, there were only five other people on the observation deck with me.

And it was stunning.

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It was awe inspiring to walk around the observation deck, viewing the city I’d been in love with since a little girl, accompanied with only the sounds of the wind in my hair and awakening city beneath me.

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So after taking a million pictures, I headed inside the observation deck, where I watched promptly ordered coffee and enjoyed the view of the city below the Space Needle.

I finished my coffee, and headed out for one last tour around the deck, and one last picture from atop the Space Needle.

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Next, I was off to the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. Before you enter the museum proper, they have these stunning giant sunflowers that just soak up the sun.

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Up close and personal, when you walk the path around these giant beauties, these interactive motion-detecting speakers will emit loud vocal chorus music that adds to the simplistic beauty of theses works of art.

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As this was the only outdoor exhibit viewable from outside of the museum, it was time to enter. This was not merely a museum. As you walk through the exhibit, it feels more like you’re walking the mental landscape of a mind that’s reached a higher plain of thinking.

The first exhibit are these beautiful pieces of blown pink and blue glass, sitting in the dark, lit up by small lights to give an eerie effect of glowing swans afloat at the peak of midnight.

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OR maybe being lost in some sort of fantastical forrest.

Who knows?

The next exhibit room I wandered into was filled was basically a rainbow room, until you looked at the ceiling. The ceiling of the room was the exhibit: a glass showcase filled with creations mimicking the free flowing forms of coral life, with soft ambient light shining through to give the room this warm rainbow glow.

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With sea life on the mind, the exhibit hall then throws you into this darkly lit room, where the only source of light is that which lights up the art work, giving this awe inspiring feeling of being surrounded by nothing but this fantastical creation that merges together underwater sea life with a Willy Wonka-esque imagination.

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Every angle of the piece brings together something new and unique on its own level.

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But through the forest of glass creations, was this monstrous center piece that is just insane to think of the construction of it.

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After the sea life exhibit, there was just a room, in the dark, filled with boats that were filled with pieces of blown glass of all shapes and sizes.

Sounds odd, I know, but was surprisingly cool looking.

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And, of course, life isn’t complete without some spiky glass chandeliers made out of weird shapes.

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Are you tired of seeing pictures of blown glass yet?

I knew it. Well, lucky for you, I have more pictures with which to bore you. However, from here on out we’re in the Chihuly gardens.

Here in the gardens, it’s a beautiful mixture of diverse flowers of all colors that are offset by towering and twisting pieces of glass work.

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and then there is just this randomly placed giant piece of red glasswork, surrounded by poppies and tulips.

So naturally, I had to take a picture with it.

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With one final picture, I leave you with your own thoughts on the beautiful pieces of artist Chihuly, that are just sitting in glorious wonder in the Seattle Center.

If you’re a Seattle or Washington local, or you’re just visiting, I say this openly: you will regret not seeing this exhibit. It is a must see for everyone.

We all need a little imaginative beauty in our lives.

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So, with my excursion to the Glass Gardens finished, it was time to go to the EMP museum.

Don’t ask me what EMP stands for, I’ve no idea.

What do I know?

This is the coolest museum IN EXISTENCE!! Well, if you’re a nerd/geek this is the coolest museum in existence.

Why is this the coolest museum? You may be asking that, and the good news is that I have an answer for you.

This museum had five main exhibits, but I only cared about three.

1. Fantasy literature and film.
2. Science fiction literature and film.
3. Horror movies.

4. Kurt Cobaine and the Seattle Sound of grunge rock.
5. Jimmi Hendrix and his London Tour.

Can you tell which ones I cared the most about?

Yeah…that’s right, I found Sirius Black’s robe from Harry Potter!

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Also, Seattle is apparently the gateway to the Iron Throne, as I found that torturous chair, as well as Cersei Lannister’s fantastic dress with it’s protective iron bosom, and Tyrion Lannister’s wonderful leathered uniform of impish protection.

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But we must not forget that it can’t be a fantasy exhibit without some sort of homage to The Princess Bride.

And an homage there was. Oooooooo was there an homage.

They had Princess Buttercup’s dress on display along with Wesley/The Dread Pirate Roberts’ semi-Zorro related masked uniform on display, along with Inigo Montoya’s cherished sword.

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As I made my way out of the fantasy section and into the science fiction world, it was a world of nerdy delights!

I found Captain Kirk’s chair, overrun with Tribbles (that’s the Trouble with Tribbles), Starbuck’s uniform from the Battlestar Galactica re-launch, Darth Vader’s lightsaber, Yoda’s walking stick, an Imperial Dalek, a Cyberman, and oh so much more. It was by far one of the coolest experiences I have ever had in a museum.

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After my excursion into the basement to find myself in a darkly lit room filled with horror movie paraphernalia, I decided it was time to leave. Five hours of museum touring had really tuckered me out and it was time to find my way back to Chinatown, and to find some food.

Little did I know that this was so not going to happen.

Now, the thing about being a Colorado girl is I can only figure out what direction I am headed in when I have the Rocky Mountains. You always know they are on the west, ergo, you can always figure out what direction you are headed.

No such luck in Seattle, folks.

I made a wrong turn, and I still have no idea which direction I was actually going. Now, I ended up hiking about three miles into north Queen Anne (so maybe I was partially going north). Well, hiking into Queen Anne was full of many stops and many many moments of me unfurling my map and staring at it with the blatant touristy look of “Where the hell am I and how do I get back to where I was?”

At this point in time, I had made my way into a neighborhood that mostly consisted of road construction and houses. I did, however, manage to finally come across somewhere to get food. My experience there, however, was much to be desired.

I went to New York Pizza, which was a highly overpriced pizza/burger joint in Queen Anne, with pretty poor customer service when it came to allergies.

Now, I’ve come to understand that Seattle does NOT have much of an allergy awareness or multi-allergy crossover. Finding gluten free options at restaurants seems to be relatively easy, but finding gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, peanut free food is near impossible. In Colorado, when I introduce myself to waiters/waitresses, I tend to come up against quite a bit of sympathy, and someone (usually) who is pretty damn determined to find me something on the menu to eat.

So, it was much to my surprise that when I sat down at this upscale pizza/burger joint, that I introduced myself to the bartender and was greeted with laughter. I informed him of my allergies, and asked if he could possibly help me find anything on the menu that I could safely eat.

His response?

“Good luck and have fun with that.”

I was incredibly disappointed to find that, as a server, in a completely empty restaurant (because I always go places after/before rushes, so as not to be terribly imposing), that he was entirely unwilling to help me. Finally, I had to coax answers out of him.

“What about your sweet potato fries, if I were to leave out the siracha aioli?”

“Yeah, they aren’t breaded.”

“So…what oil do you use?”

“No idea. I just suggest you don’t order them.”

I gave this waiter a blank stare as he responded. His complete apathy in regards to helping me find food was chipping away at the meager tip he was starting out with due to his rudeness.

At this point in time, I gave up on receiving any help from him. Normally, I probably would have walked out at this point in time, but I only had 3% left on my phone’s battery charge, and it was the only place to eat in my vicinity. So I stayed, and inquired further.

“Alright, fine. I’ll take the bacon cheeseburger. NO CHEESE, no bun, no onion. Also, please wipe down the grill, and do not use any oil or butter.”

“So you basically want a piece of meat with bacon and pickles and no flavor?Great.

Now, here is a tip to all you servers in the world. If you get a customer who is nitpicking your cooking style and the ingredients, it’s most likely not the result of someone on a fad diet, but someone who has genuine health concerns.

When you have a customer who goes so far to ask what kind of oil blend is used, you need to pay attention to the accuracy of the information you provide, and the quality of service you give a customer. Otherwise, you can find yourself and your company in a sticky situation if you happen to be so apathetic that it can result in an anaphylactic reaction. MMMMKAY!?

Alright, I’ll get off my soapbox now. But it drives me crazy to be treated with such laziness in regards to my health.

Trust me, if I could enjoy all the tasty foods while I’m on vacation, I totally would.

Finally, my “tasteless piece of meat” (as described by my waiter) arrived.

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While it may not have had all the fixings of a normal burger, I found it to be supremely tasty in and of itself. It was fresh meat, cooked to perfection, topped with some wonderful crispy bacon, and some tasty pickles.

However, I don’t personally think that this burger was worth the dollar sign of $11, but who knows, maybe a bun and that slice of cheddar cheese would have made it worth that much money. Somehow, I don’t think so, but I’m a bit jaded on the restaurant after my treatment.

SO while my food was tasty, the moral of the story is: IF you suffer from multiple allergies, don’t go to New York Pizza in Queen Anne.

Also, I suppose the other moral of the story is: If you get lost, don’t keep making turns and switching streets. I suggest to sticking to a single street in order to backtrack. My bad guys.

Now that lunch was done with, and it was about four in the afternoon, I decided that I really did need to find my way back to Chinatown. No surprise, my bartender/waiter was no help when I asked for his help.

Seriously, I’m happy he wasn’t my first experience with people in Seattle, cause he was awful. Everyone else has been delightful. Anyway, back to the story; when I asked for his help as to which bus I should take, or which road I should walk back on, his response was as follows:

“I don’t know, I’m not a tour guide. I only know what I take to get into work.”

Thanks bud, you’re a real gem.

As luck would have it though, I found 5th avenue, and walked that all the way into Belltown, wherein I found the most helpful homeless man who told me which bus to get on to go back to Chinatown.

So nice! And it gets even better: in exchange for a pack of fruit snacks, I got serenaded with a spur of the moment personally written song by a homeless man equipped with an empty water jug, his hands, and a stunningly beautiful voice.

Now, after being serenaded, I felt absolutely refreshed and in high spirits that I was GOING to find the right bus.

I know what you’re wondering: “Did Allison actually get on the right bus?”

SHE DID!

And let me tell you, boy was I happy to finally find a bus to get on, because I was tired from walking all day long. However, I did get off on the wrong stop…

Like I said, I am severely directionally challenged. Also, I’m apparently incredibly challenged when it comes to operating a bus system. While I didn’t get off at the right stop in Chinatown, I did get off on an adjacent street I recognized, and I made my slow way back to the youth hostel.

After a long day of being lost in the city, and finding many hidden gems (and not so gems), it was time for a hot shower, some ibuprofen, headphones, and a power nap.

I rested up for a couple of hours, and then decided I was hungry. The heavenly smells of Chinese food wafting through my bedroom window was tormenting me.

If I had known when I booked my hostel stay that I was going to be surrounded by five different Chinese/Japanese/Vietnamese restaurants beneath my building, I’m not so sure I would have booked such a painfully torturous experience.

So, I put on my shoes, grabbed a jacket, and decided to make my way to the Seattle Waterfront in hopes of finding seafood. Now, the girl at the front desk told me I wanted to take bus 99 down to the waterfront, and back. She said would be an easy trip.

Unfortunately, after 6:05 PM it would appear that the 99 doesn’t run from Chinatown to the Waterfront.

So, I pulled out my map of Seattle, grabbed Siri, and slowly wandered down to the waterfront. If there was water only on side of Seattle, I may have been able to find it a bit easier, but luckily enough, I only got lost once.

How did I finally find my way to the Waterfront? Jimmy John’s Delivery Biker. Super nice guy directed me to the proper streets.

Once I found myself in the right district, I found myself utterly in love with the area. The cloudy skies at sunset over the water, with mountains in the background, was quite possibly one of the most stunning views I’ve come across. It was a beautiful mixture of nature and man coming together. Buildings, skyscrapers, docks, and water and mountains just blending together in natural beauty, intensified by the sweet salty smell of the water.

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While I paused to look out off the docks, I enjoyed the mellow sounds of water sloshing against the wooden planks meshing with the gulls above head, hungrily cawing for any scraps of fish n’chips that may have been lying around, unclaimed, from local hotspots like Ivar’s or Elliot’s or The Crab Pot with all their walk up windows specializing in fried deliciousness.

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In case you were wondering, this is Ivar, feeding the world’s largest seagulls apparently native to Seattle. Why he wants to attract those babies, I’ve no idea.

Though I determined that Ivar’s was not the dinner hotspot for me, it seemed to be a local hotspot for everyone else. The food smelled heavenly of fish and shrimp fried to golden perfection. I wandered ever further on down the Waterfront, and found myself falling more in love with the city with every wandering footstep.

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I finally decided upon a restaurant: The Crab Pot.

However, it was a thirty minute wait (even for a table of one), so they advised that I go wander around and come back a bit later. So while I waited for my table, I walked out on to the pier, and looked at the Ferris wheel, people watched as a gaggle of high school dates walked by in full Prom gear, supposedly headed off from to their last high school hurrah.

The wind was blowing, and it was perfectly chilly as the sun was setting.

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Basically, it was ideal people watching weather. After about ten minutes of only seeing the same ten people walking back and forth across the docks, I decided to wander inside to the Gold Rush Food Court, and looked around the local shop of Pirate’s Plunder, where they cater to the hokey and ridiculous stereotypes of fisherman (insert yellow raincoat, peg leg, and crusty old men with no teeth).

After wandering for a bit, I decided to make my way back to The Crap Pot, wherein my table was luckily ready. I was seated on the upper-deck indoor patio. Sadly, I didn’t have a good enough view to take pictures of the waterfront below me, but I did manage to get some good people watching in while I waited for my food.

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Again, my waiter was utterly flumoxed by my allergies, but, despite being amused by my “inability to eat real food” (his words), he was very attentive and determined to make sure I could eat some food.

I’m not sure if this was just a personal challenge, or if he was aiming for a good tip, but he was quite helpful.

Sadly, what I wanted the most (a giant dish called “The Cove”) was not to be for me, as it was a steamed bake of crab, mussels, shrimp, gluten free sausage, and corn that was actually designed for two. And $40 of steamed seafood just seemed a bit over the top for someone on a solo dining trip.

Instead, I ordered the wood-fired grilled giant sea scallops with steamed broccoli and steamed red potatoes, no butter, no oil (everywhere in Seattle seams to use an oil blend of canola and soy.).

My waiter was quite nice, and ensured me that they would clean the grill to make sure there wasn’t a problem with cross contamination.

So while I waited for my food, I amusingly watched my fellow diners all beat their dinners to a tiny little pulp with their little bitty wooden mallets. It was like watching Gulliver attempting to eat seafood. No one seemed to be aware of my amusement at their predicament as they all smashed in their food and then plucked out the meat with tiny little seafood forks.

Finally, my food arrived:

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These were quite possibly some of the best scallops I’ve ever had in my life. So tasty.

My waiter was delightfully surprised by my enthusiasm for which I ate these scallops. I’m not ashamed to say I cleaned my plate.

By the time I finished my dinner and paid, it was coming up on 9 PM, and I had been going since about 5 AM. It was definitely time to be heading back to the youth hostel for a cup of hot Earl Grey tea and a homemade brownie that my wonderful mother had sent with me on my trip.

Luckily, Allison made NO WRONG TURNS n her walk back to the youth hostel. I managed to find my way back from the Waterfront (particularly Alaskan Way) all the way back to 5th Avenue and King Street without getting lost. It would seem that my sense of direction pitied me enough from earlier in the afternoon, that I was allowed off the hook for the evening.

SO I slowly wandered my way home for the evening, crawled up the stairs to the hostel, put on pajamas, and promptly passed out in an exhausted haze, filled with scallops, tea, and brownies.

Day Two: The Traveling Allergen was a hit and miss of foodie adventures, but a complete success in falling in love with the city I’ve loved from afar since childhood.

The Traveling Allergen: Seattle, Day 1

Eating out with allergies is always an adventure. Eating out when you’re allergic to the entire world is like a trip to Mordor without a Samwise to keep me from being eaten by dangerous spiders, and in general, keep me alive.

With my fear of restaurants and cuisine, I’m a bit worried about my two week solo-adventure to Seattle.

Today is my first day in the city. I arrived in the city this morning, promptly at 9:36 local time, and immediately got lost in the airport. After wandering the airport for about 45 minutes, I found my way to the light rail into Downtown Seattle. Public transport is a beautiful thing people. For $2.25 I made my way into Downtown Seattle on a spectacularly clean tram.

Once I exited on Westlake Center, I made my way up from the underground and walked around a bit. I again found myself lost in the city , which is by far the best way to tour any new area. After I got off the tram, I made my way up from the underground and walked around a bit. I found a Starbucks (no surprise), and sat down in the middle of Westlake Center (a giant outdoor mall/business center/general large commercial area) with a cup of iced coffee and some delicious homemade brownies free of gluten, dairy, egg, soy, and peanuts that my wonderful mother made for my trip.

Here I am enjoying people watching in the beautiful 75 degree sunny weather, smack dab in the middle of downtown Seattle:

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While regaining energy from a caffeine and chocolate buzz, I attempted to learn how to read a bus map. Let me tell you…I am not talented at reading maps, and being a Colorado girl, I have no sense of direction when you take away my mountains.

However, I did come across a nice socialist activist (no joke, his tshirt said “Socialism Now!”) who informed me that Mount Rainier is always on the south side of Seattle, and also told me what bus to get on, I found my way to Seattle’s very own Chinatown.

Verdict? Chinatown in awesome.

Now, you may be wondering “Why is Allison in Chinatown on her first day?”
Well, I’m staying in a super awesome youth hostel located in the middle of Chinatown. The best part about this is it’s right next door to a comic book shop, and right around the corner is the wonderful Hing Hay Park, where I discovered an abundance of giant games.

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This giant chess board was accompanied by an adorable little old Chinese man performing in this amazing square that was surrounded with beautiful murals of artwork.

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I relaxed around here for a while, watching people play chess and shuffleboard while children fed the over zealous pigeons who are obviously fattened up on fried rice and pastries.

Later, I wandered around the corner to an awesome little espresso and tea shop called Gossip, where I had the most delicious peach tea of my life.

And what I’ve learned about Chinatown is that everyone is so genuinely nice and helpful. When I finally found myself in need of real nourishment, not brownies and caffeine, I wandered around town until I came across a small food court that encompassed about ten different local Asian cuisine restaurants, ranging from Chinese, Thai, Japanese, English (this was random, but the creme puffs seemed to be pretty popular with the locals), and Hawaiian.

Personally, I tried Aloha Plates, a fantastic hole-in-the-wall Hawaiian restaurant. Let me tell you…these ladies were so incredibly kind and understanding of my allergies.

After being bitterly disappointed that their famous Kahlua Pork dish was not soy free and dairy free, she took down my allergies and helped me to figure out what dishes were available for me. She determined that their lemon chicken with jasmine rice would be a suitable option for me.

So, I sat down and watched them prepare my meal, and I was stunned by their kindness. Three people operate in the tiny kitchen of Aloha Plates. It’s a meager four burner stove, an oven, four cooking pans, and refrigerator that make up this kitchen. But what they lack in amenities, they make up for in heart.

Understanding that I have multiple allergies, the cook changed all of their equipment. They brought out a new cutting board, new knives, new pans, and all new equipment for me. I was delightfully surprised with this wonderful dish:

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Lemon Chicken with Jasmine Rice, served with (as my waitress/cook was really excited to tell me) a personally crafted sauce of Sesame Oil, Salt, Pepper, and Lemon that was a delightful addition to my meal.

And it was fantastic.

So for my first day in Seattle, wandering the streets of Chinatown, and attempting new cuisine were all a massive success. Being lost in the city, finding my way through public transport and general human kindness, and discovering tasty delights has been the perfect start to a two week solo journey through the Pacific Northwest!

Adventures In Dairy Free Caramel Experiments: Part 3, Sunflower Butter Caramel Cups

Today is candy day!

Now, whether you are religious or not, I think that we can all agree that this weekend is basically the weekend of chocolate gluttony.

However, if you have a collection of annoying allergies such as myself, the five million aisles filled with egg and bunny shaped chocolate goodies is a total no go. ­čśŽ

If this makes you a sad velociraptor (WHY a velociraptor you ask? Because today is Velociraptor Awareness Day!!!) like it does me, then this recipe is for YOU!

I call these babies Sunflower Heaven Cups.

NOW, these are INCREDIBLE!

Think of them as the mating of a Cadbury Caramel Egg and a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Yep, they rock.
And the best part is there are no pesky allergens in this recipe!

There are three separate steps to this recipe. Say what?

First, you need to be sure you grab your Dairy Free Caramel that we made (and hopefully you still have left over) previously in Part 2 of this three part series of candy making. Since it needs to be stored in the refrigerator, you’ll have to nuke it a bit to get it to the right consistency again. I heated mine for roughly one and a half minutes.

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Now, this recipe itself is pretty easy. In all, it requires only six ingredients. I know, it’s pretty awesome. Also, the whole process between prep work and assembly only takes about thirty minutes total.

What you’ll need:

10 ounces of Enjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup Sunflower Butter
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar
2 tablespoons Freshly Brewed Espresso
1 teaspoon Vanilla

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First, let’s prepare our chocolate. I used a food scale to measure out my chocolate.

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Don’t forget to hit tare!

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Now, if you’re like me, and you are a total failure at melting chocolate in a pan without scalding it, there is an easy solution guys.

What? You ask.

Setup a ghetto double boiler system, like so:

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You want to be sure that there is enough of the hot water on the bottom of the second bowl to melt the contents. Otherwise, it will take quite a bit longer to melt your chips if you are relying purely on steam to get the job done. It will work, but it will take longer.

Now, while your chocolate is working on melting, it’s time to prepare your sunflower butter mixture.

Take one cup sunflower butter and mix it with 1/2 cup powdered sugar. I warn you, this is going to become VERY THICK, and will be difficult to adequately mix together.

Which is why now, we will introduce two tablespoons freshly brewed espresso to add a little extra flavor, but also loosen it up a bit more.

This mixture is supposed to be THICK though, so be sure you don’t add too much. If it becomes too runny and less dense, you need to add more sunflower butter and powdered sugar. It needs to have a thickness similar to a cookie dough, in order to stay properly intact in your cups.

Add the 1 teaspoon vanilla to the mixture, and set off to the side for the moment.

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Once your sunflower butter mixture is finished, and your caramel is all heated up, all you need is for your chocolate to be completely melted and smooth. Don’t add anything to the chocolate. Because it’s difficult to find baking chocolate that is dairy, egg, soy, and nut free, Enjoy Life is the optimum brand, but their chips already come with all the additional tasty stuff, so we are good to go.

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So at this point, all of our ingredients for assembly are ready to go!

Take your muffin tin with cup liners, your melted chocolate, your sunflower butter filling, and your caramel, and line them up on the counter.

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Now, I like giant chocolate treats. So I am using a big muffin tin. If you happen to have a mini tin, and mini muffin liners, this recipe will obviously yield tons of Sunflower Heaven Bites (what I like to call the mini version).

First, fill the cup with a bottom layer of chocolate. It needs to be decently filled, otherwise you’ll have your insides sinking to the bottom and the chocolate gushing around it. No bueno.

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Once you have your bottom layer of chocolate, we’re good to add the first layer of filling: sunflower butter.

Take a small ball, about a tablespoon, and round it out, and flatten it.

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Place it in the chocolate. DON’T press it in there, just gently set it on top of the chocolate layer.

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Take a spoonful of caramel (just a spoonful of sugarrrrrr. Name that song!) and cover your sunflower butter layer.

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Now for the final layer: chocolate again.

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This recipe will yield roughly 8 Sunflower Heaven Cups. Obviously, depending on how much filling you include you can yield more. I, however, like lots of sunflower and caramel filling, so I used more chocolate to cover it all up.

When everything is done, be sure to put it in the fridge for at least an hour for the chocolate to harden.

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And finally, when all is said and done, you’ll have an absolutely delectable treat that is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, peanut free, and nut free.

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I suggest hiding them. I’m not good at sharing.

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ENJOY!

Pan Seared Bacon Wrapped Scallops and Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Today, you’re in for a treat.

With the beginnings of Spring budding in the air, it’s time for some light and delicious dinners. Now, I don’t know about you, but I love me some seafood. And bacon.I’m pretty sure that the most wonderful dishes always include some form of shellfish. And the other wonderful dishes include bacon. So why not combine them?

Tonight is no different. Be prepared to salivate. I give to you the following wonders: Pan Seared Bacon Wrapped Scallops served with fresh Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts and my wonderful mother’s very own recipe for Homemade Gluten Free Corn Bread.

Since I’m doing three separate things here, I’m going to go in a step by step process of how I coordinate different cooking times.

First, we have to prepare our cornbread and get that on to cook. It’s going to be one of the most time consuming items, but it will also sit out on the counter and cool, which frees up your oven space for your Brussels Sprouts in the future.

Side note: the cornbread is a super awesome dessert when drenched in honey and served with hot tea.

Let’s start.

Mama’s Homemade Gluten Free Corn Bread:
1 cup Jules gluten free flour.
1 cup Bob’s red mill gf corn meal,
4-5 tbs sugar ( I like mine sweet so I use 5),
4 tsp baking powder,
1/2 tsp salt.
1 egg or 1 egg replacer,
1 cup milk or equivalent (I like coconut milk for this recipe),
1/4 cup canola oil.

Now, mix all of your dry ingredients together first. If you like, as my mom and I both do, you can make a batch of the dry mix in batches, and store these in ziplock baggies to have around on hand for a quick addition to any meal.

Once your dry ingredients are all combined, set them off to the side for the moment. Now, mix your wet ingredients in a separate bowl, and mix them thoroughly. Go ahead and combine everything together. Be sure to mix thoroughly so there are no possible lumps in your mix.

Don’t forget to oil your pan. And for any of you fellow soy allergy sufferers out there, DON’T FORGET that cooking sprays include soy. I like to take just a little bit of vegetable oil on a paper towel and wipe down my pan.

Bake at 425┬░ for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

When done, you should have something wonderfully tasty that looks like this:

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Now on to the Brussels Sprouts!

First, we’re going to start off with the following ingredients:

3 cups (roughly) washed and halved Brussels Sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder/black pepper/onion powder mixture
3 strips of bacon

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Take your Brussels Sprouts and put them in a large bowl with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Be sure to get them all equally covered. Then pour in your Kosher salt and your spice mixture to get them all covered deliciously.

Now, take out your bacon.

This is the easy, yet slimy, part. Take the 3 bacon slices and cut them into small strips that will go over the tops of your Brussels Sprouts.

Like so:

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Tip: If your bacon is slightly frozen, it’s much easier to cut up your bacon without it sliding around on you.

Now, set your oven to 400 degrees and cook for 15-20 minutes minutes, when bacon has a nice golden crisp to it, and the Brussels Sprouts are tender when you put a fork through them.

They will look wonderfully delicious, much like the following:

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On to the Bacon Wrapped Scallops!

This will be the centerpiece of your dinner, at least it is in mine. Feel free to add anything to this meal, like a nice steak or some roasted chicken. However, for me, this is more than enough food.

What you’ll need:
3 large sea scallops
3 pieces of bacon
2 toothpick skewers

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Now heat up your skillet with one tablespoon of olive oil, and two tablespoons or minced garlic.

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Once your garlic is effectively browned, put your scallops on to cook. Now, you want to be sure to cook them on a lower heat. Scallops cook very quickly, but you also need to make sure the bacon is fully cooked.

Raw bacon is gross and unhealthy. I like to avoid getting trichinosis. Unless you’re my best friend. She eats her bacon mostly raw, merely warm. I know…ew.

In the end, my scallops came slightly unwrapped, but were still QUITE delicious.

Serve and enjoy.

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This meal is brought to you by Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan.

Nerd Chefs Unite!

This recipe is: gluten free, egg free, dairy free, soy free, peanut free, tree nut free, and paleo friendly!

Oh So Delicious Chicken Tikka Masala

So world, I apologize for my absence as of late, but life has been a bit hectic as of late. Life has gotten a little crazy, and full of medical bills. I’ve been battling a pretty serious infection, and because of that, I’ve been touring the hospital’s outpatient infusion center with a pic-line in my arm, because sadly I’m so allergic to the world, I’m also allergic to most oral antibiotics. So, IV antibiotics are the only way to go for me!

Sadly, the very tasty Sunflower Butter Caramel Cups are on hold for the moment. But I promise, they will be here next Wednesday, just in time for Easter Sunday, also known as Candy Sunday.

While I’m currently too tired and too drugged up to bake any fantastic creations at the moment, I do have a wonderful prized recipe that I’m ready to share with you all.

Fair warning: this recipe is super delicious and is a really fantastic comfort food.

SO, with that being said, I give you all: Chicken Tikka Masala

Now, whilst invading and occupying India, the British also invaded and took over a few recipes. Chicken Tikka Masala is a dish that is now classically associated with Indian cuisine, but is an Anglicized dish of an original.

Indian food is typically pretty safe for allergies. Why, you ask? Traditional Indian food actually leaves out a fair amount of dairy, and is also predominantly gluten free.

Now, this recipe is a total winner, and happens to be gluten free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, and paleo friendly.

Before we begin, this recipe is split into two parts: marinade for the chicken and the actual masala sauce.

What You’ll Need for the Chicken’s Marinade:

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4 Chicken Thighs or Boneless Breasts
1 Cup Greek Style Unsweetened Coconut Milk Yogurt
2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Thai Spice Mix
1/2 Tablespoon Masala Spice mix
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder

Side Note:
if you don’t have Thai Spice on hand (you can find it at your local spice shop or Whole Foods), you can create your own mix with equal measurements of paprika, turmeric, black pepper, coriander, fenugreek, ground mustard seed, cayenne, cumin, and ginger.

If you don’t happen to have Masala Spice on hand (which you can also find at a local spice shop or Whole Foods), you can create your own with a similar, almost identical mixture (though the subtle flavor differences will make a great impact later on). Masala Spice calls for an even mixture of paprika, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, fenugreek, mustard, cumin, cayenne, and ginger.

Now for that marinade! You’re first going to mix together your yogurt and spices in a mixing bowl. Once everything is mixed together nicely, you’ll have a pretty sweet, slightly orange colored marinade. Don’t let that turn you off, it will make your chicken taste AMAZING! So, put your chicken in a 1 gallon plastic bag and dump in your marinade.
At this point, you’re just gonna let your chicken do it’s chicken thing and just sit there in this deliciousness. So, let your chicken marinade either for at least 6 hours or overnight. I highly recommend letting it sit overnight, so that everything can just soak in to it’s full extent.

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And it’s time for the sauce!

What You Need for Your Tikka Masala Sauce:

1 1/2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
3 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
2 Freshly Sliced Jalape├▒os (or to taste)
1 Sliced Red Bell Pepper
1, 8 ounce can of Salt and Sugar Free Crushed Red Tomatoes
3 Tablespoons Masala Spice
3 Tablespoons Thai Spice
1/4 Cup Water
1 Cup Unsweetened Plain Coconut Milk

Sauce Instructions:

First, you’re going to saut├ę your garlic and jalape├▒os in your coconut oil. Once your garlic and jalape├▒os have caramelized, be sure to add in your red bell pepper, and allow it to soften just a bit. Don’t let your red bell pepper caramelize, because it’s going to finish cooking the rest of the way in the sauce.

Once your pepper is added in, and softened up just a tiny bit, add in your crushed red tomato and mix thoroughly. You’re going to saut├ę the tomatoes, jalape├▒os, garlic, and red bell pepper just a little bit. Now, you’re going to let everything just sit there and come to a very slight boil on the outer edges. Once everything is boiling ever so slightly, add in the 1/4 cup of water, and mix everything together really well.

Now that your water is added in, you want to be sure to add in your spices, but only ONE TABLESPOON AT A TIME! It’s super important that you only do one at a time, because these spices will tend to clump up without thorough mixing. So, be sure to thoroughly mix everything together. I call this petting the masala:

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At this point in time, you’re going to allow your sauce to reduce some, because you do want it to thicken up just a bit. Once it’s reduced a bit, you want to add in the unsweetened, natural coconut milk. Now that your milk is added in, you’re going to continuously stir and mix the sauce, otherwise you risk your sauce scalding, and your spices clumping up again.

So repeat after me: I will PET THE MASALA SAUCE!

Bring your sauce to a gentle boil, and then reduce the heat to low, and simmer for two hours. Periodically, you may need to add coconut milk to the sauce, but be sure to add it in one tablespoon increments.

HUZZAH, YOUR SAUCE IS DONE!

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Now all we have to do is bring this together in a cohesive manner. So first, you have to cook your chicken, because raw chicken and a delicious sauce are not especially delicious.

For Cooking Your Chicken:
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees. Now, place a bottom layer of foil on one large cookie sheet. At this point, I find that using a cookie cooling tray is most effective for evenly cooking your chicken in the oven. So I suggest that you oil your cookie cooling tray with coconut oil (or fat of choice), and place it on top of your cookie sheet.

Then, place your chicken skin side up on the cooling rack (on the cookie sheet) and place it on the center rack of the oven.

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Now, you’re going to let your chicken cook for a minimum of thirty minutes. Your chicken cooking time is really going to depend on the a few factors: the thickness of your chicken, and the consistency of your oven heat. My chicken thighs actually cooked for an hour.

Once your chicken is done, let it cool ever so briefly, and serve with hot jasmine basmati rice. Now, you can eat your chicken with sauce directly on it, or you can serve it on the side of your sauce covered rice.

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I happen to like quite a bit sauce on my chicken, so I soaked my nice and crispy chicken in some sauce, and served it on top of some delicious rice (seasoned with a little bit of salt, pepper, coriander seeds, and a little bit of cumin).

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Now, sit down, and enjoy your delicious homemade Chicken Tikka Masala!