seattle jazz trip: on coffee, houseboats and nettletown cafe

Trabant Coffee & Chai.

So after our wonderful evening at The Hardware Store on Vashon Island, Jason and Darrah were driving Victoria and I back to our hotel on the mainland when Jason suddenly said, "Oh, by the way, in the morning, if you want coffee, that coffeehouse over there serves really good coffee."  He was pointing to Trabant Coffee and Chai, a streetfront place in a relatively nondescript building across the street.

"Oh," I demurred.  "I mean, we'll probably just get some coffee from the shop in the lobby of our hotel."

Jason parked the car, and he and Darrah both turned to look at us in barely-disguised horror.  "You have come all the way to Seattle," rebuked Jason.  "There is no way in hell we're going to let you go back to Houston without a decent cup of coffee."

I had forgotten -- Seattleites are serious about their coffee.  In fact, coffeehouses in Seattle are what pubs are to London: they are the places in your neighbourhood you go to warm up from the ubiquitous, drizzly chill, the place where you connect with friends, the place where everyone knows your name.  And since it is, after all, the town that gave birth to Starbucks Coffee (a fact that displeases a few hard-core locals -- "they're so corporate," they inevitably sniff), it truly would be a crime against nature to visit Seattle and not patronize one of the local coffee haunts.

So the next morning, Victoria and I got dressed and went over to Trabant.  And honey? These people do. not. play.


We were greeted by a friendly barista, who guided us in the flavours of coffee he had on hand.  He asked where we were from -- a complicated question to answer, so we just simplified our response to "Houston" -- and he became greatly interested.  "I'll be there later this year for the national coffee convention!" he said.  Who knew?

Then he showed considerable consternation that the espresso he had used to make my cappuccino was offgassing...

 ... yeah, I didn't get what the problem was either.

But the coffee? Was delicious.  Of course.


After our coffee, we went back to our hotel, and met Darrah and Tea for a day of photowalking.  The first place they took us was to the little neighbourhood of Eastlake, where we walked around looking at houseboats.

Now, when I said houseboats, many of you probably envisioned those charming flatboats that they have in canals in Amsterdam, didn't you?  Those tiny little vessels?  Yeah?  Not so much.  Because these homes? These homes are really something to behold:  many of them two-storey, no less.  But just as charming, man.




After our walk, Giyen met us for lunch at Nettletown Cafe.  This tiny little restaurant is nestled in the middle of this very nondescript strip centre, but my, what a place.  The atmosphere was so calm, with these lovely soothing blue walls.  And the food here was indescribably delicious. 


Hibiscus & ginger iced tea. Lovely.


Beets with huckleberries.  If that doesn't sound good to you, I'm okay with that. It means there's more for me.

On Tea's recommendation I had the knoepfli, which apparently is Swiss spaetzle, neither of which I'd ever heard before -- but let me tell you, I am bearing a grudge against anyone who ever knew about this stuff and never told me about it.  I would've taken a photograph of it, but I was too busy diving headfirst into the dish. I almost licked the plate.

Once we were sufficiently full, we stood up to give our table away to someone in the now-packed restaurant, and headed out to do some full-on touristy sightseeing. 

But that's a story for tomorrow.


It is, you know.


(P.S.  Today I leave for Nashville to attend the Blissdom Conference.  If you're attending, and you see me, please come over and say hi -- I promise to do the same.)


Images:  The Nikon D700 that Nikon so very kindly lent me, and various lenses.


SongCome as you are by Nirvana -- probably the most famous Seattle band I know.