Having just moved to Portland, Oregon from the East Coast I naturally was eager to venture out for even the shortest of trips when the opportunity arises. Last weekend, this opportunity presented itself in the form of a quick Seattle on a budget day trip. Only about 3 ½ hours drive from Portland it’s far enough to feel like you really do get away from Portland, but short enough to not be exhausted by the return of your trip. The changing scenery along the drive especially during the fall months makes it a particularly enjoyable trip I’d recommend to anyone.
Seattle on a budget day trip
It being my first time in Seattle, I deemed it absolutely necessary to check out the famous Pike Place Market. Bustling with scores and scores of vendors, Pike Place Market offers food items for everyone, whether you’re looking for famous fish being thrown, to local heirloom tomatoes, peppers and apples, to locally made cheeses and jerky. It was difficult to choose what to buy and even more difficult to limit how often I lapped for a free sample of hot delicious soup, or tasty homemade garlic spread, or seasoned nuts of many varieties.
Ultimately, for a snack I settled on some veggies including a basic Sandwich tomato and purple pepper known as a Chocolate Pepper and a carrot and sat on the waterfront looking over Puget Sound observing the various street performers from magicians to rappers to music makers creating beats on their own body. It was a great “only in Seattle” experience.
Continuing my Seattle on a budget adventure, I walked up the street and passed by an Olive Oil tasting room which I’m so glad to have decided to stop into. I’ve done wine tastings, and beer tastings, and even cheese tastings before, but never have I done an olive oil tasting. Walking in to Quintessential Gourmet, I immediately knew I’d be in for something new. Set up were at least 30 stainless steel canisters, each representing a unique olive oil infused or aged with an entirely different flavor. The olives come from a particular area in Italy and have been aged for the last 12 years before making its way to this store for tasting and ultimately, sale.
In my constant quest for free samples on my Seattle on a budget trip, I assumed incorrectly that this olive oil tasting would also serve as an appetizer to dinner, offering tasty richly flavored olive oil in companion with bits of bread. This however, was a fancy olive oil tasting, where I was told bread actually reduces the ability to taste the full flavors of the oil. So, little plastic cups were provided and the gentleman serving as our olive oil bartender mixed flavors as if we were sampling cocktails. I was quickly converted to the anti-bread group.
Oil combinations like chile and chocolate, and vanilla and cherry were combined to offer a truly exploding sensation in one’s mouth. Sometimes it was hard to envision how I could cook with them, but at the same time, made me excited at the possibilities. The best part was despite this being a boutique olive oil store with high quality presumably expensive products, they offered the oils in small 2 ounce containers for only $5. Not only is this perfect for the budget conscious foodie, but it’s exciting to not have to commit to one very particular flavor for more than 2 oz of cooking or baking. (brownies made with chocolate olive oil?? Yes, please!) It makes the possibilities of exploration and discovery in the kitchen mixing these exotic flavors endless! What did I end up buying, you wonder? A lavender balsamic vinegar that so far I’ve cooked tofu in and have used as a salad dressing. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the flavors pop when I cook chicken in it.
My final Seattle on a budget adventure before heading home after a fantastic afternoon enjoying the area in and around Seattle’s Pike Place Market is a tea shop called Vital Tea Leaf Seattle which also boasted proudly outside of its entrance free tea tastings. Once again, I was in for a treat. I’ve sampled teas from the self-serve thermoses often strategically placed throughout a boutique tea store before, but never have I had the privilege of sitting down to a tasting where the loose leaf teas are steeped on small rocks right in front of me. The most exciting part, beyond further educating myself on types of tea I most enjoy, was the ability to sit back and relax and enjoy the remainder of the hot teas in each of the sampling pots at our leisure. It was quite an inviting environment with the man behind the counter happily answering any questions I developed as I sat and sipped each of the teas.
Insider Tip: Don’t get overwhelmed by the price tags stating sometimes triple digits for a bag of loose-leaf tea! The price is per pound, and when the man explained the amounts, he picked up a small wooden spoon not much bigger than the size of a tablespoon and said that he begins with only one or two scoops. Each scoop, since it is so strong, can be steeped for two to three separate cups of tea, or more depending on how strong of a tea you enjoy. So, for only 50 cents or so and about two scoops of tea, you can easily get ten cups of tea. So reconsider running out of a boutique tea shop when you see a price of $120/pound. That tea will be far better quality, and far stronger than most teas, meaning a little bit will go a long way. I’m forever converted.
Overall, my Seattle on a budget adventure left me wanting more. I wish I booked a Seattle hotel and stayed longer.
I was able to have an extremely enjoyable afternoon on a very low budget with friendly, chatty people and including a scenic drive from Portland. What more could a budget traveler want beyond free food, exciting flavors, free drink, and an inviting scenic waterfront atmosphere to enjoy it all in?
Do you have other ideas for a Seattle on a budget adventure? Leave a comment below!