December 2011

From this Issue

It’s been a year of extraordinary changes in our city, from the explosive growth of Seattle’s best new neighborhood to the very green (and very micro) trends of pop-up, plug-in, nano- and repurposed everything.

Best New Home and Gift Shop: Butter Home

Best Pie
Seattle Pie Company


Pacific Northwest Ballet: The Nutcracker

Try and spot the Wild Thing hidden within Maurice Sendak’s famous set display during the ballet’s iconic presentation of The Nutcracker. 11/25–12/27. McCaw Hall;

LITERATURE #notavailableonkindle

Most Innovative Approach to the Literary Journal:  Filter

Best Reason to Skip the Recycling Bin: Scott Fife’s Corrugated Sculptures

The Best Use of the Jumbotron
Jonah Duvall’s “Thriller”

Best "Mini Me" Trend
Book Groups for Children


Yo-ho-ho and a BUI: Seafair boasts 71 people arrested for boating under the influence—an increase from last year’s 62 drunken sailors but down from 2008’s impressive 84.

Tunnel vision
Seattle gets split asunder by a manufactured deep-bore “debate,” which has no actual influence on the already-approved project (but does provide for entertaining and heated “Seattle process” rhetoric).

Ballard mom and publishing consultant Kerry Colburn has a knack for dispensing the kind of useful, no-nonsense advice that every parent wants and needs.

Sean Conroe, founder of Alleycat Acres

Photo by Hayley Young

Ebb+Flow Vodka

A big, full-bodied vodka whose 100-percent malted barley construction doesn’t keep it from leaving a little sweetness and vanilla on the tongue.
Sound Spirits, Interbay, 1630 15th Ave. W;

Headlong White Dog Whiskey

After recently living in Italy for seven months, I returned to Seattle and made a trip to my local liquor store. (I do write about cocktails, so it’s not solely that I was thirsty.) As I browsed the shelves, the number of new bottles boasting local distillery addresses struck me. It seems that in the few months that I’d been gone, the local liquor-making scene had exploded.

Seattle’s legendary sushi chef, Shiro Kashiba—still a self-proclaimed “sushi bartender” at age 70—was a locavore long before it was trendy.

You might have noticed that we at Seattle mag like our “best of” lists.

They’re part of our job as a city mag, but we also know you like them, too. (The “best of” issues are almost always the year’s top sellers.) But mainly, we like them because there’s a lot of good stuff to go around in this town, and we are great at sharing.

When the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched its online Food Desert Locator last summer, Seattle’s gourmets and locavores were horrified to see nutritional wastelands encroaching upon the city.

In all, more than 125,000 people, in neighborhoods everywhere from West Seattle to Renton, live in places where fresh, healthy food is difficult to find—so-called “food deserts.”

Who would blame you if you never got past the heavenly butter croissants, warmed in the oven to order, at the tony new Belle Epicurean in Madison Valley?

With the excellent exception of Chinese food, family-style meals traditionally get a bad rap, thanks to those cheesy chain restaurants that dish out enormous platters of subpar pasta. But over the past two years, a host of Seattle restaurants, including some of our most acclaimed spots, have adopted this collegial, collective approach to dinner.

First things first: This place makes the best margherita pizza in Seattle. Its chewy crust is spread with a luscious, almost creamy tomato sauce and milky-soft mozzarella melting softly on top, with basil strewn about ($9).

It’s hard to believe the prime location of the insanely popular Poquitos—10th and Pike—was home to anything other than Poquitos so very recently; the place, with its soaring ceilings, blue and white patterned tiles, wrought-iron fixtures and soft terra-cotta-hued lighting, recalls privileged hotel lobbies in touristy Mexican cities.

Oh, hello, little glass ramekin of chicken liver parfait ($5) with a sweet, sticky port glaze: You’re coming home with me.

Back in the 1990s, Merlot was the Lady Gaga of Washington wines: red hot and showing no signs of cooling. Along with Riesling, this Bordeaux varietal was the state’s future.

If you were on Mount Rainier or Mount Baker this past spring and summer—when the snow just wouldn’t melt—you probably saw the latest craze in backcountry snow travel: splitboarding.

Beth Evans-Ramos doesn’t want to ignite your envy. But on winter’s frostiest days, the 2,000-square-foot house in Shoreline where she lives with her husband is as cozy as a thick Irish sweater, and it comes with a heating bill that rarely rises above $55 a month—even in the middle of winter. “It’s like magic,” she says.

You may not be able to afford an oil painting by esteemed local artist Joe Park, but you surely can pick up I Am Yours (Chronicle Books; $9.95), a new pack of postcards featuring his richly atmospheric work.

BD: What’s the best part about being a wicked stepsister?

“Make the world you want to see” is a refrain that runs through Ira Finkelstein’s Christmas, the new family holiday movie directed and cowritten by Sue Corcoran.

Sarah Caples may have been just a tyke when disco was first in vogue, but the busy charity fundraiser, stylist, mom and blogger (, 41, often looks ready to hit the floor at Studio 66 with her voluminous, tousled hair, platform heels and layers of gilded baubles.

Still those texting fingers for a millisecond and redirect your iThing’s browser to these Northwest-based “techcessories” (also known as protective accessories for your personal playthings) to bestow on your fellow gadget geeks this holiday season.


Scott Sistek is on a mission to make Seattle’s chilly weather cool. A Pacific Northwest native and University of Washington alum, Sistek has been forecasting the weather for more than a decade, including stints at the National Weather Service, NOAA and now KOMO News.

Vintage-camera aficionados and Instagram-loving cell-phone photographers are saying cheese in response to Rare Medium, the instant-camera shop/gallery/workspace that opened last month on Capitol Hill.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of several seminal events in Seattle grunge history—Nirvana released Nevermind, Pearl Jam released Ten, and Soundgarden released Badmotorfinger, all in 1991—which is why we’re awash in grungy nostalgia.

WHERE: La Conner, Washington, for Swinomish Yacht Club’s decades-old annual Lighted Boat Parade (12/10; 6:30 p.m.; free;

The home of Slurpees, spicy hot dogs and Big Gulps is adding a new item to its shelves: whatever you just ordered from

It’s widely rumored that Jacques Cousteau deemed the Pacific Northwest his second-favorite place to scuba dive. (The Red Sea was his best beloved, but we’re going to assume that was merely because the water temps there are significantly less chilly.)

If a party, high tea or afternoon at The Nutcracker is on your little girl’s dance card this year, consider these fashion-forward creations from Beacon Hill designer Ana Louie’s debut Holiday 2011 collection.

Inspired by Paris in the 1950s, this line started as sketches done by Ana Louie, founder Ann Marie Louie’s 8-year-old daughter.

It may be one of Seattle’s oldest neighborhoods, with roots stretching back to the late 1800s, but Japantown is quickly becoming the city’s newest art destination.

Local chefs and bartenders are looking to allspice—the utility player of the holiday spice rack—to add warmth and complexity to dishes and drinks during the cold winter months.


Named for the Brazilian beach town Paraty (but spelled differently), Paratii Craft Bar transforms a little corner of Ballard into a hideaway.

Husband-and-wife duo Sam and Brooke Lucy originally met while walking their dogs along the same road where their 200-acre Bluebird Grain Farms now stands in Winthrop.

What it is: Duck lard is simply the fat rendered from ducks. This rich fat is pale golden when warm or hot, and solidifies to a snowy white when cool.

Imagine the skyline of a city built entirely of rattan and you’ll have an idea of what Sopheap Pich is up to at the Henry Art Gallery.

The Cambodian-born sculptor augments this bendable wood with bamboo, plywood and metal wire to create stunning large-scale sculptures that appear both substantial and ready to snap.

This last year, I’ve spent a lot of time in 1962, as I research and write a history of the Space Needle. Every week, I appear on KUOW-FM’s Weekday news roundtable to discuss such things as the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the tunnel, marijuana and the mayor, but honestly, I’ve been more fascinated with the politics of 50 years ago.


Salon for cuts and color
2127 First Ave.

It’s been a bit brutal of late for arts organizations around here. The past year has seen the shuttering of several beloved groups, including Giant Magnet children’s festival and the Bellevue Philharmonic Orchestra.