Author Archives: Alethea Myers

The Market Opens June 1st!

The seasonal Queen Anne Farmers Market will be opening on June 1st!  Because of our unusually long rainy season this year in WA State (the longest on record in modern history), some of the farm vendors understandably had a delay with their crops. But our warm season is firmly underway now, as are abundant produce, herbs, and artisanal goods! And listen to the music provided while you shop.

Recently, Seattle was rated the 4th most fit city in the nation. One of the reasons cited for this improvement was the increase in the number of farmers markets in our area: a positive indication that unprocessed, natural food can make a difference in one’s health.

If you would like to visit other farmers markets in other neighborhoods as well, here is a list of places and hours from The Seattle Times. The Queen Anne Farmers Market will be on Thursdays, from 3-7:30 pm through October 12th. Bon appetit!

Folklife Festival 2017

Once a year, the NW Folklife Festival enlivens the Seattle Center grounds for a 4-day, homespun, music-and-dance extravaganza, as you might know. Loosely defining the term “folk”, musicians from the Pacific Northwest and far beyond cover a wide spectrum of styles, from the individual singer trying out his/her newly-written song, to a seasoned blues band, a local Norwegian or Asian acoustic group, or an African a cappella choir from across the globe. Common threads connect all these: a celebration and immersion in different music/cultures and warm connection through music and other people.

Kiunka band.  Photo: C. Nelson

Twirl around a big dance floor with 80 other people, try a variety of eats at the food trucks (or bring your own lunch if you’re “line-averse”), look at or buy art, inspect a new guitar crafted by a local vendor, raise your voice in a sea chantey sing-along, or just hang out on the grass. There’s street musicians (buskers) in addition to the over 5,000 performers on stages situated throughout the Seattle Center grounds. And a fun option, for those guests who are musicians themselves (especially traditional songs like “You are my Sunshine”), is to bring your own acoustic instrument or harmonize along with one of the little, impromptu song circles that spring up here and there.

Photo: NW Folklife

This Pacific Northwest gem has been around for 46 years. They are non-profit with many volunteer coordinators that strongly believe everyone, no matter their financial status, should be able to attend this event. But the continuation of this festival in the future will depend upon whether enough attendees are able to make a donation at the gate this year or as a “Friend of Folklife”. $10 for a full day’s entertainment is the suggested donation.

Left: Owuor Arung.  Photo: Piper Hanson.         Right: Mexicans of WA.  Photo: Piper Hanson

Folklife dancing in the pavilion
Photo: Alan Berner/The Seattle Times

Come enjoy the festival on Memorial Day weekend, Friday May 26th through Monday, May 29th.  Check out their website here to find a schedule of daily events to choose from.

Chocolate Happy Hour

Chocolopolis truffles in display case

For those of us who love chocolate, let’s face it, any time one is savoring chocolate is considered “happy hour”. But to have a formal chocolate tasting, one of our local, fine chocolate businesses, Chocolopolis, actually has a Happy Hour. Once a week on Thursday evenings at their store (1527 Queen Anne Ave. N.), they feature a certain theme: chocolate from a certain country, how chocolate flavors vary between different regions in the world, or tastings of different “inclusion” chocolate bars that have a surprise center, to name a few. Besides selling chocolate from around the world, their fine chocolatiers also make award-winning truffles under their own brand in their on-site kitchen.

The chocolate Happy Hour tasting table, Chocolopolis.  Photo: Alethea Myers

Washington State, not just Seattle, is home to quite a few artisan chocolatiers. This isn’t surprising in the Pacific Northwest, since other artisan foods such as single-origin coffee and microbrews are highly prized for their unique taste. Around Seattle, Fran Bigelow of Fran’s Chocolate’s experimented with sprinkling sea salt on her chocolate caramels years ago, which became extremely popular and may have started the sweet & salty combo movement we see now. Frango mint chocolates at Macy’s locations are produced locally and began back in 1927. Chocolat Vitale in northern Ballard serves their own rich, European hot chocolate made from real chocolate instead of powder (and sell other chocolates, too). Theo Chocolate, a relative newcomer, is housed in a former brewery in Fremont (a hops scent is still sometimes prevalent in the lobby air), and created the first U.S. certified-organic chocolate bar. And Dilettante Chocolates started on Capitol Hill over 40 years ago, and actually make cocktails featuring their confections (Mint Kiss Martini, anyone?).

Chocolate arranged by World Region

So back to Happy Hour at Chocolopolis: One can learn much from store owner Lauren’s mother, Marcie Adler, who has worked there for 8 years since the store opened. She was guiding the tasting theme this evening: Ecuadorian chocolate in different percentages (55%, 70%), under different brands. She explained that the key to tasting fine chocolate is to let it melt on your palate, no chewing allowed, and move it around in one’s mouth since taste buds vary.

Marcie also mentioned that cacao, which chocolate is made from, only grows 20 degrees north or south of the equator, so is a specialized crop. Hawaii is the only U.S. state that can grow it. At Chocolopolis, they divide their chocolate bars into world regions (such as Asia, South America, Madagascar, others), via a handy wall chart and labeling, which makes it easier to shop for small-batch, single-origin bars. And besides making their own, some of the other beautiful truffles they stock are from Orcas Island, Los Angeles, France, Kansas City, and San Francisco.

Chocolate labelled by region, Chocolopolis

If you really want to splurge on every artisan chocolate under the sun and even take educational classes, go to the Northwest Chocolate Festival each autumn to get your fix. Or occasionally stop by for happy hour on a Thursday night in Queen Anne.

Sherlockian

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At The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes, Pacific Science Center

d9c18aa5156398452acb91954aef5a99The enduring appeal of Sherlock Holmes lives on, even 128 years after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle penned his first story. In the past few years, we’ve seen interpretations of the famous sleuth frequently: the BBC’s “Sherlock” British series, the “Elementary” US television series, three movies, and another one currently in-production. And local Sherlockian events include a monthly meeting for a society called the “Sound of the Baskervilles”, The Seattle Repertory Theatre’s staging of R. Hamilton Wright’s “Sherlock Holmes and the American Problemthis past Spring, and the yearly Sherlock Seattle Convention just took place last month in Seattle. Mr. Holmes’ popularity is stronger than ever.

And now The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes is in town at the The Pacific Science Center. This exhibit is an immersive experience, recreating the Victorian England that Doyle’s fictional character solved crimes in. It touches on history, science, architecture, and design, while tying it to modern events. Some of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original writings and instruments are also on display, and an unsolved mystery awaits you, using your own sleuthing powers of deduction. Admission is the General Admission price + $9 for this exhibition.

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Arthur Conan Doyle, by Walter Benington, 1914

Sherlock Holmes was created not only from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s imagination, but from his life experiences. He studied and practiced medicine, which accounted for his accurate description of his scientific detective’s techniques. His former university teacher, Joseph Bell, was part of the inspiration for the character of Holmes, because of his astute, highly observant ways and elevated intelligence. Doyle’s first short story/novella writings (and one book) are relevant today, because modern police work techniques developed in significant part due to them. Interesting trivia: The iconic slim, tall build with aristocratic nose that has defined the Sherlock figure all these years was actually the way the artist’s brother looked; he had sat in as the model.

 

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The Seattle Mystery Bookshop at 1st and Cherry

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The Sherlockiana section, Seattle Mystery Bookshop

The Seattle Mystery Bookshop, located at 1st Ave. and Cherry St. in Pioneer Square has a special section in their store for Sherlock fans. They handle a wide variety of mystery books from “cozies” in the Agatha Christie vein through to the hard-boiled crime detective stories, and are located in the basement below Starbucks on that corner. Concerning Sherlock Holmes’ importance, J.B. Dickey, the store’s owner, mentioned, “There are certain touchstones concerning mystery: Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, and Edgar Allen Poe [who wrote the first detective story in 1841]. They [The Sherlock Holmes stories] are a key element of the history of mysteries.” He also mentioned that ever since Doyle stopped writing his series (which started in 1888), other authors have been writing “pastiches”, which imitate his writing style ever since. This continues to this day, so there’s no shortage of literature to choose from.   

 

So why visit the international Sherlock exhibition while it’s in town, watch a movie, or read one of these books? Elementary, my dear Watson—it’s relevant even today.