Eating. Salumi/Columbia City Bakery.
I've been hearing about Salumi for a couple of years now. It's now a Seattle legend, how Armandino Batali, a retired Boeing engineer, set up shop in Seattle's Pioneer Square to sell hand-cured Italian meats, how at lunchtime the lines snake out the door and down the block, how the aforementioned Boeing engineer just happens to be the father of New York restauranteur/Food Network star/Iron Chef Mario Batali. Way too many Seattle restaurants proudly proclaim that they carry various Salumi products; I find it exasperating. I've driven by the tiny storefront, late at night on my way home from the symphony. Yet somehow I've never made it there. I think all this will change now.
The idea of standing in line for a sandwich has never appealed to me. First of all, I hate driving to Pioneer Square. I hate driving anywhere I have to find parking, and I hate finding parking in Pioneer Square more than any other neighborhood of Seattle. And I'm too impatient to stand in line for anything, even food. But as it turns out, you can call ahead and order something, and then you can skip to the head of the line. I don't know if this works for individual sandwiches, but my boss held a lunch for a client, and she decided to try Salumi, which she had heard so much about. It was then I found out you could call ahead (a day or two in advance for large orders) and we wound up with various hot and cold meats. It was sublime. I have a deep fondness for offal, and the pork cheeks braised with herbs, tender and spicy, were everything I could hope for. The meatballs were huge, juicy and nearly as large as a fist. There was something I think is called porchetta, thick slices of what looked like sausage, but even better. And various kinds of salamis, something that looked like tongue but probably wasn't, and cubes of cheese, some kind of provolone, if memory serves. I may have to consider braving the hell of parking in Pioneer Square for this kind of food. But I'll still call ahead.
All of this needed bread. I had also been hearing about the Columbia City Bakery, not too far from my house, and we have been meaning to try it. As there was no way I could be up and out of the house by 7 (when the bakery opens), my boss headed over (well before 7am, apparently, and wound up waiting impatiently on the sidewalk outside) and came back with loaves of bread still warm, and then she presented me with a ham-and-cheese croissant. It was piping hot from the oven, and absolutely heavenly. I am always searching for the perfect croissant, and I think that I have found it (aside from my own home-made ones, but that's another story). The crust is crisp, with the incredible flavor of browned butter, shedding a few flaky crumbs as you bite into it, and gives way to a tender, elastic interior that stretches as you eat it. Barely awake and eyes half-open, I could only eat and moan with happiness all the way to work. The bread was excellent, but the croissant is what will keep me going back for more.
All you need for a fantastic meal is some really good salami and fresh bread. Salad, fresh fruit, and ice cream later...ultimately, it is the simplest things in life that are the best.