Put 1,200 hungry foodies together with 100 of Seattle’s best chefs, bakers, vintners, brewers, and distillers, and some of the hottest soul sounds in the city in one of the most iconic settings in town and what do you get? Summer Supper at Pike Place Market, one of the best foodie fundraisers this writer has ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
The weather was warm and balmy when we got to the cobblestone street that fronts the landmark Pike Place Market, the city’s famous fresh food, fish/meat, and artisan market. At 109 years old, Pike Place Market is the oldest such bazaar in the U.S. The street was blocked off by white picket fences and eager foodies, who paid $150-$275 per person, queued up for a sturdy paper plate, cutlery, and glass.
The event had just opened, but already the summer air was filled with delectable smells from smoky grills and bubbling pots. Chefs from many of Seattle’s hottest restaurants were there to show off their wares and support the Pike Place Market Foundation, one of the most effective non-profits supporting the city’s low-income residents.
“People think Pike Place Market is just about flying fish and fresh produce,” Patricia Gray, Capital Campaign Manager for Pike Place Market Foundation told us over music emanating from two bands just steps away. “But it’s so much more. We support 400 low-income seniors who live here in the Market neighborhood. We feed the hungry, care for the sick, educate kids, and find homes for those without – all right here at Pike Place Market. And Summer Supper is our biggest fundraiser of the year.”
Who knew you could eat some of the best food in the city and support such a good cause at the same time? Certainly the event’s patrons and sponsors know it. For the $275 per person ticket ($2,750 for a table of 10), patron level guests were treated to canopied seating, special wine service from Structure Cellars, and free parking. Sponsors included many of the city’s corporate movers and shakers, including Delta Airlines, Amazon, UpTop, DEI Creative, KOMO, Holland America, BECU, Starbucks, and others.
Serving tables, many with cooking happening on-the-spot, lined the cobblestone street and spilled into the market. Despite strong attendance, the event never felt over-crowded. Only a few tables generated lines and, even those, moved quickly as the happy throng good-naturedly jostled one another.
Unlimited Food and Drink
Ticket holders were treated to unlimited food and beverages and there was no skimping. Restaurant chefs pulled out all the stops with dishes that featured costly ingredients like Dungeness crab, Penn Cove Mussels, sockeye salmon, smoked halibut, and heirloom vegetables. Beverages were equally generous with all-you-can drink hand-crafted sodas, premium wines, ciders, artisan beers and ales and vodka, gin, rum, bourdon, and assorted liqueurs.
With 89 different vendors it was tough to know where to start, but we plunged in sampling tiny fried semolina gnocchi with a dollop of nduja, a spicy pork salume, and taleggio, a soft cheese, from DeLaurenti Speciality Food and Wine. Oh yes, we were off to a good start.
Then came Tom Douglas’ Seatown Seabar’s delicately grilled, slightly smoky salmon on a bed of smoked tomato roasted corn relish and pepper aioli. Kaspars Special Events & Catering did themselves proud with a slightly sweet curried chicken on a crunchy tomato, cucumber and coconut salad. And then there was Urbane Restaurants heavenly Penn Cove Mussel on a summer harvest salad topped with a lemony basil foam.
We had just begun yet my tastebuds were already singing.
Then there were the pickled mussel honey-vodka snow cones. What? Yes, indeed, Shuckers Restaurant pulled out all the creative stops with these sweet-savory snowcones. The pickled mussels were tender with a slightly briny flavor; the shaved ice, which you could scoop up with the mussel shell, offered a sweet, tangy flavor that was addictive. Okay, I admit it: I went back for four of these amazing treats.
And so it went with spicy Ahi tuna tacos from Boom; slightly smoky smoked halibut bites with nettle verde and picked onion on flatbread from Matt’s in the Market; super-fresh crab parfait with creamy avocado, romaine and bloody Mary cocktail sauce from Cutters Crabhouse; and rich duck confit on root puree with cherry confit and almond dust from Thomas Cuisine Management. Ivar’s came with a silky, flavorful smoked salmon chowder; there was peach and champagne soup from from Bell + Whete; Chef Caprial Pense from Bookstore Bar & Café came with her trademark smile and a delicate chilled crab bisque with crunchy fennel salad.
Between dishes, folks paid $25 for raffle tickets for cool prizes like posters and thermal beverage containers. I overheard one man in line say his ticket had yielded $125 worth of salmon. For a $100 raffle ticket, folks were put in the queue for a chance to win heavy duty prizes like a getaway at Inn at Langley; a vacation stay at Rancho Manana Resort in Arizona; plane tickets for two on Delta; and even a seven-day cruise for two on Holland America.
Along the way, there were all manner of wines, beers, ciders, and cocktails to tempt us: boozy Moscow Mules from Rachel’s Ginger Beer; various lagers and ales from The Pike Brewing Company; Trickster IPA and La Mourt Bourbon from Black Raven Brewing; Number 6 Cider’s Pomegranate and Honey Ginger Ciders; refreshing Peach Sorbet Prosecco from Shugs Soda Fountain + Ice Cream; and even Bourbon Banana Split Stout Floats from Bluebird ice cream. Oh my.
We were stuffed; as in over-ate; consumed too much. But we hadn’t yet gotten to the desserts and we had to sample dessert. So, in the name of professional food writing, we sallied forth, plunging into rich shots of coffee and ice cream (Affogato) from Storyville Coffee. Okay, I gulped down four of these. I figured it was also my after-supper coffee!
Then it was onto small éclairs in various flavors from Choukette, Inc.; delicately creamy bambolini filled with frangipane pastry cream from the amazing Macrina Bakery; icy pops from Seattle Pops; and more.
As night fell and Pike Place Market’s sign flooded the cobblestones with neon light, we joined folks on the music-filled street lining up for selfies in front of the iconic landmark. We were in a happy food coma. We hadn’t sampled every vendor, but we couldn’t eat another bite.
And then there it was: a line of foodies bellied up to Nue’s smoky grill. Word was they were serving piggytails. Nue’s is a restaurant that makes world street food and some of my favorite foods on the planet include street foods. How could I miss that? The smell was intoxicating so I stepped to back of the line. Before long, they handed me a crispy Caribbean slaw topped with a smoky Barbadian pigtail with jerk glaze. I took a bite: juicy, smoky, porky goodness. I was in heaven. I stripped the little bones clean and then cleansed my palate with the crispy, slightly sweet slaw. It was the perfect end to a perfect foodie evening.
And I’m marking our calendar for next year’s Summer Supper, August 11, 2017. If you love great food and drink, you will too. – Bobbie Hasselbring, Editor, Realfoodtraveler.com; Photos by Anne Weaver, Editor, Realfoodtraveler.com
Editor’s Note: We just learned that this year’s Summer Supper raised $312,170. Congratulations, Pike Place Market Foundation and all the vendors and volunteers who made it happen. See you next year!–BH