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Seattle Highlights: Opal Apples, Whey Carrots, and Thalis

April 23, 2013

Leave it to a quick trip to Seattle for me to find my newest apple obsession: the Opal apple. I spied these yellow beauties, reminiscent of goldenrods, while walking through Pike Place Market. According to a very persuasive seller, I learned that Opals are a cross between Golden Delicious and Topaz varieties, and that unlike Golden Delicious, which can be mealy, the Opals retain a crisp crunch. The salesman's pitch--Opal apple season was coming to an end, and that it would be pretty impossible for me to find these on the East Coast--got me to pay more than $5 for two apples. Because Opal apples were introduced to the U.S. only in 2010, I can understand why my local grocery store or farmers' market hasn't been selling them yet, but given their taste and lovely color, I imagine opal apples may soon become more popular. As for dining out, trying to cover the Emerald City in a matter of seven meals makes for an interesting challenge. Rather than try to choose a favorite spot, I'll just call out a few of my favorite dishes. Sitka & Spruce turned out to be a pleasant surprise, not only for its food, but its location as well. Nestled in the back of an indoor market building, the restaurant was airy and light. And given that I was dining there for a weekday lunch, the atmosphere was quiet and relaxed. It made for a perfect setting for catching up with a longtime friend. We were encouraged to share plates, and the one that intrigued me the most was "king salmon lox, whey carrots, wood sorrel & horseradish." I was hesistant about the whey carrots, but they won me over with their subtle tang. And the fact that they hadn't been peeled merely added to the rustic feel to the entire dining experience. As for the "buckwheat canele with huckleberry," it was the perfect ending to a sumptuous midday repast. I'm the type of diner who often agonizes over accompanying sides, so having dinner at Poppy was just plain fun, given how the thali presentation allowed for tastings of multiple "side" dishes. The difficulty lay in having to choose one of six thalis, but each allowed for vegetables, spices, and herbs to shine. The proteins (lavender-rubbed duck leg with rhubarb and pea sprouts, in my case) are only about 4-ounces each, and come with at least five other dishes, as well as naan. My favorite? The "yams with scallion and coconut crisp" and the "wild ginger, fennel and orange pickle." And as for tasting my fellow diner's dishes? The "fiddleheads, fingerlings and mint" were simultaneously subtle and bright. If sharing and multiple tastings is your thing, Poppy is your type of place. Seattleites, was there a dish I missed out on? (Photos: Esther Sung)

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