Thursday, October 2, 2014

An Afternoon in Seattle... including Pike Place Market, Macarons at Le Panier, Amy's Limo Service, and a Review of the Westin

Pike Place Market

As the wife of an airline pilot I'm not often the one on the road without my family.  I am, though, the frequent recipient of envy-creating text featuring travel photos from around the world... for example, shots of fresh sushi from Japan, pictures of brews served seasonally only at the Kona Brewing Company in Kona, or views of downtown New Orleans during Mardi Gras.

However, last weekend the tables turned as I jetted off to participate in the Girard's Culinary Collective and attend the annual International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle, Washington.  Greeted at the airport with a limo sent to whisk only me to my hotel I immediately felt like a Food TV star, and so began my own stream of envy-creating text messages back home.

Amy's Limousine Service

Amy's Limousine Service

Scooting to the front of my limo so as to chat with my driver Chris, of Amy's Limousine Service (highly recommended if you need transportation in the Seattle area!), I may not have brought the Food TV star look with me, but his welcoming demeanor had me feeling like we were old friends in mere minutes.  Bringing me to the downtown Westin Hotel, Chris and I chatted about everything from landmarks to Washington history with little football trivia thrown in on the side.

Amy's Limousine Service
Specializing in personalized services, Amy's brings a special touch to transportation.  I had a few moments to chat with Amy herself as we waited for my car to arrive, and she's indeed a true gem.  Sweet and warm, 9 years ago she didn't take her father's advice about not starting a limo company and she's never looked back.

With a fleet of discreet town cars, roomy SUVs, executive vans, touring buses and Seattle's only single window stretch limousine, Amy has your Seattle transportation needs covered.  But it wasn't the cars that impressed me most, it was her heartfelt caring that left me wanting to see with her again.  My drivers both directions brought the same caring, comfortable service, and Amy's will definitely be my go-to transportation service next time I visit Seattle.

Westin Seattle
Traditional Room - Westin Seattle
Arriving at the downtown Seattle Westin, located on Fifth Avenue, the Westin staff continued my star treatment with quick and caring service.  A Seattle landmark with their twin cylindrical towers, the Westin's location is perfect for walking the city.

Traditional Rooms bring some 325 sq. feet of space in addition to partial city views.  Comfortable for business as well as family, I found the elevators quick to zip me to the lobby considering how many floors there were in each tower.  Known to host numerous conventions, the ballrooms proved perfect for our conference with a courteous and hard-working staff.

Breakfast Buffet at Relish
While numerous dining options are available within walking distance, the hotel itself offers one restaurant, Relish Burger Bistro.  I only dined at the restaurant for the buffet breakfast, freshly made whole juice drink (beet, greens, blueberry, and pomegranate - not included in the buffet) became my healthy balance each morning.

A little pricey (but isn't that always the case in hotels??) with the juice drink at over $6 and bottled water for nearly $3, the restaurant serves its purpose and I enjoyed my bowl of steel cut oats with all the fixings (they do offer milk alternatives for those looking to go dairy-free) along with toasted Seattle sourdough toast, juice and coffee for my breakfast (buffet also included fruit, eggs, meats and assorted cereals, breads and pastries).  Note the hotel also offers a lobby bar perfect for relaxing with a nice micro brew in the evening.

Having a few hours to explore the city before meeting the rest of the Collective for dinner, I jumped at the opportunity to walk the streets of Seattle, and found myself quickly reminded of my (and Girard's) hometown of San Francisco.  Beautiful buildings dating back to the the early 1900's brought a bit of history to the walkable city, however the wonderful public transportation system incorporates buses, monorails and trains for further distances when needed.

Seattle, Washington

With one destination in mind I made my way to the famed Pike Place Market to capture that famous photo for myself.  Once there I couldn't help but spend a little time watching the guys throwing fish at the Fish Market, and had to wonder just how hard it was to catch those slippery little guys.  Little did I know I would soon find out (stay tuned for the next post)...!

Founded in 1907, Pike Place Market is home to Seattle's first farmers market and today brings produce and goods to eager customers 365 days a year.  As the story goes, the market opened on August 17th, 1907 with 12 farmers bringing their produce-filled wagons to market.  A resounding success, each wagon sold out within hours, and by November 30th of the same year the market moved into its permanent residence, the first market structure complete with 76 produce stalls.

The rest is history, and today Pike Place market remains Seattle's neighborhood marketplace presenting fresh, locally produced, and high quality goods, foods and handicrafts to locals and tourists alike.

Flowers and goods at Pike Place Market

Meandering the through market, flower lined the stalls tempted me at every turn and the scents of the Market Spice Company brought visions of new recipes and leisurely mornings with flavored teas. Local produce lined tables next to stalls featuring goods like flavored pastas and a favorite of mine, lavender products with gorgeous lavender infused honey will tempt you with every turn.

Pike Place Market
The market itself may bring a plethora of "things" to the tables, but it's the people who breathe life into the products and make the experience fun and interesting.

Smiles abound as flowers are wrapped for dinner parties or some of that flavored pasta (they had chocolate raspberry linguine...!) is offered for sample.  Everyone has a story and I found myself chatting as much as I explored.

Of note, just across the street from the market is the original Starbucks which opened in 1971.  Definitely a popular tourist attraction, the store provides similar coffee offerings as any other Starbucks store, but does hold a gift shop featuring goods only available at this particular store.  I have to admit I only snapped an obligatory shot of the sign and avoided the incredibly long queue, however the stop appeared extraordinarily popular.

Original Starbucks Seattle
The Original Starbucks...
Moving just a few doors down I found my true happy place - Le Panier Patisserie.  Dedicated to traditional French baking, the shop evokes memories of afternoons in Paris sipping espresso and enjoying a croissant or macaron.  Taking a single step inside their door one finds the aromas of freshly baked breads nearly impossible to resist.

Le Panier, Seattle, Macarons
Le Panier French Patisserie
With trays of perfectly sized (not the American super-size) croissants, the almond immediately caught my eye, but fruit flavors including raspberry and apricot in addition to sweet cinnamon and chocolate all tempted my willpower.  Freshly baked breads lined the walls and the baguettes simply beg to jump in your arms and head home with you.  Choices of sandwiches (on that beautiful baguette bread), tarts and cookies round out the tempting offerings and make choosing just one thing a difficult decision.  

Le Panier, Seattle, Macarons
Knowing I would need to bring macarons home to Liv, I felt it my duty to try the different flavors... just to make sure I found the best one for her, of course.

Filling my box with Pistachio, Citron, Chocolate, Passion, Café and Nutella, I can confidently say my hands down favorite is the Passion.  (I may have returned to the store twice more just to be sure...)

Clutching my precious macaron box close, I began the walk back to the hotel in preparation for a much anticipated dinner with the Girard's Culinary Collective.  Join me tomorrow for the next step in my adventure as I introduce you to the rest of the collective and share a special meal prepared by Chef Jason Wilson of Miller's Guild.

Pike Place Market

For more beautiful Seattle photography along with comprehensive list of restaurant, shop, hotel and activity recommendations, visit


  1. Don't you just love that we got to send "envy-creating text messages?" I could have done a whole post on just the bakery! :)

    1. Yes!! I loved sending them out! And that bakery... I'm still dreaming of that Passion Macaron. Liv and I just purchased some Strawberry Guava at the farmers market. I'm going to try and recreate!

  2. Kim,
    You are one lucky gal to get the star treatment in Seattle. I can just taste those macarons now. I have never been to Seattle, maybe one day. My DIL travels to Seattle once or twice a month for business, so tells us all about the city.

    1. Becky, it was my first time there and such a memorable visit!! I hope you get to go to one day.

  3. Ooooh MY!!! :o) ....... I didn't know that was YOU!!!! :) Hello again Kim.
    When Girard's Culinary Collective picked their event planners from Powerhouse, they did a great job as well. They knew they wanted a personal greeter, local professional drivers, and classic super-clean limousines complete with magnetic logo's. (I love that you can see that logo in the pic THAT I TOOK!!! of you on the airport drive. It also makes me wish I had those presidential style flags on the front fenders.... perhaps coming soon.

    I was encouraged by reading your review. There was no better way to handle this type of affair than to be your first point of contact myself. We all look forward to seeing you back in Seattle soon (with your pilot husband next-time), maybe for a Limo Holiday Light Tour....
    See you soon, thank you!
    Amy, Amy's Limousine Service

    1. Amy... you are a rock star!! Powerhouse did an amazing job in every way on this trip, and finding personal touches like you made the experience for me even more special. A Limo Holiday Light Tour sounds fabulous!! Will put the hint in for him and hopefully we can work it!


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