Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pike Place Market, Fishmongers and Flying Salmon, Dungeness Crab and Lunch at Matt's on the Market... Day Two with Girard's Culinary Collective

Girard's Culinary Collective, Pike Place Fish Market, Seattle

Seattle... when you hear mention of this charming city what picture pops into your mind?  Before visiting the city for the first time a few weeks ago, it was that "Public Market Center" sign in Pike Place Market and visions of flying fish that flashed through my thoughts.  Now that I've visited Seattle?  It's still the market and flying fish, but now it's oh, so real!

Day two of our Seattle Foodie Adventures with Girard's Culinary Collective began with instructions to "dress casually, bring your apron, and prepare to get a little dirty." (see day one here)  Apparently we were to work for our lunch, and all I've got to say, is this job ranked up there as one of the best "work" days ever.

Kim of Liv Life and Ruthie of Ruthie's Cooking Adventures
Heading through Pike Market, our Girard's representatives led us past that famous sign and directly to the ice bins filled with fish at the World Famous Pike Place Fish Market.

Known world wide for the boisterous filling of customer orders by throwing the fish to be wrapped, the Pike Place Fish Market is not only a local fish market but an entertaining Seattle destination that never gets old.  

Catching up with fishmonger Ryan, we discovered first hand the exemplary passion these guys feel for their market.  With ambitions to "interact with people with a strong intention to make a difference for them. We want to give each person the experience of having been served and appreciated, whether they buy fish or not. We love them.", he did just that.

Briefing us on a little bit of history and lore about the fish market, Ryan proudly explained that all of the fish sold at the Pike Place Market is 100% sustainable.  Giving us a rundown on the day's market offerings, he then grabbed a salmon, gave a boisterous yell for incoming, then hurled the fish across the entire market to a partner who easily caught it without missing a step.

Pike Place Fish Market, Seattle
Ryan then told us to suit up with our own aprons and get ready to catch some fish. 

Donning our aprons the crowd grew exponentially as tourists with cameras at the ready stood by to watch our endeavors.  Oh my gosh was I nervous as I made my way behind the counter and glanced nervously at all sorts of cell phones pointed my direction.

Confidently Ryan caught my eye with a "you've got this" look, called me by name which the rest of the fish guys called back, then launched a flying salmon my direction.

Taking what seemed like minutes to reach the other side of the counter even though it was flying at amazing speed (more seriously... I'm sure it was more like a light toss all of a few feet...) I don't think I've ever been so nervous to do something properly.   Nor have I ever been so proud as when I didn't drop that fish and the crowd cheered resoundingly!

Pike Place Fish Market, Seattle

What a incredibly fun experience we all had, one that will cement the Pike Place Fish Market securely in my Seattle memories and one that will always make my heart swell just a little when I think about it.

Not done with our work for the day yet, the Girard's team whisked us to a nearby test kitchen where we met up with Dan, of Matt's on the Market, for instruction on salmon filleting and Dungeness Crab preparation.

I now know why I've always purchased my salmon already filleted, deboned and cut into pieces, but I can now also say that if I were presented with a whole fish... I could do it myself.

Equipment, i.e, a super sharp filleting knife, makes the work so much easier, and we learned to allowed the knife to do the work for us, not to "saw" through the beautiful salmon.

Up next Dan brought out Dungeness Crabs which needed to be cleaned.  Here I'm ever so thankful my crab was somewhat frozen, and I cringed just a bit as Amy, of Everyday Dinners, worked next to me scooping the crab "butter" (the liver and pancreas) out with her bare hands.  Not a job I think she'll be doing again anytime soon...

Apparently preparing the crabs for our own lunch, Dan showed us how to crack the shells for easier eating and told us the more work we did now in the kitchen the less work it would be at the table.

Table setting Matt's on the Market, Seattle
Crabs cleaned and salmon filleted, we made our way upstairs to Matt's on the Market where Girard's once again had a lovely table ready for us.  And, featured on the menu was... fresh salmon and Dungeness Crab!

Opened in 1996, Matt's began as a small - only 23 seat - restaurant which boasted a fiercely loyal clientele who loved the ever changing menu based on what was available in the Pike Market downstairs.

When Matt decided to leave the restaurant, Dan Bugge - actually a star "fish thrower" for 11 years at the Pike Place Fish Market - began his dream of restaurant ownership.  Keeping the restaurant name along with the passion to create culinary experiences, Dan continues the every changing menu based on the Pike Market seasonal offerings.

He and his staff have, however, made major upgrades to the restaurant including a new kitchen, expansion in both size and capacity, and the addition of a spectacularly well-stocked bar.  When in town, reservations are highly recommend.

Matt's on the  Market, Seattle

A charming finale to our Culinary Collective, Matt's boasts gorgeous views of the bustling market below.  Toasting our day over salads dressed with Girard's Dressings (we had a choice of every dressing they make on the table!), the sun broke through the fog and a clear, brilliantly blue sky shone over our table through Matt's historic arched windows.

Matt's on the  Market, Seattle

With freshly caught Dungeness Crab, perfectly filleted wild salmon and a table filled with new friends, our lunch passed far too quickly.  Laughter rose time and again as we recounted our weekend and commented on our fish splattered sleeves.  I don't think working for my lunch will ever again be as fun.

Salmon at Matt's on the Market, Seattle
Perfectly filleted salmon... Matt's on the Market | October 2014


  1. I always hear great things about Pike's Place, I need to make a trip up there one day!

    1. I had always heard wonderful things as well... they are all true!! :)

  2. What a fun trip!! I have always wanted to visit Pike's Place!

    1. It's been on my wish list for years, Erin. I hope you get to go too soon!

  3. Oh, my gosh, I would have been a nervous wreck, too. Good catch, Kim! Boy, did you have fun. Learning how to debone a fish and capping it off with a delicious lunch only made for more wonderful memories from your Seattle visit :)

    1. Oh, Liz... it was so fun! The entire weekend was such an amazing experience. Meeting you was one of the highlights!!

  4. It's so fun to see you in my old stomping grounds. :-) You look beautiful and happy and not scared at all. :-)

    1. Thanks Krista... I didn't know that was your old stomping grounds!! What a beautiful area!

  5. Oh my goodness! This sounded wonderful and wish I could have been there. Not only sounded incredibly fun but so useful too. I would have been cringing a bit at the crab entrails too but bet it all tasted fabulous, Kim. Have always wanted to go to Seattle and even more so now reading about your adventures...


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