Rural scene near Sequim -- barn with Olympic Mountains

Sequim is one of my favorite destinations on the Olympic Peninsula.  It lies in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, so the weather is often sunnier than in Seattle.  I love driving along the country roads surrounding the town.  It’s still peaceful and rural. Later in summer, the lavender fields will be in bloom.  I was there on a Saturday, when the local outdoor market opened for the season.

Weathered ruin just off Hwy 101 near Sequim

Empty windows softened by moss and blossoms

Meadow with Olympic Mountains on the horizon

Dandelion-filled meadow

Old Dungeness Schoolhouse near Sequim

Barbed wire on the side of a barn

Opening day festivities (free cake!) at the Sequim Open Aire Market

Bread stall at the Sequim Market

Tempting pastries at another bakery stall

Handmade crocheted items, Sequim Market

Seattle’s Best Bakery

March 29, 2010

Sign for Cafe Besalu in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle

I got an e-mail from my sister and brother-in-law in Wisconsin advising me that the best bakery in Seattle was Cafe Besalu.  Well, I’d never heard of the place.  How did two Wisconsinites/Wisconsinners know about this Seattle bakery?  While flying home from Texas recently, Dick had read about Cafe Besalu in his in-flight magazine.

I made note of the bakery, and when I was out running errands recently, I decided to check it out.  When I drove by at noon on a Saturday, and saw a line of people out the door, I knew I had found the right place.  I drove around the block to find a parking spot, and then I joined the line.  It took 15 minutes before I departed with my ham-and-Swiss-cheese pastry to go, and the line never got shorter the entire time I was there.

The pastry was delicious and met my (high) expectations.  I don’t know whether Cafe Besalu gets my vote for “best” bakery — Seattle has a lot of good bakeries, and I haven’t sampled all of them yet.  So I’ll reserve my final judgment. 

But I am thankful to my sister and brother-in-law for turning me on to a new eating place.  If you ever come to visit us, Margaret and Dick, I’ll treat you to breakfast at the Cafe Besalu.

The line outside Cafe Besalu

Customers looking at the pastry case, Cafe Besalu

Through the window, Cafe Besalu

The Benevolence of Sweets

September 12, 2009

A few of the treats at the Coral Princess's Pastry Extravagnaza

A few of the treats at the Coral Princess's Pastry Extravaganza

My favorite cruise treat, a fruit tart

My favorite cruise treat, a fruit tart

Spun sugar taken to new heights

Spun sugar taken to new heights

You could assuage your guilt by partaking of sugar-free desserts.

You could assuage your guilt by partaking of sugar-free desserts.

Choice of pastries at the Coral Princess's afternoon tea

Choice of pastries at the Coral Princess's afternoon tea

Cruises are well known for their excess of food.  We found this to be the case on the Coral Princess.  The abundant choices and excellent cuisine were certainly an indulgence.  My response was to give in to this pampering as gracefully as I could!

I think this passage from Muriel Barbery’s Gourmet Rhapsody captures the feeling of this abundance:

“No one was the least bit hungry anymore, but that is precisely what is so good about the moment devoted to pastries: they can only be appreciated to the full extent of their subtlety when they are not eaten to assuage our hunger, when the orgy of their sugary sweetness is not destined to fill some primary need but to coat our palate with all the benevolence of the world.”