Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Were you aware of the Wallingford Word of the Week?

Many residents of our neighborhood have probably never realized that there is an Upper Wallingford Word of the Week. It's posted on a quiet residential block, NE 47th St between Latona and Thackeray.

For the meaning of this week's word "yomp", see the Wikipedia page.

The Upper Wallingford Word of the Week should not be confused with the more prominent Wallingford Word of the Week, at the corner of Thackeray and 44th.

I really like it when residents provide entertainment and enlightenment for their neighbors. Even though the interaction is indirect and anonymous, it still makes me feel like I'm part of a community.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Dancing with Matt video released

The new Dancing with Matt video, which includes a grand finale scene filmed at Gas Works Park on June 9, has just been released. It can be viewed at the "Where the Hell is Matt" web site.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Crosswalk art

Last autumn, I was pretty surprised when the new crosswalks went in at 45th and Wallingford, after the repaving of 45th was completed. The reason I was surprised is that the three crosswalks looked like this:

Was this some kind of new ultra-visible safety crosswalk? Or was it purely decorative?

Perhaps you have asked yourself these same questions. Well, I decided to find the answers.

It turns out that these crosswalks are made with a new product called Duratherm by a company named Streetprint. According to their website, the crosswalks are made with "inlaid thermoplastic" that can be applied in different patterns and colors. Cities across North America have been installing the decorative crosswalks. You can see in this photo gallery that most of the patterns around the country seem to be brick-inspired.

Actually, Wallingford's new crosswalks are not the first Duratherm crosswalks in the city. In August 2007, the West Seattle Herald unveiled the design for a new crosswalk at the intersection of California Avenue and Southwest Lander Street in West Seattle.

The very cool and informative Smarter Neighbors blog, which deals with Seattle land use issues in our neighborhoods, has also blogged on these crosswalks.

So are they safer? Not necessarily. The Seattle Department of Transportation explicitly states here that "textured and colored concrete is an aesthetic treatment, not a safety improvement".

I suspect we'll be seeing more of these crosswalks around the city as time goes by.

Celebrate the last day of school with Molly Moon's

Molly Moon's is celebrating the last day of school for Seattle students (today!) with a "beach" party and a new summer flavor - Creamsicle. They're also offering a today-only special of a hand-packed quart plus a dozen organic cones for $12. See details below:

molly moon ice cream: Celebrate the Last Day of School with Molly Moon's!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Joule UrbanBBQ week #3: Korean BBQ grill

Urban BBQ at Joule, originally uploaded by jlrose70.

Perhaps it was because of the first sunny Sunday in recent memory. Perhaps it was because of Father's Day. For whatever reason, this week's installment of Joule's Urban BBQ was such a success that they ran out of food between lunch and dinner. For those of you who missed out, here's a quick recap.

Urban BBQ at Joule, originally uploaded by jlrose70.

The menu:
  • Korean BBQ platter (shown upper left) - kalbi (Korean short ribs), spicy BBQ pork, rice, and lettuce (for wrapping up meat, rice, and hot sauce)
  • Tofu soup (off camera to the left) - tofu, potatoes, and squash in a miso-like broth
  • Calamari/scallion pancakes (shown upper right) - also known as pa jeon in Korean - fried "pancakes" with chunks of calamari and onion
  • Shiitake/soy vermicelli (shown bottom) - also known as chap chae in Korean - clear noodles with slices of mushrooms, carrots, and scallions and seasoned with soy sauce
  • Hot dogs and potato salad (not shown) for the kids or Korean food–phobic.
There were also assorted sauces for dipping pancakes or seasoning your lettuce/meat wraps, plus some kimchi and whole cloves of garlic for the hardcore eaters. Also the usual array of canned, bottled, and self-serve beverages* including a corn tea, a grape "shrub," and some sort of herb-infused beverage we didn't try.

All the food was delish, apart from some slightly underdone pancakes at our table. The snow cone flavors sounded interesting, particularly the one Korean-inspired concoction, but the crowd was getting thick, so we high-tailed it out of there with only a bag of root beer–flavored cotton candy for dessert.

The lesson from today? As we swing into a genuine summer, consider sampling the Joule BBQ earlier rather than later in the day if you're at all worried about getting your fill before it's all gone...

(P.S. Molly Moon's also had a line out the door this afternoon. Things are heating up in Wallingford!)

* Note about the beverages: This was our first go at the self-serve beverages as opposed to the canned/bottled drinks. As it turns out, most of their drinks are served in concentrated form—you're supposed to pour a nearly full glass of ice water and then splash a little of your chosen flavoring in. You were not supposed to fill up a whole glass of the grape "shrub" (which turned out to be equal parts grape flavoring and vinegar) and take a swig. Remember that.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Open a business on this block, if you dare

Interest in Wallingford tends to focus on the more upscaly part of the 45th Street corridor, to the west (and out of sight) of the Erotic Bakery and the payday loans place. But there's also plenty of interesting stuff in the NE quadrant part of Wallingford, between 1st Ave NE and I-5. Pictured below is the north side of the 250 block of NE 45th Street, not far from where I live. (Click through for a clearer view.) The city of Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods has designated this building as a historical site.

This block has been sort of a black hole for businesses. True, the well-regarded Comics Dungeon (250 NE 45th) on the corner has been there for a long time and is in no danger of going out of business. (I'm a patron.) And the Hawaii General Store (258 NE 45th), which opened in 1998, seems to have staying power. But the three storefronts between these two "anchors" have been bad luck for retail, at least since Gypsy Trader moved from here to Stone Way.

252 NE 45th is currently Fast Girl Skates, a store catering to roller-derby-playing women. Pretty cool store, in a very small niche market. Before Fast Girl opened, the site was occupied by a blur of short-lived business, including Mehndi Madness (a body design spa) and Electric Heavyland (a specialized record and toy store that probably hoped to capitalize on its location next to the comics store).

The restaurant at 254 NE 45th, Istanbul Café, closed a few months ago, and the space is now for rent. If you are hoping to open a money-losing small restaurant or café, this could be the location for you. I barely remember the Safariland Café, specializing in Kenyan coffee, which came and went in the proverbial blink of an eye. Before that was the Ethereal Café, which I don't remember at all.

Of course, if you've got the right business plan, perhaps you can overcome the inexorable laws of particle physics and escape the black hole. It worked for Djan's, the fine Thai restaurant at 264 NE 45th, just beyond the Hawaii General Store.

Before Djan's arrived, this lovely craftsman bungalow was a revolving door. There was a short-lived restaurant called Hunsa House and another called Café Indonesia (I ate there once in 2000). Not sure what was there before that.

Two questions:
1) For those of you with longer or better memories, what other businesses have thrived and/or failed on this block?
2) What kind of business do you think would do well in this location?

Send in your comments!

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Wallingford's residents already know what a great walking neighborhood we have, and now it's official: Front Seat, the company behind walkscore.com, has released their results for most walkable neighborhoods in Seattle, and Wallingford is #10. Neighborhoods are rated on their accessibility to shopping, dining, and the like. With gas prices skyrocketing, it makes more sense than ever to walk to where you want to go, and good on you if you live in a neighborhood that has so much within strolling distance.

See the walkscore.com results for Seattle neighborhoods.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Dancing with Matt

Having learned about "Where the Hell is..." Matt's Gasworks Park appearance by reading this very blog, Erma and I made a last-minute decision to head down to the park on Saturday afternoon. We arrived a few minutes after 3:00 to find a large group, several hundred people, gathered on a grassy slope near the old gas works under a threatening sky.

Many were in costume.

There were also a fair number of our four-footed friends in attendance.

Everyone was required to sign a release form. Matt himself said hi to each of us and took a photo. (That's him on the right, with the camera.)

We each got a green rubber wristband, marked with the date and the name of the corporate sponsor. Here's Erma wearing hers, Seattle skyline and Space Needle in view across Lake Union:

The whole operation was very low-key and low-tech. To get everyone organized, Matt just started talking.

He explained that this would be the final scene of his new dancing video. Nothing complicated: he just wanted us all to dance with him, in any way we wanted, with as much energy as possible. There would be no music.

He made sure that we were spread out across the full camera frame.

After we filmed an initial scene, 15 seconds of dancing, we were divided into two groups for the big finale. This scene would begin with Matt dancing alone with one of his nieces, and then the two groups would rush in from off-screen and join him. (Click through to the larger image to see Erma in the crowd.)

The whole affair lasted less than 30 minutes. It was a fun community event--so far as we could tell, everyone was having a good time.

The final video is scheduled to be posted June 21 on Matt's web site, where you can currently view his earlier dancing videos.

Additional pictures we took of the event can be viewed here.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Joule UrbanBBQ week #2: Let's talk about goat

joule bbq menu jun 8 2008, originally uploaded by weskimcom.

Week two of Joule's UrbanBBQ series was a focus on goat meat. With pre-fed kids in tow, I started with the goat noodle soup, a hot, rich broth brimming with hand-cut noodles, chunks of goat meat, and peas. A hot soup was actually welcome today, as the Seattle weather deities clearly believe that it's still mid-February. In fact, I ate the soup so quickly that I burnt my tongue a bit. Luckily, the sweet rhubarb-mint cocktail helped to ease the pain.*

Then came the goat platter, a trio of goaty preparations: a small pile of shredded goat meat sauced with a dark, spicy BBQ sauce; a couple of crispy-skin goat ribs (kind of like eating a piece of BBQ duck - so much fattier than one would have expected); and a slice of goat meat stuffed with some herby root vegetables. The server even brought us a complimentary ham-and-cheese sandwich for the kids, which was a kind gesture, although I'm afraid the kids weren't interested. No matter - a yummy box lunch for me to bring to work tomorrow.

So the verdict on UrbanBBQ week #2: thumbs up, once again. I even plugged the series to the barista at Fuel Coffee after the meal.

Next week: hot Korean grill. Oh, yes...

* As did the scoop of cardamom ice cream from Molly Moon's I got for dessert.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Where the hell is Matt? Well, in Wallingford tomorrow

We've all seen this guy on YouTube, right?

Well, tomorrow is your chance to be immortalized as part of Matt's world dance tour. See below for details.

Hi folks,

This is a reminder that I'm coming home to dance in Seattle and we'd

love for you to come and join us.

Please feel free to send this around, post it on blogs and bring as

many friends as you like.

We plan to be there rain or shine so we hope you'll grab an umbrella

or raincoat if it looks like a wet day.

Also, please be sure to RSVP to this address and let us know if you

are coming. If you have already done so please ignore the rest of
this email.

Details on the Seattle event:

We've shooting at Gasworks Park on Saturday, June 7th. Dancing will

commence at 3pm so please arrive early to get signed up.

Here's a link to the Google Map:


The photo attached to this email shows where to meet.

In case you didn't get our first email there are more details and

important information in the original email below.

We hope to see you there!

-Matt and Melissa

---------- Forwarded message ----------

From: <dancewithmatt@gmail.com>

Hi folks

If you're getting this email, you've either signed-up on my site to be

notified or you've written to me and mentioned where you live.

I've been all round this great big world over the last year working on a new

dancing video, and I've danced badly with a lot of people in a lot of
places. On June 7th, I'm coming home from the last leg of my trip and
shooting one last dancing clip at home in Seattle. This is an invitation to
come out and join me.

Several thousand people have already danced with me in dozens of countries

on every continent (except Antarctica, cause it's hard to round up a crowd
there). I'm planning to put Seattle at the very end of the video, and I'm
hoping to cap it off with the biggest crowd of all.

We've shooting at Gasworks Park, which should be able to handle a

decent-sized group. Dancing will commence at 3pm.

Here's a link to the Google Map:


The photo attached to this email shows where to meet.

This invite is just going out to people who've signed up on my site or sent

me email, but please feel free to extend it to everyone you know who might
want to participate.

The boring details are below. If you can't make it, you don't need to read

any further:

Please print out the attached release form and sign it ahead of time, if

possible. If you don't have a printer, I'll have copies to hand out.

I'll also need to take a photo of each participant before the dance and

attach it to the release form so we can identify everyone in the video. You
don't need to bring a photo. I'll have a camera.

If you are under 18, you MUST be accompanied by a parent or guardian who can

sign the release form and be photographed with you. Those are the rules I
have to follow in order to use the footage. The good news is that my sponsor
is making a donation to charity for each person who signs up and dances with

Again, you're welcome to invite friends to come with you. Just make sure

everyone is okay with signing the release form.

When you get to the spot, look for the guy who looks like the guy in the

dancing video. Just come on over and say hello. I shouldn't be too difficult
to find.

It will take some time to process each person, so depending on how many show

up, I may have to stop accepting forms at some point and shoot the video.
If you come early, it'll make things a bit easier on me.

The whole thing shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to shoot. We'll set up

the shot, dance for about 15 seconds, do it one more time for good measure,
and then try a couple fun variations.

There won't be any music. That gets added later. Dance however you want to

the music in your head, or bring headphones if you prefer :)

This is where I usually tell people I can't guarantee that the clip will end

up in the final video, but in this case I'd say it's a pretty safe bet.

You're welcome to bring your own camera. After the shoot, I'll stick around

for pictures and stuff. I'm happy to dance with you in your own
picture/video, so don't hesitate to ask.

Please reply to this email if you plan to attend and let us know how many

people you think you'll be bringing. It'll help to give us an idea of how
many to expect.

We're planning to put the final video up on the internet on June 21st. It'll

be on my site and YouTube and hopefully pretty much everywhere else that
goofy internet videos are found.

I look forward to dancing badly with you!

-Matt and Melissa

This week at the Guild

This week at the Guild, originally uploaded by weskimcom.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sutra's coming

As you can see, something is afoot on the 1600 block of 45th.

This former site of upscale restaurants Asteroid Café (which relocated to Fremont in 2006) and Bottle Rocket Café is noticeably lacking its rooftop iconic asteroid. (Was there ever an iconic bottle rocket?)

The interior is definitely undergoing renovations.

A sign in the window indicates that this will be the home of Sutra, a new restaurant brought to you in part by the owners of Rain City Yoga (in the U District).

I ran into one of the owners yesterday in Fuel, and he told me they hope to open in July. The all-vegetarian menu will change daily and make use of what's available at the local farmers' markets. There will be two seatings a night, and the presentation will be "elegant". Sounds like it will probably be pricey, too.

Good food, onscreen and off

Last night we went to see Good Food, a documentary about organic family farming in the Pacific Northwest and a local entry in the Seattle International Film Festival. The filmmakers travelled around Washington and Oregon, exploring the social and economic benefits of organic, local food production. We enjoyed seeing some of our favorite purveyors on the big screen, including a few (like Alvarez Farms and Tiny’s Organics) that sell at the Wallingford Farmers Market.

Essential Baking Company is the main sponsor of the film and passed out cookies and 25% off coupons to the huge line of ticketholders waiting outside. After the film there was a brief Q & A with the directors and several of the farmers.

Good Food is showing again on Saturday at SIFF Cinema in McCaw Hall; the directors and some of the farmers from the film will be in attendance. Tickets are available at the SIFF website.

In case you still haven’t made it to the Wallingford Farmers Market, allow me to tempt you with a few of the goodies we picked up this week: kalamata olive & herb bread from Tall Grass Bakery; Old Gouda cheese from Golden Glen Creamery; fresh roasted peanuts and sugar snap peas from Alvarez Farms; and a huge bouquet of orange poppies for only $7.00. We also ran into Dustin from Art of the Table who just wrapped up a month of cooking demos at the market; he’s celebrating the restaurant’s one-year anniversary this weekend (Thursday reservations still available). If you’ve been putting off your trip to the market, stop procrastinating – those snap peas won’t be around much longer.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rancho Bravo back open

Beloved taco trunk, Rancho Bravo, was closed for a week due to "failure to correct repeated violations," "sewage leaking onto ground" and "failure to operate in compliance with mobile plan of operation." They reopened on May 28. You can view their history with the health department, and any other King County restaurant, here.

Tomorrow: Wallingford Farmers Market and Art Walk

Tomorrow afternoon is the weekly Wallingford Farmers Market and monthly Wallingford Art Walk.

Special market note: While you're shopping for your organic veggies, artisinal cheeses, and free-range meats, keep an eye out for the baked goods being sold by Chinese adoptee families to raise relief funds for victims of the Chinese quake (as mentioned in this article):

No effort is too small, and many have a distinctly child-like tinge to them.

Lucy Yi Mayer, 3, and Amelia Nomura, 5, members of a Chinese play group in Seattle, helped make a sign for their bake sale Wallingford Farmers Market: "Help Support Earthquake Relief in China." They colored it with a big rainbow.

Support local growers and international disaster victims--and don't forget to bring a shopping bag.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The first Sunday evening of June

007, originally uploaded by jlrose70.

Even though the weather wasn't very summer-y, we went ahead and took part in "Operation Clambake," the kickoff event of Joule's summer BBQ series.

We tried oysters on the half shell (6 for $4!), razor clam chowder (brothy and chock full of bacon), and the clam boil (huge mussels, clams, sausage, potatoes, and corn). The kids ate hot dogs, and we ate the potato salad they had no interest in. A picnic-style condiment/beverage table in the back helped with the BBQ feel. For dessert, maple-flavored cotton candy and key lime pie, both quite yummy. We missed the live music, but maybe we'll catch it one of the other Sundays this summer. The only downside of the meal was getting dinged for the plate of bread and butter we requested. Sure, it was good bread and butter, but it did feel like a little much compared to the rest of the meal. Ah well - live and learn. Next week's theme: "Let's talk about goat!"

After that, we stopped for coffee at Fuel. (Hint: 50 cents off your drink if you say "high five" to your barista. Offer good through June 30.)

Finally, "second desserts" at Molly Moon's. The Vivace coffee ice cream is full of ground coffee goodness.

Any other Wallingford stories from the first half-weekend of June?