Edy Kizaki

Strolling in Old Town Ballard

May 29, 2013 in Ballard, Seattle Lifestyle

OldTown12Early evening, still light, quiet tree-lined streets in Old Town Ballard hold a still promise of the dinner hour.  Lights from the restaurants, pubs, and wine cafes glow over wooden tables set artfully on old wooden floors, windows gleam with un-looked for bits and pieces of the past, and reflect trees, leaves, branches, telephone poles, passing couples strolling toward their favorite Old Town cafe.  It’s about OldTown13friends, conversation, a timeless walk letting the soft evening light and the greenery and old brick and wood surfaces sink in below the level of daily life to the place we keep those special moments.

The Seattle folks living in Ballard think of themselves more as Ballardites than Seattleites.  It is an urban village with so much character and charm and arguably some of the best restaurants, drinking places, and shops in the city, that people rarely need to go anywhere else to eat, go to the movies, shop, ride their OldTown01bikes, or go out for live music and socializing.  Even the Tuesday after Memorial Day a rusty girl’s voice drifts out over a guitar rift from an open door, couples sit over starkly elegant drinks at Bitterroot, and the Noble Fir is as usual absolutely packed with couples at tables with white clothes.

What could one possible want that is not here?  There is even a new hotel (Hotel Ballard) on Ballard Ave, giving the Ballard Inn (always my favorite with the air of docks and yesteryear) some competition and OldTown08worth staying at no matter where in the city your destination lies.

The Ballard Inn lists some of the best things to do, and I strongly recommend you allow plenty of time to enjoy yourself in this, perhaps the best Seattle destination to unwind and live timelessly, for however long you are here.  (For information on Ballard real estate and homes and condos for sale in Ballard please OldBallardclick here to go to my blog on the current Ballard market, or for an in-depth look at a superb Gelato spot on Ballard Ave, check out my blog on D’Ambrosio Gelato.)

 

 

 

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Edy Kizaki

Ballard Old Town Gelato

May 29, 2013 in Ballard, Coffeehouses

Gelateria01 Gelateria05 Gelateria06 A couple of hours to fill on a quiet evening right after Memorial Day.  It’s a serious holiday with a lot of remembrance and giving thanks for those who have gone before, sacrificed, left us so much.  Now in the aftermath of that day of contemplation and an almost dreamy looking back quality, what could be better than to head to Old Ballard.  Ballard Ave seems nothing so much as a street cloaked in 100 years of brick and old wood history.  The shops and restaurants are in premium space, so only the best prevail, and perhaps like New York, San Francisco, or some premier European cities, Ballard is most enjoyable because it is so very much itself.  Granted it may be smaller than some of its illustrious cousins mentioned above, but there is so much per square foot that you will never see it all in one day and you will never tire of it.  Most people that live nearby possessively treasure the Ballard Sunday Market and the surrounding Gelateria05old brick and wood buildings with their gold leaf signed windows and the leafy reflections that seem to cast shadows of the past onto our day.  Mornings the streets are quiet but many arrive in search of the bountiful brunch spreads that the local eateries are renowned for.  Afternoon brings shoppers and fresh diners.  And toward evening, the dinner hour begins with popular happy hours that tempt.  And after dinner the drinking, live music, and socializing brings a lively, swirling crowd.

In among all these lovely choices for treats, we knew exactly where we were headed.  My son wanted to go to D’Ambrosio Gelato which he’d been gazing at from the sidewalk last Sunday while at the Farmer’s Market.  “Mom, there’s a new gelato shop, we should try it!” I didn’t have the heart to tell him it wasn’t new, it has in fact been there several years, because at 11 he’s just starting to notice so much and why not let him be a discoverer in his own right.  We parked about seven blocks away but no worries, every foot of the stroll was worthwhile as there is so much to see and experience.  When we got there, the friendly young man behind the counter offered us tastes before we committed ourselves to a flavor or two.  I tried Caramello al Sale (salted caramel) at my son’s recommendation, and found it rich and creamy and rewarding, and then tried the Variegato Amarena (kirsch cherry) and loved it.  I settled on a cup (small, to be as noble as possible) of cherry and lemonatta, a wonderful duo.  Daniel chose the salted caramel and an orange cream.  The server made an art piece of the mix of the two flavors.  We got a fresh cannoli to take home to Dad, with a choice of filling of either traditional cream or (D’Ambrosia’s theme) pistachio cream, filled while we watched.

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You are invited to taste before you make your flavor choices.Sitting in the window, slowing enjoying the creamy treat while watching the blue light in the street and the people passing, we were in no hurry to go anywhere else at all.  As each couple or group came in and ordered, laughing and joking with the young man serving, the remarkable simple pleasure of the moment seemed to permiate the whole cafe and we stayed quite a while just watching the light change and hearing the murmur of voices as people spent some very quiet and somehow dreamy moments together.  I’d like to keep that moment alive in my soul as the week goes forward, but it is great to know that living here in Ballard, it is quite easy to find our way back anytime we have the impulse to visit and taste the wide variety we have yet to enjoy! (For some insight on the Ballard real estate market this month and to look at some Ballard homes for sale, please go to my Ballard Real Estate Now blog.)

Edy Kizaki

Ballard Notes

June 21, 2012 in Ballard, Seattle Lifestyle

BallardMkt2Each of our Seattle neighborhoods has a character of it’s own and much to offer, and such favorites as Queen Anne, Magnolia, Ravenna-Bryant, Fremont, Ballard and West Seattle are worth exploring for a day or even an afternoon.  Our warm summer weather and the late light (staying light at this time of year until about 9 p.m.) gives you the opportunity to wander, explore, take it slow.

Recently I have been spending a lot of time exploring the shops, restaurants and amenities in Ballard, and thought I would put Ballard2together notes that might be a jumping off point in your explorations.  But a caution, this is just the beginning!

Restaurants

Great Ballard favorites like Volterra and Ray’s Boathouse, Bastille Cafe and Bar, Senor Moose Cafe, and La Carta de Oxaca are among the treasures you will want to explore.  Some others that you should know about are Paseo, a small Cuban take out (cash only) that gets raves, Wild Mountain Cafe called “a hidden gem” with “the best breakfast” and “the best Happy Hour” and live music some nights, and Root Table on Market Street, an Asian/Fusion restaurant that is called “relaxing” and has reasonable prices., and one of the most beloved pubs with 100 years of history and a classic wooden bar in Old Ballard, Hattie’s Hat (“two bucks off every burger every Monday” “come on down and we’ll treat you right.”).  One of my personal favorites is Thai Ku on Ballard Ave, I’ll blog about it soon.  I promise I’ll add more choices here as I discover them.

And here is a list of restaurants on the My Ballard site which residents have voted for.

And here are some Restaurants I’ve blogged about:
Golden Beetle Restaurant — Creation of Seattle Restaurant maven Maria Hinds of the renowned Tilth, this Ballard gem on NW Market Street takes you far away from the Pacific Northwest to a land of middle eastern spices and sand.
The Matador — the Ballard location on NW Market St is best described as “perfect” whether what you want is a lunch, a happy hour haven, meeting friends for a drink.  I love the daytime options as the windows and light fill you with a sense of satisfaction, you could be in a European city a hundred years ago sitting BallardDoorwaythere in one of the wooden booths, at least until your distinctly Northwest fusion comfort food cuisine arrives at your table.
Mr. Gyros
— One of the best Gyros in Seattle, fast, friendly, and open late, what more could you ask for?  Near NW Market St and the Ballard Library in the heart of things.
The Scoop — Sunset Hill’s popular neighborhood ice cream parlor on 34th Ave NW
Smokin’ Pete’s BBQ – named as one of the West’s Top 10 BBQ joints in Sunset Magazine!
Larson’s Bakery — go here for Scandinavian pastries and wonderful bread, but maybe not the coffee.
Fresh Fish Company in Loyal Heights — I go here to buy halibut, Copper River salmon, black cod, crabs, shrimp, clams or mussels to steam, oysters, pickled herring, salmon candy, etc, but they do have one table and serve bouillabaisse, so it counts as a restaurant too, right?  Go for a snack.  The kind owner opened OldTown05up oysters for us the other day as I don’t have an oyster knife (that I’ll admit to).
Mike’s Chili Parlor — lots of people love Mike’s for the classic workingman’s bar atmosphere and the variety of chili, chili, or chili.  Near Trader Joe’s and Ballard Blocks, nice for lunch after a Sunday morning at the wildly popular (7,000 members and very cool) Mars Hill Church there.  Or our friend Jim Reppond likes to go for supper and have a beer with the chili!

Coffee Houses
Cafe Bambino — very tiny inside but you can squeeze in and the atmosphere is fantastic.  Their pastries are good too (try the banana blueberry muffin), and the italian coffee gets raves.  This is the perfect neighborhood stop-by cafe in East Ballard opened by a local sculptor as he felt the neighborhood on NW 65th needed a really good coffee spot.  The outdoor patio is a good hang out place and they sometimes have live music.
Caffe Fiore — Three locations, two in Ballard.  This is about the beloved and very atmospheric coffee house in Sunset Hill right near Golden Gardens, a neighborhood favorite and a great example of Seattle Coffee Life at it’s finest.

Shops
Sustainable Home Decor — A pleasant place to browse for all kinds of home decor made with “green” and natural materials
Ballard Blossom — great florist with superior blooms
Laura Bee’s Handbag Studio — create your own dreambag at Laura Bee’s, and enjoy a tempting selection of jewelry, accessories and home yummies.
Sip and Ship – Mailing services,  PO boxes, wifi, espresso station with plentiful seating, gifts and collectables, lots of stationary stuff, great friendly and helpful staff!  On Market St. in the center of it all.
Bella Umbrella — it is an umbrella studio!  I love that there are vintage umbrellas for hire, and people from all over the country use them in their wedding or event planning.  They also have great new boutique umbrellas and it’s a great place to visit and get to know.
Romanza — a true gift destination on NW Market in the heart of Ballard.

Ballard Neighborhood
About Ballard Bridge — one of five movable bridges in Seattle, the drawbridge regularly raises for ships to pass through, often all the way from Lake Washington to the Sound.
Green Market in Sunset Hill — More than just a small neighborhood market, Green Market has personality and a wonderful photo collage board of Ballard1neighborhood families and events.
Ballard Locks — A fun excursion for kids, an expansive park to sun or play in, a tucked away corner with plenty of water and activity, big and little ships always passing through, and the exhibit and salmon ladders and a great visitor information center that gives tours!
East Ballard Community Association — wonderful window on the neighborhood of East Ballard
Golden Gardens Beach Park on Labor Day — it’s popular with locals and a great beach destination.  Most of Ballard is close enough to bike here and there are 20 fire pits that are great for groups, first come first served.
Viking Days at the Nordic Heritage Museum — a fun local festival with food, playacted viking battles, and exiting things to see like a viking ship produced by early Seattle settlers!
Shops on NW Market St — a little selection of shops on NW Market, including the Majestic Bay Theater, and some notes on the neighborhood.
Shishole Bay — Photos and history notes for this picturesque location including the Marina and Golden Gardens.  Great and informative blog.

Ballard Real Estate
Bank Owned Properties in Ballard — at the time of writing this blog there were five but the link updates automatically for 30 days, so you can see what’s new by clicking.  If you visit after that, just email me and I’ll send you a fresh link.
Ballard Brick Tudors — a sketchbook of some of the Ballard brick Tudor homes that facinate homebuyers and visitors alike.
Great Ballard View Condo — A 2 bedroom 2.5 bath condo with vaulted greatroom and wonderful finishes, this is Ballard luxury lifestyle for sure, at an affordable price.
Ballard Classic Craftsman Homes — A sketchbook of photos of some of the classics that line Ballard residential neighborhood streets.

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