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Crystal Blue Water and Orange Sunsets over Lake Washington

September 16, 2014

We started the day with a fantastic brunch at Café Flora in the Madison Park section of Seattle. Madison Park is a beautiful neighborhood packed with locally owned cafes, pubs, coffee and ice-cream shops, boutiques, and salons. In the spring of 1990, three old friends and long-time residents of this neighborhood met to discuss the possibility of buying the abandoned laundromat at 29th and East Madison and converting it to a vegetarian restaurant. Their motives were simple: to establish a friendly, community based vegetarian restaurant close to home, to develop a restaurant that could stand as a model business in attending to the health of the planet, and to introduce superb non-meat dishes from culinary traditions around the globe utilizing local, organic and sustainable produce.

Cafe Flora has also carried its eco-conscious philosophy into its atrium, a charming garden retreat just off the main dining room. The garden atrium brings al-fresco dining to guests year round. Bathed in natural light, the space boasts exotic greenery, a bubbling central fountain and natural stone accents. The collective effect creates a warm, appealing and calming environment for guests. There is also a bar area with reclaimed wood accents using materials from local farms. You really feel like you’ve just entered a lush jungle for your dining experience. If you’re Vegan or Vegetarian, this is one place you can’t miss on your trip to Seattle. We tried their decadent cinnamon roll which was unbelievably light and delicious. The vegan breakfast quesadilla was amazing with roasted yams, poblano peppers, corn & pepper jack cheese inside an egg battered flour tortilla and topped with snappy sauce. I loved the summer mushroom scramble which was eggs or seasoned tofu with king trumpet mushrooms, crimini mushroom duxelles,roasted red pepper, fresh basil, and goat cheese. Scrumptious!

Our next stop was the Woodmark Hotel on Lake Washington in Kirkland. At first I wasn’t sure what to expect about having to head out of Seattle, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a quaint, little community outside the hustle and bustle of the city but within a 10-15 minute drive. When you pull up to the Woodmark, the first thing you see is the amazing view of the lake. The hotel décor has a crisp and clean, nautical theme to it and is almost pristine as if just opened. We were greeted with glasses of champagne, because as they say at the Woodmark, “checking in is a celebration.” I certainly couldn’t deny that!

Our room had a breathtaking view of the lake and you really feel like you’ve just stepped into your own lakehouse. The luxurious king bed was one of the best we’ve slept in so far featuring premium ‘Napa Black Label’ mattresses. All rooms are 312 square feet and have luxury bedding, including down pillows, as well as a flat panel TV and desktop computer docking station. The bathroom was stunning with imported Italian limestone, a deep soaking tub and soothing rain shower. Again, it was great to see toiletries in ecofriendly dispensers instead of tubes that are half-used and thrown away.

A stay here isn’t complete without hitting their gorgeous and serene new spa, Still Spa. You can almost hear the waves lapping at the shore while you relax in comfy chairs getting your mani or pedi. The spa has a very laid back feel and with all of the amazing treatments, you could certainly spend the better part of the day here.

That night we headed into the Capital Hill area of Seattle for the best dining experience yet at Poppy. Formerly a chef at the Herbfarm (if you aren’t familiar with it, definitely google it), Jerry Traunfeld’s restaurant brings a new style of dining to the northwest. Jerry’s inspiration comes from the “thali,” a platter served to each guest holding a variety of small dishes that highlights seasonal ingredients, fresh herbs, and spices. It’s a modern northwest tasting menu served all at once.

A meal at Poppy is an amazing feast of the senses. To me, it appeared based on a Ayurvedic perspective where all of the flavors are combined to make an extraordinary meal (sweet, astringent, sour, salty, pungent and bitter). We had the lavender crusted duck leg that was served with tomato, strawberry and sage soup; grilled racicchio, plum and pistachio salad; beets with fennel blossom and walnut; corn and marjoram pudding; watermelon and lime pickle. We also tried the slow-roasted Washington king salmon that was served with lettuce and shiso soup; Tuscan cantaloupe and tomato salad; savoy cabbage with caraway; fingerlings with mint and lavender; and gingered cucumber. Both came with nigella-poppy naan. The best meal we’ve had by far! Unlike most meals in restaurants, where you can be absolutely stuffed but still feel like something was missing, the food made you feel completely satiated and inspired.

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