A Chocolate Lover’s Dream

When else can you combine a chocolate buffet, a loveable canine and a swanky downtown hotel?  Bring the kids along to A Chocolate Holiday Buffet, hosted at the Four Season’s ART restaurant.  Larry, from the beautifully illustrated children’s book, Larry get’s Lost in Seattle, will be there, along with his creator John Skewes.  Dine on decadent chocolate croquenbouche, triple chocolate mousse cake, white chocolate milkshakes (and much more) while listening to a storytime about how, exactly, Larry got lost.  Kids can get a signed book, personalized “Larry” artwork and a Larry stuffed toy.  For reservations, call 206-749-7070

Sundays, December 2, 9, 16, 23 at 3pm-5pm

Adults: $20; Children, ages 6 to 12: $12

“Larry Gets Lost in Seattle” Signed Book: $20; Larry Stuffed Toy: $12

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A La Mode Pies

This past weekend, after a round of trick-or-treating at the Woodland Park Zoo’s Pumpkin Bash, we headed across the street to A La Mode Pies to taste test a few slices.  Pie has been taking Seattle by storm, quickly becoming a sweet favorite along with the ever popular cupcake shops.  It’s becoming more common to blow out candles on birthday pies, and an increasing number of brides and grooms are cutting the pie, rather than traditional wedding cake.

The Phinney Ridge shop is cozy, with a dark wood bar and a few tables; the perfect neighborhood spot to duck in for a slice of pie and an espresso.  A large picture window lets you catch a glimpse of the bakers working their magic.

Chose from a slice, a tart or a whole pie.  Apple & Ginger Pear, Key Lime, Mexican Chocolate Mousse and Bourbon Butterscotch are just a few…take your pick, you can’t go wrong.  We tried the Blue Hawaiian (pineapple, blueberries and toasted coconut) and the Star-Spangled Sour Cherry (sour cherries, a hint of almond and an ultra-flaky buttered marble crust).  Add a scoop of Bluebird Ice Cream (locally made a few blocks away) and you’re set.  Oh and one more thing: They DELIVER to your doorstep…for free!

Seattle’s Sunset Beaches: 3 of the best places to watch the sun go down**

We’ve been enjoying some pretty spectacular sunsets lately here in the Pacific Northwest.  Before cooler weather sets in, get out there with the kids and enjoy one and, better yet, do it at a beach!  Here are 3 great spots to watch the sun go down with the sand between your toes:

Alki Beach

Here’s a place where postcards come from.  There’s a photo opportunity from anywhere you stand, and a ferry boat or two will most likely make it into one of your shots.  This long stretch of sandy beach boasts magnificent views, from the Olympics to the glittering Seattle skyline.  Take a stroll along the pedestrian path or pack a picnic and some sand toys.  When the sun goes down, pop in to the award-winning Bakery Nouveau on California Ave and treat the kids to something sweet.  Choose from rich mousse, delectable tarts and the best twice-baked almond croissant outside of Paris.

As I did not have any sunset photos from Alki, I’m using this one. It’s from the San Juans. It’s the same sun.

Golden Gardens

Here’s another Seattle shoreline worthy of California beach status.  Along with perfect conditions for sand-castle building, Golden Gardens is home to wetlands and some great hiking trails.  The views aren’t bad either 😉

For a delectable treat, head over to Hot Cakes on Ballard Avenue.  This molten chocolate cakery (I love those words) features specialty cookies that have been featured in Bon Appetit and Wall Street Journal (think bacon-oatmeal-raisin cookies and pocket pies).  Cinnamon rolls and milk shakes are big hits as well as, of course, molten chocolate cakes (baked to order)!  You can even get a take-and-bake molten cake, packaged in a mason jar.  

This is not a molten chocolate cake from Hot Cakes. I don’t have a photo of that. But this is what I imagine it would look like being eaten.

 Kirkland Park Marina

This Eastside marina beach is a magnet for kids.  On any given day you’re sure to see the little ones feeding ducks, watching boats and chucking rocks into the water.  The beach is large enough to enjoy but small enough not to have to spend your day or evening chasing toddlers.  A grassy lawn and covered cabana set the scene for a sunset picnic, and if you didn’t have time to whip up sandwiches, grab some to-go at Jimmy John’s (just across the street).  For dessert, try Sirena Gelato on Park Lane.  Nothing tops a beautiful sunset like stracciatella!

 **While writing this post I realized this could also describe a great date night.  So, if you are in need of a night off from the kids, just take this post and replace “kids” with “new dress,” “heels,” “blow-dried hair,” “actual makeup” or “wine.”  

Served Soft

Fall is on the horizon.  School has begun, the nights are getting cooler and Halloween costumes have made their appearance at Costco.  Savor these last days of summer with some cool treats.  I checked out some of Seattle’s best frozen yogurt and custard spots.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt

Menchie’s has taken the fro-yo culture by storm.  It’s got great branding, clean and inviting shops, and a simple mission statement:  “We make you smile.”  But most importantly, Menchie’s has delicious soft serve yogurt.  There are at least 12 flavors available at all times, with rotating choices every day. Pick from exotic tastes like Taro and Thai iced tea, sweet choices like Snickerdoodle and Cake Batter Mix, and the standard Original Tart.  Toppings will satisfy any craving, from classic sprinkles and fresh strawberries to chocolate rocks and fruity pebbles.  It’s all self-serve, so you’re free to create your own concoction.  The best part?  Rather than cup size, Menchie’s charges by weight, and that’s a much better deal.  An average serving of one (or two or three) flavors plus a generous amount of toppings will usually run you between $2 and $3.  And in my frugal opinion, for what you get, it’s a steal!  Check out Menchie’s website for flavors and locations!

Peaks Frozen Custard

Peaks brings us the timeless tradition of frozen custard straight from the Midwest.  The family-owned business found its home in Ravenna and has been making this delectable treat since 2009.   The creamy custard is fresh; made every two hours or less, so the daily flavor choices are small (Vanilla, Chocolate, and the flavor of the day), but the taste is huge.  Grab a Flavor Calendar to plan your next visit.  Pear Perfect, Chocolate Basil and Strawberry Lemonade are just a few of the many choices Peaks offers.  Custard cakes and espresso are available as well.  The service is friendly and the atmosphere is cozy and rustic; the stone fireplace and comfy leather couches feel like a mountain lodge.  Best of all, there’s a corner devoted to kids, with plenty o’ toys and books.  The sundae creations are praise-worthy.  We devoured the Mt. Peanut Better:  vanilla custard, house made brownies, peaks of fudge sauce and peanut butter chunks, topped with whipped cream and a cherry and served in a waffle cone. Yum!

Cherry de Pon

Another self-serve yogurt bar has popped up in Kirkland’s Juanita neighborhood, and it’s a good one!  Cherry de Pon serves up to 12 flavors at a time on a rotating basis, with toppings galore.  Coconut, Thin Mint, Key Lime and Maple Walnut are some my personal favorites.   My 3-year-old sticks with Chocolate.  Like Menchie’s, yogurt is sold by weight, and at 39 cents/oz, it’s pretty much a steal.  My son and I each enjoyed more-than-decent sized servings of yogurt (toppings, of course!) for under $4.  Cherry de Pon also has an impressive smoothie menu as well as bubble tea.  The place is modern and clean, with a small selection of toys and games for little ones.

So there you have it!  Get out and get some!  And enjoy!