Mary Beth Shaddix Mary Beth Shaddix
February 27, 2014

Send this gardener traveling and she'll sniff out spots with farm-fed kitchens and a fresh take on ingredients. In my world, ideal tilth means a healthy soil teeming with nutrients--a great foundation for all food. It's also proven a great foundation for a Seattle restaurant by the same name.

Chef Maria Hines, a James Beard winner, showcases organic and foraged wild foods at Tilth. Indulge in an experience with the 8-course tasting menu, or find infinite vegetarian options that please. The porcini brûlée is worth the trip alone. Who doesn't love tapping into a crackly brûlée, only to taste a savory, earthy bite? The apple soup was another savory standout, yet nearing (fearing?) the end, the olive oil cake with fennel ice cream made an indelible mark in my memory. Fennel is an addictive, anise flavor for many palates, mine no exception. We have a recipe for an olive oil cake in our garden cookbook, Pick Fresh, and I'm now eager to experiment with ice creams and sorbets flavored by the Cooking Light herb garden.

Mamnoon, a friendly, chic spot in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, is best enjoyed with a colorful and creative group, as I did. A modern take on flavors of Lebanon and the greater Middle East, the menu showcases specialties such as muhummarra (roasted pepper, walnut, and pomegranate spread), freshly baked breads, and a spiced, fried cauliflower. Share plates and let the server surprise you. I was--not only with the incredible food, but with a memorable Lebanese wine and a hot new number on the cocktail menu. Known simply as Number 11, it bites back. Vodka, apricot liqueur, and lime willingly blend with a few spicy spritzes of Fresno pepper extract. Boom!

All in the name of research and job dedication, I strolled to the Pioneer Square neighborhood to shop at E. Smith Mercantile, covered in our January/February travel guide to Seattle. Expecting cool vintage finds, I also found that the store fronts a cozy bar in the back. This spot seems like a neighborhood secret, but the locals are willing to share, as I discovered halfway through my curry tincture-laced, lemony Gold Rush cocktail. A surprise three inches of snow and excitement to share more of Seattle's finest spots for hungry travelers, the night proved anything but sleepless.

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