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Thali at Poppy

I have a sister.

The first time we met I was 18 years old, she was 9, our brother 7. After that, another 10 years passed by until we met again. We grew up in two different continents, in two separate families, and we have no shared childhood experiences.

Since I moved to the US, about 8 years ago, we got to meet 1-2 times a year. We tried in the past to keep in touch but it always felt a little odd and kind of bumpy and didn’t last long. I think a big part of it was because we didn’t really know each other well. We are family by blood – same father, different mothers – but other than that we didn’t have much in common, or at least that is how it seemed. In the past four months or so, since our father became terminally ill, we tried again.

We both felt that he will not make it and spent hours and hours of talking about it, our relationships with him, with our family, trying to understand and support each other, to make sense of it all, the past, the present… I think we both needed to be closer to our family at that point – maybe the “blood” factor kicked in – and get some of the warm fuzzy feeling that you can only get from a close relative.

Our father passed away a month ago. What I needed was to either be on a deserted island all by myself or with a close family member with whom I can talk about this without holding back, with no inhibitions. Even the bad stuff. There was Vicki who has listened and supported and understood me all the way and then having my little sister during that time was extremely important too.

After he passed away, I was happy when she said she wants to come and visit us, spend time with me, get to know my husband, play with our children. I was a bit scared too – what if this doesn’t work out well? Do we really have much to talk about for days during her stay besides our dad? I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. As it turned out, we had the best time. It took 39 years to have a sister, but who’s counting?

Here’s a summary of our culinary adventures:

Straight from the terminal, I brought her home, showed her off to the kids and the babysitter and then we went to Poppy in Seattle for dinner (Check out their ever changing menu in the link). Wonderful food, fantastic drinks, great vibes and energy. (That’s me and the husb in the photo. Do I look excited about the food or what?) What a great start!



Ray BanAlas, the following day was rainy and grey. A typical Seattle welcoming to new arrivals. We hung out at the fancy mall – the whole world seemed to be there that particular rainy Labor Day – feeling bored, dragging our feet around, not in the mood for shopping at all, and feeling unexcited. My heart sank.

Then we had lunch. A very forgetful lunch in an Asian noodle’s restaurant at the mall which name I will not mention. My wonderful husband then packed the kids and took them home for a nap and we stayed at the mall. Wondered around a bit. Then my sister bought what she thinks are cool and I think are goofy, Ray Ban sunglasses… Next, we went grocery shopping, but not before we had great coffee and great conversation for…. more then an hour I’m sure. Sheewwwww, I was relieved that things were getting better and to find out that we had zillion of other topics to talk about besides our father. Like discussing that cute guy who waited in line… Naaa, no we didn’t…

The following day was major compensation. First, we had fantastic cupcakes at Cupcake Royal in Seattle. I highly recommend that you try their seasonal Blue Mountain Huckleberry cupcake which was so amazingly delicious, fluffy and fruity. Here’s a photo I grabbed from their blog since I did not think of taking a photo of these beauties. I really should go there again soon. You should too. (Photo credit to the lovely and and talented photographer cfisherphotography.)


At the same location – it was confusing the first time I went there – you can also get excellent coffee by Verite Coffee. It’s a really a fun and lively place to hang out. I love Ballard.

Cupcake royale

Then we headed to Ballard’s Hiram Chittenden Locks to see the salmon jumping up the ladder, swimming against the current on their way back home. They are now migrating back to spawn at the local lakes and rivers where they were born. It’s very exciting to learn about the life cycle of salmon. (More about it here.). In a way, it was symbolic too, when I think about it now. Hmm.

at the Locks

In the evening we went to see Julie & Julia. I wish I brought something utterly delicious to eat during the movie. Sadly, I had to settle for a greasy popcorn with fake butter. I left most of it untouched and threw it away at the end of the movie. What a waste of money, $6 whole dollars! for a small popcorn! But after, we went for sushi and an awesome hot green tea passion tea. I know, it should have been a cocktail, but my sister chickened out on the cocktail and chose the better, healthier option. The tea was good though. So good that you  don’t even have to add any sugar or honey, or anything to it. I ordered one too.

The following day was even better! Sunny and warm. We took my little boy with us and headed to Pike Place Market.

Pike place market pig

I did some shopping – I can’t resist – and got 4 bunches of fresh basil (more about those in a sec), fresh potato bread, macaroons, very sweet and juicy nectarines, peaches, pluots, and mangoes which we enjoyed later at the park with the kids. By the way, THANK YOU T. for grabbing my toddler who ran to cross the street to the other side so she won’t get kvetched by cars! Nice move. Quick response! You’ll be a fab mom.

With 4 full bags in hand – she helped carrying them – I took them for lunch at Etta’s because taking a guest, especially someone you like, to have fresh seafood and fish when they are in Seattle is a must! Lunch was excellent. We had some raw oysters on the half shell.

raw oysters

Red curry coconut broth with albacore tuna, wok seared vegetables, steamed rice. Alaskan halibut ,pickled cucumbers, and corn soubise. A side of cornbread pudding. Yum! Good local beer (but forgot the name) and hot tea, of course :) Oh, yeah, and the kid ordered chicken fingers and fries. The chicken was real, and so were the fries. A rare treat for a kid’s meal.




Halibut Etta's

After all the shopping, lunch-eating, going to park, we went back home tired and hungry. At home, we baked and cooked dinner together. Well, actually I bossed her around… a little? But she is a good sport. Hmm, she IS running marathons after all… So, no problem for her handling me. I’m a little cracker for this tough cookie. I mean, I can really be an army sergeant when I’m in the kitchen. I can be scarier than, or just as nasty as Gordon Ramsey if I want to. To test her boundaries, I asked her to pick the leaves off of those 4 basil bunches but she did not even blink. At the speed of lightening we also made banana bread (recipe here).


Dinner was simple but good. Spaghetti with basil, garlic, lemon, and extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts, grated parmesan, (deconstructed pest if you insist), tossed with fresh tomatoes from the backyard and olives, some cheese, corn, and leftovers from last night’s dinner.

After a very stressful and crazy summer, this sure felt warm and fuzzy inside.

Thanks for bringing the sunshine with you, Tia T.


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Categories : Family, Seattle/Pacific NW

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