Rob and I made plans to have lunch at Salumi today. I arrived in downtown Seattle a little early. To kill some time, I ducked into an art gallery run by Gary Kucera. Hidden in one of the backrooms were lithographs of blueprints created by a Los Angeles artist named Michael Bennett. A former postal worker who's also represented by Mark Moore in Southern California, Bennett draws detailed floor plans of the homes of TV characters such as the Beverly Hillbillies, Bruce Wayne and Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. Here's the blueprint for the Jetsons' circular space abode.
Here's the layout for Perry Mason's detective office.
At the assigned meeting time, I strolled over to Salumi from the art gallery. Rob told me that I looked like an Ewok in my black hooded cape. All I needed was a slingshot, some rocks and a braided rope around my belt. I wondered if Ewoks eat salumi. For the uninitiated, salumi is the plural form of salami. I know this because during some downtime during L.A. fashion week, Missy and I quizzed Giovanni, the sweet photographer who travels the world from his home base in Florence, Italy, with his wife to shoot fashion shows for our newspaper. "Giovanni, what's the difference between salami and salumi?" we asked him. Giovanni was quiet for a few seconds, presumably to translate the sentence from English into Italian and then figure out an answer. His explanation: "Salami--one meat. Salumi--many meats." Why, of course! This is the rain-drenched sign advertising many meats on Pioneer Square.
The shoebox of a restaurant has two long tables where diners plop down, pour their own wine and gobble up plates of precisely sliced meats, chunky balls of fennel sausage and the soup and vegetable of the day (on Nov. 3, it was lentil soup and roasted Brussel sprouts with prosciutto). The tables were covered in a waxy table cloth printed with paintings of figs. As Salumi is owned by chef Mario Batali's father, it was inevitable that conversation at our communal table touched on the opening of the younger Batali's new restaurant in Los Angeles. My neighbors didn't know the name of Batali's new establishment. It was a good thing there was a fashion journalist/foodie/Angeleno in their midst!
Rob treated me to a meat and cheese platter for my birthday. A Scorpio and salumi, what a combo! While Rob took care of our lunch order, I got salumi for me, Missy, Marcy, Missy's parents, my sister and own parents. (Everyone else gets Parasite Pals from Archie McPhee.) Warned by another friend who lives in the Emerald City about how the Salumi folks could be food Nazis and limit the amount of meat customers buy, I politely asked the woman behind the counter if there was a maximum number of salumi I could buy. She said I could buy as much as I want. So I stockpiled the signature Salumi salami, mole salami, paprika salami and oregano salami. Everything is priced the same by the pound so it's easy to mix and match.
This is a little plate of many meats. Though the mozzarella wasn't of the Buffalo variety, it was handmade that morning in the restaurant. It had a sweet flavor that helped cleanse the palate.
After lunch, Rob took me to a Japanese teahouse called Panama Hotel. The location used to house a sento, or Japanese bathhouse, before World War 2. Japanese-Americans stored their belongings in the Panama Hotel's basement before they were shipped to internment camps. To remind patrons of the hotel's history, the teahouse owner built a glass floor through which they can see the storage area. Reclining on white puffy pillows, I sipped a matcha latte made with rice milk.
Because I passed on the lentil soup at Salumi, I had enough of an appetite to try the elliptical pie made of sweet potatoes.
The teahouse reminded me of the hyper-stylized cafes in Tokyo. Check out the soaps that resembled river rocks next to the Zen-white sink.
Even the sign reminding everyone to wash their hands after using the toilet couldn't be plain and boring.