Travel: Arts, music and delicious food in Seattle

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Microsoft, Nordstrom, and Starbucks are just a few of the companies headquartered in Seattle, Washington, The Emerald City. The city boasts a vibrant arts scene, iconic music venues and some of the freshest and delicious food on the west coast.

My first stop was a visit to the Seattle Art Museum, a magnificent building located in the heart of downtown. During my visit, the museum was gearing up to host some of its most prestigious exhibitions ever, most notably, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: Treasures of Kenwood House, London. Within the neoclassical Kenwood House on the outskirts of London, resides a magnificent collection known as the Iveagh Bequest which includes masterpieces by Gainsborough, Hals, Rembrandt, Reynolds, Romney, Turner, Van Dyck, and many others.

The Iveagh Bequest was donated to Great Britain by Edward Cecil Guinness, 1st Earl of Iveagh (1847–1927) and heir to the world’s most successful brewery. Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Gainsborough: Treasures of Kenwood House, London, also features Rembrandt’s late Self-Portrait (1665), which has never before left Europe.

Another exciting exhibit coming to SAM will be Future Beauty: Thirty Years of Japanese Fashion, a collection of eighty gowns ranging from the classic to the outrageous, by celebrated designers such as Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake, Kenzo Takada, Junya Watanabe, and Jun Takahashi. The exhibit will also feature runway show videos, artist photographs, and magazines images.

Just a short walk from the Seattle Art Museum is Six Seven Restaurant, a glorious ocean-front restaurant offering the freshest seafood in the city. Begin your meal with a pint of Alaskan Summer Ale, which is very affordable and the perfect accompaniment to your meal. Upon recommendation, I opted to try the Smoked Salmon as my starter. The melt-in-your-mouth salmon was the most delicious I’ve ever tasted and was actually caught earlier that morning.

Other delectable starters include Jumbo Dungeness Crab & Shrimp Cake with crab lemongrass sauce and tomato jam as well as Braised Beef & Truffle Ravioli made with butternut squash, chanterelles, toasted pine nuts, grilled radicchio in a truffle honey reduction.

Entrees are hearty and plentiful, most notably the Arugula Pesto Brushed Halibut with artichokes, roasted fennel and cherry tomato salad in a lemon vinaigrette. My favorite among the entrees however is the restaurants famous Northwest Bouillabaisse consisting of scallops, halibut, salmon, mussels, saffron potato, crisp calamari and a lemon aioli crouton. You will be asking for extra bread in order to sop up the tasty broth left at the bottom of the bowl.

After a bountiful dinner, check in to the luxurious Hotel Monaco, a boutique hotel featuring modern furnishings and décor, plush linens, evening turndown service and complimentary wireless Internet. The Kimpton property offers a hosted wine reception daily in their lobby as well as a 24-hour fitness and business center.

Begin your next day with a visit to Pike Place Market, a public market overlooking the Seattle waterfront. Opened in 1907, the market is one of the oldest public farmers’ markets in the United States. It is a place of business for many fisherman, farmers, and merchants. Named after the central street, Pike Place, it is one of city’s most popular tourist destinations. While there, be sure to sample some homemade chowder from one of many bustling cafes.

Music enthusiasts should be sure to visit Experience Music Project (EMP). The Frank Gehry-designed masterpiece is truly remarkable and hosts a variety of music-related exhibits. The Harley-Davidson Museum in partnership with EMP are currently presenting Worn To Be Wild: The Black Leather Jacket, a dynamic exhibit that traces the path of the leather motorcycle jacket.

Worn primarily by aviators during WWI and WWII, the leather jacket became the pièce de résistance of the biker, and remains an iconic piece of clothing. Jackets on display range from early military jackets, famous Hollywood costumes, and leather jackets worn by stars like Elvis Presley, to haute couture by Jean Paul Gaultier and Gianni Versace.

Right next door to EMP is Seattle’s most iconic landmark, the Space Needle. Head to the observation deck for unobstructed views of the city and the majestic Mt. Rainer.

Adjacent to the Space Needle is Chihuly Garden and Glass, a celebration of Seattle glass sculptor, Dale Chihuly. The Exhibition Hall contains eight galleries and three Drawing Walls, offering visitors a comprehensive look at Chihuly’s significant works. The Glasshouse presents a suspended 1,400-piece, 100-foot-long sculpture and the Garden is a backdrop for four other monumental pieces. This venue is a must-see for art lovers.

For dinner, head to Capitol Hill, Seattle’s gay neighborhood, and visit any one of dozens of gay-owned establishments along Broadway. I recommend The Grill on Broadway, known for the best Sunday brunch in town. Mimosas With Mama takes place every Sunday and features some of the best drag performers in town.

Visitors looking for a bit of old-world tradition should stay at the Mayflower Hotel. Built in 1927, the property has been restored with crystal chandeliers, gleaming brass and period antiques that offer a uniquely European elegance. Conveniently located to all major Seattle attractions, guestrooms at the Mayflower are beautifully appointed in classic color schemes with custom comforters, drapes and artwork designed and tailored for each hotel room. The hotel also boasts one of the city’s best restaurants, Andaluca.

Sample the Roasted Mussels with baby tomatoes, sizzling lemon butter, rosemary and white wine or the delicious Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup with basil crème fraiche. For my entrée, my guest and I shared Andaluca Paella, an oversized portion of prawns, clams, chicken, chorizo, aborio rice, harissa butter served in a saffron broth.

Tourists looking for a trendier experience should head to The Hotel Max, a boutique property which provides the platform for both emerging and established Seattle artists and photographers. More than 350 original paintings and photographs are found throughout the hotel in the lobby, guest rooms and corridors. Red Fin restaurant offers eclectic Asian fusion fare and is a favorite among tourists and locals alike.

Spend your last night in Seattle by visiting any one of the city’s famous LGBT nightspots. Favorites among neighborhood gays include R Place, Neighbors and Q, an ultra-modern dance music venue featuring sleek designs, specialty cocktails, a bourbon lounge and four disco balls to keep the party going all night long.

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Joey Amato manages OUTreach PR and is to launch UNITE, a new magazine for the LGBT community in Tennessee next year.