Thursday, August 25, 2011


I spent a few days in Seattle and Redmond and just got back. Each year Microsoft organizes an Xbox developers conference called 'GameFest'. Since it is a good opportunity to learn some things and meet a bunch of people, I usually head over there. The drive down is well familiar to me now, nothing exciting really, just a slodge down the I-5. Since I got my Nexus card, the border isn't really an issue anymore so I at least don't have to worry about that.

The conference was held in the Washington State Convention Center which is right in downtown Seattle, on Pike street six or so blocks from the famous Pike Street Market. When spending time in cities other than Vancouver I always go on the hunt for good places to eat, nice little cafes and sources of good chocolate. Seattle didn't disappoint. The first thing I do is go find a place for breakfast. The breakfasts in large hotels are usually enormous both in quantity, price and lack of imagination. I stay far away from the buffets laden with sausages, pancakes, bacon swimming in grease, chalky scrambled eggs, and so on. My main sources here are online foodie forums and Google maps. I found a little French bakery/cafe just blocks from the hotel called Belle Epicurean. This was exactly what I needed, freshly baked croissants, pain au chocolat, brioche and pistolets and loose-leaf tea. I went there every morning.

Image taken from Belle Epicurean's web site
From Mistral's web site
Dinner wise I found a couple of places, Mistral Kitchen was the highlight, very well crafted food and a great wine list. After the obligatory conference party (which wasn't bad actually), a few of us wandered up Pike street, underneath I-5 into a neighborhood full of small restaurants and shops, the kind of area Connie could spend hours browsing around. There we found a place called Poquitos that offered some great Mexican food, awesome mole sauce and a very interesting drink called 'El Dude' made with tequila, Kahlua and horchata. After a couple of those I was very happy and that night slept exceptionally well.

 The last night I took some engineers out to an old favorite, Wild Ginger. This is a modern south-east Asian restaurant that serves up comforting bowls of noodles, satays and other delectables. It is a great place for a group, you order a bunch of stuff and start sharing away. It reminds me of The Slanted Door in San Francisco which is a place I never skip when visiting that city.

Visiting Redmond never gets old, the Microsoft campus is like a small town. I mostly visit Studio C where the game developers have their offices. Their central hub called Commons houses a number of restaurants, delis and shops like a bycicle store, a bank, a cell phone place, etc. I guess with tens of thousands of employees, this kind of infrastructure is necessary. Quite the difference from our little 85-man studio in Vancouver!

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