Five things I love in the Pike Place Market (and they are either free or cheap).

I live a block away from the Pike Place Market. I don’t spend as much time there as people sometimes expect, because it’s only open from 9-6 and therefore difficult to get to when I’m working full time. But on the weekends or when I’m not working as much (like lately), I like to shop there. I often stop at the market on the way home from a run, weaving my way through the crowds of visitors to pick up dinner supplies.

Here are some of my favorite things in the market:

1. Merguez from Uli’s Famous Sausage. This spicy lamb and beef sausage is addictive. Everything I’ve tried from Uli’s has been great (although I recommend heeding the warnings on the garlic chicken sausage and skipping it if there is a date in your future), but the merguez is my favorite. Just eat it. Seriously.

2. The scent of Piroshky-Piroshky. Piroshky sells traditional Russian pastries with different fillings. I’m on the fence about the pastries themselves. I’ve tried two or three different kinds, both savory and sweet, and while they are fine, they don’t live up to the heavenly smell wafting from the place. Plus, there is usually a long line and I’m impatient. But the smell is amazing–warm, rich, sweet, and savory. I have literally gone out of my way to walk by and get a noseful, and I have made visiting family members do the same.

3. Tulips. The market always has a wide selection of colorful, affordable flowers throughout the spring and summer. But my favorite is tulip season in the spring. Then, I try to pick up a bunch for my apartment every few days.  I waste time picking them out, walking up and down the rows of seller’s tables just to enjoy the rainbow of purples, scarlets, pinks, oranges, yellows, mauves, and golds.

4. Cheesecakes from The Confectional. Like Piroshky, I discovered The Confectional because of the scent. Walking by, I was stopped in my tracks by a smell so delicious that I had to find the source. Happily, I found the Confectional, which sells individual mini-cheesecakes in flavors like Mexican Chocolate (with cayenne!), Triple Berry, and Lemon White Chocolate. The best part is the buttery-sweet biscuit crust. Yum!

5. The Crumpet Shop. This is a tourist favorite so I’m not sharing any secrets, but I honestly think that crumpets from The Crumpet Shop are the perfect bread-type food–just the right combination of doughy, light, and chewy. I usually go for cream cheese and raspberry jam on top, but I also love plain butter and honey, and I’ve enjoyed the more savory offerings such as tomato and cheese. The family-owned shop is small and can be crowded at peak tourist/breakfast times, but it has a charming, relaxed feel and warm, welcoming staff. I fantasize about living, or at least working, there.

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