I may be an AFAR Ambassador and Local Expert, but I was smitten with AFAR way before I became either. I love the magazine and the principles in which it was created. I am an advocate for the charity work they do with the AFAR Foundation, can’t think of a better way to open up the hearts and minds of children than to give them the opportunity to travel.
When the third part of the AFAR organization, AFAR Experiences announced its first domestic location in Seattle, I jumped at the opportunity to “experience” the guided tour arm of AFAR.
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AFAR Experiences began when the two AFAR founders, Greg Sullivan and Joe Diaz decided to visit Cairo during the Arab Spring of 2011. They wanted to be part of history, during that time they realized they also wanted to bring people to Cairo to experience the city in a way that people had not experienced before. Since that trip, they have created AFAR Experiences in Johannesburg and Sydney.
Wherever the experience is, it is an intimate three-day event open to just 50 attendees, so there are plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with the city.
I did not know what to expect for my weekend in Seattle. I went to high school 45 minutes south of Seattle; my parents lived in the Lakewood area for 15 years, and my husband and I love the San Juan Islands, so I have done my fair share of trips to Seattle. But I know, much like San Francisco, there would be so much more to discover. AFAR did not disappoint.
I arrived in town on Friday afternoon and met the weekend participants at a welcome reception where we began to get to know each other and about a dozen AFAR staffers including Greg and Joe. We then walked to the Pike Place Market where we enjoyed local treats from many market purveyors.
One Pike Place merchant was Loki Fish Company where I sampled their smoked salmon and salmon mousse with ikura. Loki is a family-owned business (including the fishing boats) that has been running since 1979. They harvest sustainably and their products are wonderful.
And Charles Finkel, owner of the family-run Pike Brewing Company is absolutely adorable, I wanted to take him home! I tried several of the beers and listened to Mr. Finkel describe the brewing process which uses gravity flow. Washington is the second largest source of hops in the world, so lots of great beers coming out of the Pacific Northwest.
We heard from Peter Steinbrueck whose family history is intertwined with the market. Peter has spent a lifetime fighting to keep Pike Place alive and vibrant.
We were then treated to dinner from local chef extraordinaire Renee Erickson. She has several restaurants in the Seattle area and focuses on seafood. She spoke about the importance of learning to eat fish that are more sustainable like the wonderful herring that was passed during the happy hour.
She buys 1000 pounds of it, stores it, and creates dishes to introduce it into people’s diets. The same goes for the giant pacific octopus which she turned into an amazing terrine that evening! She also had my personal local favorite, spotted prawn which she served as a mousse with roe on top, the most delicious thing I ate all weekend.
The group was the first to taste the product from Sea Wolf bread that two of her staff are bootstrapping in her restaurant. I can’t say no to bread and I ate my fair share of the product! My favorite photo of the evening was catching Renee with a loaf of bread in her hand and a big smile on her face.
An event at the Pike Place Market was a great way to kick off the weekend in a place that is near and dear to the heart of Seattle and it was cool to visit the market after closure and to have hands-on with many of the artisanal food crafters.
More of my AFAR Seattle Experience to come!
If AFAR Experiences sounds like something you would be interested in, you might want to consider their next trip to Mexico City in October.