A couple of hours to fill on a quiet evening right after Memorial Day. It’s a serious holiday with a lot of remembrance and giving thanks for those who have gone before, sacrificed, left us so much. Now in the aftermath of that day of contemplation and an almost dreamy looking back quality, what could be better than to head to Old Ballard. Ballard Ave seems nothing so much as a street cloaked in 100 years of brick and old wood history. The shops and restaurants are in premium space, so only the best prevail, and perhaps like New York, San Francisco, or some premier European cities, Ballard is most enjoyable because it is so very much itself. Granted it may be smaller than some of its illustrious cousins mentioned above, but there is so much per square foot that you will never see it all in one day and you will never tire of it. Most people that live nearby possessively treasure the Ballard Sunday Market and the surrounding old brick and wood buildings with their gold leaf signed windows and the leafy reflections that seem to cast shadows of the past onto our day. Mornings the streets are quiet but many arrive in search of the bountiful brunch spreads that the local eateries are renowned for. Afternoon brings shoppers and fresh diners. And toward evening, the dinner hour begins with popular happy hours that tempt. And after dinner the drinking, live music, and socializing brings a lively, swirling crowd.
In among all these lovely choices for treats, we knew exactly where we were headed. My son wanted to go to D’Ambrosio Gelato which he’d been gazing at from the sidewalk last Sunday while at the Farmer’s Market. “Mom, there’s a new gelato shop, we should try it!” I didn’t have the heart to tell him it wasn’t new, it has in fact been there several years, because at 11 he’s just starting to notice so much and why not let him be a discoverer in his own right. We parked about seven blocks away but no worries, every foot of the stroll was worthwhile as there is so much to see and experience (check out my blog on the Old Town Ballard Evening Stroll). When we got there, the friendly young man behind the counter offered us tastes before we committed ourselves to a flavor or two. I tried Caramello al Sale (salted caramel) at my son’s recommendation, and found it rich and creamy and rewarding, and then tried the Variegato Amarena (kirsch cherry) and loved it. I settled on a cup (small, to be as noble as possible) of cherry and lemonatta, a wonderful duo. Daniel chose the salted caramel and an orange cream. The server made an art piece of the mix of the two flavors. We got a fresh cannoli to take home to Dad, with a choice of filling of either traditional cream or (D’Ambrosia’s theme) pistachio cream, filled while we watched.
Sitting in the window, slowing enjoying the creamy treat while watching the blue light in the street and the people passing, we were in no hurry to go anywhere else at all. As each couple or group came in and ordered, laughing and joking with the young man serving, the remarkable simple pleasure of the moment seemed to permiate the whole cafe and we stayed quite a while just watching the light change and hearing the murmur of voices as people spent some very quiet and somehow dreamy moments together. I’d like to keep that moment alive in my soul as the week goes forward, but it is great to know that living here in Ballard, it is quite easy to find our way back anytime we have the impulse to visit and taste the wide variety we have yet to enjoy! (For some insight on the Ballard real estate market this month and to look at some Ballard homes for sale, please go to my Ballard Real Estate Now blog.)