After a fun holiday weekend in Tenino, Wash., it was time to head back to Seattle. Work and school for my friend and nephew, and hiking, exploring and catching up with friends for me. All along the way, I stayed alert to the best bites in Seattle and didn’t make any repeat visits to restaurants from the last trip.

I have to start this journal of my second visit to Seattle by noting all of the seasonal fruits literally outside the front door. In the front yard was a cherry tree with ripe cherries hanging from the branches. There were also strawberry bushes and a plum tree. In the backyard there were plump, ripe blueberry bushes and an old grapevine beginning its grape-making process. Later in the week we visited a friend’s house to pick a load of raspberries and ogle the neighbor’s apple tree. What I wouldn’t give to always have access to fruits like these.

Now perhaps I had “I Love NYC” stamped on my forehead, but my friend Antony invited me to lunch at a nearby restaurant that enjoys serving authentic Puerto Rican food. Really? Yes! At La Isla (@LaIslaCuisine, 2320 NW Market St.,, they are serving straight up sabor!

Antony got his favorite empanadilla, a flaky turnover filled with ground beef simmered in sofrito and tomato sauce, served with a rice volcano of beans. My choice was obvi’—pernil bowl! That’s the house favorite of marinated, slow-roasted pork shoulder, hand-pulled sitting atop arroz con gandules and served with tostones and their house-made garlic and pepper sauces. I felt like I was in El Barrio. I needed a little siesta after that.

I managed to get in as many hikes as possible to see as much of the Puget Sound, Mount Ranier and the entire evergreen area. Marching around Golden Gardens, Carkeek and Discovery parks was stunning, especially with the outstanding, sometimes hot, weather. Seattleites who I met told me not to mention the great weather to the folks back east. They were just fine with us thinking it rained all of the time.

I finally got to catch up with a college friend I had not seen in more than 20 years. It would be my first time in downtown Seattle to meet Lisa for lunch at The London Plane (@LondonPlaneSea, 300 Occidental Ave. S,, a café, bakery, florist, gift and provisions shop.

Lisa was already sipping on a grapefruit soda when I arrived. I added house-made lemon verbena soda to the table. Very refreshing. She ordered a Latin eggs Benedict of sorts on roasted pork shoulder, with cotija cheese and pickled onions over a bed of black beans. My ginger chicken salad with black rice, Chioggia beets, scallion, cilantro, mint and peanuts with tahini vinaigrette was nice, delicate, but it needed more on the plate to satisfy. I peeped Rain Shadow Meats, butcher and deluxe sandwich shop, down the block for next time.

You know I have more food to tell you about in Seattle—a dynamite soul food truck, a local Korean joint, gourmet Middle Eastern vegetarian delivery and more. It’s all right on the blog at See you there!

Happy eating and thanks for reading!