I’m throwing a tamale making party in a few weeks, so it was the perfect excuse for an early morning visit to the Pike Place Market for ingredients. I love the market, but I hate crowds, so it’s heaven to be there in the morning when the stalls are just opening and the tourists are still sleeping.

I only had a few things to pick up, so I parked down below on Western where they have free parking. My first stop was El Mercado Latino—a tiny store with narrow isles, but the shelves are packed tight. I took a cursory look around, wanting one of everything. I stuck to my list and got Maseca Masa Harina, corn husks, and an assortment of dried chilies: ancho, pasilla and New Mexico.

My next stop was La Buona Tavola, Truffle Cafe. They have a beautiful array of truffle products including oils, salts, creams and butters. Plus they sell dried pastas, wines, olive oils and real balsamic vinegars. I was there for the Casina Rossa Truffle & Salt. Zach had bought me a dish for Valentine’s day and I love it. I use it on practically everything, so now my friends are addicted to it. I needed a jar for a birthday present, but I really should have purchased a case; everyone I know wants one. While there, I couldn’t resist getting a truffled porchetta sandwich. I wasn’t hungry, as it was only ten in the morning, but I knew I’d be glad later on (I was and so was my kitty, who ate the napkin that some juices spilled on).

Next stop: Don & Joe’s Meats. I heart Don & Joe. But I think I may just have a thing for butchers. I picked up a beautiful beef shoulder roast and pre-ordered a pack of duck legs and duck fat to pick up the next week. I resisted the urge to go into DeLaurenti, but I just had to stop and buy a huge bundle of gorgeous orange tulips. I happily walked back to my car, thinking that I really should do this more often.