Puget Sound Bite: Little Uncle

In the past, I've done posts on local restaurants, but I thought I would organize them into a new feature I'm calling the Puget Sound Bite.  Forgive me for the cheesy play-on-words going on, but hopefully you can get past that.  The first restaurant I'm featuring is a new obsession of mine: Little Uncle on Capitol Hill.  I've never been a huge fan of Pad Thai (most restaurants don't do it justice) so I usually only have it when I make it myself.  (I learned a great recipe at a cooking class last year.)  After trying Little Uncle last week, I'm happy to declare that this place does the best Pad Thai in the city.  Little Uncle is a tiny shack on Madison Ave. that serves up great "street food" dishes.  The menu is tiny (there's one rotating special) but they do everything really well.  The Pad Thai is a menu mainstay and comes served in a wrapped up brown bag.  You'll get three small bags of peanuts, sugar, and chilies to add on top, according to your liking.  I went two days in a row and can't wait to go back.  (Next thing to try: a braised beef cheeks bun washed down with hibiscus-lime soda.)
A daily special: Little Uncle's twist on phad gra pao (my favorite Thai dish)

Little Uncle is located at 1509 E Madison S in Seattle
Little Uncle on Urbanspoon


Groot Vlaenderen in Bruges

Groot Vlaenderen is a dark, intimate pre and after-dinner bar in Bruges (just outside the Markt) that does cocktails really well, and at a decent price point.
 A really good margarita
The sleek interior is beautiful and cozy with lots of candlelight and this impressive chandelier.

Groot Vlaenderen is located at Vlamingstraat 94 in Bruges


L'Orto di Panza in Tuscany

Last September, we had no plans for our final 5 days in Italy.  On the day of my birthday, we scrambled to find a place where we could escape from Rome.  After a frantic search on TripAdvisor, from the floor lounge of my favorite hotel in Rome, I found an amazing deal for a four-person suite at L'Orto di Panza.  It included a kitchen/dining room/living room, two bedrooms, and two baths.  I booked it immediately and we rushed to Termini to find a train headed that direction.  Talk about last-minute!  After a lengthy trip to get there (there is only one taxi driver that serves the entire Montepulciano train station and surroundings and it was a Sunday!), we arrived at the beautiful grounds.  We didn't have a rental car and after my mom mentioned that it was my birthday, the owners offered to take us to their family restaurant 30 minutes away!  The restaurant was a beautiful, rustic Tuscan eatery and I enjoyed delicious Tuscan wine and food specialties- like pici.  Everyone, including Elena, Sandra, and Massimo, at L'Orto di Panza made it such a special day for me, and I am grateful to them! 
One night we bought groceries and made pici for dinner.  We enjoyed it on our patio as the sun came down. 
Our breakfast spread every morning included fresh fruit, baked tortes, yogurt, and everything one could ask for.
Alfredo, the resident dog, liked to watch us eat on the patio, and would occasionally sneak in when our door was open to grab a shoe (or two).

L'Orto di Panza is located at Via San Saba, 10 in Abbadia di Montepulciano