Shop around the Block
Books and board games on Queen Anne Hill
A fresh look at holiday shopping opportunities in a favorite Seattle shopping district: Queen Anne Hill.
Seattle Times travel writer
The hot blocks
Queen Anne Avenue North from West Boston Street to West Galer Street
Upper Queen Anne still has a barber shop and a laundromat, but most of the old-time businesses have been replaced by sushi restaurants, yoga studios and food shops catering to the owners of stately old homes and condos with gourmet kitchens. Dogs and strollers welcome.
• "Unplug and reconnect" is the motto at Blue Highway Games, 2203 Queen Anne Ave. N. Former Microsoft computer-game designers Scott Cooper and Brian Bennink left the world of video and electronics behind to start a store stocked with board games and puzzles. A selection of European board games includes Dixit ($34.99), a French storytelling game. Players select illustrated cards, then make up a sentence describing one. Bargain find: 3-D wooden puzzles in the shape of dragons, elephants and other exotic creatures ($4.95 and up).
• Queen Anne Books, 1811 Queen Anne Ave. N. Whatever the weather, it's always warm and cozy in a bookstore. Pick up a copy of Ethan Stowell's (owner of How to Cook A Wolf, a few blocks away) "New Italian Kitchen" ($35), and have it signed on Dec. 15. Bargain find: Magnets by Lantern Press, decorated with retro-style scenes of Seattle landmarks such as the Space Needle, ferries and Pike Place Market ($4.95). www.queenannebooks.com
• Four Winds, 1521 Queen Anne Ave. N. When he's not climbing in the Himalayas, owner Matthew Fioretti scours Thailand, Nepal and Bali for handmade crafts. You could furnish a room here, but more likely you'll be satisfied with a silk scarf from Thailand ($28-$38). Bargain find: Handmade Mi Fong soaps in scents such as black sesame, mangosteen musk and Chinese parsnip ($4.50).
Satisfy your craving for gourmet comfort food with a wedge of mac and cheese made with Seattle's own Beecher's cheese ($6-$8) at Pasta & Company, 2109 Queen Anne Ave. N. (www.pastaco.com). Help yourself to free samples of olive oils and vinegars.
Head south of the border to the sunny El Diablo Coffee Co. (www.eldiablocoffee.com), next to Queen Anne Books. Cinnamon-spiked Mexican hot chocolate made with Ibarra chocolate is $2.50.
— Carol Pucci, Seattle Times travel writer