Monday afternoon we returned from our long weekend in Vancouver to the smiling faces and outstretched arms of our beautiful little girls. While we were enjoying ourselves up north (more on that in a second), the girls were exploring the Seattle Aquarium, Pacific Science Center, and much more with Grandma and Grandpa. Huge thanks to Amy and Tom for coming out and taking such good care of them, and us in a way.
Since Thursday was our actual anniversary, and I was technically on vacation by the time Thursday evening came around, we decided to go out for a very special sushi dinner. This may sound a little odd, but go and watch a movie called “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” and you’ll understand very quickly. It’s a documentary about a Japanese man named Jiro who is widely regarded as the best sushi chef in Japan. He’s in his 80’s but still works full-time, and has been doing so since the age of 10. The whole message behind the movie is that the secret to life and happiness is the dedication of your life to a craft, and striving for perfection in that craft knowing that you will never truly achieve it.
Jiro has had a number of apprentices over the years, and the training they endure is incredible. They spend 7 years learning to make the rice alone! 7 years! One of Jiro’s apprentices is a man named Shiro, who owns (in my opinion) the best sushi restaurant in Seattle. It’s on 2nd Ave in Belltown and its a place that I’ve been familiar with for many years. Before Thursday I had only eaten there once before, but once I found out that Shiro was Jiro’s apprentice, I had to go back. Since Jessica didn’t get to eat sushi for most of last year due to her pregnancy with Elise, she was more than happy to have a proper sushi meal.
We made reservations for the sushi bar, and as expected the place was packed so we weren’t even seated until an hour past our reservation. Luckily however, we ended up with the two best seats in the house. Not only were we seated at the sushi bar, we were placed in the two end seats, meaning that we would be served by Shiro himself and would have the only unobstructed views of him in the entire restaurant. The rest of the seats at the bar are separated from the chefs by a glass case of fresh fish, but not ours. We could clearly watch him making everything. When you get a chance to watch an expert perform their craft you need to take advantage of it and appreciate it for what it’s worth. Of course more than anything we were happy to be enjoying a night out together, but we couldn’t get over how cool and special it felt to watch him work.
Regardless of all the sentiment and tradition, the meal was quite simply the best sushi meal either of us have ever had. Our typical approach in situations like these is to put down our menus and let the chef choose our meal. This was no exception. Shiro hand-selected and prepared everything we had that night, and believe me, there wasn’t an unpleasant bite to be found. Although everything we had was amazing, we mutually decided that the king crab, torro (Ahi tuna belly), and local salmon were best. Shiro adds the appropriate amount of wasabi and sauce to each piece so no work is required on your part, just pure sushi enjoyment. This was one of those dinners that we’ll never forget but I’m sure we’ll try to replicate it sooner than later.
Friday morning we drove up to Vancouver. We had good weather and only a 30 minute wait at the border. After crossing we went straight to Kitsalano for lunch, which I’ve previously described as the West Seattle of Vancouver, but upon further inspection feels much more like Pacific Beach than West Seattle. We had a great lunch at a bistro called Burgoo, which included the best meatball sandwich of my life. After lunch we walked around to explore the area, then headed downtown to check-in at our hotel. We stayed at the Metropolitan Hotel, which is the same place we stayed in last time. To be honest, our experience with the hotel on this trip wasn’t as good as it was last year, but that was a very minor detail in an otherwise outstanding trip.
Friday night we enjoyed another all-time great meal, this time of the Italian variety. We went to Cioppino and had the best seafood we’ve ever had at an Italian restaurant. It was funny because this was a very different dinner from Thursday night, but they were both dominated by amazing seafood. Shortly after we sat down we were greeted by the Maitre’ D, who informed us that my Mother had purchased us a nice bottle of wine and told them to take good care of us for our anniversary. She is unbelievable! What a considerate and thoughtful thing to do. Well, the wine was outstanding, as was the food and service, plus the surroundings were priceless. There was a table behind us that looked like a Good Fella’s casting call. These guys were dressed to a T, drinking very expensive wine, and drawing a ton of attention from the restaurant staff. They definitely personified the environment, and between the dinner we had there combined with dinner at Shiro’s and lunch at Burgoo, I was already proclaiming this as one of the great ‘food weekends’ of my life.
Saturday was spent walking around downtown Vancouver and shopping. We got some stuff for ourselves, as well as for the girls, then went back to the hotel for some swimming, champagne, and got ready for the hockey game. Seeing an NHL hockey game in Canada was a bucket list item for me so it was really cool to get to do that. Sunday we walked around some more, had a nice brunch, then went to the movies to see “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, which I thought was good. Although we tried to stay out late, we ended up back in our room before midnight every night. That said, we made the most of each day and were pretty beat by the time we left on Monday.
Obviously we were thrilled to come home to our girls but I’m glad we got this time away. Getting back home meant the spring quarter at school had officially begun, so I immediately had some homework to take care of. My first day back at work was Tuesday, and it was a long one. By the time I went to bed at 4:00am I had been working for over 18 hours and could barely see straight. I mentioned recently that I’ve been working on a special project but couldn’t go into any details. Well, that special project is now live (as of this evening) and will be promoted tomorrow morning on Amazon’s homepage, as well as Jeff Bezos’ shareholder letter.
In order to help mitigate some of the negative press we have received regarding our fulfillment centers, Amazon has decided to offer fulfillment center tours to the general public. By allowing people into these once very secret facilities, we should be able to dispel some of the myths regarding work conditions. Having spent a fair amount of time in these places, I already knew that the reports were false, but now anyone will have the ability to see what happens behind the scenes once you purchase a product. The site is located at: amazon.com/fctours and it is expected to receive a very high traffic volume.
This was my first opportunity to do something that is publicly visible at Amazon so I took it very seriously. The exposure it brought me was incredible; every day I’ve been finding myself in meetings with directors, senior managers, and other leaders throughout the company. It is these very same people who will control my fate when the decision comes to see if I should move along to the next level, so making a good impression was vital. Fortunately everything has turned out really well and I’ve been getting some much-appreciated praise and recognition for the hard work and dedication. Having worked on this project makes me feel like I have finally truly ‘arrived’ at Amazon, and I’m excited to be able to take things like this on again in the future.
We’ve been very spoiled by having Amy and Tom out to stay with us, so these next couple days will be a bit of an adjustment. Jessica said Ava was very upset to see them go today, but before she knows it they’ll be back for Elise’s first birthday in July. Jessica will be busy at work due to Seattle Restaurant Week so I can’t wait for Sunday when the four of us can relax and have a nice family day together. Sorry for not posting any new pictures of the girls lately. I promise to post some next time I write.