Seattle's Sweet Side with Trophy Cupcakes' Jennifer Shea

Owner of Trophy Cupcakes and Party

Baker and Party-Maker

A trip to Italy in my 20’s started my love affair with traveling and food. After I got my degree in Nutrition, I opted to go on tour with a rock band instead of getting a job. While in NYC, I visited my first cupcake shop and had my “ah-ha moment”. A life long baker, I finally knew what my passion was and that I HAD to open a cupcake shop in Seattle. I kept touring and traveled through the UK, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy and Spain, using the opportunity to visit every confectionery, patisserie, dolceria and sweet shop I could find.

All of that sweet inspiration is now infused into Trophy Cupcakes and Party. Seven years and six locations later, I stay pretty busy. Most of my travel these days has been quick trips to Hawaii for pure relaxation or staycations downtown at the Olive 8 Hotel (the indoor pool is a favorite of my 5 year old).

My favorite restaurants

  1. Bar Sajor – Matt Dillon is my favorite chef in Seattle. His restaurants are all beautiful and his food is delicious and inspiring. Try the Kombucha on draft, the smoked yogurt and vegetables (grown on Dillon's Vashon Farm) and anything on the menu that is served with Romesco.
  2. The Walrus and the Carpenter – Hands down the best oysters on the half shell in the city, served up in one of the coolest rooms in Seattle. The wait is usually at least an hour, so go earlier than you want to eat and get a drink at their brand new bar, Barnacle, just right next door.
  3. Cascina Spinasse – A little romantic restaurant on Capitol Hill with the best handmade pasta I’ve ever had (outside of Italy). The Tajarin burro e salvia is simple but don’t let that fool you it’s mind blowing and recommended by just about every chef in Seattle.

Seattle's Sweet Side with Trophy Cupcakes' Jennifer Shea
Seattle's Sweet Side with Trophy Cupcakes' Jennifer Shea

The best desserts (other than Trophy Cupcakes!)

  1. Joule – A modern Korean restaurant in Freemont has my favorite dessert in the city. It’s called the Joule Box: a tapioca, coconut and grapefruit brulee that is light, refreshing and reminds me of Hawaii.
  2. If you are a dessert addict like I am, you’ll want to head to Hot Cakes’ Molten Chocolate Cakery. In addition to drop dead delicious molten cakes, cookies and bread pudding, they have show stopping milkshakes. Try the Drunken Sailor: peanut butter, caramel and whisky. Need I say more?
  3. Molly Moon’s is the darling of the ice cream world in Seattle. Her shops are modern but sweet and the ice cream is super yummy. Earl Gray is my all time favorite!

The activities that can't be missed

  1. Take a ferry! I love going across Elliott Bay to Bainbridge Island. Head strait to Winslow Way and peruse charming shops and cafes. If you are making a day of it, head to Bloedel Reserve, one of the most gorgeous gardens I have ever visited. The moss garden is my favorite. Head back to Winslow way for dinner at Hitchcock, a European-inspired Pacific Northwest restaurant that many Seattleites take the ferry over just to dine at.
  2. Exploring Pike Place Market is a must. It’s THE farmer’s market of all farmer’s market and oh so quintessentially Seattle. Picture perfect rows of fresh and colorful produce, crafts as far as the eye can see and seemingly endless levels of weird and wonderful shops that will entertain you for hours. I also recommend finding Rachel’s Ginger Beer in Post Alley for a taste of what I think is the best ginger beer ever made.
  3. Take the Theo Chocolate Factory Tour. It’s as close to visiting Willy Wonka as you can get and Seattle’s own Theo is the first Organic and Fair Trade fair for Life Bean-to-Bar Chocolate Factory in North America. Seeing the transformation of the cocoa from bean to bar is fascinating. And yes, there are samples and gift shop.

Seattle's Sweet Side with Trophy Cupcakes' Jennifer Shea
Seattle's Sweet Side with Trophy Cupcakes' Jennifer Shea

The places you should definitely see

  1. Seattle Center – Of course you must take a ride up to the top of the Space Needle and you’ll be glad you did when you see the 360-degree views of Mount Rainier, downtown, Puget Sound, and Lake Washington.
  2. Discovery Park – Seattle’s 534-acre Park has nearly over 11 miles of hiking trails and two miles of beach along Puget Sound. Visit the picturesque lighthouse and the grounds of Fort Lawton, both on the National Register of Historic Places. Pack a picnic and make a day of this gorgeous park.
  3. Olympic Sculpture Park – This free outdoor gallery is a 9-acre waterfront park that features world-class sculpture with mountains and the Sound as backdrops. Stroll the paths and picnic in view of Alexander Calder’s “Eagle,” six tons of red-painted steel that looks like an abstract soaring bird.

My hidden gems would be

  1. Curtis Steiner – Visit this Ballard boutique and you’ll feel as if you are walking into a cabinet of curiosities. It’s filled with Steiner’s delicate fine jewelry and handmade cards along with a perfectly curated collection of intriguing art, vintage and antique items.
  2. Sugar Pill – An amazing little culinary apothecary that every food-obsessed traveler must visit. Near Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill, this beauty of a shop is packed with at least 50 varieties of unique salts, beautifully bottled local jams, hard to find spices, natural tinctures and beauty products, Seattle made chocolates and caramels and lots of other little treasures.
  3. Watson Kennedy Fine Home on 1st Avenue is my go-to shop for lovely gifts and home necessities. Diptique Candles, unique table-top finds, artisan foods, found objects, coffee table books, art, awesome jewelry. The shop is just stunning too so get ready to want everything!

Seattle's Sweet Side with Trophy Cupcakes' Jennifer Shea