Black is the color of formal evening affairs, little black dresses and tuxedos worn where lights flicker, glasses clink and merriment waltzes with joy. As that lovely image plays in your head remember that everyone knows the seemingly harmless sequence of numbers 01-01-2012 signifies the start of the zombie apocalypse.
I know what you're thinking: "Where do I score a high powered rifle and three months of non-perishable food and water?" I'd say make friends with a Mormon fast. That'll leave plenty of time to enjoy the remainder of the year eating successive "last meals."
Ask yourself what you would eat if you knew the zombie attack was less than three weeks away. Think of the flavor experiences you want to have before dying. With the world about to go mad, be sure to experience these locations and dishes before New Year's Eve - when strapping on a metal skullcap to keep zombies from eating your brain becomes a necessity.
Continuing to "wow" dining guests, the menu at Marrow Kitchen & Bar (2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.5299) changes so frequently it is difficult to have just one favorite dish. For December the duck prosciutto salad is recommended. Lightly sweet pomegranate vinaigrette sets off earthy duck and plays well against bitter radicchio.
Beef short ribs served at BITE Restaurant at the Hotel Murano (1320 Broadway Plaza, Tacoma, 253.238.8000) are to (cough) die for. Three ribs thick with fall-off-the-bone braised meat swim in demi-glace. Undressed mixed greens and a topping of tomato confit help balance intense protein richness.
Head South on Interstate 5 to Olympia's award-winning Ranch House BBQ and Steakhouse (10841 Kennedy Creek Rd. SW, Olympia, 360.866.8704). The massive sampler platter is where it's at; a pile of pulled pork, chunk of tender beef brisket, smoked chicken quarter and three-bone pork riblet make vegetarians run screaming.
Vegetarian fettuccine Alfredo is done right at Marzano Italian Restaurant (516 Garfield St., Tacoma, 253.537.4191). Such a basic dish and yet often lack luster at Marzano, perfectly al dente pasta is tossed in simple sauce of heavy cream and butter spiked liberally with parmesan. Ingredients are kept to a minimum to leave flavors uncluttered.
Dirty Oscar's Annex (2309 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.572.0588) is home to unexpected taste sensations. The newest is the Dead Elvis Burger, a tribute to the King and his living-like-there's-no-tomorrow lifestyle. Slabs of candied peppered bacon and an over-medium fried egg sit atop a hand-formed patty of seasoned 100-percent Angus Ground Beef. Banana slices are soaked in 99 Bananas liqueur before being deep-fried and thrown on top Lastly, a toasted, buttery brioche bun is slathered with peanut butter and mayonnaise.
Out in Gig Harbor, wild boar bourguignon has forever earned a place in my heart. JW Restaurant (4107 Harborview Dr., Gig Harbor, 253.858.3529) may be small on space, but the restaurant packs a power punch of flavor into every dish. Wild boar falls apart at fork touch. Fragrant fennel peppercorn sauce hugs bacon and a rough mash in the style of potato salad.
Would you travel for German peasant food? I would if it meant being fussed over by the husband and wife owners at Bruno's European Café near Parkland (10716 A St. S., Tacoma, 253.719.7181). Tucked behind Frugal's on Pacific Avenue, the handmade piroshky are something to write home about. Hangover soup is packed with good for you vegetables: mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and celery root. Also made from scratch, the soup carries a meaty smoky flavor from bacon and sausage. Topped with sour cream and dill, it's a definite cure for its namesake.
Dressed in a different kind of black outfit this year - bowie knife strapped to your thigh and chest draped with bandoleers - are you really concerned about blowing your entire suggested daily caloric intake on one meal? Maybe you'll burn off those delicious calories before the undead make your limbs into snacks and maybe you won't. Who cares? Soon you'll be toting a rifle and sizing up whether the Hotel Murano or the Wells Fargo building are best for hunkering down in T-town. Better eat while you still can.
To New Year's Day 2012, I say, "Bring it."