Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

October 24, 2014 at 11:47am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Lunchbox Laboratory

Gig Harbor mac and cheese: Lunchbox Laboratory and 7 Seas Brewing team up for British Pale Mac N Cheese. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

I enjoy beer.

Beer makes mac and cheese awesome.

By the transitive property (math isn't my strong suit), I think beer mac and cheese is delicious.

Beer and cheddar have such an affinity for one another - the sour punch of the beer plays gorgeously with the nutty tang of the cheddar, particularly the sharp variety. The combination of the two invokes the umami must-not-stop-eating-this-deliciousness effect, which is reason enough for me to search out a beer mac and cheese dish.

I found one.

Lunchbox Laboratory has hooked up with fellow Gig Harbor resident 7 Seas Brewing for two weeks of experiments. The white lab coats in Lunchbox's kitchen have created dishes from 7 Seas' brews, including a British Pale Mac N Cheese ($6). The secret to the mac and cheese is beer - specifically, 7 Seas British Pale Ale. That ale gets poured into Lunchbox's house cheese sauce - American and sharp cheddar - mixed on the stovetop with fisarmoniche past then topped with optional bacon, jalapenos, green chilies and pork rinds. I suggest bacon. For an extra dollar, the top of the mac and cheese basically becomes very brown.

Beer and cheese are a match made in heaven, and at Lunchbox Laboratory, 7 Seas adds depth to the creamy bowl of goodness.

Sidenote: 7 Seas Brewing outnumbers the beer handles at The Gig Harbor Lunchbox Laboratory, including the fall seasonal Autumn Ale.

LUNCHBOX LABORATORY, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, 4901 Point Fosdick Dr. NW, Gig Harbor, 253.432.4061

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

LINK: The answer to why this mac and cheese column exists

October 24, 2014 at 11:29am

Tacoma Art Museum collaborates with Harmon Brewing and Heritage Distilling

Art + beer + bourbon = Tacoma Art Museum

As we mentioned earlier this week in our weekly series on the opening of the new Tacoma Art Museum wing, the museum has teamed with local beer mavens Harmon Brewing Company to create signature beers for exhibitions over the past five years. For the grand opening of the new Haub Family Galleries, Harmon and TAM have come up with a new brew called Tacoma New West Cascadian Dark Ale. The museum has also collaborated with Heritage Distilling Company to craft a rich, flavorful, deep golden Tacoma New West Bourbon. The ale will be sold at TAM Cafe and all of Harmon's restaurants; both the ale and the bourbon will be available at TAM's Go West Gala and Go West Grand Opening evening social events.

Today, the Tacoma Art Museum has made it official. ...

Tacoma, WA -Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) is celebrating the largest gift in the museum's 79 year history with a limited edition spirit and a signature ale. In honor of the Haub Family Collection of Western American Art and the museum expansion, TAM partnered with Tacoma's Harmon Brewing Company and Gig Harbor's Heritage Distilling Company to craft these two special beverages in time for the grand opening in November.

Read more...

October 23, 2014 at 12:42pm

Aaron's Behavior: Following former Dirty Oscar's chef Aaron Grissom on "Top Chef"

Aaron Grissom bio: "Aaron works as the Chef of Bow & Truss in North Hollywood. He grew up in Tacoma, Washington and arrived in Los Angeles just over a year ago. He believes that cooking is something that all people share."

Aaron Grissom, of Bravo TV's competition reality show Top Chef, reigns from a little town that spells itself with a big-ass T: Tacoma, Wash. People from T-town love their gritty roots, and every one of them can be listed under three qualifying labels: "Foodie," "Beer/Wine Snob" or "Coffee Connoisseur." Those who fall under the Foodie label knew and loved Chef Aaron's creations at Dirty Oscar's Annex (D.O.A.) located on Sixth Avenue in Tacoma. He left Dirty Oscar's and is now executive chef at Latin small plates centric Bow & Truss in North Hollywood, California.

Aaron, although not classically trained, is something akin to an idiot savant of culinary skills. Yes, he's a social idiot, but DAMN he's a fucking brilliant chef. 

Having created the amazing menu D.O.A. serves to this day, Aaron nurtured his creative genius in Tacoma by hosting small beer dinners that would sell out in minutes, sometimes with fans begging to add on more dates ... that would then again sell out in minutes.

Featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Chef Aaron's career was propelled into outer space (known to us humans as "Los Angeles") and he quickly packed his bags, ready to move on to L.A., which is known for their bigger and better restaurants / fake breasts.

He's great; everyone loves his food, blah, blah, blah ... but let's not forget that one thing I mentioned earlier: He's a social idiot.

Ok, I'm exaggerating on the social idiot part. Buy him a Bloody Mary, make it strong, and he's your best friend. Fun, happy, hilarious, etc. ... he's king of the world!  Now, get him behind the line, working the back of the house and he can really demonstrate arrogance in only the most chef-like way possible. Read: He's great; he knows it, so back off before you get caught in the crossfire.

Anyone who has worked with Aaron knows his moments - his good days and his bad days. They've seen him at his most inappropriate, when he's trying really hard to not blow shit up, and when he's just simply had it with whatever server/line cook/manager is in his face. These tell-all personality traits are interesting to watch on an obviously well edited reality television program.

This new column, my friends, will be a gentle recap on Bravo TV's Top Chef and the direct reflections of Aaron's Behavior.

>>> Aaron Grissom, second from left, as seen on Top Chef, Episode 1. Photo courtesy of Bravo TV

Top Chef, Season 12, Episode 1

Let me just quickly recap the first episode. Aaron was only briefly highlighted at the beginning and the end with his nonchalant attitude and how he was completely un-impressed with Mei Lin's list of culinary awards. I don't blame him. She proved she's a good chef by winning the elimination competition, but as you will see in episode two, she is a bossy pants who looks down on her competitors. This looks more to be an ego of a snobby nature, more so than the typical chef's creative ego.

Near the end, Chef Aaron was an idiot for serving Padma a fatty piece of pork belly.  Padma promptly spit out her food into a napkin and chastised Aaron for having a messy workstation.  That moment right there is when I saw Aaron restrain himself. It was his best "eat shit" grin, a classic.  In any other world, he would've gone off the handle at the situation.  Good job, Aaron.

It was at this moment that a new drinking game was invented called the Grissom Gulp.  One sip for every profanity word uttered out of Aaron's mouth, two shots for that "eat shit" grin, and thus the invention of this column, Aaron's Behavior.

Score of Aaron's Behavior, Episode 1: A+

>>> Aaron Grissom, right, as seen on Top Chef, Episode 2. Photo courtesy of Bravo TV

Top Chef, Season 12, Episode 2

When Bravo TV spent all week highlighting the upcoming rift between Chef Aaron and that eternally PMS-ridden Chef Keriann Von Raesfeld, I knew this column idea was a winner. We were going to see the asshole Aaron has always been, and possibly also see his demise on national television.

Opening scene of episode two highlighted Aaron's foul mouth (drink!) and bloated ego when he called Chef Keriann out on her lack of gastro molecular talent. Tensions rose, but more on Keriann's side, wheras Aaron was cool and confident about his opinion.  She was going to hold a grudge - this much was obvious.

Being paired amongst a threesome of competitors to create a dish suited for Boston's firefighters and police officers, Aaron and his teammates (Keriann being one of them) were burdened with being the last to see their basket of ingredients, and only two hours before meal service. 

The evening before the anticipated challenge, Aaron tried to calmly speculate with Keriann about the next day's ingredients, but Keriann was showing a great lack of interest in getting along with Aaron. I must say, I am super proud of Aaron for staying so calm in the face of a defensive woman. 

Many parts of all conversations between Keriann and Aaron were obviously heated only due to the fact that Keriann was acting like a bratty child who wanted to argue just for the sake of arguing. I imagined her being one of those women who would berate someone until they finally defended themselves, and then go around telling everyone what a victim she was in the incident. When Keriann says Aaron is acting like an asshole, and he says, "Trust me, you'll know when I'm being an asshole." ... He's right.  He was being nice.

Aaron, GOOD JOB. You stayed calm, you used your words like a big boy, and you used your brain. Note: By now participants in the Grissom Gulp should've had four drinks for profanity and six for the "eat shit" grin. Although, participants would probably want to barf up their shots with all the times Keriann tipped her hat to the fact that her father was a firefighter.

Later in the episode, Keriann continues to argue with Aaron just for the sake of arguing, with no intension of creating anything cohesive or working as a team. She talks down to Aaron, bosses him around, and is a selfish baby. Poor Stacy Cogswell, third team member and right in the middle of it all. Again, congrats to Aaron for dealing with Keriann. Yes, Aaron, I agree. She is such ... a bitch. 

Score of Aaron's Behavior, Episode 2: A+ (I am sincerely amazed at how well he's behaving. Weird.)

Sidenote: Next week's episode highlights some tension between Aaron and Katsuji Tanabe, who I really like, so this should be good. Aaron, you better behave yourself and make nice with Katsuji because I want him to make me tacos.

SEE ALSO

Weekly Volcano feature story on Chef Aaron Grissom at Dirty Oscar's, 2011

October 22, 2014 at 9:42am

Beer Here: Breakside Brewing, Tacoma Brewed IPA Night, candy and beer, Fresh Hop Fiasco, Dick's anniversary ...

99 Bottles in Federal Way will pair candy with craft beer tonight.

Here's your beer calendar for the week, South Sounders. ...

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 22

From a three-barrel brewing system in Woodlawn, Oregon in 2010 to a 20,000 barrels per year in Milwaukie, just south of Portland, Breakside Brewing may hold the record for the highest number of different beers brewed in a year - 83 in 2012, 92 in 2011, and 100 in 2013. Pint Defiance hosts the crew from Breakside for a few of their more unique and rare offerings, including Apollo and Dionysus Gin-Barrel Saison, the GABF-award-winning Wanderlust IPA, Toro Red and Liquid Sunshine Pilsner. Fingers crossed for light bodied Breakside Dry Stout. Expect usual brewery schwag during the 5-7 p.m. event.

Here comes Halloween, and Halloween means candy and craft beer. What the Bock? Of course, you rarely receive the decorated Dunkelweizen trick-or-treating. It'd be kind of a mess, throwing them in your goodie bag where they'd crush all your miniature Mars bars and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Still, craft beers say "Happy Halloween" in the same way as a spooky sheet with cut-out eyeholes, at least according to 99 Bottles in Federal Way. The bottle store will pair the smooth and roasty, coffee- and chocolate-like flavors of a dark stout with chocolate candy. What pairs with Gummi Bears and candy corn? Find out tonight from 5-7 p.m. No costume required.

Puyallup River Alehouse, the downtown Puyallup face for Puyallup River Brewing's beers, as well as multiple guest beers on tap, welcomes back Backwoods Brewing Company from little ol' Carson, Wash. Head brewer Jordan Tanasse will load up the jalopy with Backwoods brews, plus swag for the raffle, and hit the trail for the 6-9 p.m. spotlight. Jeff Lee from Alpha Distributing will be in the house, too. Expect raffles and giveaways.

The Red Hot hosts a Tacoma Brewed IPA Night. The Sixth Avenue hot dog and craft beer tavern will tap a grip of IPA kegs at 5 p.m., all made right here in beautiful Tacoma. Everything is $4 for 16-ounce pours or ask for one of two sample flights. Flight One is E-9 Brewery Nameless #29 IPA, Pacific Brewing Dirty Skoog IPA, Tacoma Brewing Mosaic Fresh Hop IPA and Wingman Brewers Ace IPA. Flight Two is Wingman Brewers Skunky Munky IPA, Tacoma Brewing Citra Fresh Hop IPA, Narrows Brewing Giant Pacific Octopus IPA and Harmon Brewing Point Defiance IPA. The Red Hot will also serve fresh beer pretzels starting at 5.

The Swiss Restaurant and Pub hosts Ninkasi Brewing for a Brewer's Night beginning at 6 p.m.

THURSDAY, OCT. 23

If you walk through the ParkWay Tavern's door Thursday, you'll sure to be hit in the face with fresh herby, piney, fruity, floral and earthy aromas. That's right friends, it's Fresh Hop Fiasco night at the Tacoma tavern. Between 6-10 p.m., the ParkWay will serve Fresh Hop beers while raising money for adorable animals. The probably line-up includes: Ballast Point Schooner, Breakside Citralust, Double Mountain Killer Green, Double Mountain Killer Red, Elysian 50 Shades of Green, Freemont Cowiche Canyon, Gigantic Simcoe Boogaloo, Holy Mountain equinox, Hop Valley Citra Self Down, Ninkasi Total Crystalization and 7 Seas Hop Prophet.

Top Rung Brewing Co. will take its pitch black Good Jake CDA through a Randall loaded with fresh hops Thursday night.

SATURDAY, OCT. 25

It was more than 20 years ago Dick Young started off as a humble home brewer, brewing in the back of Northwest Sausage & Deli. Since October 1994, Dick's Brewing has grown from a three-barrel operation brewing flagship Dick Danger Ale to more than 20 varieties of beer, a new brewery location with taproom, new Black IPA recipe called Midnight Ride - the first of Dick's beers carry the brewery's new label and logo - and a 20th anniversary celebration from 3-8:30 p.m. at the Centralia brewery, coinciding with the honoring of Dick Young's passing in 2009. 

TUESDAY, OCT. 28

Narrows Brewing releases its new Coffee Cardamom Stout at the Northern Pacific Coffee Company beginning at 6 p.m. It's a collaboration beer with NPCC, Mad Hat Tea Co. and Olympia Coffee Roasting Company. Read the back story here.

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 29

Seattle's Elysian Brewing is the pumpkin king of the Northwest, brewing 13 different pumpkin beers and just hosted its 10th massive pumpkin brew festival that draws entrants from as far away as Europe. Puyallup River Alehouse will allow Elysian to take over its taps, including this year's pumpkin beers such as the Punkuccino ale with a short shot of Stumptown coffee, cinnamon and nutmeg. Giveaways and raffles will be part of the action from 6-9 p.m.

October 21, 2014 at 8:09am

Flavor - a night of international dining to benefit Tacoma Community House

Try authentic Salvadorean food at El Pulgarcito in Lakewood.

Stanley & Seafort's, Pacific Grill, C.I. Shenanigan's, The Lobster Shop - or maybe even The Pine Cone Cafe - you've already got your favorite Pierce County dining out spots. Maybe it's close to your house, and maybe it says something about who you are. Or, maybe you prefer to stay away from obscene sausages, lutefisk dinners, balut eggs, pig uterus in tom yum soup and scary fish faces.

The good folks at Tacoma Community House are well aware of Pierce County's melting pot. TCH provides programs and services to immigrants, refugees and others to help strengthen their lives and help them become a part of the community.

Of course, TCH's efforts take money.

Flavor, a night of dining at immigrant-owned and immigrant-supporting restaurants has reached its second birthday Thursday, Oct. 23 with participating restaurants kicking back 25 percent of food sales to TCH. Participating restaurants include Adriatic Grill, Aviateur French Diner, Doyle's Public House, El Pulgarcito, Gateway to India, Il Lucano Ristorante, Indochine, Karma Fine Indian Cuisine, Pho King, Southern Kitchen and others. See the full list of participating restaurants here. This year's participating restaurants have a more international presence than last year, although Flavor still leaves out the flavors from Tacoma's Lincoln District and Lakewood's International District.

Tacoma Community House has become like a coach for food introverts, inviting you to embrace the unusual, the special and the unfamiliar in Pierce County's food scene. In other words, kiss the damn scary fish face.

Mark Oct. 23 on your calendar as the night you stand up for immigrants while sitting down for an adventurous meal.

October 20, 2014 at 2:56pm

Narrows Brewing collaborates on Coffee Cardamom Stout - drink it wearing a morbid costume or with beer historian Ron Pattinson

Spend Halloween at Narrows Brewing Co. in Tacoma. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Looking for a Halloween costume idea? Why not dress as a victim of the London Beer Flood of 1814?

Friday marked the 200th anniversary of an event in London that unleashed a tidal wave of porter, killing eight people in neighboring tenements. When a vat exploded inside Henry Meux's Horse Shoe brewery, it forced more than 570 tons of beer through the brewery's back wall and out into the slums behind it in a vast wave at least 15-feet high, flooding streets and cellars and smashing into buildings. Founded early in the reign of King George III and famous for its porter, the brewery produced more than 100,000 barrels of the dark-colored nectar each year.

I mention this disaster for two reasons. One, Narrows Brewing Co. will host its Hoppy Halloween Party on All Hallows' Eve, unleashing its new Coffee Cardamom Stout for costumed beer drinkers - including those donning London Romantic-Era clothing stained with blood and dried porter. Two, one of the world's foremost brewing historians, Ron Pattinson - who researches old breweries and digs up dusty beer recipes for his website, Shut Up About Barclay Perkins, and will visit Narrows Brewing in early November - is well aware of the 1814 brew bomb and the killer porter.

"Meux's brewing records haven't survived, so it wouldn't be possible to brew an exact clone," Pattinson said via email from the road. However, "it wouldn't be hard to come up with a recipe that was close. It would have been fun to do for the two hundredth anniversary, but I've missed that."

Pattinson, a stout lover and member of the British Guild of Beer Writers, is on tour behind his new book, The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer: Rediscovered Recipes for Classic Brews Dating from 1800 to 1965. He'll visit Narrows Brewing Saturday, Nov. 8.

Hoppy Halloween Party

Narrows Brewing's Coffee Cardamom Stout is a collaboration brew with Northern Pacific Coffee Company in Tacoma's Parkland neighborhood. Narrows' head brewer, Joe Walts, admires the coffee company's beer selection, and NPCC proprietor Ed Cedras holds Walts in high esteem. 

"I heard about the opening of Narrows Brewing through a friend down at Beer Essentials while buying brewing supplies," explained Cedras. "There was also quite a buzz around their opening throughout the brewing community in Tacoma. I met Joe at the brewery and told him how much of a fan I was of his beers and that we carried all of them at Northern Pacific. It was about that time that we started talking about a collaboration beer."

Walts and Cedras set out to brew an original coffee beer.

"Joe mentioned a cardamom stout that he had done in the past," continued Cedras. "We used that as a baseline to develop the recipe for a Turkish coffee stout. The spices were all sourced by our friends at Mad Hat Tea Company and the coffee roasted by our roasting partners at Olympia Coffee Roasting Company. I used a similar methodology in cold brewing the coffee for this beer [as I have with] others I've brewed in the past ... slow and low ... meaning brewed slowly at low temperature to extract all of the brilliant notes of the coffee while reducing acidity for a balance between the coffee and malt in the beer. Joe brought in a secret weapon to add a creamy finish."

"We brewed an easy drinking stout - 4.2 or 4.3 percent alcohol - then added cardamom and cinnamon in the whirlpool and lactose to the boil," added Walts. "Ed made concentrated cold-steep coffee, which we added to the fermenter."

According to Walts, Northern Pacific sells an amazing amount of beer, including a lot of Narrows Brewing's beer, as well as beers exclusive to Pierce County from such brewers as Deschutes.

"I think awareness of what breweries are working on seasonally, limited runs, and collaborations in tandem with establishing strong relationships with breweries and their sales reps led to the allocations of limited-release beers at Northern Pacific over other outlets," explained Cedras. "We've built a reputation of being 'picky' about the beers we serve and are often offered special releases with right of first refusal."

Northern Pacific Coffee Company will host a Narrows Brewing Brewer's Night Tuesday, Oct. 28, shining a spotlight on the new Coffee Cardamom Stout.

The new beer will also be on tap during Narrows' Hoppy Halloween Party Oct. 31. The Coffee Cardamom Stout will be on tap all day. Ice Cream Social created a Coffee Cardamom Stout ice cream flavor and will serve it during the party as well as beer floats with other flavors. Food trucks will park out front. A costume contest with a $100 gift card prize for the winner will begin at 8:30 p.m.

So what costume will Cedras wear at Narrows' Halloween party?

"President James A. Garfield. He's an interesting guy," he said. "Check out his assassination story. Alexander Graham Bell was involved. Super kooky stuff."

Ron Pattinson at Narrows Brewing

Beer historian and beer travel writer Ron Pattinson is certain to be another interesting guy. For years, the England-born-turned-Amsterdam resident has gobbled up obscure books on beer history - including brewery logbooks - and in 2007 began sharing his findings in a conversational pub tone on his blog. Pattinson has also regenerated hundreds of historical beer recipes, mostly British styles, and some lost German beer styles such as Broyhan, Kotbusser and Salvator, which was a precursor to Doppelbock. Though it was a chore to chronologically decipher, Pattinson has pared down his more than 3,000 blog posts and recipes into a succinct read, The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

An avid reader of Pattinson's blog, Walts noticed a gap in the author's upcoming Pacific Northwest book tour. A simple request via email secured the historian for an afternoon of beer history at Narrows Brewing at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8. Although he worked in a brewery during his youth, Pattinson won't be recreating old beer recipes at the Tacoma brewery.

"Beer recipe recreations is just one of the things Pattinson does," said Walts. "He spends most of his time in libraries and public archives, researching breweries that have been around for hundreds of years, examining old English, Scottish and German beer styles. It's a lot of numbers and tables and debunking beer legends. He also provided a lot of historical details for Mitch Steele's IPA book. His visit will be fascinating for beer and history geeks who want to gain greater appreciation about the development of beer, recipes, breweries and the changing palates of beer drinkers over the course of centuries of brewing."

This fall book tour will be Pattinson's first venture to Washington state, where most of the nation's hops are grown.

"You might be surprised how little the handling of hops has changed over the years," said Pattinson. "In the 19th century, they were already packing the hops as tightly as possible to keep them away from the air and to store them cold."

He says beer geeks in the Netherlands have certainly heard of Washington state beers, but he doubts the country's general population is aware of our brews.

For those who don't want to dress as a corpse killed by an ancient porter, but would rather attend Narrows' Hoppy Halloween Party dressed as a beer, Pattinson says the scariest beer ever is the Danziger Jopenbier, an old top-fermented German beer that had a peculiar smell and taste reminiscent of port wine.

"The wort is left to spontaneously ferment," Pattinson explained. "First of all, a thick blanket forms on the surface, on which all sorts of molds grow. These blankets in various vats are again very different from each other in appearance and strength, depending on the points of attack the molds have found. ... The head, which is often so strong that a 20-gram piece won't fall through it, begins to lift itself. ... For eight to twelve days, the beer often pushes out large amounts of loose foam. What can you say about the fermentation, other than that it sounds scary and disgusting at the same time."

There you go. Halloween costume suggestions, a new coffee beer and ice cream to enjoy and an opportunity to geek out on old beer - all held at a Tacoma brewery that shouldn't explode.

NARROWS BREWING CO. COFFEE CARDAMOM STOUT RELEASE PARTY, 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 28, Northern Pacific Coffee Company, 401 Garfield St. S., Tacoma, no cover, 253.537.8338

HOPPY HALLOWEEN PARTY, dusk, Friday, Oct. 31, Narrows Brewing Co., 9007 S. 19th St., Tacoma, no cover, 253.327.1400

BEER HISTORIAN AND AUTHOR RON PATTINSON, 3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 8, Narrows Brewing Co., 9007 S. 19th St., Tacoma, no cover, 253.327.1400

October 20, 2014 at 10:55am

Eat This Now: Happy Belly's Tapen-Izza

Happy Belly in downtown Tacoma served a vegetarian pizza paired with an amazing house soup. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

Last week, I was professing my habitual devouring of the animal species. This week, I'm doing a 180.

I've been following Happy Belly on Facebook, admiring the beautifully hued fresh juices and delectable looking sandwiches since it opened early October next to the downtown Tacoma YMCA. I finally had the opportunity to visit last week.

Though its menu has a vegetarian focus, with smoothies and juices, the restaurant offers plenty of sammies and wraps - as well as soups and salads - so full on flavor that carnivores won't even miss the meat. Though if you MUST, there are menu items with meaty goodness inside.

This week's Eat This recommendation is Happy Belly's Tapen-Izza ($9). Owner Jennifer Johnson suggested this dish as I stared at the menu options unable to decide. Something so simple (and meat free) should not be so damn delectable, but it was. The Tapen-Izza features a lightly toasted French roll topped with sun dried tomato, olive tapenade and shaved Parmesan. It's like pizza but virtually guilt free and definitely grease free.

Equally delicious was the Red Pepper Kale house soup. Filling and flavorful with gratuitous amounts of veggies such as kale, broccoli, red pepper, zucchini and ginger, this steamy cup of comfort and deliciousness will not disappoint if you sway from the soup du jour. The hearty house soup was so staggeringly good, several of my friends grabbed cups to go after dipping a spoon into my bowl.

I don't think I'll be making the switch from carnivore to herbivore anytime soon but Happy Belly is a delightful change of pace and a must visit for those looking to dine on fresh, in season produce crafted together with thoughtfulness and a clear admiration of food. Additional entrée items will be added in early November. 

HAPPY BELLY, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 1122 Market St., Tacoma, 253.365.6706, facebook/happybellytacoma

Filed under: Eat This Now, Tacoma,

October 20, 2014 at 9:47am

Served Blog Banner Girl: Q&A with Rachele Piety of Valhalla Coffee Co.

Rachele Piety has a mocha with your name on it at Valhalla Coffee Co. at 3918 Sixth Ave. in Tacoma. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Every week we swap out the Served banner art above, introducing you to the people who serve food and drinks in the South Sound. This week, meet Rachele Piety.

Server Banner Girl, Oct. 20-26, 2014

Rachele Piety

The South Sound is teeming with baristas: tattooed, spike-haired baristas; convenience-store baristas; baristas entombed in drive-up booths; barely breathing baristas. But once in a while you come across someone who just understands the art of making espresso, and Rachele Piety has clearly bean there and done that. She patiently extracts her wicked brew from Valhalla Coffee Company's espresso machine, but that's after giving you a shout out as you walk in the door. Piety has had a handful of jobs the last 10 years - including Big Foot Java where she worked evenings for about 5 years. "I was well known by my regulars as 'the chick with dreads'," she says. Piety has been a "barista" for eight years, but she became a "real" barista two years ago when she met A.J. Anderson, owner of Valhalla in Tacoma. "A.J. taught me everything I know. I learned quickly to dispose of my old fast-paced, drive-through barista habits and replace them with knowledge of craft coffee." When she's not pulling shots or managing Valhalla's retail side, she's crafting, baking, gardening, living green and playing with her almost 4-year-old daughter, Ivie.

Why do you serve?

"I serve for the smiles. I have always been a people person, and love that I can be myself at Valhalla. I am here to caffeinate the community!" 

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?

"There are a lot of great servers in the South Sound. Definitely my mom, Robbin Piety, she is an excellent server and one of the hardest workers I know. Being raised by a waitress, I was taught at an early age what a server should and shouldn't do. Jil at Marlene's Market and Deli is such a crowd pleaser. Her witty humor, excessive tie-dyed shirts, and knowledge of health food are astonishing. That woman is contagious and has the biggest heart.  Anyone who can handle a crowd with a smile, and show they are working to better the customer's experience through their product is a good server in my eyes."

What are you most proud to serve?

"I am proud of everything we put out at Valhalla. Our staff goes above and beyond to produce quality, and nothing but that. A.J. runs a tight ship, and that shows through our product and consistency. Seeing a customer light up over the latte art in their cup is absolutely gratifying. I'm also proud of our mochas. We use a semi-sweet chocolate made by Trop's Chocolates in Gig Harbor, and it pairs so well with our Espresso Blend. When someone comes in baffled by the simplicity of our menu: I always recommend the mocha."

What's your current drink of choice?

"My drink is dependent on my mood and the weather. I could drink pour overs of the Ethiopian Harrar all day long at work. Sometimes, I drink a quad shot vanilla Americano, but sometimes I just want a honey latte. At home it's mostly Rainer beer. I have been on a green smoothie kick, though."

Favorite movie?

"My favorite movie is Almost Famous. Everything seventies, all the time!"

What don't you serve?

"We do not serve anything ‘trendy, or fluffy.'  We serve traditional Northwest style drinks. Everything is done by the cup, and is handcrafted.  If you're looking for that blended fluff - you're gonna have to travel elsewhere."

What's on your radar at Valhalla Coffee Co.?

"Since I started with Valhalla we have only progressed. We are gaining new customers daily, and even shipping pounds across the country weekly. Winning ("Best Coffee" in the Weekly Volcano's 2014) Best of Tacoma was a great mark for us and we plan to hold the crown for the years to follow. As a company, and for myself, the answer is growth. We will continue to climb uphill and are ready for a busy holiday season. Save Tacoma, drink Valhalla Coffee."

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

October 19, 2014 at 1:16pm

Words & Photos: South Sound IPA Festival in Tacoma

Union Station in Tacoma filled up with beer drinkers over two sessions during the South Sound IPA Festival Oct. 18. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Cheers to the South Sound IPA Festival. The India Pale Ale-centric festival drew approximately 900 beer fans, over an afternoon and evening session, for a casual, cheerful gathering at Tacoma's Union Station Oct. 18. The event featured some of the finest craft-brewed beers in Washington state with an emphasis on fresh hop beers, strong ales and, of course, IPAs.

Things ran smoothly from the gate to the flow to downstairs tiny concession area. Attendees were in good spirits. Volunteers stayed busy and polite. Homeland Security watched quietly. Everything worked well, especially for Union Station's first beer festival.

Organized by the Washington Beer Commission, the South Sound IPA Festival celebrated the finest IPAs in the state. I went in with my own list of beer to hunt down, but it was more enjoyable to simply go with the flow from booth to booth, chatting with brewery reps and beer drinkers along the way (cheers to beer drinkers Bryan Johnson, Kyle Price and Chris Martin for allowing me to ride).

The crowd of people hoping to try sips of Bale Breaker Brewing's beers generated the longest line of the day, but the wait was short and casual for most booths, although tokens were definitely monitored than most beer festivals. Pacific Northwest IPAs, fresh hop ales, Northwest style CDAs and Imperial Reds seemed to dominate the menu, with a few monsters such as Narrows Brewing's Channary Imperial Red, Rainy Daze Brewing's Hypocrite Double IPA, Wingman Brewers' Skunky Monkey Imperial IPA, Silver City Brewery's Whoop Pass Double IPA and Valholl Brewing's Monstrosity Triple IPA (11.2 percent ABV).

I went back for seconds for several beers. No-Li Brewhouse's Barrel Aged Jet Star Imperial IPA was aged eight months in a second-use Tritcale Whiskey barrel from Dry Fly Distillery. The aging on 50 percent rye and 50 percent wheat whiskey oak increased the depth of sweetness on this double IPA, creating more of a barleywine. Elysian Brewing's totally nebular hop showcase Space Dust IPA was out of this world.  Anacortes Brewery's Fresh Hop Pale Ale and Blue Lightning Brewery's Just The Tip ISA were my time-out beers. I enjoyed a zesty sample of Harmon Brewing Co.'s Point Defiance IPA served through one of their customized Randall filters filled with lime, lemon, orange and Amarillo hops. It was one of the tastiest IPAs of the day.

Blue Lightning Brew owner Michael "Mad Mike" Miller and CFO Brian Peterson won best conversation, in my mind. Their Woodinville brewery grew from a Groupon deal brewery class they took together. Fun story. Fun guys.

Also an enjoyable chat came from the lively lads from Seattle Central District brewery Standard Brewing who just opened this past summer. Their Imperial IPA with Simcoe and Centennial hops was all booze and hop and delicious.

All eight South Sound microbreweries made their marks with a variety of unique beers. Wingman Brewers' tasty Rosemary's Baby Rosemary IPA with Citra, Simcoe, Centennial and Rosemary won plenty of the fans. 7 Seas Brewing steered with the largest cargo of beers, including a sixth not on the docket - their 100 percent wet hop ale Hop Prophet. Of course, dedicated fans of Dick's beer made return trips for their new Midnight Ride Black IPA, a robust, Northwest-style CDA bursting with Cascade and Centennial hops, and balanced with a rich dark malt profile. Think rich, dark and malty like a porter with a hop profile. Drink it Saturday, Oct. 25 during the Centralia brewery's 20th anniversary party.

October 17, 2014 at 11:04am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Famous Dave's

Dave's Cheesy Mac & Cheese is a side option.

Dave's Cheesy Mac & Cheese might be the last mac and cheese you taste in your life.

When you enter Famous Dave's at 72nd Street and Interstate 5 in South Tacoma, you're hit with delicious smokey odors, loud-ass Southern-fried rock music and the assault continues in the form of mounted deer heads, wooden mallards, 1930s hunting magazines and deer-antler chandeliers barely lighting a big, hunting lodge-like room. The décor is where knotty pine and Cabela's meet.

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