Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

Posts made in: July, 2014 (40) Currently Viewing: 21 - 30 of 40

July 15, 2014 at 10:58am

Joe Walts and Narrows Brewing celebrate first anniversary with Breakers Ball Saturday

Joe Walts is the head brewer at Narrows Brewing Company. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

This time last year Joe Walts was pinching himself. An ear-to-ear smile busted out as he gazed at the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound on a glorious summer morning in Tacoma. Behind him was the Narrows Brewing Company. His dream of being a head brew master came to fruition, accented in a locale surrounded by mountains, mild seasons and friendly peers. Saturday, he and Narrows Brewing celebrates their one-year anniversary with a bash featuring Stephanie Anne Johnson and the release of the Barrel Aged Black Saison.

Flash back 15 months, Walts has his broken leg propped up on his couch in Madison, Wis. He suffered an injury while on the job as quality manager at Ale Asylum Brewing. Besides the pain, he was contempt. The company just moved into a new facility. His lifestyle was good.

"However, I didn't get into the field to work on other people's recipes. I wanted to do my own thing," says Walts.

Walts had been searching for a head brewer job for eight years.

"I was tied to the Madison area," says Walts. "Anytime you tie yourself to a specific area you either get phenomenally lucky or take whatever you can get. So brewers have to move to advance."

He did turn down several jobs in less desirable areas. He and his wife, Rachel, felt lucky and fortunate in their current lifestyle. They came to the conclusion if they left for a head brewer job, it would have to be in paradise.

Enter the Evergreen State.

"The Narrows Brewing job popped up on ProBrewer(.com), and I thought, if I don't go after this it's not going to get any better."

Narrows Brewing, a team of 10 owners, made a smart move. They flew Joe and Rachel out to meet them and their nearly finished brewery. Rachel could see first hand that, indeed, it was the paradise they desired. It had the mountains and water, without the sweltering heat, mosquitos and frigid winters.

The scenery isn't the only beauty. Housed in a striking, 100-year-old building on pilings, walking into Narrows Brewing can knock you off your feet. It's huge. The sparkling clean 15-barrel brew house has large doors to receiving as well as the moorage house. The Narrows Bridge and surrounding waterway commands your attention in the high-ceiling tasting room, after you weave your way past three event rooms and 100 seats to get there. If you can veer from the gorgeous view, and not get lost in the contemporary wood beam architecture, six taps await. The tasting room feels pub-ish, large enough to host your after-work happy hour on a moment's notice. The taproom has a satisfying mix of regulars and new visitors since it opened last year.

Because of weight limits, Narrows Brewing can grow much larger, in terms of volume produced, other than the new 30-barrel fermentation tank on the way. Maybe they could squeak another in. The ownership sees the complex as more of a destination than a worldwide distributor. Wednesdays are open mic night from 6-9 p.m. MindTap Trivia is Thursdays at 7 p.m. Live music is common on the weekends. Food trucks such as Barrel 51 BBQ (before it was vandalized) are common Fridays beginning at 6 p.m., as is a high school reunion in one room and a bon voyage party across the hall in the neighboring room.

Did Walts change his brewing style to match his new surroundings?

"Not at all," he says. "And that's really surprising to people. Yes, this is hoppier country, but that doesn't mean the best IPAs here are better than the best ones in the Midwest. In fact, they are pretty much the same. Your geekier beer drinkers are going to be the same no matter where you go in the world. They'll be looking for crazy beers, or what they are really into, caring deeply about the brewing process. Then you go a couple notches below that, and you have people who don't really care about how the beer is made. They want to drink local, and drink a flavorful beer. Those people in the Midwest are drinking cream ales and amber lagers. Out here, that group of people is almost exclusively drinking IPAs. And the taps in both areas reflect the demand. Those making IPAs in the Midwest are crushing it. In fact, the brewery I came from makes a great IPA. They opened in 2006, and they're going to break 20,000 barrels this year, and they are leaning heavy on hoppy beer. I think variety is more important to Midwest brewers, even if they could make more money selling hoppier beers (laughs)."

Narrows Brewing's Giant Pacific Octopus IPA is the star beer at Narrows, in terms of volume sold.

Currently, Walts is in the lab making sour beers with two wine barrels. He also has six bourbon barrels from Kentucky and two from Gig Harbor's Heritage Distillery (in which he aged the anniversary beer) and as the barrels get stripped of flavor, he'll use them to make sour beers. Walts is a big fan of Engine House No 9's sours.

"Although, I don't want to see sour beers go the way of IPA and become a commodity," he says.

What he does want to see is everyone drinking his one-year anniversary beer, the Barrel Aged Black Saison, which he first brewed last autumn with 10.5 percent ABV.

"I took that beer and aged it in the Heritage barrels," Walts describes. "In those barrels that Saison yeast, which was insane to begin with, continued to ferment for four months so it's 10.9 now and has a really great wood flavor. We bottled it in 22s and got four or five cases worth out of those two barrels."

He's also got yeast on order for an Oktoberfest beer for a September release.

But, it's summer, and Narrows Brewing will host an outdoor one-year anniversary party Saturday titled "Breakers Ball," a continuation of its nautical motif. The brewery has unconstrained views of the Narrows Bridge and nearby waterways, in which to drink their Galloping Gertie Golden Ale, Siren's Call Hibiscus Saison and Post-Tension Porter, just to name a few. Stephanie Anne Johnson will perform before an outdoor dance party Saturday. Local food trucks and vendors will be on site.

Walts, of course, will be there, too. As the sun sets over the mountains he'll probably pinch himself, if he's not underneath the Marina checking the status of his barrels.

BREAKERS BALL, 6-11 p.m., Saturday, July 19, Narrows Brewing Company, 9007 S. 19th St., Tacoma, $10, 253.327.1400

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

July 15, 2014 at 1:29pm

Food philosophy at new Page St. Cafe in Olympia

Page St. Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner at the Rogers Street establishment formerly known as Sage's Brunch House. Photo credit: Christian Carvajal

The doors are open once more at the Rogers Street establishment formerly known as Sage's Brunch House. The sign out front now reads "Page St. Café"-the original name of Rogers was Page Street - but the fragrances wafting from its open kitchen are every bit as appealing.

Joel Hart, one of the creative talents behind Dino's Coffee Bar, is responsible for an eclectic menu that slings huevos rancheros, curried tofu and tartines at breakfast, then adds fajitas, artisan bratwurst and killer mac and cheese for lunch and dinner. One of those bubbly pasta classics emerges from the oven as I walk in, dripping and oozing with cholesterol-laden delights. Hart shows it off proudly. "Look at that!" he crows. "No one else does it like that!" I'm hard pressed to disagree.

Hart warns he's something of a talker. This is also true. "I'm a native Westsider," he begins. "This building has always been magical to me. I used to come in and buy candy from Eddie when it was Eddie's Groceries. I got my first candy cigarette here when I was seven years old. It was all downhill from there.

"We opened Dino's and roasted our own coffee," Hart continues. "It kinda blew up. We began offering a small menu to support the coffee business, and people started coming through the door. It was as though Olympia had never seen a plate of food before. In the first 18 months, we outgrew our seating capacity. Sage, who's a friend of mine, came to me and said she was retiring. We took over this space and spent 60 days on the remodel, then opened on Saturday the 15th. We're trying to keep it Olympia and offer something this community wants. It's locally-sourced, fresh, quality food with awesome coffee and beer on tap."

I note the wide variety of dishes on Page St.'s menus. "I really got to know food when I traveled in Spain," Hart explains. "I was introduced to lots of ingredients I'd never worked with before. Our menu bridges the gap between traditional American food and some European influences, but I really believe the roots of our menu are American. Our entire philosophy of what we do is simplicity. We're not trying to reinvent the wheel; it's about honest sourcing philosophies and honest cooking techniques. We don't own a microwave. We don't have a freezer. We don't need a fryer. It helps us maintain our original vision. When you don't use modern tools, you're forced to work with old-school philosophies. We have a lot of respect for ingredients. All our dressings, our sauces - it's all from scratch. While that seems daunting for a lot of establishments, it's really the best way to put out a good product."

Preach it, brother. Hart may have the gift of gab, but his food clearly speaks for itself.

PAGE ST. CAFÉ, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, 903 Rogers St. NW, Olympia, 360.878.8490

Filed under: Open and Shut Cases, Olympia,

July 17, 2014 at 10:40am

Harmon Brewing to open Hop Coffee during its Progressive Party July 26

Nikki Johnson will be pouring Hop Coffee and other coffee drinks at the Harmon Tap Room. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Coffee-infused stouts are fairly common in the craft beer industry, especially in imperial stouts. It makes perfect sense to match roasted coffee with roasted malt.

Harmon Brewing Company has taken the coffee-beer combination in a different direction with its Hop Coffee - a coffee roast accented with its beer. Made with Bluebeard Coffee beans, Hop Coffee is a coffee that is all about the beer.

"We have taken two of America's most favorite tastes - coffee and beer - and fused them," says Harmon Brewing Co. co-owner Pat Nagle. "My business partner Carole Ford came up with the idea of taking some of our beers, reducing them down to syrups for flavoring for local coffee."

Ford chose Tacoma coffee roaster Bluebeard Coffee, which buys its beans from Latin America, Indonesia and East Africa, as their partner.

Bluebeard principle Kevin McGlocklin is excited to work with Harmon Brewing. "They are go-getters, always coming up with something new," says McGlocklin.

McGlocklin is creating a special dark roast for Hop Coffee, which the Harmon folks believe will work better with their beer reduction.

According to a news release, Harmon Brewing hired Melina Eshinshi, a professional chef, to handle the special alchemy between the coffee and beer. The flavored syrups are reductions of four Harmon signature craft beers: Mt. Takhoma Blonde with Orange Zest, Pinnacle Peak Pale Ale with Vanilla Bean, Pt. Defiance IPA with housemade Torani caramel sauce and Puget Sound Porter with housemade chocolate sauce.

"I can't reveal all the trade secrets, but for example I mixed our Pale Ale with an all-natural vanilla extract and that is going to make a fantastic Macchiato," said Eshinski in the news release. "The Puget Sound Porter seems a natural fit with any mocha drink."

Ford and Nagle will sell their Hop Coffee and standard coffee drinks from the northwest corner of the Harmon Tap Room. Stadium Bistro, the restaurant that occupied this space before the Harmon Tap Room, had hired a guy to build a coffee shop in the corner. The Harmon Brewing Co. will take the concept to completion, opening the Hop Coffee business during its Progressive Party Saturday, July 26 - the official merging of the two St. Helens neighborhood sister restaurants Harmon Tap Room and The Hub into one giant beer complex, which I announced several months ago. Meet the brewers, drink specialty beers, taste the new menu, sample desserts from Harmon's new in-house baker, hug a Harmon employee - the Progressive Party will run 1-6 p.m. for $15 a head. Spac eis limited; grab your tickets at The Hub and Harmon Tap Room.

The homebrewing competition Aroma of Tacoma awards ceremony will also be held during the Progressive Party.

"You can come in and grab your regular coffee drinks, or you can get one of our specialty Hop Coffees," explains Nagle. "It's going to be its own coffee shop, open at 6 a.m., where you can come in with your laptop, have a cup of coffee, watch our guys brew beer in the brewery room. It will be like having your own large office, complete with Wifi."

Bluebeard Coffee will help hire and train the Hop Coffee staff.

The Hop Coffee logo carries the "H" from the Harmon logo and the "O" is a big hop.

"It's a beautiful logo," says Nagle with a big smile.

The Hop Coffee space will also house Harmon's merchandise - shirts, caps and such - which Nagle hopes to set up an online store to sell both the coffee and swag.

"We're looking to remodel the Harmon downtown to have a Hop Coffee outlet there, maybe a Hop Coffee out at the Gig Harbor Hub."

Could there be Hop Coffee huts?

In any case, you won't be sorry to wake up and smell the coffee with Hop Coffee.

HOP COFFEE OPENING/PROGRESSIVE PARTY/AROMA OF TACOMA AWARDS, 1-6 p.m., Saturday, July 26, Harmon Tap Room/The Hub, 204 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.212.2725

July 18, 2014 at 11:23am

Mac and Cheese Madness: King Solomon's Reef

The mac and cheese at King Solomon's Reef is simple, good food. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Longtime Olympia residents are well acquainted with King Solomon's Reef where everyone and their brother - at least in Oly - has had a job at The Reef and, at some point in their adult life, participated in its 6 a.m. happy hour. (Today, the lounge opens at 10 a.m.) Good homemade food - such as fresh pies and chicken fried steak - and the intimate bar that holds more stories in its walls than Rupert Murdoch has secrets are the reasons this bar is so epic. It has been known as a place of solace and debauchery and gritty bartenders.  Clientele has ranged from state workers to gutter punks, with everyone rolled into one non-judging, loving ball of humanity.

If I were to cast judgment, I'd say The Reef's mac and cheese is simple, good food. The menu describes the dish as "a bowl of macaroni noodles and our own creamy multi-cheese blend, mixed together with a crispy top." Indeed. Efforts to reveal the cheese blend ingredients fell short, but I can tell you it's a buttery, oily bowl of comfort.

It will no doubt be voted in as one of the 64 best mac and cheese dishes in the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Mac and Cheese next spring.

KING SOLOMON'S REEF, 8-3 a.m. daily, 212 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia, 360.742.3199

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

July 18, 2014 at 3:09pm

Beer:45 - Time for for Jeremy Silas and Top Rung Brewing Co.

Jeremy Silas' "Spiritual Girl" is blasting out of our publisher's office.

Every Friday after 2:45 p.m., when workday decorum is thrown out, Weekly Volcano publisher Pappi Swarner pops open a local brew, tilts back in his rickety office chair and cranks his Frazier Model Seven speakers. And as interns inappropriately learn from Pappi during their orientation, nothing tastes better than pairing local music with local beer. Pappi picks one song and repeats it until he can see the bottom of his glass. When the music stops, we know he has left the building.

Today, Pappi has a grin from ear to ear. He's happy how next week's Best of Tacoma came together. Therefore, he's paired Jeremy Silas' "Spiritual Girl" with Top Rung Brewing Co.'s My Dog Scout Stout.

Tacoma musician, artist and poet Jeremy Silas recently self-released his debut album, It's Your Way EP, at digital music stores worldwide, including iTunes and GooglePlay. A longtime fan of Silas, Pappi skipped the new album; instead he's blasting Silas' new "Spiritual Girl" single, which is under review by SONY. The single is posted on Talenthouse Artworks, which is open for public vote.

Currently, YouTube is the only medium where "Spiritual Girl" is available. It's the first song Jeremy Silas wrote under his Atlas Alas pseudonym, so the song is special to him.

"I have tried for years to hold a band together. Yet, I was always the last man standing. Last March, I woke up and wrote the music and words to 'Spiritual Girl.' It just came out. I feel as though my soul was finally quiet enough to really ((((HEAR)))) the music. I created Atlas Alas because I wanted an identity other than my own name. I wanted to grasp a personal movement within the art form of music. Atlas Alas became my bridge to this place."

"'Spiritual Girl'" is a special kind of love song, it is inspired by a sweet young lady I dated many years ago who passed away from cervical cancer. She was a natural beauty. She was spiritual. She was a dear friend. I understand it can feel like sacred territory just uttering the word, ‘Spiritual' since it's connotations are so broad and personal to so many people, yet I had to, especially in context to how one person can make another person feel.

"I wanted an urban beat, a soulful vocal and poetic lyrics ... ‘All ancient jewels and wise lonely fools can't see ... what you mean to me ... You're captivating to me ... Spiritual Girl.'"

Riding on the theme of love, Pappi has paired "Spiritual Girl" with his new love, the My Dog Scout Stout by Top Rung Brewing Co. in Lacey. He goes on and on about its chocolate and coffee flavors, and its easy drinking with eight different dark malts. In fact, Pappi dropped by Top Rung last night when brewers Jason Stoltz and Casey Sobol ran the stout through a Randall loaded with coffee beans and chocolate nibs. He won't shut up about it. He loves it.

Filed under: New Beer Column, Lacey, Music,

July 19, 2014 at 1:00pm

Beer Saturday: E9 Berliner Fest, Rainy Daze, Narrows Brewing party ...

Narrows Brewing Co. celebrates its first anniversary with a party tonight.

Today's weather forecast in the South Sound calls for cloudy and partly cloudy skies through the night. Today's beer forecast calls for ...

Engine House No. 9 has tapped the kegs for its Berliner Fest, an event celebrating German sour beers.  Fourteen plus beers Berliner Weisse and Gose are on tap, which includes the E9 Tacoma Weiss with peach and golden raspberry variants. Read the full story on Berliner Fest here.

The Harmon Brewing Co. and Mash Homebrew Supply have teamed up to host "Aroma of Tacoma," a Beer Judge Certification Program sanctioned home brewing competition with Pro-Am selections. Saturday, judges will gather at the Harmon Hub in Tacoma's Stadium District and sample the "brew"-testant's beers in a morning and afternoon session.

Rainy Daze Brewing from Silverdale takes over the taps at Morso in Gig Harbor beginning at noon. Expect the Mind Funk, gold medal Hypocrite Double IPA. Pourhouse IPA, silver medal Rainy Rye IPA and English Pale to take the attention away from Morso's plethora of wine. Rainy Daze brew master Mike Montoney will hang from 1-4 p.m. There's a $5 cover.

Narrows Brewing will host a one-year anniversary party titled "Breakers Ball" from 6-11 p.m. Stephanie Anne Johnson will perform. Local food trucks and vendors will be on site. Read my interview with Narrows' head brewer Joe Walts in the New Beer Column.

July 21, 2014 at 8:52am

Served Blog Banner Girl: Q&A with Amy Hiibel of Bluebeard Coffee Roasters

Amy Hiibel serves espresso at Bluebeard Coffee Roasters, which was named Best Coffee in the 2012 and 2013 Best of Tacoma issues. 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 Amy Hiibel.

Server Banner Girl, July 21-27, 2014

Amy Hiibel

The person behind the coffee shop counter is a kind-of saint, what with all those grouchy morning people in need of caffeine (never me, of course). The Bluebeard Coffee Roasters baristas are always ready with your morning or afternoon brew, and there's no friendlier face than Amy Hiibel. Voted Best Barista in the Weekly Volcano's 2013 Best of Tacoma issue, Hiibel there serving up your latté or red-eye with a smile - even if you are a little grumpy in the AM.

Why do you serve?

"I honestly love being a part of the community. Getting to see so many people from so many different social circles and backgrounds each day makes me feel like I am contributing to the Tacoma community I love so much. I tried for years to do a desk job, and it was just never fulfilling for me. I came back to coffee about four years ago, and it was the best life choice I could have made."

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?

"There are so many wonderful people in the service industry, it's hard to pick just one. However I do love seeing Greg Rodriquez whenever he is bartending at Top of Tacoma. He was my first bartender at Magoo's before I even moved to Tacoma. He is such a genuinely sweet and caring human, it's always a pleasure to see him and hear him laugh as he's pouring beers and drinks."

What are you most proud to serve?

"I don't drink milk, but I do love serving someone a latte and having them exclaim over the art on top of their beverage. It's pretty adorable to have people whipping out their phones to take documentation of what they are about to put in their mouth. It's a simple act, but it can make someone's whole day."

What is your current drink of choice?

"Depends on what sort of beverage we are talking about. For caffeinated purposes, I will always pick a chemex. It's my favorite method of brewing, and there is something satisfying about making one for yourself. If we're talking an adult beverages, forever a bourbon neat and cold IPA. Or Rainier. I like to keep it classic."

What is your favorite movie?

"I am a glutton for eighties action movies. I think I've tortured my neighbors with sounds of explosions entirely too much, especially Bruce Willis. I mean, c'mon. Die Hard is the best classic holiday movie."

What don't you serve?

"White chocolate. Or white coffee. It's not happening."

What's on your radar at Bluebeard Coffee?

"It's always exciting to see a new line up of coffee as the seasons change. For instance, right now we have a Costa Rican, Las Lajas. It's amazing. Think serious strawberries. I want to drink it forever."

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

July 21, 2014 at 10:15am

Beer Here: Clusterf#ck tasting at Cooper Point Public House in Olympia

Claire Tenenbaum keeps Double Mountain Brewery beers flowing in the South Sound. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Hop growing in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States is a proud tradition dating back to the late 19th century. Ideal growing conditions and highly skilled producers make our region home to some of the finest hops in the world.

The Late Cluster hop is the oldest American variety grown continuously in the Northwest. Known as the Pacific Coast Cluster, it was widely grown at the turn of the century and was the leading cultivar, until the decline of acreage in California and Oregon was counter-balanced with the growth of the hop industry in Washington, where the Early Cluster became dominant. Until the late 1970s, Cluster was one of only a few varieties growing in the U.S. and accounted for most of the country's hop acreage.  It is an excellent general-purpose hop with well-balanced bittering potential and aroma properties. The storage stability of its alpha acids is among the best in the world.

Today, Crystal, Chinook, Centennial, Cascade and Citra are the hop varietals currently en vogue at craft breweries across the nation.

What about Cluster?

Cluster is not grown in the capacity it once was, it has faced a similar fate as many varieties falling to the shadows of the more bitter hops previously mentioned. Cluster's flavor profile and bitterness ranking make it ideal for moderately light ales. Still, Cluster production in Washington state has grown by 45 percent in the last five years.

Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom in Hood River, Ore., is a fan of this early American hero hop. Cluster is the star in the brewery's seasonal Clusterf#ck Single Hop IPA, which has been released mid-June since 2011. Claire Tenenbaum, who has been with Double Mountain for the last four years, lived in Hood River for the first three, but now lives in Tacoma, held the beer's Western Washington release during a brewer's night at The Copper Door in Tacoma's Stadium District June 26.

"We use the Cluster in every stage of the brewing process - in the kettle, the hop oil and again in the fermenter for dry-hopping - so you're going to get delicate floral note at the top, the nose of the citrus on the hop side, and this really delicate bitter hop at the end. It's real clean, at 7.3, with an 85 IBU," explains Tenenbaum.

Pilsner and honey malts are used to form the baseline.

Dipping the nose in the pint, I'm hit with malt, citrus zest and grapefruit juice. Taste is much the same with citrus zest, grapefruit juice and slight herbal hop flavors on the finish. It is, indeed, clean, with a slightly crisp mouth feel. This is a delicious, IPA porch rocking chair sipper.

"This year's Cluster has a sunny glow, and it dried out really well. It's cluckful of flusters, and with the dryness the hop aroma really pops," says brewer and Double Mountain proprietor Matt Coughlin in a release. Obviously, I had to include the quote in this column.

Tenenbaum will be pouring Clusterf#ck Single Hop IPA from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, July 23 at the Cooper Point Public House in West Olympia. She'll also pour Double Mountain Brewery's Kolsch-In Cologne (unfiltered and generously hopped), Homestead-Orange (drinkable Northwest pale ale) and Lil Red Pils (generous amounts of Vienna and Munich malts with Yakima-grown noble hops).

If you can't make the Double Mountain Brewer's Night at Cooper Point Public House, you can find Clusterf#ck in Olympia at Eastside Club Tavern and Total Wine & More; in Tacoma at Dorky's Arcade, Pint Defiance, The Copper Door, Tacoma Boys and Total Wine and More; in Bonney Lake at NW Caps N Taps; and the Total Wine & More in Puyallup, just to name a few.


Wednesday, July 23

The Rainy Daze Brewing folks will hang at the Puyallup River Alehouse in downtown Puyallup from 6-9 p.m. Brew master Mike Montoney will be there. Glassware giveaways and raffle prizes induce more daze.

Sierra Nevada will drop by The Swiss Restaurant and Pub in downtown Tacoma for a Brewers Night from 6-9 p.m. The Hoptmum Imperial IPA and New Developed Hop IPA have been released. Will they pour at The Swiss?

Uinta Brewing will take one down and pass it around at 99 Bottles in Federal Way from 5-7 p.m. West Coast sales guy Joe Mastrorocco will be in the house.

Thursday, July 24

The Copper Door in Tacoma's Stadium District hosts those pioneers from Alaskan Brewing Co. beginning at 6 p.m.

See Also

Cooper Point Public House strives for Northwest feel

Filed under: New Beer Column, Olympia,

July 21, 2014 at 11:03am

Eat This Now: Sautéed Basil Curry

Wild Orchid's Sauteed Basil Curry isn't pretty, but it's delicious. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

Not all delicious food is photogenic. Sad, but true. Ask any foodie. With the invention of modern day photos apps such as Instagram lovers of the culinary arts carefully consider composition, lighting and all that jazz before taking a bite. As I considered this week's Eat This Now recommendation, I almost went another route. Just because a dish isn't pretty doesn't make it unworthy to dig into.

So to get on with it, what should you eat, right NOW is Wild Orchid's Sautéed Basil Curry ($10.95). Julienned bamboo shoots, bell peppers, baby corn and sliced mushrooms are joined by your choice of tender chunks of beef or chicken and then generously bathed in a basil, coconut curry sauce. You can add some heat based on a five star spice system making this dish a great balance of heat and sweet and super fresh with the variety of veggies.

Easily shareable and delicious whether dining in on date night or taking it to go.

In my to go container it looked especially unfortunate, but man oh man was it delightful.

WILD ORCHID, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 3023 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.627.5889

Filed under: Eat This Now, Tacoma,

July 23, 2014 at 6:27am

ParkWay Tavern to celebrate 79th birthday, youngest employee tells all

Happy 7th birthday ParkWay Tavern!

Back in the days before new taproom arrivals were noted in Tweets and brewers dropping off kegs morphed into four-course beer and food pairing events, there was the ParkWay Tavern, nestled in Tacoma's North Slope Historic District. The classic neighborhood bar still stands, surrounded by historic homes and fronting a busy street. In fact, the ParkWay looks pretty good for turning 79 Saturday. Sure, It went through a slight facelift eight years ago, adding the brick patio and party lounge to gain back some youth. But, you certainly won't find a restroom with fancy-schmancy bathroom fixtures that look like the bastard offspring of the IKEA catalog.

In the grand scheme of things, the craft beer industry is still young, and the new pubs and taprooms showcase that youth with slick designs and huge wooden communal tables. The ParkWay grew into the craft beer industry, serving pitchers of Bridgeport IPA for those trying to play pool with warped sticks in the early 2000s. Over the years, the tavern has been home to the area's most knowledgeable beer aficionados, including Barry Watson (now co-owner of Pint Defiance with wife, Renee) and John O'Gara, the 52-year-old ParkWay long-time manager who passed away from health issues this past spring (RIP). Jeff Fraychineaud still owns the joint (as well as the Corner Bar four blocks away). Bartender Sean Jackson moved into O'Gara's management position, but still can match wits when bartender Nicholas Brosier turns it on (here's proof).

The ParkWay is good. It's secure with its age. It proudly shows its wrinkles, and flaunts it with historic Tacoma prints and retro beer signage covering the walls. The latest and greatest craft beers line up behind the bar. It's where the service industry and alcohol reps drink, as well as those beyond walking distance. And, it's going to sing happy birthday loud and strong Saturday, although doctors are on call at nearby Tacoma General.

The ParkWay's "79th Birthday Partay" includes a "Badass Tacomacentric Beer Line Up," a beer garden in its backyard, Chad's BBQ out front, punkgrass band Rusty Cleavers jammin' around 3 p.m., Mr. Gibson's FroYo Wagon pulls up around 4, plus the release of the new ParkWay Tavern hoodies.

One of the proudest at the party has only worked there three months, the day shift on the weekends. Former Tacoma School of the Arts student and once Weekly Volcano intern Emily Meyers is 56 years younger than the tavern, "but we get along just fine despite the age difference" she says.

I caught up with Meyers before Saturday's big bash.

WEEKLY VOLCANO: Why did you choose the ParkWay Tavern to sling beers and food?

EMILY MEYERS: I had actually been a patron of the ParkWay before I started working there. It was a favorite spot when I was living on I Street. Even when I moved out of the area I would still ride my bicycle down for a drink and a bite to eat. I thought it was a homey tavern with really amazing and sweet bartenders.

VOLCANO: What are your favorite ParkWay experiences so far?

MEYERS: My favorite experiences so far, because I anticipate many more to come, have been getting to know my weekend regulars. They are a varied and interesting bunch to say the least. I also loved being a part of World Cup mayhem, groups of boisterous fans keeping me on my toes as a new bartender. Being hired when I did has allowed me to get to know the ParkWay in the summertime: patio plus puppies and craft beer make for a wonderful first bartending experience.

VOLCANO: I have been capitalizing the "W" in ParkWay to match the sign in front of the building. Condemn or allow?

MEYERS: I'll allow it! The snazzier you can get with the ParkWay the better.

VOLCANO: How cool is bartender Katie Lowery?

MEYERS: On a scale of one to ten? Freaking fantastic. Best sense of humor and so chill.

VOLCANO: What's the craziest thing you seen longtime ParkWay bartender Nicholas Brosier do?

MEYERS: Oh my gosh, where do I start? I would have to say when he confiscated a light-up "disco stick" and proceeded to pull a Gandalf. He basically twirled it then slammed it down and yelled, "Though shall not sass!"

VOLCANO: What's your favorite piece of art hanging on the wall?

MEYERS: My favorite picture has to be the one above the middle booth by the pool table. It's of a kindly looking barkeep with the biggest handlebar mustache. He reminds me so much of Jordan (the fiancé). Even one of his friends said, "Look Jordan, it's a picture of you when you're older!" A close second is the long sign above the entrance to the pool table stating that the liver is evil and must be punished.

VOLCANO: When you're off duty, what beer do you take out to the ParkWay's front patio?

MEYERS: I'm usually drinking any amber or saison I can get my hands on. I like something that's different with a lot of flavor.

Thanks Emily. Happy birthday, ParkWay Tavern! Here's to another 79.

PARKWAY'S 79th BIRTHDAY PARTAY, 2 p.m. to close, ParkWay Tavern, 313 N. I St., Tacoma, 253.383.8748

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

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