Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

Posts made in: July, 2014 (40) Currently Viewing: 31 - 40 of 40

July 23, 2014 at 11:50am

Celebrate the rain with El Toro's new margaritas

El Toro now serves a Horny Margarita.

It appears we are getting this summer's entire allotment of rain all in one go. And as glad as we are for our parched earth to get the much-needed precipitation, let's face it: After all these straight days of sun all this rain is a little ... shocking?

Let's celebrate. El Toro has introduced new margaritas.

"Yes, we have new margaritas," says Ruben Arias Jr., executive manager of El Toro Restaurants, with locations in Tacoma, Puyallup, Lakewood and University Place. "Our house, Gold and Cadillac are standard and we have always served them. But the rest are new. We put this menu three weeks ago."

Blended or on the rocks, salt or no salt, classic or all fruited up - El Toro has your back today.

July 24, 2014 at 1:01pm

Harmon Tap Room Reserve Series beers announced, including a tribute to John O'Gara

Harmon Tap Room Reserve Series beers will be available at its Progressive Party July 26. Photo courtesy of Facebook

It's a big weekend for Harmon Brewing Company. Saturday marks the official merging of its two St. Helens neighborhood sister restaurants Harmon Tap Room and The Hub into one giant beer complex. In celebration, a "Progressive Party" will be thrown from 1-6 p.m., where those who pay $15 may meet head brewer Jeff Carlson and his crew, drink specialty beers, taste the new menu, sample desserts from Harmon's new in-house baker and, of course, hug a Harmon employee. Space is limited; grab your tickets at The Hub and Harmon Tap Room. Harmon will also unveil its Hop Coffee enterprise at the party. Hop Coffee will operate out of the Harmon Tap Room, serving Bluebeard Coffee Roasters espresso accented with Harmon beer reduction syrups. If that wasn't enough, the party will also take time out for the Harmon and Tacoma homebrewing supplier MASH to hand out awards for their homebrewing competition, Aroma of Tacoma.


In regards to the "specialty beers" available during the Progressive Party, head brewer Jeff Carlson has released the goods. The following Harmon Tap Room Reserve Series beers will be available Saturday, and will remain on tap at the Harmon Tap Room after the party.

In honor of John O'Gara, the ParkWay Tavern's long-time manager who passed away this past spring, Carlson has brewed the Old John Barrel Blend; an old ale brewed with Pale 2-Row, Dark Munich, Crystal 15 and a little Pale Chocolate malts. It was hopped with Liberty, Fuggle and Cascade hops. The whole batch was transferred into three barrels - two whiskey barrels and one wine barrel - then blended. It rings in at 9.7 percent ABV and 45 IBUs. The ParkWay Tavern also has a little shindig on Saturday.

The second Harmon beer is the Left Handed Nomad, which was brewed for the anniversary of the Tacoma Rugby Club. It's a hoppy light bodied blonde ale with citrus, melon and tropical/fruity flavors and aromas. The flavors and aromas come from five different hop varieties - Sterling, Amarillo, Centennial, Cascade and Citra. The grains Carlson used to balance the beer out and create its wonderful color were 2-row pale, a German Pilsner malt, Carahell and White Wheat. It rings in at 5.1 ABV and 35 IBUs.

The third release is its Super Samurai; a single hop barleywine featuring Sorachi Ace hops. Name appropriately, this barleywine is big, bold and aggressive with 11 percent ABV and 102 IBUs.

Fourth, its Cascadian Dark Ale Black Tartan will be in the house. The full-bodied IPA is brewed with six different malted barleys and chocolate wheat, and hops Colombus, Amarillo, Simcoe and Zythos for the dry-hop. Harmon's Black Tartan grabbed a silver medal at the 2014 Washington Beers Awards for its combination of roasted malts with citrusy and piney hop notes. If you can't decide between a stout and an IPA, chose this combination of booth. It rings in at 7.4 percent ABV and 84 IBUs. Only one keg remains, so Saturday may be your only chance.

Finally, the Reserve Series Barrel Aged Saison is Harmon's latest release in its Tap Room Reserve Series of beers. The Mt. Takhoma Blonde is the base of this beer, fermented and aged in a wine barrel, with two different strains of Saison yeast. While fermenting in the barrel Carlson also added some candied Ginger and three different tea blends from Ubis in Tacoma. Expect a combination of aromas and flavors with a slight tart and dry finish. It rings in at 5 percent ABV and 18 IBUs.

There you go. There's Carlson's summer gift to you.

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

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

July 24, 2014 at 3:54pm

"Extreme Chef" winner Chef Amadeus cooking at Olympia's Budd Bay Cafe the next two nights

Chef Amadeus / photo courtesy of Facebook

Remember Extreme Chef? The Food Network produced the show for two seasons (2011-12) where seven chefs were forced into extreme and grueling culinary challenges after being dropped into extreme locations, with one contestant being "thrown off the island," so to speak, each week. Hosted by world traveler Marsh Mokhtari, three chefs competed at a time, often swimming across a lake for ingredients then cooking on a car engine while a bear mauled them in a dust storm. At the end, the winner got to kill the losers with his or her bare hands, or something.

Anyway, Chef Amadeus, the winner of Extreme Chef season one, will be cooking at Budd Bay Café in Olympia tonight and tomorrow night, invited by the Thurston County Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Chef Amadeus grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., cooking with his grandmother who was from Puerto Rico and mother from Philadelphia. He honed his skills in the Navy beginning in the mid-'80s. On a visit to the Pacific Northwest, Chef Amadeus fell in love with the freshness of our food and wine country. He now visits our area April through September, often a chef for hire in people's homes.

Obviously, Chef Amadeus will cook a couple specialty dishes the next two nights. If the Big One finally hits our area, rest assured Chef Amadeus can handle it and deliver your meals. Nothing rocks Chef Amadeus.

BUDD BAY CAFÉ, 525 Columbia St. NW, Olympia, 360.357.6963

Filed under: Olympia, What’s Cooking,

July 25, 2014 at 9:24am

Mac and Cheese Madness: Maxwell's Restaurant + Lounge

Maxwell's Restaurant + Lounge serves a creamy "max + cheese" loaded with bacon. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Macaroni and cheese. What began as an inexpensive school cafeteria lunch for most of us has turned into my obsession: try as many South Sound mac and cheese dishes before the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Mac and Cheese in March 2015.

Though the classic mac 'n' cheese consists of elbow noodles and cheddar or American cheese sauce, there are so many variations - topped with breadcrumbs, baked into individual mini casseroles, made with upscale ingredients such as truffle oil and lobster. Frankly, I love them all. My nirvana: the magic moment when the cheese has cooled just enough to prevent the roof of my mouth from fusing to my fork.

One of the top restaurants in Tacoma must have one of the top macaroni and cheese. So it is written; so it is done. Maxwell's Restaurant + Lounge's "Max + Cheese" ($9) is perfection. Perfectly cooked macaroni is lovingly married to sharp cheese and bacon with a crunchy breadcrumb topping. Is it blasphemy to say I'd skip Maxwell's award-winning Walker Burger and have a second helping?

"We make it to order with care," explains Maxwell's Executive Chef Hudson Slater. "Every Max + Cheese ordered is very important. The pasta is al dente; the sauce is rich and creamy and has a great cheesy flavor from the sharp white cheddar. The toppers help too. Crispy bacon, toasted breadcrumbs and fresh scallions."

It is hard to go wrong with the flavors as long as you make it correctly, which Slater does. It's creamy but holds on the fork. It's crunchy, but light on the breadcrumbs. The fresh scallions pop. Oh, and the bacon. ...

P.S. Maxwell's server Kent Bolden was named Best Server by our readers in our 2014 Best of Tacoma issue.

MAXWELL'S RESTAURANT + LOUNGE, 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, 5 p.m. to midnight Saturday, 454 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.683.4115

LINK: More mac and cheese dishes in the South Sound

July 25, 2014 at 3:06pm

Beer:45 - Time for Kim Archer and Elysian's Night Owl Pumpkin Ale

Kim Archer's "My Friend" 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 regional 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 looks exhausted. The 2014 Best of Tacoma issue got the best of him. Plus, his whole "I'm not going to get a haircut until the Best of Tacoma is on the street" probably wasn't his best move. Right now, he's kicked back in his chair, half asleep as this year's "Best Band" winner Kim Archer's "My Friend" song is cranked, with a Elysian Brewing Night Owl Pumpkin Ale half-cocked in his hand.

"Kim Archer's music is a mixture of blues, soul and classic rock licks," writes Rev. Adam McKinney, describing Archer in this week's 2014 Best of Tacoma issue, which is on the street. "A typical live performance of hers will feature plenty of lively covers and heartfelt originals. She's not breaking the mold, exactly, but her presence and delivery has garnered her a passionate fan base. The community of singer-songwriters and their fans has always been a tight-knit one in Tacoma, with more than their share of supportive open mics and bars that tend toward the blues and the folk.

"I'm honored to be voted best band," says Archer in the article. "I think, when it comes down to a decision being made by the readers and the voters, it's extra special. It feels really awesome."

In regards to the Kim Archer song Pappi is listening to today, "My Friend," it's the title song on her 2011 CD.

"It's about the connection you have with people over time ... no matter how far away you are, or how long it's been since you've seen them," Archer says. "I wrote it for my mother, who is my best friend."


Elysian Brewing Co. in Seattle sent Pappi an early release of their Night Owl Pumpkin Ale, scheduled to hit the shelves and taps Aug. 1. Elysian brewed over seven pounds of Oregon pumpkin per barrel, and includes seven different malt varieties, green and roasted pumpkin seeds, Magnum hops and pumpkin in the mash, boil and fermenter. It's definitely pumpkin forward, but the conditioning of allspice, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and ginger shines. This pumpkin brew is easy drinking at 5.9 percent ABV.

Pappi has a smile on his face.

July 26, 2014 at 10:25am

Olympia Brewfest hosts regional breweries for Aug. 2 festival

The Olympia Brewfest returns to the scenic Port Plaza on the waterfront of Budd's Inlet's West Bay Saturday, Aug. 2. Courtesy photo

Over the years, I've been to a lot of beer festivals. Many of them boast, "146+ beers from 73 breweries!" Those are the ones I now avoid. Much like Austin's SXSW Music Festival these days, long lines can eliminate my enthusiasm.

To me, a beer festival is about three things:

1. Sampling rare and one-off beers,

2. Reconnecting with and meeting new people in the beer world, and/or

3. Seeing the latest crazy beer-centric T-shirts.

Olympia Brewfest is right up my alley. It will host 34 or so regional breweries, each pouring two beers - definitely enough in a seven-hour period, and it promises to provide a more intimate atmosphere than I'd get at the bigger fests. It reminds me of the Gig Harbor Beer Festival in May, which was a blast.

"A committee and I handpicked these breweries," says Mike Marohn, Olympia Brewfest founder and director. "We tasted all the beers, including beers from the 12 or so breweries we turned away."

Marohn has his sights on being the best beer festival in Washington state, in terms of quality. It's all about the beer. And, he knows beer. A beer drinker well before the craft brew explosion, he would often visit his friend at the Olympia Brewing Company's taproom, and drink his favorite Olympia Dark beer.

"When the Schmidt family owned the brewery in the 1970s and early '80s, the brewery was using thirty-two yeasts," says Marohn. "When Pabst Brewing Company bought in 1999, the yeast count when down to six."

Today, Marohn has part ownership in two breweries - Top Rung Brewing in Lacey and Unknown Brewery Company in North Carolina. Brad Shell, who worked for Terrapin Beer Co. in Georgia, Rogue Ales in Oregon and Fish Brewery in Olympia, left Fish last year to open Unknown in Charlotte.

"Brad had many tips on how to run a beer festival, and I listened before launching the inaugural Olympia Brewfest in 2012," says Marohn.

In August 2011, Marohn was gazing at the Port of Olympia Plaza from his office building, watching the annual Sand in the City celebration. He thought, "This would be an excellent spot for a beer festival."

The Olympia Brewfest returns to the scenic Port Plaza on the waterfront of Budd's Inlet's West Bay Saturday, Aug. 2. Eight brewery booths will butt up against Anthony's Homeport Restaurant, with another 16 facing the water by the Market Place Building and a tent by the amphitheater with 10 or so additional breweries. Marv's Marvulus BBQ, O'Blarney's Irish Pub, Lucky Eagle, Blend Café and other restaurants will serve food by the fence. DBST funkadelic rock band, Beyond The Fringe and Endangered Species will provide the drinking soundtrack on a stage close to the tower.

The festival runs from 1 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 2. Admission is $25 in advance and includes 6 tickets (each ticket is a 5.5-ounce pour), which includes a commemorative mug. Tickets will be $30 at the gate. Additional drink cards for six more tastes will be available for $8. Designated driver tickets are $5.

Funds raised by the Olympia Brewfest will assist the Thurston County Chamber Foundation's Small Business Development Program. Fish Brewing of Olympia and Top Rung Brewing from Hawks Prairie are contributing sponsors to the event. Other South Sound breweries include Kastellan Brauerei, Three Magnets Brewing, 7 Seas Brewing, Dick's Brewing, Narrows Brewing and Whitewood Cider.

For current info, visit the event Facebook page. And if you go, hit up the Twitters at #OlyBrewfest and say hi if you see me.

As of this writing, there are 34 breweries signed up to pour at the 2014 Olympia Brewfest:


Filed under: New Beer Column, Olympia,

July 28, 2014 at 9:57am

Served Blog Banner Girl: Q&A with Rachel Hogan of Jazzbones

Rachel Hogan serves drinks at Jazzbones on Tacoma's Sixth Avenue. 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 Rachel Hogan.

Server Banner Girl, July 28-Aug. 3, 2014

Rachel Hogan

Being a great bartender is about far more than mixing magic - although that element is certainly important. But a bartender's role behind the stick is also about spending time with those bellied up to the bar, whether they're high rollers or gravediggers. And Rachel Hogan, who has been a bartender at Jazzbones since she was 21, deserves heroine worship for the way she straddles the line between professional and perky. She's engaging and exuberant and comes off as genuine and knowledgeable but never snooty, and she doesn't overthink what she pours in your drink. Like the pro that she is, she just gets it.  

Why do you serve?

"I enjoy people. I quit doing dental because I could not converse with people like I can serving. I have met a lot of cool people behind the bar. It's a real awesome job."

Who is your favorite server in the South Sound?

"Josh Hill is my favorite. He works at The Swiss and Eleven Eleven. I think he's one of the best bartenders in our area. He's definitely a high volume bartender and can hold a conversation even when he's super busy."

What is your current drink of choice?

"Real cheap champagne. I love it."

What is your favorite movie?

"I don't watcha lot of television. But, when I'm real sick, I like to watch Gone with the Wind."

What don't you serve?

"I don't serve Zima and Mad Dog."

What's on your radar at Jazzbones?

"Jazzbones has some real rad music on the way, such as The Red Elvises, English Beat, Katchafire, J-Boog and Randy Hansen."             

LINK: Meet other South Sound servers

July 28, 2014 at 2:37pm

Winners announced for Aroma of Tacoma home brewing competition

Dioni De Morena of Redmond was the The Best of Show winner and received a $250 gift certificate to MASH Homebrew Supply. Not bad for a $7 entry fee.

The first-annual Aroma of Tacoma home brewing competition is in the books. Saturday, July 26, before the big Harmon Brewing Co. Progressive Party at Harmon Tap Room and The Hub, around 30 home brewers filled the tables in the Tap Room's Harmon Garden as Casey Williams and Trevor Nichol handed out medals and plaques to the best home brewers in the, well, the world as winners were announced as far away as Europe.

Harmon Brewing Co. and Mash teamed up to sponsor Aroma of Tacoma, but Williams and Nichol ran the show, inviting home brewers to brew beers in 23 beer styles using handcrafted products, containing ingredients available to the general public and made using private equipment by hobbyist brewers. Saturday, July 19, judges gathered at the Harmon Hub in Tacoma's Stadium District and sampled the "brew"-testant's beers. It was a BJCP sanctioned home brewing competition with Pro-Am selections.

Saturday morning, the regional home brewers gathered in the Garden to drink beer before 11 a.m. and laugh their asses off as Tacoma home brewers Williams and Nichol announced the winners. The names given to the home brews were freakin' hilarious. Here is the list of winners:

2014 Aroma of Tacoma HomeBrew Championship Winners

Pro/Am Selections

(Brewer's Name - Entry Name - Commercial Brewery - Style)

#1 - Randall Breedlove - The Geek - Tacoma Brewing Co. - IPA

#2 - Tim Frommer - C. D. Saison - Engine House No. 9 - Saison

#3 - Tony Ochsner - Waimea Blood Orange Pale Ale - The RAM - American Pale Ale

#4 - Jay Walker and Shawn Anderson - Hop Denim - Harmon Brewing Co. - Double IPA

#5 - Dioni De Morena - Die Wasp - Wingman Brewers - Kolsch

Light Lagers/Hybrids

(Place - Brewer's Name - Entry Name - Style - Club)

1st - Dioni De Morena - Die Wasp - Kolsch - Cascade Brewers Guild

2nd - Garth Donald - Forgotten Brew - Blonde Ale - Regicidre Brewing

3rd - Ernie Smith - DABble - Dortmunder Export - IBU (Intellectual Brewers Union)

Maillard Duck

(Place - Brewer's Name - Entry Name - Style - Club)

1st - Tony Ochsner - Black Dog - Schwarzbier - Chop & Brew

2nd - Chris Tracy - Marzen - Oktoberfest/Marzen

Ales of the British Isles

1st - Tony Ochsner - Talli The Timid - Mild - Chop & Brew

2nd - Jeffrey French - Frenchy's Bitter - Standard/Ordinary Bitter

3rd - Dioni De Morena - Highlands Calf - Scottish Light 60 - Cascade Brewers Guild

Freedom Ales

1st - Mark Aichele - 5280 Pale Ale - American Pale Ale

2nd - Andrew Czarniak - Red Right Returning - American Amber Ale - Bay Area Mashers

3rd - Mathew Wisner - Breakfast For Dinner - American Brown Ale

The Darkness

1st - Ken Buckley - Chocolate Covered Espresso Bean Stout - Foreign Extra Stout - Impaling Alers

2nd - Andrew Czarniak - Post Captain - Brown Porter - Bay Area Mashers

3rd - Brian Heckard - Vladimir Putin American Stout - American Stout

Wolf of the Willows

1st - Jay Walker - Hop Denim - Imperial IPA     

2nd - Patrick Dutmers - Super Sim IPA - American IPA     

3rd - Daniel Christensen - End Of The Line IPA - American IPA - IBU (Intellectual Brewers Union)

Battle of the Bulge

1st - Charles Macaluso - Big Dipper - Belgian Specialty Ale     

2nd - Tim Frommer - C.D. Saison - Saison    Cascade Brewers Guild

3rd - Chris Tracy - Stable Boy Summer Session Saison - Saison     

Honorable Mention - Steve Taylor - Bigfoot Belgian Pale Ale - Belgian Pale Ale

Belgian Strong/Strong Ales

1st - Kevin Blaylock - Bromance Barleywine - English Barleywine    Headlock Brewing

2nd - Dioni De Morena - Red Bulldog - American Barleywine - Cascade Brewers Guild

3rd - Brian Heckard - Garbo Golden Ale - Belgian Golden Strong Ale


1st - Ernie Smith - G Ma's Porch - Fruit Beer - IBU (Intellectual Brewers Union)

2nd - Charles Macaluso - Barking Dog Of The Hair - Wood-Aged Beer     

3rd - Darren Gordon - Bourbon Barrel Vanilla Russian Imperial Stout     Wood-Aged Beer     

Honorable Mention - Nicholas Marianetti - Ginger Kumquat Saison - Fruit Beer

The Kitchen Sink

1st - Gregory Marlor - Vitis Vinifera - Specialty Beer - CHUG

2nd - James Frazer - Spruce Springsteen - Specialty Beer - Hill City Homebrewers

3rd - Daniel Christensen - Symphony - Specialty Beer - IBU

Filed under: New Beer Column, Awards, Tacoma,

July 29, 2014 at 1:41pm

Eat This Now: Ahi Tuna Poke

The Social Bar and Grill's cool Ahi Tuna Poke is perfect for summer weather. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

The Social Bar and Grill has been a staple of my dining-out adventures since its inception in 2011. The Tacoma spot fuses flavors from the Mediterranean, Pacific Islands, Spain and Central America into spectacular presentations. In addition, you can't beat this hidden gem's view tucked on the backside of the Thea's Landings condos. Patio seating features fire tables and glorious views of boats lining the Foss Waterway and outdoor art installation "Fluent Steps" outside the Museum of Glass.

I could recommend a variety of things from The Social's menu, but my Eat This Now recommendation is the Ahi Tuna Poke ($9/$7 happy hour).

This simple "shareable" selection features cubed, sushi-grade ahi and tossed in a sake, soy sauce, sesame seed and seaweed potion of deliciousness. It's light, fresh and balances well with the accompanying crispy wonton triangles.

Featured on its fresh sheet RIGHT NOW is a twist on the Ahi Poke. The Baja Ahi ($11) adds a wasabi mayo and chunks of avocado to the mix with a delightful fried wonton wrapper. It delivers the same fresh, light nibbling pleasure but adds a little spice that partners well with the creamy avocado.

I guess technically I've offered up two potential dishes to try now. Compare the two and share your thoughts!

I would like to also recommend pairing either of these ahi plates with any one of their tasty, unique craft cocktails.

THE SOCIAL BAR AND GRILL, 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday-Thursday, 11-1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 1715 Dock St., Tacoma, 253.301.3835

Filed under: Eat This Now, Tacoma,

July 29, 2014 at 6:20pm

Best Hot Dog That's Not On The Menu at The Red Hot ...

The Red Hot’s Test Kitchen recently, er, tested, The Texas Chile Dog with barbecue sauce, creamy Texas green chile corn and French fried onions. Photo courtesy of Facebook

We're all smiles at the Weekly Volcano World Headquarters as our 2014 Best of Tacoma issue is flying off the shelves and out of the boxes. It hit the streets July 24, and, pretty much, it's like the coolest reading material ever. We will throw some additional issues on the street Thursday along with this week's issue of the Weekly Volcano.

In our zeal to unearth and shine a spotlight on all that kicks ass in Pierce County, we accidently left a "Staff Pick" out of the issue.

"Hey, Pappi, where the hell is the blurb I wrote on The Red Hot?" asks Weekly Volcano scribe Kristin Kendle.

Um, a, hmmmm. Crap.

I'll add to the online version, which I hope to have posted sometime Thursday.

Until then, here is the Best Hot Dog That's Not On The Menu at The Red Hot ...

Little-known secret at Tacoma's favorite hot dog joint extraordinaire - you can go off menu! While the menu dogs offer awesome flavor combos designed to please, sometimes one's flavor palate must expand beyond the confines of the menu, and The Red Hot folks are cool with it so long as they actually have the stuff to create your dog of choice. Best option that might not sound great, but is amazing? The hot dog or brat of your choice with cream cheese and jalapenos. Fight the feeling that cream cheese doesn't belong on a dog ‘cause it so does. 2914 Sixth Ave., Tacoma - KK


We're sure you know The Red Hot moved, right?

About this blog

Served, a blog by the Weekly Volcano, is the region’s feedbag of fresh chow daily, local restaurant news, New Beer Column, bar and restaurant openings and closings, breaking culinary news and breaking culinary ground - all brought to the table with a dollop of Internet frivolity on top.

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