Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

March 24, 2015 at 8:02am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Day 6 First Round games and yesterday's winners

Top of Tacoma Bar and Cafe serves a mac and cheese with prosciutto, pork belly, tomato or pesto options. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

TUESDAY, MARCH 24: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

The seed was planted last April during our Tournament of Burgers Championship party at Meconi's in downtown Tacoma. After taking second place to the Westside Tavern, Maxwell's chef Hudson Slater suggested mac and cheese for the Weekly Volcano's 2015 food tournament.

The South Sound Tournament of Mac and Cheese launched Thursday with 64 mac and cheese joints battling toward the championship game April 6. Follow along with the Tournament of Mac and Cheese bracket attached (below and to the right).

Without further ado, let's take a gander at yesterday's results, and then preview today's matches. ...

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: C.I. Shenanigans (3017 Ruston Way, Tacoma) vs. Applebee's (10407 Gravelly Lake Dr. SW, Lakewood)

The nice thing about being a number one seed is it usually means you've got a paddy-cake game the first round. So was the case for Tacoma waterfront restaurant C.I. Shenanigans, which easily handled the 16-seeded Applebee's by securing more than 96 percent of the vote. Even better, Shenanigans survived the contest without wacky promotional schemes such as asking diners to rewrite popular songs with Applebee's menu items as the lyrics ... so bonus!

Game 2: Crown Bar (2705 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Tides Tavern (2925 Harborview Dr., Gig Harbor)

Serving delicious mac and cheese to intoxicated masses on Sixth Avenue is business genius, probably why Tacoma's Crown Bar does it. However, name recognition also goes long way - and Tides Tavern has been slinging food and drinks wearing boat shoes for ages. In this contest, late night food carried the day, with the Crown Bar securing roughly 70 percent of the votes and winning easily.

Game 3: Topside Bar and Grill (215 Wilkes St., Steilacoom) vs. Engine House No. 9 (611 N. Pine St., Tacoma)

If there's a trend developing it's that Tournament of Mac and Cheese voters are wowed by unique toppings. Sure, and fancy mac and cheese can get you somewhere in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese, but it doesn't guarantee anything - and your cheese sauce foundation has to be sound before voters will get behind some of the stranger stuff. While Topside Bar and Grill gushes beautiful view and community feel, voters flocked toward the down home, Tailgate-style, Lit'l Smokies laden mac and cheese goodness of Engine House No. 9 in this contest, awarding the old firehouse roughly 83 percent of the vote.

Game 4: Paesan Kitchen and Bar (1705 Dock St., Tacoma) vs. Southbay Dickerson's BBQ (619 Legion Way NE, Olympia)

Fontina cheese is the star ingredient in Paesan Kitchen & Bar's gooey baked penne pasta, although the leeks, egg, mustard, chili flakes, grated Parmesan and breadcrumbs would tell you different, if they could. It's baked ... and so is Southbay Dickerson's BBQ after this battle. The downtown Olympia barbecue joint threw everything and the kitchen sink at Paesan, but the tiny Dock Street Tacoma's kitchen was too much for Dickerson's. With 88 percent of the votes, Paesan Kitchen and Bar advances to the Second Round and a March 29 date with Engine House No. 9.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

C.I. Shenanigans

Crown Bar

Engine House No. 9

Paesan Kitchen and Bar

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's First Round mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.




Tomorrow's First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Metropolitan Market (2420 N. Proctor St., Tacoma) vs. Uncle Thurm's Finger Lickin' Ribs & Chicken (3709 S. G St., Tacoma)

Game 2: Rosewood Café (3323 N. 26th St., Tacoma) vs. Serious Soul Café (35501 21st Ave. SW, Federal Way)

Game 3: Oakhouse Restaurant & Bar (8102 Zircon Dr. SW, Lakewood) vs. King Solomon's Reef (212 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia)

Game 4: Mac N More (9323 Martin Way E., Lacey) vs. Silvers Saloon (2752 Pacific Ave. SE, Olympia)

At 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

March 23, 2015 at 8:03am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: First Round action, plus yesterday's results

Engine House No. 9's Tailgate Mac And Cheese (pictured) takes on the Topside Bar & Grill in today's Tournament of Mac and Cheese action. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

MONDAY, MARCH 23: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

It's Monday, March 23, which means I tempt you with more South Sound mac and cheese battles in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese. First, a touch of mac and cheese history: Thomas Jefferson helped make macaroni and cheese popular in the United States after sampling it in Italy. He brought home a pasta maker and introduced the dish in 1802. Mac and cheese is obviously the food of presidents, for it was also Ronald Reagan's favorite. Reagan enjoyed a little dry mustard and Worcestershire in his mac and cheese.

Without further ado, let's take a gander at yesterday's results, and then preview today's matches. ...

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: Harmon Brewery & Eatery vs. McNamara's Pub & Eatery

Unexpectedly, this was an epic battle ... the kind of thing Tournament of Mac and Cheese "instant classics" are made of. A surprisingly low scoring affair, with much of the action on defense, the fifth seeded Harmon Brewery & Eatery and the 12th seeded McNamara's Pub & Eatery were in a dead heat - literally tied - going into the final hours of the competition. Back at Weekly Volcano World Headquarters, Tournament of Mac and Cheese officials frantically discussed what to do in the case of a tie? Overtime? Coin flip? See which establishment could deliver mac and cheese to our Lakewood office the fastest? In the end, The Harmon edged out the win, securing exactly 52.94 percent of the vote. This one will go down in the history books.

Game 2: Over The Moon Café vs. Quickie Too

Over The Moon Cafe quickly comes to the lips of many when discussing the best South Sound mac and cheese. So, perhaps it's no surprise that the romantic café tucked in Tacoma's Opera Alley frequented by lunching ladies and lovers alike did serious damage in yesterday's action, kicking Niombi and James Howell's beloved vegan restaurant to the curb while garnering 59 percent of the vote. Over The Moon Cafe moves on as a mac and cheese to reckon with in later rounds of Tournament of Mac and Cheese action.

Game 3: Westside Tavern vs. The Swiss Restaurant & Pub

Westside Tavern and The Swiss Restaurant & Pub battled back and forth all day, changing leads several times. It's our guess that Westside Tavern's Facebook push might have made the difference as the Westside Olympia joint ended up edging out The Swiss with 59 percent of the votes.

Game 4: El Gaucho vs. Panera Bread

The other close game was El Gaucho vs. Panera Bread. We dropped by both restaurants yesterday to check out the behind-the-scenes game day action. Surprisingly, the quieter one - El Gaucho -ended up winning with 55 percent of the votes. It could be that the downtown Tacoma fine-dining restaurant was pushing their Washington wines hard. Smart move. El Gaucho will meet Westside Tavern in the second Round March 28. Lives will change after this one.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

Harmon Brewery & Eatery

Over The Moon Cafe

Westside Tavern

El Gaucho

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's First Round mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.



Tomorrow's First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Masa (2811 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Steel Creek American Whiskey Co. (1114 Broadway, Tacoma)

Game 2: Chambers Bay Grill (6320 Grandview Dr. W., University Place) vs. Lunchbox Laboratory (4901 Point Fosdick Dr. NW, Gig Harbor)

Game 3: Ricardo's Restaurant (5211 Lacey Blvd. SE, Lacey) vs. Oly Rockfish Grill (700 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia)

Game 4: Top of Tacoma Bar and Café (3529 McKinley Ave. E., Tacoma) vs. South Bay Pub & Eatery (3323 S. Bay Road NE, Olympia)

At 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

March 22, 2015 at 7:45am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Yesterday's results and Day 4 battles ...

McNamara's Pub and Eatery in DuPont pits their Papa Ed's Mac and Cheese (pictured) against The Harmon's giant bowl of mac and cheese today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

SUNDAY, MARCH 22: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

Sixty-four South Sound mac and cheese joints were picked for the Tournament of Mac and Cheese, which is now four days into the competition. Brackets don refrigerators, break rooms, restaurant hallways and birdcages. Birthday parties have been moved to mac and cheese serving restaurants. Everyone is discussing pasta choices and panko. It's crazy fun.

Without further ado, let's take a gander at yesterday's results, and then preview today's matches. ...

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: The Forum Tacoma vs. Sparks Firehouse Deli

In a back and forth match-up pitting two fairly even matched competitors (at least in the eyes of voters, it seems), The Forum Tacoma eked out a win beating Sparks Firehouse Deli by one vote. Did The Forums' two 100-inch televisions play a part? Can't say for certain. What I do know is The Forum Tacoma moves into the Second Round.

Game 2: BITE at Hotel Murano vs. Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que

You won't hear any Southern rock at BITE inside the Hotel Murano, buy you will find a pretty freakin' delicious mac and cheese entrée, at least according to yesterday's vote. BITE grabbed a whoppin' 94 percent of the votes, and moves into the Second Round to battle The Forum Tacoma March 28.

Game 3: Marrow Kitchen + Bar vs. Great American Casino

The Great American Casino in Lakewood gambled on its card games and ample parking to carry them to victory. Are you serious? Marrow, which makes no apologies for food steeped in indulgence, delivered squiggles of meaty, housemade daily cavatellienmeshed in a Mornay sauce and served in a cast iron pot. It's elegance of the re-imagined comfort food. Marrow and its 83 percent of the votes moves into the Second Round.

Game 4: RAM Restaurant & Brewery vs. Southern Kitchen

RAM Restaurant & Brewery has fancy newsletters, delicious burgers and award-winning beer. Get out the elbow macaroni and cheese, Grandma, it's Tournament of Mac and Cheese time! Southern Kitchen has down home Southern cooking ... including delicious mac and cheese - a winning formula, at least according to yesterday's votes. The Sixth Avenue joint grabbed 84 percent of the votes, and a March 28 date with Marrow in Second Round action.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

The Forum Tacoma

BITE

Marrow Kitchen + Bar

Southern Kitchen

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's First Round mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.



Tomorrow's First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: C.I. Shenanigans (3017 Ruston Way, Tacoma) vs. Applebee's (10407 Gravelly Lake Dr. SW, Lakewood)

Game 2: Crown Bar (2705 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Tides Tavern (2925 Harborview Dr., Gig Harbor)

Game 3: Topside Bar and Grill (215 Wilkes St., Steilacoom) vs. Engine House No. 9 (611 N. Pine St., Tacoma)

Game 4: Paesan Kitchen and Bar (1705 Dock St., Tacoma) vs. Southbay Dickerson's BBQ (619 Legion Way NE, Olympia)

At 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

March 21, 2015 at 8:20am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Yesterday's results and Day 3 battles ...

Marrow Kitchen + Bar serves its mac and cheese in a baking pot. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

SATURDAY, MARCH 21: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

Typically, the only metal associated with macaroni and cheese is a post-concert feast from metal musicians. In other mac and cheese metal news, Kraft Foods, the company synonymous with macaroni and cheese, has recalled more than 6 million boxes due to the possibility that they contain small bits of metal. If you have a box of Kraft mac and cheese in your pantry right now and you're wondering if you're about to eat metal for dinner, check the "best when used by" date. The recalled boxes are 7.25 ounces in size and have dates that range from Sept. 18, 2015 through Oct. 11, 2015 and have a "C2" code. Then, slap yourself in the face, and visit one of the 64 South Sound mac and cheese establishments participating in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese (see bracket in the sidebar).

Without further ado, let's take a gander at yesterday's results, and then preview today's matches. ...

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: The Galley at 7 Seas Brewing vs. The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen

The Galley food truck sits outside the 7 Seas Brewing taproom in downtown Gig Harbor with the goal of serving its huge portion of mac and cheese in eight minutes or less. That's a winning formula, at least according to the vote totals in the Tournament of Mac and Cheese. The Galley sunk The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen with 66 percent of the votes, and moves on to the Second round.

Game 2: Bar Bistro vs. BJ's Restaurant

Bar Bistro grabbed 91 percent of the votes over BJ's Restaurant at the Tacoma Mall. Bar Bistro chef Jason Blessum takes fusilli pasta, roasted garlic puree, heavy cream and a balanced blend of smoked cheddar, aged white cheddar, pepper jack, Parmesan, Asiago and Romano cheeses, tops it with bacon bread crumbs, shaved Parmesan, then garnishes it with grape tomatoes and basil oil. BJ's wall of televisions blasting the basketball tournament apparently doesn't have a mac and cheese that can compete with Bar Bistro's A game.

Game 3: The Valley vs. Half Pint Pizza Pub

In yesterday's closest battle, The Valley edged out Half Pint Pizza Pub with 53 percent of the votes. Both joints serve tasty mac and cheese, worthy craft beer and rockin' tunes. No hocus pocus, just focus from the folks at The Valley, who converted their Port of Tacoma afternoon crowd into votes.

Game 4: Pacific Grill vs. Tugboat Annie's

Pacific Grill quickly comes to the lips of many when discussing the best food in the South Sound. So, perhaps it isn't a surprise that the fine-dining restaurant in downtown Tacoma won handily, kicking Tugboat Annie's to the dock while garnering a respectable 71 percent of the vote. Pacific Grill moves into the Second Round to face The Valley March 27.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

The Galley at 7 Seas Brewing

Bar Bistro

The Valley

Pacific Grill

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's First Round mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.



Tomorrow's First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: Harmon Brewery & Eatery (1938 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. McNamara's Pub & Eatery (1595 Wilmington Dr., DuPont)

Game 2: Over The Moon Café (709 Opera Alley, Tacoma) vs. Quickie Too (1324 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Tacoma)

Game 3: Westside Tavern (1815 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia) vs. The Swiss Restaurant & Pub (1904 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma)

Game 4: El Gaucho (2119 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. Panera Bread (5606 Lakewood Towne Center Dr., Lakewood)

At 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

March 20, 2015 at 8:14am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: Yesterday's results, today's First Round games ...

Pacific Grill's Mexi Mac + Cheese (pictured) faces off with Tugboat Annie's radiatore pasta mac and cheese today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

FRIDAY, MARCH 20: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

Following on the successful heels of the Weekly Volcano's 2014 Tournament of Burgers, we present a new NCAA Basketball tournament-like event.  We're hosting daily games that pit one restaurant against another, leaving it to you, the reader, to decide the final outcomes all the way down to a final four and then a grand championship. (For newbie readers, Olympia's Westside Tavern edged out Tacoma's Maxwell's Restaurant in the final seconds of last year's Tournament of Burgers.) 

This year, we pit 64 South Sound restaurants offering the ultimate comfort food - macaroni and cheese.

Without further ado, let's take a gander at yesterday's results, and then preview today's matches. ...

Yesterday's Results

Game 1: STINK Cheese & Meat vs. Penny's on the Blvd.

STINK Cheese & Meat stuck to the winning formula: a mac and cheese roux of mild and sharp cheddar with a quarter stick of cream cheese, which helps bind it together. STINK's weekly rotating gourmet mac and cheese dishes are complex and textbook perfect, whether it's a truffle version or the fun cheeseburger mac and cheese. This foundation can grabs wins alone, but STINK dropped a bomb on Penny's on the Blvd. when the Tacoma Triangle District über deli announced their converting their neighboring wine bar into a Spanish Tapas restaurant. BAM! STINK dominated from start to finish, grabbing 82 percent of the votes, and a trip to the Second Round.

Game 2: Sorci's Italian Café vs. Doyle's Public House

Sorci's Italian Café is a quaint spot nestled in downtown Sumner, with beautiful outdoor seating on their back patio, and at night, its interior is the center of romance with dim lighting, candles and soft music in the background. Doyle's Public House has Jameson Irish whiskey ... oh, and delicious mac and cheese. The United Kingdom-style pub put the dispsy-doo double-a-roo on Sorci's, securing 85 percent of the votes from way at the end of the stovetop, BANG! Doyle's will face STINK in Second Round action March 27.

Game 3: The Hub vs. Viva Tacoma

A veteran of the Weekly Volcano's food tournaments, The Hub channeled its experience and put the hurt on vegetarian restaurant Viva Tacoma in Thursday's First Round action. Grabbing 71 percent of the votes, the Stadium District pizza and beer hub dominated the stove the entire game, only letting up slightly when Viva unleashed a whole bunch of texturized vegetable protein. The Hub moves into the Second Round.

Game 4: Boathouse 19 vs. Red Robin

Boathouse 19 grabbed Red Robin by the beak and kicked them out of the nest with a whopping 97 percent of the votes. Boathouse 9 moves to the Second Round, facing The Hub March 27.

Let's weed through the cheese. The following are advancing to the Second Round:

STINK Cheese & Meat

Doyle's Public House

The Hub

Boathouse 19

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's First Round mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.




Tomorrow's First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: The Forum Tacoma (815 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. Sparks Firehouse Deli (621 5th St., Puyallup)

Game 2: BITE at Hotel Murano (1320 Broadway, Tacoma) vs. Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que (1901 S. 72nd St., Tacoma)

Game 3: Marrow Kitchen + Bar (2717 Sixth Ave., Tacoma) vs. Great American Casino (10117 S. Tacoma Way, Lakewood)

Game 4: RAM Restaurant & Brewery (10019 59th Ave. SW, Lakewood) vs. Southern Kitchen (1716 Sixth Ave., Tacoma)

At 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

March 19, 2015 at 7:59am

Tournament of Mac and Cheese: First Round Battles ...

Fifteenth seed Red Robin (pictured) takes on second seed Boathouse 19 in Tournament of Mac and Cheese action today. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

THURSDAY, MARCH 19: FOUR MAC AND CHEESE GAMES ON THE DOCKET >>>

It's March ... meaning Madness is in the air. Sixty-four well-oiled competitors (for the most part) will tip off and do battle - working their way through the tediously constructed bracket and toward ultimate supremacy.

We speak, of course, of the Weekly Volcano's Tournament of Mac and Cheese, which kicks off today. This year's Tournament of Mac and Cheese marks the continuation of an epic winning streak that began in 2010 with the Volcano's Tournament of Tacos, and continued with our Tournament of Pizza, Tournament of Breakfast, Tournament of Sandwiches and Tournament of Burgers.

This year, the tradition continues. The Volcano has the South Sound's best mac and cheese in its crosshairs, and it's up to readers to decide who walks away the winner.

Beginning today, 64 cheesy competitors (some baked) will tip off and do battle - working their way through the tediously constructed bracket and toward ultimate supremacy. Only one can be crowned king - so vote DAILY right here on our Served in the South Sound blog. Use the bracket to your righ to guide you through the matchups.

Then, at 6 p.m. Monday, April 6, join us at McNamara's Pub & Eatery in DuPont for the Official Tournament of Mac and Cheese Party - our winner will be announced during halftime of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championship game.

The daily mac and cheese battles here on Served in the South Sound are sponsored by BITE Restaurant & Bar inside the Hotel Murano.

OK, let's check out today's First Round mac and cheese battles. Vote for one mac and cheese dish per battle. Voting for today's mac and cheese battles ends at 11:45 p.m.




Tomorrow's First Round Mac and Cheese Battles

Game 1: The Galley at 7 Seas Brewing (3006 Judson St., Gig Harbor) vs. The Rock Wood Fired Kitchen (1920 Jefferson Ave., Tacoma)

Game 2: Bar Bistro (1718 99th St. E., Tacoma) vs. BJ's Restaurant (4502 S. Steele St. Tacoma)

Game 3: The Valley (1206 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma) vs. Half Pint Pizza Pub (2710 Sixth Ave., Tacoma)

Game 4: Pacific Grill (1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma) vs. Tugboat Annie's (2100 W. Bay Dr. NW, Olympia)

March 18, 2015 at 11:49am

Taste Gig Harbor this weekend

Morso Wine Bar will serve its morsels at the Taste of Gig Harbor March 21. Photo courtesy of Facebook

There's a troll that lives under the bridge. He grimaces and holds me for ransom, then gobbles up my money every time I try to return home to Tacoma. Well, I mean, there isn't, but there may as well be. It's that damn toll. The toll makes Gig Harbor seem like some far off rumored land when really it's just a hop away. This is precisely why the Taste of Gig Harbor wasn't even a blip on my radar, and for that I feel ashamed. How could I have missed this fundraising celebration of Gig Harbor's culinary prowess and sense of community?

Gig Harbor is full of delectable and diverse dining options including fine dining digs The Green.House, burger joint Blazing Onion, classy Morso Wine Bar, exotic eats at Moctezuma's and Gateway to India, neighborhood restaurant and bar The Hub at Gig Harbor, neighborhood digs at Tides Tavern, golf-guru-go-to Canterwood Golf and Country Club and even culinary academic institute Bates Technical College, all of which have or are participating in this year's Taste of Gig Harbor's festivities on March 21.

The idea is that participating establishments set up kiosks along Tacoma Narrows Airport, and attendees choose which grub to nibble - or which libations to sip; count Heritage Distilling Company among the sponsors, which means you'll find something to pair perfectly with everything, regardless of what cuisine you choose. While noshing and sipping, take in live and silent auctions, a wine game and raffles, and mingle with fellow community minded folks. Proceeds benefit the Gig Harbor Rotary Club. That means warm fuzzies and a full belly plus, if you're lucky, prized booty won from bidding done well.

Now in its 24th year, Taste of Gig Harbor is in the business of fundraising while also bringing people together over the one thing that has successfully brought people together for eons: food. This is likely the reason why the festivities serve as the club's largest fundraising event of the year, because there is nothing more in this world that will bring the masses together better than food, drink and a worthy cause.

Founded in 1974, the Rotary has been standing true to the "service above self" motto while its members invest their time in deeds like placing Connie's Clock at the Bogue Viewing Platform in Gig Harbor's Finholm District, rebuilding the Orthopedic Guild that benefits Mary Bridge Children's hospital, building the public restrooms and pavilion in Skansie Brothers Park, and refurbishing and donating the Midway School building to the Gig Harbor History Museum. This is work that takes passion, vision and dollars.

So use this as an excuse to urban spelunk in our sister city, which is just a short drive over the bridge along with a million dollar toll (OK, OK, it's only $5.50), and dine on some good grub for a good cause.

TASTE OF GIG HARBOR, 5:30-10 p.m., Saturday, March 21, Tacoma Narrows Airport, 1188 26th Ave. NW, Gig Harbor, tasteofgigharbor.com

March 18, 2015 at 7:13am

Eat This Now: Legendary Doughnuts

The Oprah is front and center, of course, at Legendary Doughnuts in Tacoma.

There are many reasons I will never be a fit person. It could have just about everything to do with my aversion to the gym. Aside from not particularly loving the whole sweaty hot mess thing, it often smells like the bog of eternal stench AND I have never really gotten the, "you feel so much better when you're done!" Uh, no, I can't say that I do.

Aside from the whole gym business I can list off a few others that I consider my kryptonite, in no particular order: burgers, whiskey and doughnuts. My Eat This Now recommendation today: anything from Legendary Doughnuts. I say anything, because you can't go wrong; just pick your poison. These donuts are so delectable it's almost perverse and requires a rating like you're going to the movies:

(L) = Legendary: our signature with fancy toppings and fillings;

(F) = Famous: simpler toppings;

(A) = Amateur: plain with glaze or frosting;

(D) = Doughsant: doughnut croissant - filled, topped or plain.

My son goes right for the Oprah, a simple enough concoction resembling a maple bar topped with bacon crumbles. A ginormous maple bar topped with bacon. My daughter digs the fruity flavors and digs the Blueberry Cheescake with blueberry filling and cream cheese topping. I admire the Bill Cosby. Though personally he is experiencing some tribulations, the doughnut that bears his moniker only has to worry about being devoured as it is filled with chocolate crème pudding.

Other fun flavors include the Elvis (peanut butter and banana chips), Captain Jack Sparrow (rum frosting and chocolate drizzle) and Bill Gates - which is RICH.

What you can't see is me typing this, slack jawed and salivating a'la Homer Simpson. 

LEGENDARY DOUGHNUTS, 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2602 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.327.1327

Filed under: Eat This Now, Tacoma, Sweets,

March 17, 2015 at 1:42pm

Wingman Brewers and The Rusty Cleavers collaborate on Old Plank Pils, release it Friday

The Rusty Cleavers with Wingman Brewers' founders Ken Thoburn (center) and Daniel Heath plan the Old Plank Pils party. Photo courtesy of Kyle Peirson/Facebook

Friday night I'm headed to the happiest place on Earth - and no, I don't mean Disneyland, which calls itself "The Happiest Place on Earth" because it has bathrooms cleaner than yours will ever be and employees who are happier than you'll ever be ... unless you contract the measles.

No, to reach the happiest place on Earth I won't even have to leave Tacoma, because Wingman Brewers is a hop, skip and stumble away from the Tacoma Dome. The Tacoma brewery will introduce the Old Plank Pils to the world, a beer head brewer Ken Thoburn and crew brewed especially for Tacoma punkgrass band The Rusty Cleavers.

Several reasons factored in Thoburn's decision to make The Rusty Cleavers his muse. First, bluegrass screams beer. You see, back in the day in the deep South the bluegrass musicians played in church halls and school auditoriums, but that changed as the musicians eventually made their way up North and pushed opened the bar doors. Instead of just playing those nostalgic songs about the cabin on the hill and mother's grave, they started adapting drinking and cheating songs from mainstream country and arranging them for bluegrass. How could they not? The urban bars in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Chicago were tough places full of tough people. When you walked in the door, you walked onto a floor of sticky beer and into a cloud of cigarette smoke. Bluegrass wasn't meant to be sterile and healthy. It was meant for working class and beer joints.

>>> The Rusty Cleavers, from left, Forest Beutel, Zach Bernard, Luke Sumerfield and Kevin Shintaku, will perform at Wingman brewers Friday, March 20. Photo courtesy of Kyle Peirson/Facebook

The Rusty Cleavers is a working class kind of band, combining the world bluegrass, punk and beer magnificently - with all manner of mandolin, banjo and backyard clatter coming together in a cacophony of spirited group-singing and hoops and hollers. The band writes rowdy songs. They take their musical influences - folk, country and bluegrass - and punk them up. They add growls, and serve them with a cold Wingman beer.

The second reason why Thoburn and The Rusty Cleavers collaborated has more merit than the music genre. The Wingman head brewer and the punkgrass band share roots in the Tacoma neighborhood of Parkland. Thoburn is a Pacific Lutheran University alum, the university where The Rusty Cleavers were Big Bluegrass on Campus. Cleavers' bassist Zach Bernard and washboard/percussionist Luke Sumerfield shared classrooms with Thoburn. A mini college reunion was held when Thoburn attended The Rusty Cleavers' recent "Cave Sessions" recording, a live, in-studio performance produced by MountainHouse Recordings in Tacoma.

"During a Cave Sessions break, Ken asked us if we would be interested in working on a beer collaboration," says Forest Beutel, banjoist with The Rusty Cleavers. "We were like, ‘Uhhh ... YES!'"

"The Rusty Cleavers guys came up with the pilsner idea and the name Old Plank Pils after their song 'Old Plank Road'," says Thoburn. "They're big pilsner fans so we made it happen."

"Old Plank Road" is a drinking anthem.

"It seemed appropriate to name a beer after one of our drinking songs," adds Beutel. 

Indeed it does.

The Old Plank Pils, or OPP as Thoburn called it, is a straight up no frills kind of pilsner. The malt bill is almost entirely pils malt, which has a continental European color and quality to it despite being grown locally. 

"We use US Saaz hops, which are a variety originally from the Czech Republic," explains Thoburn. "The ABV is 4.8 percent and the IBU is slightly under 30, which puts it right in the middle of the stylistic guidelines. For those who do enjoy craft beer the OPP is a super refreshing pils that is awesome for those days when your palette is worn out from imperial stouts, IPSs or sours. We feel like the beer is something people who don't normally drink craft beer can get behind for the sake of supporting the YWCA and drinking local. It's the perfect backyard barbecue or bluegrass kitchen party kind of beer."

YWCA?

The Old Plank Pils will be released Friday at Wingman Brewers. The Rusty Cleavers will sing drinking songs, with 25 percent of the proceeds benefitting the YWCA Pierce County.

"We see the YWCA doing a lot great things in our community and the guys from The Rusty Cleavers identified them as the group they wanted to benefit from the beer collaboration," says Thoburn. 

The Old Plank Pils pegs Wingman's second band-beer-benefit collaboration. Last year, Wingman teamed up with local reggae band Mighty High to produce the Mighty HighPA. The musicians picked Elements of Education as the benefitting organization. This year, The Rusty Cleavers chose the YWCA. And, just like last year, 10 percent of all sales of the beer will benefit the nonprofit organization.

"So drink up!" stresses Beutel.

The Old Plank Pils release party will begin at 8 p.m., with the band hitting the planks at 8:30 p.m. for a two-hour performance. I can guarantee you Wingman Brewers will be the happiest place on Earth that night ... and the bathroom is cleaner than yours.

OLD PLANK PILS RELEASE PARTY, w/The Rusty Cleavers, 8 p.m., Friday, March 20, Wingman Brewers, 509 1/2 Puyallup Ave, Tacoma, no cover, 253.256.5240

March 13, 2015 at 10:56am

Words & Photos: Deschutes Brewery Beer & Food Pairing Dinner at The Swiss

The March 11 Deschutes Brewery beer-pairing dinner was a lively, delicious night to remember. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Beer may not match wine when it comes to finding a place at the dinner table, but in the South Sound it's encouraging to see so many restaurants with great beer selections - including The Swiss Restaurant and Pub in downtown Tacoma. With its range of malty sweetness, hoppy bitterness, spiciness and yeasty-earthiness, beer offers endless pairing opportunities for meals. That range was front and center Wednesday night at the Deschutes Brewery Beer & Food Pairing Dinner at The Swiss.

Egged on by Erik Dahlin of Marine View Beverage, Washington state market manager for Deschutes Brewery Norm Cartwright put on a show. I speak not of the giant vertical banners, wall banners, ceiling spotlight, swag bags and pint glasses filled with goodies. Rather, Cartwright knows beer inside and out - from the hop fields to the correct glassware - and certainly knows his beloved Deschutes Brewery. He delivered a plethora of information in boisterous soliloquies. He worked the room, and his audience of 45 beer drinkers halted their reality food show and metal band discussions to zero in on Cartwright as if he controlled the beer, which, of course, he did. Cartwright chose the beer - from his brewery's popular Black Butte Potter, Mirror Pond Pale Ale and Deschutes' current number one selling beer, Fresh Squeezed AIP - two special treats, such as Red Chair North West Pale Ale on Nitro, Not the Stoic Belgian Quad and The Abyss Stout, which Swiss owner Jack McQuade bought in November specifically for Wednesday night's beer-pairing dinner. In fact, McQuade bought the first ever keg of The Abyss before it reached legendary status, therefore McQuade is on the A List. Jacob Thacker controlled the kitchen. And with help from Joe Straight, the two kept smiles on their audience of 45 ... while 30 elementary school kids danced and laughed past the kitchen during a fundraiser.

As diners rolled into The Swiss, they were handed a Weizen glass full of Black Butte Porter, Deschutes' second ever beer brewed (Jubelale was the first) and flagship product out of the Bend, Oregon, brewery. Made with Pale, Carapils, Chocolate, Crystal and wheat malts, along with Cascade, Bravo and Tettnang hops, Black Butte Porter is the number one porter in the U.S. by volume.

Situated between the table of Cartwright, Dahlin and their better halves and the cool kids table of Robbie Peterson (Eleven Eleven, The Valley, The Galley at 7 Seas Brewing), Carolyn Warner, Jason Kennedy (Severus, South 11th bands) and his wife, Julie Goodale Kennedy, I concentrated on the task, giving occasional nods and smiles to conceal my nerdiness.

Up next was a roasted cauliflower salad, with chickpeas, carrots and sunflower seeds in a tangy citrus dressing to carry us through from the Black Butte Porter. The ample, savory chickpeas were cooked perfectly. Mirror Pond Pale Ale's floral scents and underlying citrus profile synchronized very well with the citrus dressing that packed a little heat, thanks to Oregon-grown Cascade hops.

A cheese and chareuterie plate followed the garden course. A wonderful port cheese was the highlight, dominating over the havarti and cheddar. Shaved salami accompanied the cheeses, as did delicious housemade beer bread baked with the course's beer - the Red Chair North West Pale Ale Nitro, a fine beer for cutting lightly through flavors without intrusion. Cartwright explained the Red Chair, named after the oldest chair at Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort, launches Deschutes' seasonals for the year, making room for the summer seasonal ales at the end of May. Like its namesake ski lift, it's an insider's ride to fresh thrills - several select European and domestic malts, which take a surprisingly plush, satin run on the way to a citrusy, refreshing hop kick. The beer takes an even larger malt stand and creamier, big head due to the higher-pressure nitro push.

"Drop your nose into the glass and take a sniff - three short sniffs and one long one - to really draw out that wonder aroma before taking a sip," Cartwright suggested.  The whole room drops their heads toward the heads. "We use only two hops in this beer. First, Cascade - Deschutes is the number one user of Cascade hops, and Centennial."

For our main course, we met up with a mouthwateringly delicious Fresh Squeezed IPA with a heavy helping of Citra and Mosaic hops, paired with poached sole roulade over a lemon chive risotto, and finished with a velute. As a stage for Fresh Squeezed to do its thing, the main course did just fine. There was enough bitterness to cleanse the grilled tones of the sole, and the fragrant, fresh-tasting risotto was tops.

Dessert could have stopped at The Abyss Stout. The 2014 vintage of this annually anticipated obsidian number is smooth as silk, with lovely notes of cocoa and a nose that's akin to the first inhale of a tobacco shop. Appropriately, we were served chocolate stout mousse layered with double chocolate fudge brownie crumble topped with a berry Melba sauce. A number of my fellow diners noted that they liked this course the most, and I can't say I disagree.

As the group broke into group hugs, Deschutes' Not the Stoic Belgian Quad signaled it was time to turn to the stage for jazz saxophonist Kareem Kandi's band. This beer is as good as it is rare. It's aged 11 months in premium oak casks that are 15 percent Pinot Noir and 15 percent rye whiskey. Licorice, blackstrap molasses, vanilla bean and cherry paired well with the music.

Filed under: New Beer Column, Tacoma,

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