Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

Posts made in: 'Condemn or Allow?' (11) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 11

March 2, 2015 at 12:15pm

Girl Scout cookies culinary genius or madness? Y/N?

Girl School Samoas with peanut butter and bacon ... condemn or allow?

It's that wonderful time of year where lovely little cookie sprites tempt us with colorful boxes of indulge-worthy and addictive cookie magic.

Hello, Girl Scouts and hello cookie joy!

And as we all pick up our favorites from our friendly local girl scouts, the boxes are torn open with one's teeth while driving away and partially or completely (depending on mood, but typically the latter) devoured. By the time one hits ones driveway, the box carcasses litter the backseat and crumbs imbed themselves in ones skin.

Well, that's how I roll anyway.

And while most of us eat their favorites just straight up, Tacoman Dave Lepore has other ideas.

A self-described newbie to the Girl Scout cookies craze (he only started buying them five years ago), he fell hard like most. And like many of us, he definitely has his favorites: Samoas® are number one (crisp cookies coated in caramel topped with toasted coconut and dark chocolate drizzle) and Lemonades® come in at number two (shortbread cookies with lemon icing).

But unlike most of us, Lepore takes the cookies to the next level, particularly his beloved Samoas®.

"A few years ago I was eating Samoas® and thought they would be great with peanut butter," says Lepore. "(I) topped one with peanut butter and it was good. Tossed another Samoas® on top of that, making a Samoas® peanut butter cookie sandwich thing and it was perfect."

He didn't stop there.

"I moved on to creating a home version of (Dairy Queen) Blizzards®, using Girl Scout cookies," explains Lepore. "My favorite Blizzard® creation is two Samoas® crushed, vanilla ice cream from Ice Cream Social, a scoop of peanut butter powder, PB2, and drizzle in a little chocolate syrup. I mix that in a small blender and it's perfect."

So, how the hell do you improve on perfection?

Enter Girl Scout cookies season 2015.

Lepore just unveiled his latest creation on social media.

"Last night, I decided that the Samoas® with peanut butter was missing something. Bacon," grins Lepore. "On a whim, I decided to top the Samoas® with peanut butter and bacon. It is amazing. It's a great mix of sweet, peanut buttery goodness with the salty crunch of bacon. My mother makes an apple pie with a bacon topped crust. Similar results.

"And no I am not pregnant. I know it looks like pregnant food."

Besides having to assure friends and family that he wasn't indeed with child, what was the reaction?

When Lepore uploaded the photo of his experiment on his Facebook page and Imgur, the responses flew fast and furious:

"Stoner cooking at its best",

"I hate you so bad",

"After eating that, I'd definitely want samoa".

He's not done either. He's got another experiment planned with the Lemonades®, but no solid plans.


November 13, 2014 at 12:14pm

Aaron's Behavior: Chef Aaron Grissom on Top Chef, Episode 5

A scene from "Top Chef" Episode 5 featuring Chef Aaron Grissom. Photos courtesy of Bravo TV/

Aaron Grissom, of Bravo TV's competition reality show Top Chef, reigns from a little town that spells itself with a big-ass T: Tacoma, Washington. Chef Aaron Grissom ran the kitchen at Dirty Oscar's Annex on Tacoma's Sixth Avenue, before leaving to cook in L.A. Anyone who has worked with Chef Aaron knows his moments - his good days and his bad days. They've seen him at his most inappropriate, when he's trying really hard to not blow shit up, and when he's just simply had it with whatever server/line cook/manager is in his face. These tell-all personality traits are interesting to watch on an obviously well edited reality television program. Every Thursday, I recap Bravo TV's Top Chef and rate Chef Aaron's behavior on the previous night's episode. I call the series "Aaron's Behavior." I've also turned the show into a drinking game (natch). I call the game the Grissom Gulp. Viewers must take one sip for every profanity word uttered out of Aaron's mouth, and two shots for that "eat shit" grin.

Top Chef, Season 12, Episode 5

This week's episode of Bravo TV's Top Chef starts us out with the chefs together in their resident kitchen, all hanging out amicably. Chef Katsuji is ribbing the other chefs, Chef Doug Adams states that having Katsuji around is like having a little brother, and Chef Aaron Grissom is even caught laughing at Katsuji's shenanigans. The episode looks promising that perhaps they will be focusing on another chef as being the star asshole, possibly taking a little heat off our boy Aaron. Remember, it's all up to the show's editors and how they want the chefs to be perceived. 

In the quick fire challenge the chefs are paired up, head-to-head, to compete and make their dishes. Katsuji is first up and picks Aaron as his immediate competitor. Aaron chooses smoked salmon as the dish he and Katsuji must prepare in this battle, a brilliant choice it seems as Aaron reigns from the Pacific Northwest, land of all things salmon. At this point, Grissom Gulp players, we have no drinks for you.  The show has not highlighted Aaron's foul chef-mouth as it usually does. Hell, Chef Mei is throwing the adult verbiage out more than anyone.

The judges circle the room, tasting dish after dish, finally getting to Katsuji's and Aaron's smoked salmon plates. Katsuji has created a sake-infused chipotle broth with smoked jalapeños and salmon, which sounds absolutely divine. I love anything smoked, and anything jalapeño. The rest of this fantastic sounding dish is just extra frosting on the jalapeño cupcake.


November 6, 2014 at 1:59pm

Aaron's Behavior: Following Chef Aaron Grissom on Top Chef, Episode 4

A scene from "Top Chef" Episode 4 with Chef Aaron Grissom highlighted on the far right. Photos courtesy of Bravo TV/

Before I review last night's Top Chef, I'd like to take a moment to make a statement. I write this column not just because the Weekly Volcano pays me in premium vodka, but also because Aaron Grissom is a friend, a past co-worker at Dirty Oscar's Annex on Tacoma's Sixth Avenue and a fabulous chef whom I support. I call him an asshole and poke fun at his demeanor because of those three reasons. I rib him as I would any friend. In reality, there are some things about Aaron Grissom that Top Chef viewers may not know due to the fact that this show is so obviously edited to highlight drama and conflict.

Chef Aaron is utterly and completely passionate about food. He works hard, really hard, often 16 hours a day - only to go home for a couple of hours, nap, and come right back to work because he dreamt of a great menu idea and was dying to work it out. His heart and love for food is what drives him to be so cutting edge and self-taught in the culinary world. I could only imagine what it feels like to be so driven, work so hard, get so little sleep and then push yourself to become even better. ... You have to break every once in a while and let that passion out - sometimes by yelling at those around you.

It's a worldly fact that pretty much every chef is an asshole. Aaron Grissom is not the first, nor the only one that has ever been in the Top Chef spotlight for not getting along with his contestant counterparts.

In closing to my brief diatribe, I'd like to quote one of Aaron Grissom's closest friends, former boss and owner of Tacoma restaurant Happy Belly, Jennifer Johnson:

"Even after a 14-hour day, he made time to listen to the guys that worked for him. ... They'd tell him their family troubles, etc. He checked on sick friends, was in tune with people's moods and feelings around him and always - and I do mean always - asked how he could help, what he could do to lighten the load, help them be happy. Aaron would give up his shift meal in order to give it to a local homeless boy who would walk through the restaurant's alley on a regular basis."

So don't always believe the Top Chef television editors, TMZ or even Santa when they cast a negative glow on a television reality star. But, what you can believe is that even after this show ends, Chef Aaron Grissom is still a good guy with a kind heart, and I am still going to throw him under the bus with this column known as Aaron's Behavior. Let's drink!

Aaron's Behavior: Top Chef, Season 12, Episode 4

Grissom Gulp participants, within the 30 seconds of Top Chef, Episode Four, you should have had three drinks. Damn that Grissom and his foul mouth!

Still in the opening sequence, Chef Keriann goes into her room, upset that she misses her family. I totally get it. This is the part where I actually start to like her and think to myself how Chef Aaron's probably deserved the verbal punches that flew from Keriann's mouth. Let's just hope she keeps it shut and behaves. Weekly Volcano doesn't have enough premium vodka to pay me for writing "Keriann's Behavior".

For the quick fire challenge, the chefs asked to head over to Boston's notorious bar, Cheers, which inspired the '80s television situation comedy, Cheers. George Wendt, aka "Norm", takes his regular seat upon a corner barstool and is a guest judge next to the beautiful Padma. The chefs are asked to make their own delicious bar dish set to impress both Padma and George.

Chef Aaron makes his famous burger topped with peanut butter, mayo, bacon and a fried egg. Tacomans know this burger. They love this burger. They eat this burger. They breathe this burger.  It's bar food at its best. George and Padma agree and Aaron slides through the middle, neither on top of the winners or bottom of the losers.

Fortunately, Chef Gregory (winner of the past two elimination challenges) had some equilibrium issues and dropped the toppings to his dish, so his food was served incomplete. Chef Katsuji squeezes in for the win with a beautiful mahi-mahi ceviche accented with lime and a jalapeño-laden salsa. I want this. Now.

Teams of three must create a menu for this episode's double elimination challenge, and besides Chef Aaron's brash behavior in the kitchen, the evening runs smoothly. Aaron is teamed up with Katsuji and Gregory, and immediately Gregory labels himself something of a babysitter, seeing as how Katsuji and Aaron have a volatile history, according to television editing.

Aaron, Katsuji and Gregory are the quintessential dream team of this double elimination challenge and sail through with impeccable menu items such as seared scallops, homemade ravioli and peppercorn strip loin.  During this kitchen and serving sequence, Aaron swears only four times, gives that eat-shit grin zero times, and argues with Katsuji minimally. With that, Grissom Gulp participants, drink!

Ultimately, Aaron's team pulls out the "win" and come out of this one unscathed. Unfortunately Aaron's pal, Chef James Rigato, is sent home on charges of making a flavorless seafood salad. Chef Rebecca LaMalfa was also eliminated for making something really boring, which suits her personality because she is quite possibly one of the most forgettable contestants this season. 


Who is Chef Aaron Grissom, and what's up with the Grissom Gulp drinking game?

October 30, 2014 at 5:55pm

Aaron's Behavior: Rating Chef Aaron Grissom's performance on Top Chef, Episode 3

A scene from "Top Chef" Episode 3 with Chef Aaron Grissom highlighted on the far right. Photos courtesy of Bravo TV/

Aaron Grissom, of Bravo TV's competition reality show Top Chef, reigns from a little town that spells itself with a big-ass T: Tacoma, Washington. Chef Aaron Grissom ran the kitchen at Dirty Oscar's Annex on Tacoma's Sixth Avenue, before leaving to cook in L.A. Anyone who has worked with Chef Aaron knows his moments - his good days and his bad days. They've seen him at his most inappropriate, when he's trying really hard to not blow shit up, and when he's just simply had it with whatever server/line cook/manager is in his face. These tell-all personality traits are interesting to watch on an obviously well edited reality television program. Every Thursday, I recap Bravo TV's Top Chef and rate Chef Aaron's behavior on the previous night's episode. I call the series "Aaron's Behavior." I've also turned the show into a drinking game (natch). I call the game the Grissom Gulp. Viewers must take one sip for every profanity word uttered out of Aaron's mouth, and two shots for that "eat shit" grin.

Top Chef, Season 12, Episode 3

Opening scene - chefs in the stew room - and right off the bat Bravo TV highlights an interaction between our very own Tacoma asshole, Chef Aaron Grisson, and good ol' Chef Ron Eyester. Whether it was taken out of context or not, the television "Editing Gods" (let's call them Laverne & Shirley) make it appear as though Ron Eyester is blaming Aaron for the departure of Chef Joy Crump at last week's elimination.

Aw, hell, it wasn't editing at all; Eyester actually implies that last week's immature spat between Chef Keriann VonRaesfeld and Grissom was the reason Crump went home. Rightfully so, Chef Aaron defends himself and calls bullshit on Crump's accusations. I love how these people are quick to say Aaron is "blowing up" at people when in actuality they have NO IDEA what excellent behavior Aaron has been exhibiting. Good job, Aaron.

After the Top Chef opening bumper, Chef Aaron gets a sweet little bio highlight that lets you peek into a window of why he comes off as such an asshole. In the bio, Aaron states that he is working with Bow & Truss in L.A. This is false. Currently Chef Aaron is looking to return back up toward Seattle and would love to meet a sexy restaurant wanting to hook up with a great, creative chef. So, to all Tacoma/Seattle area restaurants: Holla!

The first quick-fire is a sudden death elimination, and the Editing Gods (L&S) prepare us for Aaron's miserable monkfish cheek display by showcasing his lack of monkfish knowledge and ultimately his panicked cooking style. Aaron's competitors are caught on film voicing their disdain for Chef Aaron and wishes for him to be sent home.

Well, the masses got their wish - sort of.

Chef Aaron loses the quick-fire challenge and immediately picks Chef Katie Weinner to compete head-to-head against in another challenge, all in order to save his life. If Katie wins, Aaron goes home. If Aaron wins, they both stay.

Grissom Gulp tally: Three drinks for foul language, six drinks for that eat-shit Aaron Grissom smirk.

In a tense battle, Chef Katie Weinner chooses to cook a predictable, boring tomato pasta dish while Chef Aaron steps it up and gets creative with a puréed shrimp noodle. My guess is since Chef Katie looks like the rat from the movie Ratatouille, that she was inspired to cook something Euro with a tomato base. 

New Grissom Gulp rule: Let's just go ahead and say that for the rest of the season, whenever Chef Katie cooks something with a tomato base we all have to drink. If she cooks the actual ratatouille dish, we all do 30-second keg stands - because we're mature like that.

Chef Katie tells the camera that she thinks Chef Aaron is immature and that she would hate to lose to him. More competitors speak about rooting for Katie, and most would love to see Aaron pack his bags. Dude, Aaron, they don't like you. What the hell did you do to these people?

For the main elimination challenge, Top Chef contestants must create a dish using either peanuts, popcorn, fried dough, cotton candy or pretzels. They will then serve the judges on the field of Boston's Fenway Park. Chef Aaron chooses pretzels and does a play on hot dogs by crushing the pretzels and creating a "bun" while filling it with meat. Chef Aaron receives mostly positive reviews and fans are relieved that he appears to be in the safe zone as there are chefs with worse criticism for their dishes. Part of that made me smile: Chef Keriann gets blasted and becomes one of the bottom three chefs up for elimination.

Back in the stew room, before the judges make their elimination decision, Chef Aaron is asked to reflect on his meal by one of the other chefs. As Aaron answers the question, Chef Katsuji Tanabe is a disrespectful turd who consistently mutters under his breath while interrupting Chef Aaron as he speaks. Again, Aaron sticks up for himself and all of the sudden he's the bad guy.

During this brief, yet heated exchange between Katsuji and Aaron, Grissom Gulp participants should have counted FIVE times Aaron saying the "F word". Wow. That was an impressive amount of profanity and I, for one, am impressed. Grissom Gulp tally: At least 10.

Ultimately, good ol' Chef Ron gets the boot and is sent packing his knives for an odd popcorn soup accented with a fish ball.

After this week's episode, I've noticed a few things. First, I am reminded of Top Chef Season Two's Chef Marcel Vigneron. Much like Chef Aaron, Marcel is also from the Seattle area (Bainbridge Island), a chef who is cutting edge with cooking techniques, height-challenged and was also hated by his peers while often being deemed an "asshole".  Not sure what to make of this coincidence just yet;l we shall see what happens as the season goes on. Maybe Chef Aaron will get his head shaved by the other chefs and come in at second place.

Also, it's apparent that anyone who has conflict with Chef Aaron receives the kiss of death to some degree. All who butted heads with Aaron were in the bottom three this episode including Katsuji, Ron and Keriann (twice). I think I'm on to something with that theory, and with that I'd like to say, "Drink!"

Score of Aaron's Behavior, Episode 3: A-.  I feel as though Chef Aaron has struggled with a lot of hatred from his peers and is doing a good job keeping his cool, minus the one blow up at Katsuji, but that was well deserved. I no longer want him to make me tacos.

Top Chef, Season 12, Episodes 1 and 2 recap

October 23, 2014 at 12:42pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top Chef, Season 12, Episode 1

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

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

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

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

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

Top Chef, Season 12, Episode 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

September 2, 2014 at 11:13am

Washington state ranks 5th in beer, South Sound's Fish and Harmon receive shout-outs

Sucks to be Iowa. Photo courtesy of Thrillist/Jennifer Bui

According to Thrillist, Washington state is the No. 5 state in the nation when it comes to beer.  In fact, Olympia's Fish Brewing and Tacoma's Harmon Brewing Co. even receive shout-outs. Check it:

5. Washington

Washington has long been one of the most formidable beer states, growing the majority of the country's hops and giving hipsters something to drink with Olympia and Rainier, until those breweries sold out like so many grunge bands. We kid, of course, because Washington's home to more than 200 breweries, highlighted by greatness like Seattle's Elysian and Pike, the organic pioneers of Olympia's Fish, Stevenson's powerhouse Homo Erectus-brewing Walking Man, and Tacoma's Harmon. But Washington also achieves greatness with "micro" beers for the masses, brewers like Pyramid and Redhook that bottle inexpensive bombers that help convert the skeptics across the nation to craft beer via the allure of a lower price tag. That, of course, draws the ire of beer snobs...  something that always happens when a local company finds tremendous success. Especially in Seattle. Because popularity is sooooooo lame. But lucky for them, there are enough breweries in the state to let them have a lesser-known go-to pint, and a quality one at that.


C'mon Washington! Let's get after No. 4 Michigan, No. 3 Colorado, No. 2 California and No. 1 Oregon.

September 2, 2014 at 9:53am

Tacoma Original Pancake House Puzzle, Part One: We have Engine House No. 9 ...

It's been confirmed Engine House No. 9 head brewer and master "sour" beer maker Shane Johns didn't have his hand in E9's delicious sourdough pancakes. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

As News Tribune Lifestyle Editor Sue Kidd reported, the Original Pancake House will open in Primo Grill's old home on Sixth Avenue. According to Kidd, the "Sixth Avenue restaurant will be operated by franchise owners Ryan Medford and Blake Williams who opened the South Hill Original Pancake House in June 2009."

Hmmm ...

If you stand in the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Pine Street, next to the spot where the Original Pancake House will open in November, you could fling a pancake and hit six other joints serving breakfast ... six joints that serve a delicious breakfast.

If I were to stand in the middle of the intersection, I wouldn't be able to fling a fatayer and hit another Middle Eastern restaurant, or punt a Pot-au-feu at a bistro, spike aSpiedini alla Siciliana in front of a ristorante, flick a frikadellar, lob a labskaus. ...

When the X Group bought Engine House No. 9 in June 2011, Tacoma woke up and took notice. Having perfected the flavors at Asado and Masa, the X began tweaking E9's menu. The dessert menu received one of the initial changes. E-9 went from serving premade frozen sweet treats to housemade pastries, courtesy of its sister restaurant, Masa. The burgers received a positive makeover. Specialty runs were added, such as Italian week and Greek month. Families showed up to celebrate special occasions, or recap the week over Friday dinner.

Six weeks ago, Tacoma really woke up to E9. The vintage firehouse that has been serving beer for 40 years added a weekend breakfast. Traditional morning fare shares the long, narrow menu with such innovations as Kobe Joe's Special, Jalapeno Popper Quiche, House English Muffin Bread Sandwich and open-faced omelettes.

E9's sourdough pancake breakfast is particularly satisfying with two large, paper thin dark brown beauties with two eggs and a two bacon or two sausage decision (go bacon).

"The sourdough pancakes are quite amazing indeed," says E9 cook Tony Hedstrom. "There isn't any secret ingredient, however there is quite a bit of magic involved, and her name is Julia Hauntz Brown. We are very lucky to have such an amazing pastry chef like her on our team. She also uses her magic to create monolithic cinnamon rolls. She will cook them in batches of eight - because that's all you can fit on the pan at a time and this is done daily because any rolls not sold at breakfast are consumed by the staff."

Hedstrom couldn't pinpoint the most popular breakfast dish so far, as he believes people haven't made their way completely through the menu.

"If I was forced to name a dish right now, though, it would probably be the cheesy home fries side dish. What's not to like about home fries grilled in jalapeno honey butter smothered in cheese and seasoned to perfection?"

For a list of E9 breakfast items, click here.

ENGINE HOUSE NO. 9, breakfast 8 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday, 611 N. Pine St., Tacoma, 253.272.3435

August 9, 2014 at 1:57pm

Beers On Broadway: Brew Five Three live in Tacoma

Full glass pints are waiting for you to fill with beer on Broadway in downtown Tacoma until 8:30 p.m. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner


A beer festival is held on Broadway in downtown Tacoma Saturday, Aug. 9. For full details, click here.


  • Emcee
  • Director Aaron Stevens
  • Brewers
  • Ciderists
  • Mobile Food Trucks Employees
  • Stephanie Anne Johnson
  • The West Coast Women's Blues Revue
  • The Mark Riley Trio
  • Junkyard Jane
  • Beer Drinkers


Washington state breweries in booths line Broadway between Ninth and 11th in downtown Tacoma. A blue music stage sits above in the park next to Theatre on the Square.



Clinking glass noises, band sound check

(Who could, if desired, be a voice over the speaker system for the whole performance.) Step right up, step right up. This way to the fabulous Brew Five Three. Come one, come all, and drink the most amazing beers in the universe. So step this way. And let the show begin!


Drum roll

EMCEE (Singing):

Welcome back my friends to the lines that never ends /
We're so glad you could attend /
Come outside! Come outside!
There in a glass is a real beer from grass /
Be careful as you pass /
Move along! Move along!

Come outside, the show is about to start /
Guaranteed to blow your head apart.
Rest assured you'll get your money's worth /
The greatest show in Two, Five and Three.
You've got to see the show; it's a dynamo.
You've got to see the show' it's rock and ... blueso (had to make it rhyme). ...


Ladeeeeez and G-E-N-T-L-E-M-E-N, and all older than 21. Welcome to the fabulous Brew Five Three! Today, here on Broadway, right before your very eyes, a fabulous array of acts has been assembled for your delight and delectation. Jest with jaunty Washington state brewers ... cry with our cavorting ciderists ... marvel at the magnificent moveable fests ... give a bravo to our blues musicians ... and hold your breath because you're about to taste the best beers in all the land. All this and more before the clock strike 9.

But to start, let's give a big round of applause to the Broadway Center Executive Director David Fischer and his crew for hosting the second annual Brew Five Three. You'll find Fischer checking people in.



Drum roll


1:30 p.m.: I tell you, I've had so many face-lifts, they finally lifted it right off my body! It's true; it's true! Oh, oh, oh! Let's take a look who's strolling the gray pavement and what they are wearing. ...

John and Alyssa are wearing Pacific Brewing & Malting Co. and Pint Defiance, respectively.

Gary is wearing a straw hat with many brewery pins.

Tim is wearing a bear deer beer T-shirt.

Rick is wearing a T-shirt he found on

In case you're wondering, today I'm wearing Target, H&M and some black socks my ex-girlfriend left at my house.

These two guys were laughing so much I don't know who they are or what they are wearing.

Apparently there's a team that makes Rick drink.

Northwest "swampabilly" blues band is performing original music and covers, such as Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On."

Rest easy, Brew Five Three crowd: This man is here to make sure no one runs.

Engine House No. 9 bartender Todd McLaughlin is singing about E9's Nameless #25 IPA with Citra, Centennial, Mosaic and Simcoe hops to the tune of U2's "Where the Street Have No Name." It's drawing a crowd, mostly because the IPA is freakin' hoppy delicious.

2:55 p.m.: The first pint glass breaks. The crowd erupts in cheers.

3 p.m.: It's announced over the Broadway Center's walkie talkie communication system that Tacoma Craft Beer Festival and Washington Brewers Festival tokens are being passed off as Brew Five Three tokens. TOKEN DEFCON is now 2.


Thank you Broadway Center Instagram for all the delicious posts from the Brew Five Three beer festival. Gazing at Broadway Center Marketing Coordinator Mariesa Bus' Instagram posts, I can tell she bases much of her work on Renaissance imagery and brings classical aplomb to her posts.

Lady A of the West Coast Women & Blues Band has just popped into the crowd.

The chemistry between Nat Woodsmith and Elise Woodsmith at the Puyallup River Brewing Co. booth is engaging, although the sometimes breakneck pace at which their extended pours have been directed runs roughshod over punch lines and transitional moments. Nat, in particular, rolls equal parts boyish bounciness and comic mania into his pours, especially his tasty Bourbon Barrel-aged 3 IPA, which rings in at 11 percent ABV. It's all good; they're head brewer and wife.

4:30 p.m.: The comedy portion of Brew Five Three hit the pavement outside the Pantages Theater.

Colin Harvin of 7 Seas Brewing has been performing comedy at beer festivals all summer. He's quick. Clearly, his routines from the 7 Seas' booths showcase that. Although he had moments of focusing on the negative things in his life (which is still always funny), he hits topics such as politics and potholes in Tacoma. He pulls from the world, and he knows what he is talking about. He is amazing and sharp and can work with anything you throw at him, even while pouring the 7 Seas' Depth Finder IRA - a inspired NW style ale that combines the hop profile of an IPA (Columbus, Palisade and Simcoe) with the malt character of a lusciously, smooth Amber ale. Harvin is not joking when he says the IRA has a resinous, bitter finish.

Over at the Amnesia Brewing booth, Brew Five Three Director Aaron Stevens, who believes he broke his foot navigating stairs last night, joined in on a live script reading of the 2006 film Beerfest, about two brothers who travel to Germany for Oktoberfest, only to stumble upon a secret, centuries-old competition described as a Fight Club with beer games. The folks gathered around the Amnesia Brewing booth compared the reading to Amy Schumer's comedy, although the crowd was drinking plenty of delicious Amnesia Trail Hazer Ale, a medium body, floral dry hopped version of its popular Dusty Trail Pale Ale.

5:45 p.m.: The first jumper of the day climbed over the fence at the south end of the festival at 11th Street right into the arms of several volunteers. Without a wrist band and tokens, the jumper felt stupid and left unescorted.

The Mark Riley Trio is pulling people off the beer trail and up onto the concert arena. A guitar craftsman and veteran of such bands as Snake Oil, Little Bill & The Bluenotes and The Mark Whitman Band, Riley and crew are playing blistering blues.

Odd Otter Brewing Co. in downtown Tacoma, a brewery schedule to open within a month, is pouring its Coconut Chai Ale, one of five Otter beers at the Brew Five Three. It's like drinking a porter on a tropical beach not engulfed in a tropical storm, even though the staff clearly would be fun at a beach bar. Bravo!


Drum roll (sustained quietly during the following) - The talk of Brew Five Three is Brickyard Brewing's Southwestern Hatch Green Chili Blonde Ale. The Hatch Green Chili peppers are from New Mexico, providing a subtle heat, making this beer perfect for a pizza. It's amazing, and at 5.2 percent ABV, so drinkable.


It's intermission, ladeeez and gennelmen. Ice Cream Social and beer will be on sale during the interval, and then hurry back to your seats as we bring you further marvels in the Brew Five Three (read: blogger needs a drink).

7 p.m.: Intermission was shattered with the news the sixth pint glass was dropped on Broadway. Once again, cheers erupted.

Intermission is back on. Here's a shot of the Brew Five Three crowd to hold you over until Stephanie Anne Johnson takes the stage. Can you spot the Top Rung Brewing Company founders? Hint: They're in the middle of the shot.

In the late-1980s, Anthrax was part of an MTV contest wherein they would wreak havoc on the winner's home. A few years later, the legendary metal band reprised their role as house destroyers on Married with Children, when Bud Bundy wins dinner and a concert with the band. At best, it was pointless. Guest appearances can go wrong, unless you're Randi Rodgers of The Swiss Restaurant and Pub. Rodgers had the crowd in her palm today guest pulling the taps at the Seattle Cider Co. booth at Brew Five Three.

Stephanie Anne Johnson and her band are rocking the Brew Five Three. In fact people are (gasp) putting down the pint glasses and dancing.

The dude with the Wingman Brewers T-Shirt dancing in the middle of the dance floor before Stephanie Anne Johnson inspired us to end the night with a full pint of Wingman's IPA.


That's the end of the show! That's the end of the show! Wow, it's been a quick but also very long seven hours. Thanks for spending them with us. End of the shooooooooow!

July 8, 2014 at 10:00am

7 Seas Brewing 5th Annual Anniversary Bash commercial

Let it roll ...

Gig Harbor's 7 Seas Brewing celebrates its five-year anniversary Saturday with a huge bash. Shockingly, I can't find a promotional video pumping the party. If I were to create a video promotion for 7 Seas Brewing's 5th Annual Anniversary Bash, this is how it would go down. ...

("Rambo" by Ben Union plays.)

7 SEAS BREWING'S CO-OWNER MIKE RUNION: (Floating on a raft in the middle of Gig Harbor) You ever get the feeling you could just ... I don't know ... brew something incredible?

(Cut to a sinking yacht.)

AIRLINE PILOT: That yacht is going to sink!

7 SEAS BALLZ DEEP DOUBLE IPA: I'm on it! (The 7 Seas Brewing beer dives off the Jerisich Dock, using all of its 8.4 percent ABV and 82 IBUs, it pulls the yacht to shore.)

BEAUTIFUL REAL ESTATE BROKER: Look at the ballz on that beer; his malt is so firm!

MIKE RUNION: It's Ballz Deep ... (Cut music. Blackout.) And it will be at our 5th Anniversary Bash Saturday, July 12.

("Can't Get That Low" by C-Leb & The Kettle Black plays)

7 SEAS BREWING CO-OWNER TRAVIS GUTERSON: (Standing on top of Peacock Hill) You ever feel like drinking a beer can make you fly?

HARBORVIEW DRIVE WALKER ONE: I don't know why I feel so depressed.

HARBORVIEW DRIVE WALKER TWO: Maybe it's your beer? You got to get off the Blue Ribbon, girl. You're bringing all of us down.

7 SEAS RUDE PARROT IPA: What you need is a big juicy, tropical fruit hop nose girlfriend. Grab ahold of my can and let me show you what Simcoe and Citra hops can do to your attitude ... and altitude. (The Rude Parrot IPA and Walker One fly toward Fox Island.)

TRAVIS GUTERSON: That beer can fly! And so can you from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday at our brewery on Judson Street. But flying is for adults only, so leave the little birds in the nest.

("6 AM" by Perry Acker plays.)

MIKE RUNION: (Lying in Semel Homestead Park's meadow, long blades of grass between his teeth) We work to minimize our carbon footprint through efficient operations, responsible packaging and recycling programs. We also recycle our spent grain to local farmers as livestock feed. ... (Cutt's Ale cuts him off.)

7 SEAS CUTT'S ALE: Memo to Mother Nature: Don't think, even for a minute, that just because you've scheduled 80-degree weather Saturday, that I'm going to stay holed up inside the can cooler. I'm busting out my brilliantly clear reddish hue, intense nose of pine and citrus and pleasant lingering hop bitterness on 7 Seas' patio, kicking back with the musical styling of Ben Union, C-Leb & The Kettle Black, Perry Acker, Four On The Floor and Red Stone Sinners.

MIKE RUNION: Pack it in; pack it out!

("Resurrection River" by Red Stone Sinners plays)

TRAVIS GUTERSON: (Standing next to Mike Runion in their taproom, both wearing orange life jackets): Our brewery rose from ashes in 2008 after a fire tore through our first location, and in late 2012, we moved our entire operation to a 3,000 square foot brewing facility in downtown Gig Harbor. (They both extend their outer arms toward opposite walls.)

MIKE RUNION: This is our annual opportunity to say thanks to all those who have supported us and made this company what it is. And we are extremely thankful. A day of beer, food and music in our beautiful downtown waterfront. (They both extend both arms forward toward the outdoor patio.)

TRAVIS GUTERSON: Buck-B-Q will be serving up favorites off the grill and lighter salads, and Tizley's Euro Pub, serving up some vegetarian options and ratatoulle

(All the 7 Seas beers gather around their two creators.)

TRAVIS GUTERSON: And, of course, our beers will be front and center.

MIKE RUNION: Hope to see you all here.

(Cut music, fade to black. Cut to title screen with "7 Seas Brewing 5th Annual Anniversary Bash" floating in the middle of Gig Harbor.)

VOICE-OVER: 7 Seas Brewing is at 3006 Judson Street in Gig Harbor. The party is a 21 and older event. The cost is just $3 per person, 100 percent of which goes to the bands. Credit/debit cards will only be accepted for merchandise purchases, so bring cash for entry, beers and food. The Tap Room will be open for growler fills and merchandise only. Of course, good dogs on leash are welcome with their humans. Lifestyle Valet has graciously offered its shuttle service free of charge during the party. Walk, bike, designate a driver - just be sure to be safe!

June 14, 2014 at 9:29am

Vikings of the 2014 Washington Brewers Festival

As last night progressed horns went askew. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Day Two of the Washington Brewers Festival kicks off at 11 a.m. at King County's Marymoor Park in Redmond. Last night's adult-only opening of the three-day festival was a blast, and the next two days promises more fun with more breweries and more kids. Yup, the next two days are a family affair. At noon today, the Washington Beer Awards will be doled out, followed by live music, including Luke Warm & Moderates and The Quick & Easy Boys. The BevMo! Brewers Keg Toss is at 3:30 p.m. and the kids playground and Rootbeer Garden are open all day. Oh, and approximately 250 different beers will be on tap.

The Washington Brewers Festival is a mecca for beer aficionados - but curiously, it seems to be home to something else: Scandinavians. Last year we noted a curious trend: The suds extravaganza wasn't just full of beer; it was also full of Vikings. So last night we were on the lookout for impressive horns - and their wearers. Below are the eight Viking types we spotted at Marymoor Park.

LINK: More photos from Day One of the 2014 Washington Brewers Festival

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Any Spring beers?

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