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September 9, 2014 at 10:12am

Olympia Food Co-op to host first Zuke Fest

Olympia Food Co-op will give zucchinis a chance to prove themselves in terms of size, taste and even speed.

The zucchini is joked about, giggled at for its shape and sometimes maligned for its overabundance at this time of year.

But Sunday, the zucchini will have its day at the Olympia Food Co-op's first Zuke Fest.

The fest, part of the co-op's annual Harvest Party, will give those phallic giants a chance to prove themselves in terms of size, taste and even speed.

The co-op will award patches for porn-star-sized zukes in three categories: most giant (longest), most girth and most weight. (Insert your own zucchini - er, your own zucchini joke.)

There'll be a zucchini bread bakeoff and a zucchini derby along the lines of the Boy Scouts' pinewood derby. All zucars must be made on site using standard wheels and no engines. You can bring your own zucchini or one will be provided for you, but don't bring your biggest one: Finished vehicles can't exceed a foot in length or 10 inches in width.

The race is open to all ages, with a category for "big kids" who are over 18.

"We were trying to figure out something really fun to do with kids and adults, something that would be intergenerational and playful," Gagnier said.

The fest is a new part of the co-op's 10-year-old Harvest Party, which this year will feature music by Artesian Rumble Arkestra and Romanteek.

"We make a feast, and members bring food," said Shameka Gagnier, the co-op's outreach coordinator. "There are games. We have face painters and all kind of fun things going on.

"This year, we decided we were going to try to make it a little more exciting, and we added the Zuke Fest."

Rogers Street in front of the co-op and part of the parking lot will be closed off for the event, so Gagnier recommended carpooling, taking public transportation or biking.

HARVEST PARTY & ZUKE FEST, 1-6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 14, Westside Olympia Food Co-op, 921 Rogers St. NW, Olympia, free admission, 360.754.7666

August 28, 2014 at 11:41am

Words & Photos: The Swiss hosts Mac & Jack's Brewing Co. for a four-course beer dinner

Keith Carpenter of Mac & Jack's Brewing thanked The Swiss owners Jack and Carol Ann McQuade for a lovely dinner last night. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

As someone who has spent a great deal of time in the company of chefs, the majority are certainly no strangers to beer. Sometimes consumed before (or even during) a dinner service, and most definitely after, it's a part of daily life in the South Sound restaurant industry.

Many incorporate craft beer into their masterpieces. After all, craft beer is lower in alcohol than wine or spirits, broader in its number of styles and achievable taste elements, and more about providing flavor than either of the aforementioned beverages. Craft beer can absolutely enhance the dining experience. Whether accompanying a dish or serving as a flavor-adding component in a recipe, craft beer can and does make a difference. I discovered that last night at The Swiss Restaurant and Pub.

Keith Carpenter, the Mac & Jack's Brewing Company's representing for south and west of King County, dropped by The Swiss Restaurant & Pub to chat up the Redmond brewery's history and pair beers with a four-course dinner. Mac & Jack's head brewer Caleb Osborn made the trip down, too.

Flanking the middle room of The Swiss, diners were treated to Mac & Jack's Serengeti Wheat - a crisp, refreshing unfiltered American style Hefeweizen as Carpenter gave an oral history of Mac Rankin and Jack Schropp's beer company - founded in 1993 in Schropp's garage. Yes, there really is a Mac and a Jack. The flagship African Amber started as a house beer for Bruce Springer's Park Pub next to the Woodland Park Zoo. Springer, who owned the pub at the time, played off the Zoo theme to create the name. The next house beer Mac created for the Park Pub was Serengeti Wheat; it was named in the same fashion. Brewed with plenty of Yakima valley hops, it yields a wonderful citrus finish, which glowed in the sunshine beaming through The Swiss. After the two beers grabbed the state's beer drinkers' attention, in a big way, the two brewers made the big jump, quit their day jobs and moved their operation to Redmond. Solely a draft beer operation, Mac & Jack's recently purchased a small 22-ounce bottling machine and will be bottling occasional special release beers, such as their Bourbon Barrel-Aged Cascadian Dark Ale.

Scott Cleese, chef at The Swiss, came out with a bang. His lamb nachos was just one memorable taste in a procession of courses incorporating Mac & Jack's brews into the recipes, then paired with the beer ingredient. Cleese's ground lamb roasted in African Amber should be placed on The Swiss' permanent menu. Strong flavors such as lamb overwhelm light beers. That's why the complex, heavier African Amber pairs well. Bravo to the lamb, cherry tomatoes and pickled onions piled high on seasoned plantain chips with mint tzaziki. 

Mac & Jack's also occasionally brews some special release beers. The latest is their Ibis IPA, which is a 6.9 percent ABV IPA with 65 IBUs. It is brewed with Amarillo and Mosaic hops.

"Ibis is actually a South American bird. It's one of our first beers that is dry-hopped in tank. It's filtered; it's very floral, very fruity, with a lot of tropical notes," explained Osborn. "A lot of people get pineapple, papaya. It has a clean finish. It's very drinkable."

Staying with the fruit theme, Cleese added the IBIS IPA to his juice potion, creating a flavorful scallop ceviche with grilled and chilled pineapple, mango and papaya.

Course three featured Mac & Jack's more bitter IPA, the Two Tun. According to Osborn, it's generously hopped late in the boil, with a more bitter front and citrus on the end - the opposite of the IBIS - and dry-hopped in the keg with Amarillo hops. Cleese added the IPA to black pepper and peach for a favorable barbecue sauce that coated his fork-cutting, braised short ribs. The couscous arrived perfect, accompanied with roasted baby carrots and edamame.

Where there's smoke, there's usually fire, but in this case there's vanilla instead. Mac & Jack's smoky, coffee-flavored BlackCat Porter was infused into vanilla ice cream; a huge hit among last night's crowd. The beer's mocha head painted a perfect picture.

Don't let a conversation with Carpenter pass you by. After 14 years at Mac & Jack's, 28 years in the beer business, this Mount Tahoma grad has sidesplitting Tacoma stories, as well as a wealth of beer knowledge. As we enjoyed the fabulous Mac & Jack's "farewell beer" - Maker's Mark barrel-aged Cascadian Dark Ale - Carpenter told stories of Tacoma taverns cashing paychecks in the 1980s and brewing beer in Tacoma's Nalley Valley. The best story told last night was Swiss owners Jack and Carol Ann's 3 a.m. exodus from a Gorge concert. Don't play the "Safety Dance" near them.

Mac & Jack's will release the bourbon barrel-aged Cascadian Dark Ale Monday.


Georgetown Brewing Company beer dinner at The Swiss

August 18, 2014 at 1:47pm

The Swiss to pair Mac & Jack's beers with braised short ribs, nachos and more ...

August is going out like a lion at The Swiss Restaurant & Pub in Tacoma.

Keith Carpenter, the Mac & Jack's Brewing Company's representative for south and west of King County, will drop by The Swiss Restaurant & Pub to chat up the Redmond brewery's history and pair beers with big bites. Here is Carpenter's history speech in a nutshell:

1991: Mac Rankin started home brewing and fell in love with the process. He probably started home brewing to relieve stress as it was Dave Krieg's final season in Seattle, when he was one of four quarterbacks to start during Seattle's 7-9 season.

1993: Mac approached Jack Schropp with the possibility about starting a microbrewery. Over the next nine months the first batches of the African Amber and Pale Ale were rolled out while Nivana's In Utero cranked in Jack's garage.

1994: After much success with the Amber and the Pale Ale, Mac & Jack's finalized their African Amber, Blackcat Porter and Serengeti Wheat (their Hefeweizen beer). These signature beers were introduced at the The Park Pub, next to the Woodland Park Zoo. The Mac & Jack's brews were held high as Sukari, a female giraffe, and Rafiki, the male giraffe at Woodland Park Zoo gave birth to a 5-foot, 6-inch female named Karani. She weighed 140 pounds at birth.

1995: After two great years of making craft beer by themselves, Mac and Jack began to hire more staff. It was a miracle beer was brewed as the entire staff had their eyes glued to the Mariners' magic season. It's believed Jack wanted to change the name of African Amber to Randy Amber.

1996: Mac and Jack realized that it was time to move out of Jack's garage. After eight months they finally started construction in August at North Sammamish Center in Redmond, Washington. After the move, Microsoft's stock splits 2-for-1, its sixth split since the company went public 10 years before.

1997-2000: Production was quickly maxed out, and Mac & Jack's remodeled the brewery four times to increase overall production. The Kingdome explodes.

2013: Mac & Jack's is the third largest craft brewery in Washington state, producing 43,000 barrels, behind Georgetown Brewing and number one Redhook Ale Brewery.

Wednesday, Aug. 27, 6:30 p.m.: The Swiss hosts a pairing dinner with Mac & Jack's Brewing, incorporating the beers into the recipes. There will be four courses and six beers plus a raffle of Mac & Jack's items. Carpenter will recap the above history, plus add facts about Mac and Jack's love of animal labels. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased at The Swiss, 1904 Jefferson Ave., in downtown Tacoma. Give them a buzz at 253.572.2821

Let's look at the Mac and Jack's Brewing Paring Dinner menu

August 13, 2014 at 10:21am

Maxwell's Restaurant tweaks dishes, headed for the BIG Melt

Northwest cod wrapped in prosciutto and partnered with tomato and burrata raviolis is now available at Maxwell's Restaurant in Tacoma. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

Seasonal menu transitions keep dishes extraordinarily fresh and flavorful, especially with the plethora of amazing seasonal options here in the Northwest. Downtown Tacoma restaurant Maxwell's Restaurant + Lounge has a reputation for serving up some of the freshest quality ingredients while striving for sustainability yet delivering exquisite flavor with a touch of class.

Chef Hudson Slater revamped the menu recently with season-ready ingredients such as zucchini and figs paired with fowl and fish alike. Take, for instance, the grilled scallop starter ($12) with bacon-wrapped scallops dressed in a jalapeno pesto served atop a bed of pickled zucchini. It was love at first sight for me while admiring Chef Slater's Instagram account and the perfect way to start a meal.

>>> Bacon-wrapped scallops at Maxwell's! Photo credit: Jackie Fender

Recently, I raved about the seared duck breast ($28) paired with a creamy fennel risotto teasing with pops of summer sweetness in braised and fresh figs. The duck is seared to perfection with a nicely seasoned exterior and tender meat throughout.

When I inquired which dish I should dine upon, Slater recommended the Northwest cod ($22). Here's a tip: always take the chef's suggestions. The meaty, generous cod steak is wrapped in prosciutto and partnered with tomato and burrata (a creamy mozzarella cheese) raviolis, zucchini and crispy capers. It is creamy, smoky, well-balanced and filling.

There are lots of "minor tweaks to better showcase the awesome season we have here in Washington," Slater said. "Maxwell's will have specials daily depending on what is fresh, with some fun heirloom tomato dishes in the very near future."

The bar doesn't disappoint, either, with staff concocting some fun craft cocktails to compliment the new dishes. Maxwell's also boasts a diverse wine selection for pairing.

With a proven track record of outside event and competition participation and award-winning culinary skills, having scored top spots in Museum of Glass' Slider Competition (twice), Netshed 9's Fight Night chef throwdown, second place in our Tournament of Burgers, and even bringing home a collaborative T-town win with Wingman Brewers at the Seattle Bacon and Beer Classic, it only seems natural that you can look forward to more from Chef Slater, such as The BIG Melt on Sept. 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Held in Seattle's Magnuson Park, The inaugural BIG Melt festivities will include grilled cheese masters getting creative with ooey-gooey, cheesy goodness.

Bottom line, these minor menu tweaks are all the excuse you need for date night or downtime at Maxwell's.

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


Chef Hudson Slater shows his competitive spirit

June 2, 2014 at 1:10pm

Updated: 7 Seas Brewing to release summer beer at Tacoma Rainiers and Dirty Oscar's

7 Seas Brewing's Life Jacket Session IPA will be available at the Tacoma Rainiers' game June 17 at Cheney Stadium.

"It's just a classic summer moment floating down the river with this apparatus tied to your butt with beer in hand," says 7 Seas Brewing "Sails Ambassador" Rob Brunsman, describing the Gig Harbor brewery's Life Jacket Session IPA.

7 Seas will launch the summer seasonal Saturday night at Cheney Stadium during the Tacoma Rainiers' game against the Albuquerque Isotopes.

"There isn't a better local location for a truly local brand like ours," says Brunsman.

The Life Jacket Session IPA - loaded with Amarillo and Nugget hops and juicy hop aromas of tangerine and grapefruit - will be at several locations in the ballpark for the 5:05 game. I suggest arriving early as it's Little Leaguers Night. Sip on Life and watch the kids grab pre-game player autographs and participate in on-field parades. After the game, the kids will run the bases.

UPDATE: 7 Seas Brewing sent a news release with addition information about its Life Jacket Session IPA and scheduled activities at the game:

This NW summer classic style, Session IPA, balances low ABV, high drinkability, with bursting hop flavor and aroma. Life Jacket Session IPA is well suited to quench your thirst and deliver hoppy satisfaction.  Brewed with Pale Ale, Pilsner, and a touch of Wheat & Light Crystal malts -- the beer finishes crisp and clean with a load of Amarillo and Nugget hops imparting juicy hop aromas of tangerine and grapefruit.  At a relaxing 4.8% ABV, this brew is perfect for enjoying on our beautiful NW waters, backyard BBQ, or at a ball game! Available June-August on Draft.

Who'll be throwing out the first pitch? None other then, WA's Craft Beer Ambassador, Kendall Jones, a freelance writer and freestyle beer drinker. In 2008 Kendall founded the Washington Beer Blog, one of the Northwest's most popular and trusted sources for beer news and information. Beyond blogging, he writes and represents WA Beer for local and national publications and press.

If you can't make Saturday game, the Life Jacket will be a highlight during Dirty Oscar's 7 Seas beer pairing dinner June 10.

According to Jennifer Johnson, Dirty Oscar's operations manager, four 7 Seas beers - including seasonal favorite Life Jacket Session IPA - will be paired with a light four-course dinner by Chef James Bacher and sous chef Robert Orlando. Brunsman will be at the Sixth Avenue restaurant, discussing the brewery's history and brewing process, as well as explaining the reason behind each beer choice. 7 Seas received the Dirty Oscar's menu Friday.

"A multifaceted menu utilizing roasted rainbow beets, pickled fennel, grilled kale, poached quail egg, beef medallions, gulf prawn, flat shaved purple and orange cauliflower, IPA infused blueberries, jicama confit and more will be served," says Johnson, who has hosted many beer dinners at Dirty Oscar's.?? She's dialed in these beer dinners, with professional presentation, fast service and a fun raffle held throughout the night.

The 7 Seas Brewing dinner begins at 6 p.m., Tuesday, June 10. Tickets are $50 per person. There are only 22 seats available, so RSVP now at

June 1, 2014 at 1:24pm

2014 Summer drinking calendar for the South Sound

It will happen this summer. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

If you're like me, you're probably left wondering where May went. It seems that just yesterday spring began. But now it's time to kick off June, and the summer drinking season can officially begin. The lawn can wait.


Talbott Vineyard Wine Tasting

Morso will tentatively pour 2011 Sara Case Chardonnay, 2012 Diamond T Pinot Noir, 2012 Kali Hart Pinot Noir, 2012 Logan Chardonnay and 2012 Logan Pinot Noir. There is a $5 fee per person for this event and is refunded with a wine purchase. Any wines purchased from the tasting may be served without a corkage fee on the night of the tasting. 5-7 p.m., $5, Morso Wine Bar, 9014 Peacock Hill Ave., Gig Harbor, 253.229.0187

Emerald Downs Brewer's Night

Northwest Brewing Company will be at the track with $2.50 craft pounders, Ottomatic DJ, prize drawings and more. 5-9 p.m., Emerald Downs Race Track, 2300 Emerald Downs Dr., Auburn, $7 entrance fee, 253.288.7000


Georgetown Brewer's Night

Puyallup River Alehouse hosts Georgetown Brewing Company for a night of Georgetown beers, giveaways, raffles, dollar tacos and more. 6-9 p.m., no cover, Puyallup River Alehouse, 120 S. Meridian, Puyallup, 253.268.0955


May 25, 2014 at 11:19am

Plan Ahead: Toscanos summer whiskey dinner

Toscanos Cafe and Wine Bar does brown June 25.

Do you remember all those career-placement tests you had to take in high school? The endless guidance-counselor appointments taking up your free periods? In all that time, did anyone ever happen to mention the possibility of becoming a professional whiskey taster?

Wednesday, June 25, Jim Beam Distillery is sending one to Toscanos Café and Wine Bar in Puyallup.


Filed under: Culinary Events, Booze, Puyallup,

May 22, 2014 at 3:41pm

Beer Dinners Alert: Chambers Bay and Pacific Grill hosts both ends of the Narrows Bridge

Wine dinners have become commonplace events around the South Sound, and with new local breweries opening up; I imagine beer dinners will become more common, too.

Right now, two beer dinners are worthy of your attention - one in University Place and the other in downtown Tacoma.

First, Chambers Bay hosts neighboring Narrows Brewing Co. for a five-course beer dinner tomorrow night. Looks as if Chef Joshua Corcoran and his crew will have fun with the Narrows brews. Smokey pork belly tacos, Beecher's double cheeseburger and cinnamon doughnuts are on the docket. Narrows head brewer Joe Walts will bring Siren's Call Hibiscus Saison, Galloping Gertie Golden Ale, 4.0 in Damage Session Pale Ale, Giant Pacific Octopus IPA and his Post-Tension Porter. Tickets are $50 per person. Sign up at 253.552.4867.


May 20, 2014 at 4:39pm

Chef Hudson Slater now reviews films ... and gives away appetizers

Chef Hudson Slater: He's fun! Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Several weeks ago Weekly Volcano food critic Jackie Fender gushed over Maxwell's Restaurant & Lounge's head chef, Hudson Slater. Deservedly so - the man is on culinary fire.

Today, The Grand Cinema couldn't hold back its love for Slater any longer. The Grand announced it has invited the chef to host a post-film discussion after the 3:10 p.m. screening of Chef, Saturday, May 24. Let's read The Grand's handiwork:


May 19, 2014 at 12:46pm

Beer Here: Sierra Nevada Brewing dinner and upcoming South Sound beer events

Deschutes Brewery will take over some of The Swiss' taps May 21. Photo courtesy of Randi Rodgers

Back in the 1970s, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was born in Chico, Calif. In 1982, San Francisco Examiner published an article praising Sierra Nevada's beers, which in turn led to pioneering chef Alice Waters including the brewery's flagship Pale Ale on her menu at her Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley. Bam! The brewery was off and running. Today, the business is the seventh-highest-selling brewery overall in America, and the No. 2 American craft brewer behind only Boston Beer Co., makers of Samuel Adams. The brewery's output has increased so steadily in the last 26 years so much so that Sierra Nevada erected another brewery outside of Asheville, N.C., in 2012 to meet the demands of the growing East Coast and European markets for its beers.Saturday, May 31, The Bayview School of Cooking will host a Sierra Nevada Brewing dinner. Chefs Barb Agee and Leanne Willard will team up with a SNBC rep for a five-course meal with beers paired with each course:

  1. Brie Quesadillas with Bacon and Beer-Glazed Onions paired with the new Southern Hemisphere;
  2. Thai Red Curry and Beef Soup paired with Sierra Nevada's famous Pale Ale;
  3. A Salad of Baby Lettuce with Feta, Strawberries and Smoked Almonds paired with Kellerweis;
  4. Grilled Chicken with Lemon-Cucumber Relish and Chinese Sesame Noodles paired with Summerfest;
  5. Chocolate Chip Shortbread with a Raspberry Drizzle served with Ovila Abbey Quad with Plums.

The dinner will be held in the BSC demo kitchen on the second floor of Bayview Thriftway, 516 W. Fourth Ave. in downtown Olympia. The cost is $65 per person. To reserve your spot, call 360.754.1448


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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Thank you for the list of restaurants to try out. I will have to try their Mac and Cheese....

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Any Spring beers?

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