Monday, February 20, 2012

Gritty Eateries With Hearts of Gold

I have a special place in my heart for places that look all gritty on the outside, but their heart of awesome shines through when you get inside and order some grub.

Here are some of my T-town "Gritty With a Heart of Gold" favs:

Dirty Oscar's Annex
Seriously. This 6th Ave establishment has a banner for a sign, you can't really see inside, and for goodness sake it's called DIRTY OSCAR'S ANNEX. But I'm in love. The first time I went here was late night out with some girlfriends and the drinks were amazing. More recently the Other Half and I snuck out to try one of their breakfasts, and WOW! I took a risky and tried the Habenero Shrimp and Sausage Eggs Benedict, which had definite kick without making me cry. The waitress was awesome and kept refilling my Irish Coffee with coffee, so I got the kick of the whiskey drawn out without needing to sleep the day away. The other half's gluten-free needs were made happy by one of their breakfast hashes. *bliss*

Gari Sushi
Hidden away on South 38th Street between I-5 and the Lincoln District is this little treasure. On the outside it looks kind of like a shuttered strip club. Subtle signage and window you can't see through. Inside is quite delightful ... nice and airy, plenty of seating, great and fast service (you can get in and out on a lunch hour!) and scrumptious eats! Plenty for the teriyaki-leaning crowd, and a sushi combo plate I just can't say no to. Their lunch sushi roll special is pretty great too... you get to pick a roll or two of choice I believe, and it comes with YAM ROLLS ... which is like the dessert of the sushi roll. The other half adores the Chirashi lunch, which is basically a bunch of fish meats on top of sushi rice ... Kind I like a teriyaki bowl, but with yummy sushi cuts instead of chicken and sauce.

Marcia's Silver Spoon
All I can say is OH! EM! GEE! Totally greasy spoon-style diner hidden on South Tacoma Way, but the food is beyond basic comfort diner food ... it is amazingly melts-in-your-mouth French toast, hand pressed sausage parties rather than pre-formed, and all kinds of other goodness. (I just haven't been able to pry myself away from the French toast yet.) The gluten-free hubby sticks with the eggs and bacon and is a happy man, but admits to nom-ing lustfully on their to-die-for Eggs Benedict back before he made the switch. Ok, they serve lunch and dinner food, too, but their breakfasts are so fabulous they now offer them 7 days a week. Yay!

What's your favorite "Gritty Eatery With a Heart of Gold?"

Sunday, March 14, 2010

For those of us with a certain craving: "Tastes Like a Burgerville Cheeseburger Mac N Cheese"

For those of us who are ancy for the the Burgerville Nomad to announce its first Tacoma stop, here is a made-up-in-my-head mac n cheese recipe that makes my daughter smile and say ...

"Tastes Like a Burgerville Cheeseburger!"

This has been a big hit with the kids, and was even requested by the Diva for lunch on her birthday. I make it a little diff every time, and you can adjust to taste ... but basically, I add the following to a big pot in the below order (some prep work - cheese shredding and meat browning) required.

1 lb macaroni noodles - boiled 6-7 min

Drain, return to pot and then return to hot burner, but turn heat down to low ... just enough to help melt the cheese)

Stir in butter (1/2 to 1 stick, depending on your preferred taste)

Some milk as needed to keep it stirrable and from burning (prob a 1/4-1/2 cup depending)

1-4 scoops of mayo (to taste) -- scoop = a heaping scoop with a normal or large table spoon (not a serving spoon) ...

3-4 scoops of Grey Poupon (to taste) -- this one is more important than you might think!!!!

****If you are cautious on the mayo or Grey Poupon, you can always add more to taste while you're stirring in the cheese. They add extra "zing" ... especially the mustard!


A mixture of ideally 3 different cheeses, ideally one being swiss (I use Swiss -- jarslburg or even cheap stuff, Tillamook cheddar, and low-moisture or cheap mozzerella ... and whatever leftover cheese is around) ... add by the handful to taste (I usually prep a small mixing bowl full ... if you don't use it all, that's what Tupperware is for!)

Keep stirring - this is really where you must start tasting if you haven't already ... you may need more mustard, more cheese ... once it starts getting cheese webs while stirring you're probably good ... all depends on how you like it. And you an always add milk if it's getting a little stiff.

OPTIONAL: stir in 1 pound of browned ground beef (I like to season mine with Greek seasoning)

Eat!!! :)

Tacoma music: Waking me up from a long winter's nap

Spring must be here (or maybe I finally got some sleep)! Either way, my love for T-Town has hardly faded, but recent exposure to some fabulous songbirds and crooners have me twitterpated about Tacoma all over again, and twitching to get out to more local music shows ... especially now that the kids are getting older. So, in no particular order, some luscious local vocals to check out (listed in no particular order) ...

I'd been hearing about Goldfinch and hearing about Goldfinch and hearing about Goldfinch ... and last night I actually got to HEAR GOLDFINCH! And now I can love Goldfinch honestly. Last night this fab five serenaded the MLK Ballet company dancers three times at Tacoma's School of the Arts for MOVE! #16 (a fundraiser for MLK Ballet's tuition-free ballet school, where my Diva is a student). Love them! I'm going to have to seek them locally more often.

Goldfinch "Yellow Wings" from goldfinchstatebird on Vimeo.

Handful of Lovin'

This is a band who, until this last month, I'd only heard on Adam The Alien's video of First Night festivities from two years ago. (And technically not sure if they're "Tacoma", but I haven only heard them in Tacoma, and I believe they used to be the house band at Masa.) Fun, fun bad. And I finally got to hear them myself at a CD release show at Jazzbones a couple weeks ago. Even more fun, fun, fun! In trying to describe their sound, I can only say that the vocals frequently remind me of Dave Matthews, the energy is ska without the horns, and the rest is a definite Celtic influence and they know how to rock a crowd. Their description: A rock quartet featuring a rocking classically trained violinist, Handful refers to their music as "fiddle driven roots rock," and their cheerful blend of folk-rock, reggae and world rhythms, plus secondhand baroque and Celtic influences with catchy pop hooks, strongly recalls the vintage sound of Actual Tigers, the madness of Flogging Molly, and the moodier, more experimental side of Wilco. At Jazzbones, Handful of Lovin' (put your hands together, that's how you show your love -- CLAP!) was playin' a little overtime as a late-night DJ/dance crowd began to gather ... and even they were getting into it. You can't help but move when these folks are on stage ... whether it's on the dance floor or in your seat. Sitting still is impossible ... I left the show in a happy daze from all the energy. And while some of the songs are basically fun drinking songs, others have lyrics that if you pay attention to, make you think a little harder. Good times.

The Fun Police
I had no idea what to think about this band when I first heard of them ... but finally got to see them open recently for Handful of Lovin', and I can confirm: They are fun. They should be cited! I hope to see them again sometime soon. :)

Deborah Page
Love, love, love Deborah Page. This duo, consisting of Deborah Page & Paul Uhl, always reminds me of Annie Lennox/Eurythmics. Haunting vocals, meaningful lyrics, presence on stage, artful visuals, pushing the envelope in an inviting fashion ... and I don't know about the Eurythmics, but Deborah and Paul are two of the sweetest, most fun people. I feel silly for ever being intimidated by their talent. I first discovered them at First Night, followed them to their Third Thursday Artwalk stage at Sanford & Son, and even hired them to surprise my dad for his 60th birthday (and then infected the rest of my extended family with their fabulousness). Deborah and Paul know how to rock out, sound great, and have fun. I so want to see them on a really big stage someday ... something big enough to match their talent and personalities. :)

The F***ing Eagles
Ok ... I haven't heard these folks in person yet, but enjoyed their CD and many friends are fans ... and I plan on going with friends to their April show at the Swiss. And I'm sure I will enjoy.

And, if you haven't already heard her stuff, you need to check out Tacoma legend Neko Case ... who finally made it back to her hometown to sing last year at the Pantages, who asked when the f*** someone was going to do something about the Elks hall ... and then magically, the McMenamins stepped up. Coincidence? Perhaps. But I was happy to hear a Prairie Home Companion rerun this weekend where Neko Case and non-Tacomans (but still fabulous) Wilco rocked the stage and, while she's more widely known to be living in Virginia, she did declare that Tacoma is where she's from. There's the love. And I'm loving her newest album, Middle Cyclone.

Happy Spring, Tacoma. I plan to get out and enjoy you more ...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The question is not why the fish crossed the street, but HOW ...

Have you been to the WSU Puyallup Research & Extension Center?

Until today, I had not.

After today, I'll be back.

I'd heard about the extension ... that this is where the Master Gardeners train and this is where there's a demonstration garden and some cool research. Soil studies, rain gardens, permeable pavement, low-impact development, agriculture research and so much more. It's really quite incredible, this amazing resource that is just around the corner.

But I'd never been. Today was meant to be merely a meeting (a looooooooong meeting). At lunch one of the staffers offered to take us on a little walking tour to see a man-made pond. I wasn't going to go, but I did. Apparently a bunch of my friends finally did a few sun dances, and thus: sunshine ... GLORIOUS sunshine. A walk was required.

And wow.

I don't remember all the details, but the below photo is the pond. Apparently the fish and salamanders and frogs inside it ... got there on their own! Nature is amazing. No wildlife was planted by man, nor by woman. But birds or other wildlife that come in from the pond across the street or other places brought in fish eggs and frog eggs (apparently they don't own feather or hair brushes ... go figure) ... and wa-lah! Sticky eggs get from Point A to Point B. (And I thought this only happened with plant seeds.) Oh, and this pond has salamanders ... but the one across the street doesn't. So weird. And so awesome. And so beautiful.

And here is the view across the street.

It was a glorious, if short, lunchtime walk in the sun.

Educational, too!

From the website:

An Urban Center Committed to Sustainable Communities

"Bridging the past to the future, providing research, instruction and outreach services through an interdisciplinary approach for the development of ecologically sound, socially responsible, and economically viable communities.

The Washington State University Puyallup Research and Extension Center unites a rich past of education and research with a critical and important need: the ability for institutions of higher education to develop sound science, instruction and outreach to meet the needs of future urban communities and their residents.

"Washington State University seeks to provide an exemplary teaching, research, and outreach environment that fosters the conservation of natural resources, supports and enhances social responsibility, addresses community and economic development, and follows environmental, social, and economic practices.

"The Puyallup Center connects the region to a world of possibilities creating sustainable social, economic, and ecological interdependencies through the community of Washington State University."

I like science ...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Time for some spring reading!

It might no longer been cuddle-up-with-a-good-book-in-front-of-the-fire season, but that just means it's about to be bask-in-the-sun-with-a-good-book season! Woo hoo!

For those folks who'd like to chat about their good reads, the good folks at King's Books have not one, not two, but THREE different reading groups for grownups that might pique your imagination ...

Ravenous Readers Book Club
"Join this community book group reading books on food and sustainability." Meets the first Thursday of every month at King's Books.
Next meets: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 2, at King's Books, 218 St. Helens
This month's book: "Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World" by Kurlansky

Graphic Novel Book Club
"Join this new book club reading graphic novels! Perfect for people just starting to read graphic novels, or confirmed geeks." Meets the second Monday of every month at 1022 South, Hilltop's new book-themed cocktail lounge. (Must be 21.)
Next meets: 7-9 p.m. Monday, April 13 (first meeting!), at 1022 South, 1022 S. J St., Tacoma
This month's book: "Fun Home" by Alison Bechdel

Banned Book Club
"Join this profane book group reading books that have been banned or challenged."
Meets the third Tuesday of every month at Tempest Lounge. (Must be 21.)
Next meets: 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 21, Tempest Lounge, 913 MLK Way, Tacoma
This month's book: "Ceremony" by Leslie Marmon Silko.

Books for all of these groups are available at King's Books, 218 St. Helens Ave.

For more information about any of these groups:
Call 272-8801 or e-mail sweet pea.

So if you're taking a few days off for spring break this week, consider some quality time with a good book ... And if one of these book groups doesn't suit you, there's always getting your friends together and starting your own. Even if you just use it as an excuse to get together with good friends for dinner ... :)

Happy Spring Reading!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I think I have a minor league crush on minor league baseball ...

Until May of 2007, I'd never been to a Tacoma Rainiers game (or any other minor league game, for that matter). I had been in or around Tacoma for more than 12 years at the time, had even lived in Aberdeen for a bit while the Gulls were still there, and had still never been to a game.

And then ... I went.

It was May 2007. The Diva Daughter was in kindergarten. An age in which we began to realize the beginning of the end of our own agenda, the beginning of just how busy we were about to be with the lives and itineraries of our three little ones. The daughter's elementary school was selling tickets for a "let's all go to the Rainiers" school event ... and she wanted to go. And so we did.

And I liked it.

The small-scale venue, the fact that you could see the field, the smell of the grass, the taste of the hot dogs, the crowed ... the ... I just can't fully describe it. We took the neighbors. The kids cheered. I even cheered. The Boy declared his desire to become a batter someday ... and just last week he started his first T-ball practice. The Baby Girl, then 2, was an insta 2-year-old cheerleader ... jumping up and down on my lap and screaming "go Rainiers." They had fun watching for Rhubarb, and they danced between innings. The only complaint at the time was the Diva not liking the loud fireworks ... but we've been back a few times, and she's over that now.

And now, according to the calendar, it is Spring. As the rain poured down right on schedule for this morning's Junior Daffodil Parade in the Proctor District, it seemed hard to believe.

But the Baby Girl's preschool picked a baseball theme this year and she's been running around the house in her cap and long-sleeve tee singing "Take me out to the ballgame" ... and it got me thinking: When DOES baseball start? More to the point, when's the first Rainiers home game?

I NEEDED to know.

Turns out the first home game is coming up quick ... Friday, April 17 ... just three days after the Baby Girl turns 4. Guess who now wants a baseball themed birthday party? A baseball cake. To go to the baseball game. Baby Girl.

And you know what? I'm excited! It's my first true sign of spring -- one of my favorite seasons -- and all of the sudden I'm itching to see a game. It's a little thrilling.

I really did not expect to get this hooked. It kinda snuck up on me.

And now ... well, I don't know how I'd get through spring without at least one ball game. And it's not the peanuts or cracker jacks.

I'm a little discombobulated.

But batter up nonetheless ... let me root, root, root for the home team ...


Monday, March 02, 2009

Scrabble fans: Unite for a good cause!

I've mentioned to a few of my fellow Scrabble geeks (at least a few times) my grand desire to start up some sort of Scrabble club/meet-up/fun night. And while I've failed thus far to follow through, I recently tripped upon an awesome opportunity for T-Town-area Scrabble fans to have some fun and do a little good all at the same time: SCRABBLE ROUSERS! Brought to you by the Tacoma Community House (and sweet pea's ever-mischievous brain).

From the TCH website: "Inside each of us is a mischievous child who seeks to unravel social norms and challenge traditional order. This impulse, at a mature age, is often repressed and controlled for the sake of personal growth. As Scrabble Rousers, we seek to free our mischievous child through traditional and nontraditional Scrabble games. Our aim is to bring to light the importance of words in your life and in the lives of others."

Sign me up! Ok, if I can get a babysitter ...

For the ticket price of $10, Scrabble fans of all ages an abilities are invited to come together from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, at the University of Puget Sound's Rotunda. There will be three levels of play you can sign up for. It's a creative fundraiser, so they will let you buy dictionary peeks or even a list of two-letter and obnoxious Q words. (Those of you who *cough* have been playing too much Facebook Scrabble lately might be hit to that.)

Money raised at the event goes to benefit the Tacoma Community House's Student Scholarship Fund, which assists students as they transfer from TCH to community college.

What is the Tacoma Community House? "A nonprofit organization that for decades has provided services to refugees, immigrants, and English speaking adults and youth."

Click here to read more about the event, and the Tacoma Community House.

Note: Yes, I posted this on Sunday night. But it was having trouble loading a couple places, and I'm hoping I fixed the problem ... and want to make sure people know about the event!