Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'll Let Alan Watts Do The Talking

What do you desire?

Manhattan Project: 1022, Cocktail Kings of Tacoma

Hello again,
Another overdue post and we are back on the Manhattan track.

In our bourbon adventure we couldn't very well NOT visit 1022 South. As anyone who has been knows, or really anyone interested in reading about the flavors of the Grit City, 1022 has a reputation for unique concoctions, house infused spirits, house-made....well everything save for the spirits.
While their booze list is impressive, lots of small batch options are available making your really drink outside of the mainstream comfort zone. Please ma'am step away from the Makers/Crown/Jim.
When my cocktail partner in crime and I arrived I simply asked for a Manhattan, knowing the reputation of 1022 I was confident that bartender/owner Chris Langston wouldn't steer me wrong.
He took the usual care setting a delightfully chilled Manhattan in front of us.
When I inquired what he made it with he shot back with a snarky, "bourbon, some bitters and a little vermouth." Maybe snarky isn't quite the word for it. It had a level of charm.
But duh, (OHHHHH, reaaaaaaally, Jesus all this time I had no idea what the hell I was drinking.)
More specifically Black Maple Hill Bourbon, a new one to me and damn tasty, smooth, earthy with nice hints of cherry if I recall though that could have been me swirling my garnish. It was surprisingly smooth, a perfect beverage to swirl, sip, contemplate and simply take in the evenings vibe.
Even Tiffany enjoyed it.....

As she states nicely~~"So the Manhattan we imbibed at the 1022 is a bit closer to the“hipster” Flynn we tasted at Marrow last time around; same level, but not the same classification. It was smoother; a little closer to that dessert flavor than a traditional M and the finish was nice. It sat in the Friend Zone for me at the beginning of the evening, but by the end I was like “Hmm, I guess I could take it home.” The 1022’s Manhattan was comfortably attractive and I was pleasantly surprised."

"Comfortably attractive" for those who don't know are the likes of my dream mister (save for my hubs) John Cusack and those types. Comfortable. Charming. Attractive but not too much so. Sometimes not everyone's cup of tea (or glass of Manhattan) but for some of us (like the two of us) can be damn sexy.
This Manhattan manages that.

Overall it was a delightful number, well worth ordering even among the flamboyant characters on the specialty menu.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Today is my Mom's birthday.

I wish I knew where she was at or how to contact her to tell her hello and happy day.

The woman is notoriously absent throughout my life. I love her dearly, she is well intentioned, funny and accepting.

She is also unreliable.
Even with Grandchildren I haven't seen her in about a year. It's not as though we have gotten in a disagreement or dislike each other, or even that we are too busy or seperated by miles......this is just what she does. She's been missing in action for almost half of my life. She forgets my birthdays, nevermind my 3 childrens. She missed my wedding. She has not the foggiest idea all of the goodness that is swirling in mine and my families cosmos and just how good things are.
As a mother as well, I'm not sure how one gets to the point that the maternal instinct doesn't rule all.

I've never felt this "woe is me, boohoo" attitude about this relationship I have (or don't have rather) with her. It's just a fact of life. I can't let it effect my behavior and outlook. She's an adult and makes her own choices.

As am I.

I can't say though, that I'm not bummed just this moment thinking of this lost connection.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Working On That List Of Mine

My truest of friends know all this, hell even those who pay attention on the interwebs know all this but one day I can look back on it all and jog what will definitely be my foggy memory. It's already going and I'm not of sufficient age. SO I SAY~
Though I haven't taken that glass blowing class, I DID purchase a certificate for an intro at Tacoma Glass Blowing Studio. Now just to make time.

Deep Clean, this will take time. The kitchen is looking pretty damn good. I haven't seen the top of my fridge in at least a I can. Victory! Small ones count.

Graduate from freelancer to columnist? Why yes, yes I DID. *happy dance* Thanks to Ron Swarner of the Weekly Volcano I am now acting as weekly foodie columnist. I cannot begin to state my excitement and sheer fear at what is to come. I could not have hoped for a more fitting position. I get to write about all things yum in the south sound. Help a gal out by sending any grand ideas. I feel as though I can only grow and learn from this experience. And live for the deadline. Way better than clocking in for that work day with no absolute goal ahead except to get through that eight hour work day unscathed.
HELLO, it's the Weekly Volcano! Legit.
Add to that another amazing "job," Editor (doesn't that sound important?) of Wrist Magazine. I will share more on this later. In the grand scheme of things these two new developments alone are a LEAP into the proper direction. Thank you cosmos.
No baby yet, much to Gramma Casellas disappointment....we keep trying. :)
Tattoo appointment set for December 19th. In the event I'm not having a baby of course.
Training began today for another new position, Executive Director of the North Tacoma branch of Peace Out. They are attempting a pilot and expanding....and I am so very honored to be one of three new members helping make this reality. More on this later as well.
Pinterest dates. So far we've made scarves, began cork balls and made pumpkin cake. B O O M. I should start a crazy crafty lady mom blog or something. Be prepared when I'm unable to sip my way to wordy inspiration that this may be reality.
That leaves plenty on my list but DAMN it's a good start. My heart and life is so full.
I may have had a cocktail or two before writig this....what's it to you?


Elysian Beer Dinner with Dirty Oscar's Annex

First I must apologize, this is a long overdue review. Shame on me, I just let my days get away from me. Often words cannot do true justice to a dining experience. But I intend on trying my darnedest to implore you to take a leap and journey to Dirty Oscar's Annex.
The place is truly an enigma. By night you may say that it's riddled with PBR loving hipsters, pool, jukebox jams. While by morning the hungry masses, regardless of age, race, background pile in for (what I believe, as many do) the best breakfast in Tacoma.
And all the while the menu, however you percieve the ambiance and crowd, is an adventure in flavors and pairings that are well worth the visit.
Dirty Oscar's is one of the few Tacoma staples that have regular pairing dinners. A little product sampling and knowledge married to a menu concocted for pairing. This time was Elysian Brewery highlighting some of their specialty brews and Chef Aaron Grissoms dishes not seem on the regular menu.
Here's some of my thoughts.

Confit of Baby Beet and Rainbow Carrot, Duck Prosciutto. Goat Cheese Fondue, Bull's Blook Mircrogreens, with Chioggia Beet Chips, Duck Cracklings and a Rainbow Beet Gelee.

This dish had a lovely presentation with it's colorful bits. The goat cheese fondue had a nice grittiness to it. The beet chips were crisp and the carrots sweet. It was a balanced, delightful dish, almost playful. The Beet Bock Pilsner was earthy and light. It may take a true lover of the root vegetable to appreciate it.

Red Snapper Noodle Nest in Pho Demi. Fresno and Black Basil Caviar with Pickled Yellow and Orange Carrot Salad.

Faux Pho! These "noodles" were in fact made from Red Snapper, yes the fish. There was a lovely zesty undertone from the pickled carrot salad. While the red snapper was amazing. I'd hardly recognize it as fish, it reminded me of Pad Thai noodles. Again Chef Grissom nailed the presentation with colorful beauty. Paired with the Maelstrom Blood Orange Ale, this beer screams of ocean view deck seats. Though I thought both were very good apart, together they fought for who reigned all over my tastebuds.
Smoked Jowl, Habanero Carrot Puree and Carolina Style BBQ Sauce with a Compressed Potato Bread Cracker. Braised Trotter, Celeriac Slaw, Candied Elephant Garlic Chip and Sweet Potato Gratin.

No photo can do this dish justice. The balance from the sweet in the bbq and carrot with the heat from the habanero was a perfect matrimony of flavor. The bread cracker in lieu of a bun was ingenious and added texture that made what could have otherwise been a soggy mess just plain great. Paired with Immortal IPA couldn't have been better. The hops complimented the heat and bbq with utter perfection. I could eat this every week easily. More please.

Red Wine Soaked Lamb Loin. Balsamic Macerated Figs, Parsnip, Lotus Root Puree with Pistachio Dust and Carbonated Grape, Topped with Friend Terragon.

This receives trophy for best of the evening. "DROOL" was the first note taken, I kid you not. The medium rare meaty bit was lovely while everything that accompanied it gave it an earthy, rich, sweet kick. Nom, need I say more? I just can't do it. Add to that the pairing of Dragonstooth Stout, a nicely roated, deep brew and that's game over for me. Baby. making. good.

For dessert Chef Grissom paired four rich, delectable bites with four pumpkin ales. With these he was aiming to create a fluidity going from light to dark. Of all the pumpkin ales the one I enjoyed most was probably the Dark o' the Moon Pumpkin Stout, though the Night Owl Pumpkin Ale had that pumpkin spice to it without being overt and over the top.
Round one and two of our sweet treats included a candied almosnd ginger granola crumble over a vanilla bean gelato with spiced pumpkin caramel. AND  a german choclate frangelico cake with pumpkin and dark chocolate ganache with a vanilla creme anglaise and candied orange peel.

The cake had a nice nutty hint to it while the bittersweet of the chocolate made me daydream of some sweet old grannie baking. The granola was a real treat and added a texture to the gelato that took it up a notch.

The men hard at work plating.

Bay leaf scented white chocolate fudge with an allspice cookie crumble. Coffee ice cream quenelle. Vanilla marshmellow dipped chocolate tuile and salted caramel bacon powder.

I'm not going to lie. By this point I had a pretty good buzz and neglected my notes. Sorry, what can I say. The chocolate fudge was pretty much amazing, rich and creamy. And to stick to his adventurous ways, Grissoms salted caramel bacon powder was a nice surprise. The sweet, salty, smoky powder became a chewy solid texture when rehydrated while chewing. Wowza, what a nice little surprise.

That being said I can say without a doubt that I will be booking my next dining venture with Dirty Oscars Annex early to secure my seat in a culinary adventure. Another Bourbon Dinner awaits me on November 13th. As we have proved several times over, bourbon is the nectar of the goddesses. Or at least for this girl.

Until Next Time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Manhattan Project: MARROW a manhattan under clever disguise

Back on the Manhattan track with my partner in crime Mrs. Tiffany Jill. She's my favorite drinking buddy (and really just one of my "favorites" which is an elite list) because she is an endless source of amazing conversation. She's wicked smart, a mama like yours truly and cultured without being pretentious.
Anyhow on to our Manhattan date! For this round we chose Marrow Kitchen and Bar on the ever popular and hip 6th Ave Strip. Marrow is known for it's unique culinary ingredients, not for the faint of heart. The menu challenges you to be adventurous and their craft cocktails are no exception. Cleverly given monikers of literary characters and teasing with delightful concoctions and infused spirits, Marrow was a natural spot to continue our Manhattan Project.
We actually visited Marrow twice, since there was no cocktail on their specialty menu that screamed "this is our specialty manhattan" we opted for a manhattan, bartenders choice. I totally did the dreaded...."we'd like a manhattan, just something tasty, you pick".
I say dreaded because as a tender of the bar and slinger of the booze, I'm not one to assume what your version of tasty is. It's like saying "What do you make that's good?" PSSH "everything YO!" (I've been watching too much Breaking Bad, please excuse me and just be happy I didn't call you a Bitch a la Jessie Pinkman)
Mmmmm, the bartender chose Bulleit as the brown liquor of choice for this manhattan. It was shaken and had a nice balance of vermouth and bitters. We detected aromas of cinnamon. I'm a fan of Bulleit myself, it's masculine, like campfire cologne it reminds me of smoky jazz bars and crooning mistresses, red lipstick. It's a rough you up kind of sexy. It will bite back just a tad.

Tiffany says of the cocktail: I didn’t think was anything special, although not bad by any means. More of a straight forward flavor, bit more bite to it. The finish on it was simple, basic maraschino cherry, no big deal. Not something I would choose again, unlike at the Social which I totally would. I would recommend it for those that prefer tradition.

It's a classic and well exucuted.
For round two we chose the "Flynn." Not technically a manhattan it has many of the same aspects. Again made with the Bulleit though the Rye for this one. Luxardo, a delightful nutty cherry liquer and chocolate bitters. The presentation was a lovely surprise, atop the cocktail was a flaming lemon peel letting a lovely citrus aroma welcome you to the drink. Primitive imps danced in my eyes as I "ooh'ed and aah'ed" There was a lot going on in this drink, a nice sweetness to it, nutty vanilla tabacco...very comforting. This guy was the silky smooth kind of sexy.

Tiffanys thoughts? Much more rounded in taste, smoother. The flavor had more back than upfront bite, which I prefer. The presentation was pretty awesome too, and the little extra flavor of the flamed peel was unexpected and refreshing. This one was the cool kid, the hipster of the two.

This guy may give The SBG Manhattan a run for their money.
And there you have it. Another successful date sipping on my cocktail of choice. Our next stop will be the apocrathy kings at the 1022. Stay tuned.
If you're aware of an amazing Manhattan please share so we can include them on our Manhattan adventure.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Start of the BIG List

My list of things I hope to do within the next year. From small to big. Maybe it's something I've been daydreaming about. Perhaps it's a career goal. These are just some of the things I'd like to accomplish by this time next year.

I think to do lists are very helpful. It's an aid in visualization and manifestation. For me it has helped ideas and dreams go from just that to reality.

~Take a glass blowing class

~Deep clean the whole house (not one I'm looking forward to except the end result of course. Being a mostly stay at home this will come more easily)

~Graduate from "freelancer" to columnist

~Take the family to Mount Rainier (we haven't been since Connor was born)

~Self print a postcard book

~Make a zine:Worked for a zine, not a bad start


~Get a tattoo

~Teach Moira and Andrew to drive

~Volunteer: Became "Volunteer Director of North Tacoma Branch" Peace Out....a good start, this to do is ongoing.

~Have a Pay It Forward Day with the kids

~Start a garden!

~Go to Mexico, after our belated wedding reception (that's two) Delayed, Because we are having a baby.

~Continue "Pinterest Dates" with my sister

~Start saving for a house

~Road trip!

~Read a book each month and get a book club going, if need be just attend a book club


~Help projects that are near and dear to me grow and flourish. This applies to ART BUS, Peace Out, any writing projects, etc.  

~Write a book

~Go to loads of concerts and festivals. As a family and a couple: Dr. Dog, Graveyard, TedxTacoma, City of Neighborhoods,

~Visit Treehouse Point again
This list is subject to growth and shrinkage due to checking them off and adding new ones as I see fit. I intend on blogging as I go, because that's how I roll.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Whimsy and Wonder of Treehouse Point

I've been eyeballing Treehouse Point, located in Issaquah for some time now via the interwebs. Places like this are magical and surreal. A retreat not so far away from the luxaries we find necessary.
I booked a night for my husband and myself as a tiny getaway. No kids, no dogs, no work. Just the two of us taking in some much needed rest, relaxation and nature! Tensions have been running high being as we both were working full time and juggling our schedules (seems to be the problem for many). Him and his 50+ hours a week and me with maybe a plate too full of projects while working six days a week between two part time jobs for most of August. (this doesn't include hours doing the kind of work I admire like writing, assisting with art bus and volunteering with Peace Out, things that at this stage in my life I am unwilling to give up. I've reached a time in my life that community building takes a great priority. I want my kids to take great pride in their community and have big thoughts and big dreams....right here.)
We are amidst "living the America Dream" and too busy to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
So I decided we were going to hit the pause button for 24 whole hours. With the help of my magnificent baby sister who house/baby sat for us.
Off we went.
This was our room!! Now for those who don't know, Treehouse Point is a B&B consisting of a main lodge with a few available rooms and 5 or 6 treehouse rooms of varying sizes that serve as lodging. I'm a all or nothing kind of girl when the circumstance allows....I booked the big kahuna of treehouse rooms, Temple of the Blue Moon. The only treehouse with an emergency bathroom (the rest have to make a short walk to the shared restroom) and the largest room available. Besides check it out!!!! I witnessed atleast 3 people walk to the edge of the bridge and take this exact photo. See the large tree going straight up the middle?! Le Sigh.

We ventured to the nearby stream and discovered LOADS of rock pillars. So many that you want to watch your step as to not knock over the handiwork of others who have visited....there were dozens. Big ones, little ones, all different sizes and differing strategies.....there must be a psychology to the building of rock pillars me thinks.  

Serene sounds of the water. Absolute Bliss. I love Washington State so much. There are natural sources of water just about everywhere. Calm and quiet. Loud and raging. The trickling around rocks and chirping of birds is absolutely one of the most magnificent things about this place. You can pause, think your own big thoughts and dream your own big dreams...then go home and manifest them.

We decided that rock towers is a kind of tradition and had to make one of our own. I'm quite proud of our shared project. Placed in the water on a sturdy knook. It was still there in the morning, I wonder if someone will build one nearby. This was one of the highlights of our's not everyday we comb the ground for perfectly suited rocks together. xo

Seating areas can be found through out the grounds some amonth the rocks, some lonely chairs and hammocks placed along the trails and this guy right here. I want this in my yard, I'd write, read, sip on vino and smile. Fairys and gnomes use this stage for dancing.

DEEP DEEP SIGH. Smiling Hearts all the way.

Our room. This is the Blue Moon Goddess. Windows give a view from every angle out of the treehouse.

This is just a little guy. Maybe even easily missed by some. Welcoming those who enter Temple of the Blue Moon. It is truly a temple. Temple of the treehouses, temple to all those who revel in what the forest has to offer.

This plank was a wobbly guy but the least of our adventures. We climed into lookout points up steep ladders, making me realize my age. As children I think such things as heights unfaze us as we climb to the summit of large trees like wild animals. Then that practical, safe little demon of doubt matures....and ladders to the treetops is an intimidating idea. Which means, I think, I have officially gotten old.

One of the walls in our room, to the left is the opening to the deck and a closet.

The front steps to the main house. There had been a wedding there recently and these balloons had made their way to float lazily upon the entrance steps.

By the entrance of our little temporary home was a window, a close and loving gaze onto the giant tree supporting us, fresh water, a selection of teas and this darling Buddha guy.

One of the many chairs. Look closely, this one has a full on view of the rock pillars. A meditative resting spot and a shrine to the river.

Now on the the food of the trip, because let's face it, I love me some food. Breakfast in the a.m. was divine. The main lodge was full of the welcoming and comforting aromas of freshbaked goods, jazz music and good coffee. THP prides themselves on this infamous housemade granola and for good reason, it's delicious. Among the goodies there was fresh cut fruit, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, pastries, orange juice and coffee. I should have take more photos of the lodge itself there was a library, a chess table and a large communal eating area. Throughout the grounds there were several dining areas as well. Too much for words, I'll have to take pictures of those next time.

For dinner we drove into Issaquah to check things out. Only a 15 minute drive from woodsy retreat to a good selection of dining establishments. AGAVE Cocina and Tequila is where we chose to rest our rumps and fill our bellies. We happened to arive during happy hour so had a great list of cheaps eats. And damn were they tasty. These goat cheese filled jalapenos were wrapped in bacon and grilled to perfection. Served with a pineapple and serrano salsa. A little too much sweet for my taste in the salso but delicious all the same.

MMMM, Chicken Nachos. Tres Queso nachos, I feel disappointed that I didn't find out what cheeses this included because it was unique....a bit of a sharp taste with a nice balance. Maybe even some goat cheese. Fresh jalapenos, corn, black beans, tomatoes, red onions and gaucamole.

$5 Margaritas! Nothing exceptional but still good. My husband as a tequila and margarita snob  (what do you expect from the Matadors GM) thought they could stand to be stronger and less lime-y. I'm ashamed to say I didn't take photos of the Diablo Wings because they are perhaps on my top 3 wing list. I love me some wings and these were SO good. There was a nice spice that didn't overwhelm you while maintaining a delightful flavor and just a hint of sweetness. Not traditional by any means but not so outside of the box that the traditional wing lovva would be turned off. We got a second order even and I was too gung-ho to get a pic either time. In my mouth right now.

24 hours in the first days of fall. In a nutshell. Because this trip was so much more and we will definitely be returning. I'd like very much to retreat to this very location, by myself, (maybe even one of the smaller rooms) and write to my hearts content....I have a story brewing in my bones and so much STUFF at home that I lack focus. Some writers can be magnificent in the busy-ness of life....I've had some difficulty.
Until next time friends.


My Mister reminded me that I failed to tell you about our favorite little gem of this trip. In the room, on the bookshelf there was a journal. This journal was written in by people who had visited that very room. Some had just gotten married and started their life together, some were celebrating many years together, birthdays, Valentine's Day, and some were some getting away from it all like us. There were poems, drawings, musings, paintings. Some people were eloquent, some were hilarious. It was intimate and lovely.
It was our favorite. As we sipped on wine out of tea cups and listened to the river we read through these words and were so blessed to be a part of it.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Diggin on Some of This Right Now

I can thank my soul mister for that.


Vader Bling~

Another adventure in random tipping practices.
This time it played in my favor.

As we have established before, I pride myself on giving good service. I can be an odd duck, essentially a super dork with social skills that dazzle. A rare combination. Which is why some of the coolest kids in the industry work in the back of the house. It takes a lot of ego and non-dorkness to be a front of the house body. Truth.
For the most part, I think folks can walk away and feel like they've received a dining exerience that was a delight.

Sometimes (whether it be change in demographics of diners or an off day) I will walk away with far less than I feel I've earned. Some people don't understand the rules of thumb when tipping out....or assume the living costs of today are much like the 1930's. Some people have tip envy and feel bitter they don't work in an industry that they too receive tips. As though a higher hourly rate and opportunity for benefits is such a bummer.
Any how today is not about bad tips, rather a random one that turns out to be AWESOME. It may have not been so awesome to another server....but this girl must have been a long lost sister in geekdom.

My first table of the evening. A couple of gals comprable in age to yours truly, having a girls night. They were a pleasure. Made me chuckle a bit and were not high maintenance in the least! Score. They say you can judge your evening by the first table that walks in the door.

It seems to be the case, though that could be my super mind powers manifesting.

As I was cleaning the table I could have easily dismissed the black form as garbage and chucked it without a second gander but instead I picked it up with a curious "What the hell?"

And was met by this:

This is my kind of tip. Hell yes, I thought. She could have left zero dollars and this and I would have felt a sense of victory....I must have done something right because I got this AND a hefty 40% tip.
Mystery geek girl, I heart thee. You made my night. Thank you.
If it happened to fall out of your purse and it was a mistake, I will absolutely hold my vader bling at a high ransom. Or claim complete ignorance, "Vader bling? I have no idea what you are talking about."
Though the stamps received were an unusual tip this beats them all.....and in a fine dining establishment in which I work this was a rare and welcome find.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

The MANHATTAN Project: Maxwell's, Keeping it Classy

It hardly seems fair to cover Maxwell's twice in a month's time but what can I say, I dig the place. Charming, candlelit and some of the best craft cocktails in Tacoma. Former bartendress Lilliana Franz (Johnson) concocts tasty, flavorful and adventurous adult beverages that include house infused spirits and rarely seen liquors.

Naturally the Maxwell's Manhattan is no exception. This tasty potion earned a spot on the top 5 cocktails in Tacoma in the Weekly Volcano (while Maxwell's Paris on a Shoestring earned an honorable mention with it's vanilla vodka, earl grey infused vodka and agave syrup).
Woodford Reserve, cocchi vermouth and sage extract stirred and topped with a luxardo cherry.

Woodford Reserve is smooth and oaky making it very nice for a manhattan since there's no mixer to take the edge off.
The sage extract is mild, without knowing of it's presence it may go unnoticed, but entertains a slight earthy note to the cocktail.

My partner in crime, also known as my husband seemed like a natural subsitute for a drinking buddy but sucks as far as reviews go...he likes booze, this is a good drink. That's about all he had to offer on the subject. Now get him on the subject of tequila or sports and he's sure to chime in his fair share of the conversation.

The only criticism I can offer of this cocktail is that I like my manhattans shaken. Tiny ice particles serve to keep the drink chilled and dilutes it just a touch so that I can take big sips rather than little ones. In turn making it a much shorter journey to that delectably rich cherry awaiting me at the bottom.

Have you tried this manhattan or the one previously mentioned? Share with me your thoughts. No need to be a booze snob...just a lovva of the bourbon/whiskey.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Bourbon Trail Dinner and Maxwell's Speakeasy

If you haven't guessed yet, I love me some bourbon. I'm not sure at what point in my life my tastebuds decided they were so hardcore and masculine but they have and I love it.
I also love good food.
I'm an appreciator of the arts and true culinary craft is like in art in itself.
This last week Maxwell's Speakeasy hosted a Bourbon Trail Dinner.
It's only natural that I took pictures. Here's some of my thoughts.......
Ahi Crudo over peppercorn spiced ice, radish and bibb salad and candied green peppercorn vinaigrette.

This was not only delicious but the presentation was unique and flavorful. Spiced ice? Yes, a delectable peppercorn infused sheet of ice imitated a chilled salad plate keeping the ahi and sald chilled while adding some serious pepper flavor to the dish. Paired with Elijah Craig, the pepper really popped in your mouth accompanied with the warmth of the bourbon.

Chipotle Hummus, roasted corn and bourbon jam, fresh basil, avocado, sea salt and toasted naan bread.
Most certainly my favorite pairing of the evening. While the hummus had a nice heat to it the stand out of this dish was the corn and bourbon jam. Seriously ridiculous. A touch of sweetness with the roasted corn hints made me want to smother this jam on just about any future meal I consume. Period. Paired with Four Roses Small Batch, a bourbon I have yet to be introduced to until this dinner. I'm a new fan. Not too bold with nice hints of cinnamon, vanilla and oakiness. mmmm. In my mouth pronto.

Cajun Potato Chip, creme fraiche, salmon roe and fresh chives.

This little delight left me wanting a basket full. Certainly the most dapper dressed chip I've had the pleasure of nibbling on. The creme was rich and creamy balancing the spice from the tater. SO good. It's partner in crime was the Jim Beam Devil's Cut apparently named after a term called the "angels share" that happens during the distilling proccess. Apparently Kid Rock and the head honcho of Jim Beam are homies...why does this not surprise me. Kid Rock is responsible for this brown liquors name. Yup.

Pocini rubbed fillet, warm endive and tomatoes, granny smith apple slaw, backcountry alpine bleu cheese, mint vinaigrette and rye bread crumbs.

This filet was cooked to perfection with an amazing flavor combination, not a single aspect of the dish was what made it but rather the union and seasoning as a whole. Not usually on Maxwell's menu, it absolutely should be. I daydream of this morsel of tender, meaty goodness. It was so good it convinced me that Wild Turkey 101 isn't an angry beast of a shot and quite nice even. The red meat served the bourbon pairing well.

Sorbet, I believe it was a citrus and pineapple flavor.

Simple palate refresher. It's presentation in the cutest little dessert/martini glass and weespoon was just...darn cute.

Espresso and Cinnamon Rubbed Seared Duck Breast, ginger carrot puree, crispy tarragon and orange oil.

I absoutely adore duck as an entree. While the duck was tasty with it's flavor infused crisp sear the ginger carrot puree was AMAZING. Give me some of the corn bourbon jam and ginger carrot puree and I'd walk away a happy camper. Paired with Makers 46 this duo was elegant and smooth. It was a dim the lights, sexy kind of pairing.

Smoked Chocolate Pate, bacon lardons, toasted marcona almonds, sea salt and grilled baguette.

Chocolate and bacon are heaven sent. Those are two of my favorite things of all time after my children and husband. No joke. Put them together and how can you lose!? The smoked chocolate flavor was rich and conjured memories of campfire and that delightful charred marshmellow layer. Also on my favorite list after my children, husband, chocolate and bacon? Woodford Reserve. Match made in heaven. Chris is not a dessert kind of fella and while he loved the pate he didn't finish it....darn, means I needed to, I'd hate for that to go to waste. :)

Grilled Peach and a Vanilla Bean Basil Granita, pink peppercorn white balsamic gastrique.

This was a divine finale to the evening. While the basil granita may have been intimidating to look at presented in a shot glass of deep green ice stuff, it was damn tasty. I love sweet and herbal infused drinks and desserts and this was a winner. I could have taken a 32 ouncer of it. Partnered with Woodenville Whiskey it was delightful. With each dish the bourbon helped to amplify compelling flavor components successfully. Bravo!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I went to the circus

You can read my review here:

Trying to establish myself as a "writer" is difficult. With no formal training I just plug away and hope that someone likes my insight and how it's versed. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to get paid. Sometimes I'm not. I do work for barter often, which is just dandy.
Tickets to shows in exchange for a review? Sure, why not?
It doesn't pay the bills but this experience may lead to an opportunity one day that will. And besides. I love to write. I love a good excuse to get out of the house and experience life and performances. So all's well in the world.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Here is a very simple, unedited version of my review for the Cathedrals show.

Originally posted in Post Defiance (, go look and see, this site is a Tacoma gem). Though there it has been edited by someone far more eloquent than I. The edited version is better. See for yourself. I like editors~though I love to write I'm notorious for my fragment sentences and choppiness.
Thank you editors for all you do.  

Photos provided by Poetic Spectre Imaging (find her on Facebook). As I've said before and will again and again, she is a divine spirited woman and a helluva photographer.

Last weekend marked the second installation of Tacoma's Cathedral Shows brought to you by Aaron Stevens and the Broadway Center of Performing Arts; live singer songwriter's crooning alongside the Passenger String Quartet included Kevin Sur, Pretty Broken Things and David Bazan.

Upon entering the Immanuel Presbyterian Church I was immediately taken with the space. The summer sun, still bright in the early evening, shone through the stained glass windows as we took our seats to the sold out show. The use of a sacred space for the sake of entertainment sounds blasphemous but when it comes down to it the event is far more than that. It's a unity of community personalities joining together regardless of spirituality or background to drink in sounds of our local creative culture. As Stevens put it when kicking off the show, "It just feels like a really good night for Tacoma just being itself."

Kevin Sur, accompanied by the Passenger String Quartet opened the show. Sur's gravelly voice almost woos the audience with his indie folk vibe. Of playing with the Passenger String Quartet in a church Kevin Sur stated that it "alters your perspective of how you view your own songs." It was as though Sur and the Quartet were serenading each other, each strumming a note in response to one  another. 

Following Sur's set the quartet played a solo entitled "The Berlin Patient". The songs title is based off of a news story that composer Joslyn had heard with regards to an AIDS patient having been cured thanks to a bone marrow transplant. The composition conveyed an almost hopeful melancholy but also reminded me that this show was not just about music in a church. It was about telling stories using a diversified voice.   All those who performed, Sur and Bazan in particular, were sharing intimate glimpses into their life through their craft, heightening the experience of those who attended. Sur expressed this sentiment during his set when he said, "Thank you for wanting to be out of your house and experience this and share it with us."

Pretty Broken Things filled the cathedral with their epic peaks and sing-song valleys when taking the stage next. Fronted by Katie Costello, the real magic comes from the group dynamics. Costello says of her band mates that she was given a gift when looking to "sucker some people into being her back-up." Though Costello's breathy vocals lay the foundation of each song, the group reaches an almost fervent pitch when the group joins in with their harmonizing violin and vocals in unison with  guitar thumping, hand clapping and foot stomping rhythms encouraging the audience to do the same.

The headliner of the evening was the  legendary David Bazan, formerly of Pedro the Lion. His lyrics are almost a narration of poetry, like a scab picked off leaving a sore to face the elements,  a testament to the human condition. He referred to his songs all as " offensive and bummers" at some point and rightfully so. In the midst of said "bummers" he sprinkled in humor and a down to earth approachability that dissolved the angst of his raw words.

Twice during Bazan's set he interrupted and asked the audience if they had any questions. The inquiries  began with a lighthearted "Have you ever wanted to have dreadlocks?" which he replied with a humorous, "Back in high school, but it takes too much non-work work.....I'd eat the honey." To really important ones like, "What life lessons would you give your children based on your day today?" to which he responded with an "Empathy and self discipline, and they'd have to be cool. Not hip cool, just not jerks." And even delved deeper into his stance on religion and how it inspires his creativity. Which was perhaps the most appropriate given his former religious viewpoints and the location of the show. He spoke of his past work as "very naive expressions of a former viewpoint". Weaved among hits from both his days with Pedro the Lion and solo work Bazan included "Hallelujah," saying that this song wasn't about what many believed it to be, "unless God is a girl and also doesn't exist. Which is possible."

David Bazan finalized his set with "Strange Negotiations" backed by the Passenger Quartet. This performance in itself really highlighted the marriage of Andrew Joslyn's compositions and the performers. It was as though the composition reflected David Bazan's feelings brewing and stirring just below the surface. The players throughout the show weaved classical properties and complimented the modern songwriters creations, this was most clear with Bazan's set.

 It was like a religious experience for those who place their faith in the arts and music. A compelling and unique experience for those who support the Tacoma scene with their presence and set in an unconventional venue. The third installation won't be until Friday, November 16th, with artist to be announced but you can purchase your tickets now for a mere $16.

Who's feet were these? I love this shot.

Playing Catch Up~Some Music

I've been meaning to visit here for sometime but I've just been plain busy. Job transistion. Writing gigs. Kids and Husbands schedule. Volunteering. Side projects and gigs like the Art Bus, Duchess Blog, etc. It's a whirlwind but a good one.
Today is my day off. So here I am, playing catch up.


Music is a constant in my life. I'm not a musician (not in the slightest). Nor is anyone really in my family. Sure, Moira plays the trumpet. Drew has dabbled and yet to master in some instrument playing. Chris has been known to pick up a guitar. But not a one of us is musical on the regular. But music is a staple in the Casella (Fender/Bugal) home. We have an impressive collection and luckily the kids have damn good taste and appreciate it. I've had so much music in my life lately. Makes my heart happy. And though only a couple of weeks has passed, I'm feeling ancy and need another mucial adventure. Here's some examples of summer bliss that included food, drink and music.

Summer nights wouldn't be complete without some specialty cocktails from The Social.

Oh Bookstore Bar how you slay me. We discovered this little gem in Seattle thanks to the Passport Card. Looking for savings and a little something different. I fell in love with this place immediately with it's book lined walls and their blackened manhattan. Eagle Rare, Averna Amaro, Aperol and Orange Bitters with a lovely orange peel dancing in the drink. Seriously I wish this bar was here in Tacoma. It would be a top contender for the Manhattan Project. Yes, I know WE are slacking in our journey. I promise we will play some catch up. The aroma and flavor were Ah-fucking-mazing.

Books, Scotch and Whiskey. Does it get much better? I think not. If I ever open a place up it will be a lot like this.
Yup, Fiona Apple. Checking off my dream list each and every year. Though Chris went to appease my admiration we both walked away loving Fiona. She was flawless, passionate and seemed able to pull from emotions long past. She's either batshit crazy or brilliant. Maybe a little of both. As she croons out tunes both old and new she begins almost looking restrained physically with her hands behind her back. As the songs progress her dancing is as though she's writhing out of a straight-jacket. The words are like honey and a jackhammer.

Paramount, You remain to be a favorite venue of mine. Heart Smiles.
Immanuel Presbyterian Church here in Tacoma. Home to the most recent installation of CATHEDRALS, brought to you by The Broadway of Performing Arts Center.

Photo courtesy of Poetic Spectre Imaging. She has a set of peepers that views the world as I do and can convey that through the lense, which I do not. Le Sigh. My review done for this show to follow~David Bazan (pictured above), Pretty Broken Things and Kevin Sur~
Then of course, it was time for Drews birthday. He'd been listening closely to music. It was pretty clear since before the Black Keys concert that he was intersted in picking up the guitar. So, here it is. His bass. Excited to see where this journey takes him.