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.