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May 15, 2015 at 11:38am

Waves of chocolate and wine

Whether it's a date night or girls night out that you seek, you can hardly go wrong with wine and chocolate--the pillars of any evening on the town worth its salt. Fortunately for all, Waves of Perfection is here to turn the afternoon of May 23 into an unparalleled foodie evening.

Waves of Perfection serves as a fundraiser for the Squaxin Island Museum, which has tasked executive chef Victor Mortazavi with creating and executing an impressive lineup of wine, chocolate, crepes, cheeses and more. Crepes will be both sweet and savory. Expect such toppings as intense chocolate fudge and carmelized apples.

"Selections are really up to our executive chef and this is his creation," said Leslie Johnson, director of the Squaxin Island Tourism Department. "He’s handcrafting everything. They’ve hired a French chef and there will be several new selections made by him as well."

There will be nine wine stations with more than 100 wines to choose from between them. Mortazavi will hand select all wines to go with the food.

Along with food and wine, the museum will also host a raffle and small private auction. Raffle prizes will include seasonal goodies pertaining to all things spring and summer.

"It’s really a fun event. Usually when events end, people get up and leave, but they don’t do that at this one," adds Johnson.

The event takes place at the museum, but there will be buses running to and from the nearby Little Creek Casino’s main valet area every 10-15 minutes as well. If you don't want to worry about driving after copious wine tastings, take the bus to the casino afterward and sober up while playing the slots! The casino also has a special rate of $99 on the night of the 23rd for event attendees (limited rooms available). Mention "Waves" or show your ticket to get the discount.

Waves of Perfection takes place on May 23 from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Squaxin Island Museum, 150 SE Kwuh-Deegs-Altxw, Shelton, WA 98584. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to http://squaxinislandmuseum.org/waves-of-perfection-chocolate-and-wine-tasting/ or call 360.432.3839.

Filed under: Culinary Events,

March 18, 2015 at 11:49am

Taste Gig Harbor this weekend

Morso Wine Bar will serve its morsels at the Taste of Gig Harbor March 21. Photo courtesy of Facebook

There's a troll that lives under the bridge. He grimaces and holds me for ransom, then gobbles up my money every time I try to return home to Tacoma. Well, I mean, there isn't, but there may as well be. It's that damn toll. The toll makes Gig Harbor seem like some far off rumored land when really it's just a hop away. This is precisely why the Taste of Gig Harbor wasn't even a blip on my radar, and for that I feel ashamed. How could I have missed this fundraising celebration of Gig Harbor's culinary prowess and sense of community?

Gig Harbor is full of delectable and diverse dining options including fine dining digs The Green.House, burger joint Blazing Onion, classy Morso Wine Bar, exotic eats at Moctezuma's and Gateway to India, neighborhood restaurant and bar The Hub at Gig Harbor, neighborhood digs at Tides Tavern, golf-guru-go-to Canterwood Golf and Country Club and even culinary academic institute Bates Technical College, all of which have or are participating in this year's Taste of Gig Harbor's festivities on March 21.

The idea is that participating establishments set up kiosks along Tacoma Narrows Airport, and attendees choose which grub to nibble - or which libations to sip; count Heritage Distilling Company among the sponsors, which means you'll find something to pair perfectly with everything, regardless of what cuisine you choose. While noshing and sipping, take in live and silent auctions, a wine game and raffles, and mingle with fellow community minded folks. Proceeds benefit the Gig Harbor Rotary Club. That means warm fuzzies and a full belly plus, if you're lucky, prized booty won from bidding done well.

Now in its 24th year, Taste of Gig Harbor is in the business of fundraising while also bringing people together over the one thing that has successfully brought people together for eons: food. This is likely the reason why the festivities serve as the club's largest fundraising event of the year, because there is nothing more in this world that will bring the masses together better than food, drink and a worthy cause.

Founded in 1974, the Rotary has been standing true to the "service above self" motto while its members invest their time in deeds like placing Connie's Clock at the Bogue Viewing Platform in Gig Harbor's Finholm District, rebuilding the Orthopedic Guild that benefits Mary Bridge Children's hospital, building the public restrooms and pavilion in Skansie Brothers Park, and refurbishing and donating the Midway School building to the Gig Harbor History Museum. This is work that takes passion, vision and dollars.

So use this as an excuse to urban spelunk in our sister city, which is just a short drive over the bridge along with a million dollar toll (OK, OK, it's only $5.50), and dine on some good grub for a good cause.

TASTE OF GIG HARBOR, 5:30-10 p.m., Saturday, March 21, Tacoma Narrows Airport, 1188 26th Ave. NW, Gig Harbor, tasteofgigharbor.com

February 26, 2015 at 1:11pm

Top Fun: Hudson and Goose

A night with Goose Island Beer Co. at Maxwell's Speakeasy and Lounge in Tacoma, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015.

Top Fun: Hudson and Goose

Chef Hudson Slater stands in the kitchen at Maxwell's Speakeasy and Lounge on ready alert, staring at his stovetop. Hudson draws a breath, then forces himself to grab the saute pan off the heat. The flames shoot into the air. Suddenly, the kale breaks apart. The purple leaves break in every direction as he BLASTS through their formation. Something comes up through the flames. A sous chef darts by. The line cook drops in and locks onto him.

"Talk to me, Goose," pleads Hudson as he turns toward Goose.

The clanking of cookware drown out the roar of the flames.

"Critical point," Hudson quips to Goose.

Hudson takes a 180 turn and presses both hands on his Tom Douglas cookbook sitting on the counter, the inspiration for his career. ...

He stares at the cover as if he can read page 59.

He twists back around.    

"I'm gonna go! THREE ... TWO ... ONE. ..."

Hudson engages his cutlery and cookware as if in a dogfight. Blades twirling, ingredients airborne, liquids falling like Niagara Falls. His kitchen companions gaze in disbelief. A fusion with steamed edamame sprinkled with black-olive powder, garnished with shiso leaves and surrounded by dots of black-olive-and-citron crème, morphs into a curried green-coconut-milk soup with tiny clams, scallops, flying fish eggs and garnished with flash-fried whitebait turns into grilled sardine brushed with jalapeño juice. He dumps each dish into the trash. Hudson gives a nod to Goose, and with adrenaline pumping as a charging bull, a rabbit mignon in a syrupy caramel of Iberian-ham drippings with a smoked-eel petit four suddenly appears, as if it was pulled from a hat.

The twirling stops like Dorothy's house in Oz. Panting, Hudson takes a swig of Goose, dumps the rabbit down the hole and dives back in. Gaining speed, he plunges toward the dessert. His Marzipan spacers and zester become one with his hands; a slow-motion blur that would draw a smile from Morpheus.

The music builds. The action increases. As the scene fades to black, you can make out a smile as Hudson asks permission for a fly-by from Maxwell's owner Steve Anderson.

Judging from the frequency of high (and low) fives, Chef Hudson Slater and Goose Island Beer Company do it all well, and they prefer to do it together. In a kitchen full of barely contained roars and lots of nutty oak, dark dried fruit, molasses, vanilla, bourbon, bittersweet chocolate and burnt raisin, Hudson and Goose have the real bromance. They're on top of their game and they're always there for each other with a commendable loyalty.

>>> Chef Hudson Slater

When he's not posting exquisite cuisine art on his Instagram, brewing craft beer with bacon, sharing recipes for published cookbooks or pushing the envelope in Maxwell's Kitchen, Chef Hudson Slater is winning chef competitions - almost every one he enters. The young family man from University Place cuts his teeth at Gordon and Steve Naccarato's The Beach House at Purdy before rising from cook to executive chef at the stylish fine-dining restaurant he clocks in today.

>>> Derek Wieting, sales representative, Goose Island Beer Co., Anheuser-Busch

In the late '80s, traveling salesman John Hall turned his passion into a career when he introduced his craft beer brewing Goose Island Brewpub to the macrobeer chugging city of Chicago. In 1992, Goose Island gave the beer industry a new reason to belly up to the bar: bourbon-aged beer. Then in 2004, America had a new tradition - the annual post-Thanksgiving release of Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stout, one of the most important beers in the history of American brewing. Heavily charred barrels from bourbon distilleries give way to roasty cocoa flavors with traces of caramelized wood sugars and vanillin compounds.

Last night, 20 people floated like gods, above Maxwell's dining tables, above the dinnerware, looking down at what one of the top bromances on the planet can create in the kitchen. With inspiration from his co-pilot Goose, Chef Hudson presented his five final dishes for a beer-pairing dinner.


"I strived to awaken your palate with this first dish," announces Chef Hudson. "The green curry edamame puree and japaleno bring a little heat; also on the plate are shiitake mushrooms from across the Purdy Bridge, a poached quail egg - so pop it open - plus pickled mustard seed and fennel."

Derek Wieting, the Washington, Oregon and Idaho sales representative for Goose Island Beer Co. - and all the Anheuser-Busch InBev products - as well as a Seattle Queen Anne Hill neighborhood resident, praised Chef Hudson for choosing the Goose Island India Pale Ale with his spicy dish. Wieting proudly announced the IPA is made with hops (Pilgrim, Styrian Golding Celeia, Cascade, Centennial) from Elk Mountain Farm, Goose Island's own hop farm in the Idaho panhandle, so it has Northwest roots. The multiple award-winning IPA has 55 IBUs, "making it really sessionable," he says. "This beer pairs really well with food, especially the dish in front of you. It's not a typical Northwest IPA, and shouldn't destroy your palate." 


"Since Goose Island is from Chicago, this next dish is my tribute to the city. I created a Chicago Hot Dog - kind of," says Chef Hudson. " I call it "Chicago Dog Ravioli," with all the elements of a hot dog - beef sausage, braised tomato, onion, sport pepper, dill pickle relish and a mustard sauce, plus a poppy seed aioli."

Wieting chimes in, "Our Goose Island Ten Hills Pale Ale has its roots firmly planted in the Northwest. All the hops come out of our hop farm in northern Idaho." Wieting went on to explain a dedicated Goose Island hop farm is one of the advantages of A-B purchasing Goose Island four years ago. The Goose Island brewers spent quality time on the farm and the community surrounding Elk Mountain Farm, forging a relationship between farmer and brewer to a point in which Elk Mountain Farms now grows more than 100 acres of hops for Goose Island annually. "We have access to hops that aren't readily available to a lot of other breweries," says Wieting. The Goose brewers picked the hops (Perle, Cascade and Saaz) on site for the Ten Hills Pale Ale. The apricot and tangerine aroma, with sweet honey and toasted flavors paired well with Chef Hudson's pasta dog. It's more floral than the IPA.


Touting the Goose Island Matilda Belgian Style Pale Ale as his favorite beer of the night, Chef Hudson wanted to complement the beer's spicy yeast flavor, so he choose a smoked mussel aioli as well as a single smoked mussel on the plate. He added a poached halibut seared in nutty brown butter with butter lettuce, puffed quinoa and roasted shallot.

Wieting explained the legend of Matilda of Tuscany, who lost her wedding ring in a lake. A fish appeared clutching the ring in its mouth. Overwhelmed with joy, Matilda funded the neighboring monastery and its brewing operation.

Inspired by great Trappist ales, this complex Belgian Style Pale Ale is fermented with the wild yeast Brettanomyces. The Goose brewers claim its has a farmhouse funk taste, "with lots of dried fruit and clove aromas," adds Wieting. On the tongue, thickness from sweet malts coat the tongue followed by flavors of earthy mushroom, orange peel and heavy yeast. The clove and peach preserves are present, with hay - mingling on the tongue while spiciness pushes out from the finish.

Wieting says the Matilda is aged in wine barrels, not so much for the flavor but rather as a second fermentation. The pale ale is part of the brewery's Vintage Series where they blend beers aged in wine barrels for different lengths to bring out complex wine-like notes paired with evolving tart or fruity qualities.

With the wild yeast slightly altering the taste every year, a five-year vertical flight can be a fun, tasty experiment. He added with the A-B buyout, Goose's Barrel House went from 30,000 barrels to 130,000 barrels.


"I love Bourbon County so I went with clean flavors for its pairing - braised beef short rib, celery root and parsnip puree, roasted Brussels sprouts and stout demi glace," explains Chef Hudson.  "It's not overpowering."

Wieting introduced Bourbon County Brand Stout saying, "I commend Chef Hudson for pairing the Bourbon County Aged Stout with a main dish and not dessert. Typically, chefs save this beer for the end of the meal. I applaud Chef Hudson's innovation."


Wieting paused. ... "There are a lot of bourbon-barrel aged beers now - Goose was the first." Goose Island was indeed there first - in 1992, long before anyone in the Idaho hop field had anything to do with the brewery. The Goose brewers age the beer in a warehouse that has no temperature controls for nine months to a year. The result is a rich, complex SMOOTH blend of bourbon, chocolate, cherry, leather and many more layered flavors at 12 to 13 percent alcohol by volume. "By the way," Wieting adds, "if you get a hold of our Bourbon County Coffee, please let me know and I'll buy it off you. It's ranked number two in the world."


"This is by far my most favorite beer in the Goose portfolio," says Wieting. "Named after Goose founder's granddaughter Sofie, we age the Sofie Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale for nine months in wine barrels with an abundance of oranges fresh from our fields - bacteria, dirt and all. I'm talking fifty pounds of oranges per barrel. It's bubbly with almost a champagne-like effervesce. I love this beer in the summer - light, refreshing with a creamy vanilla finish."

Chef Hudson created an upscale take on the banana cream pie to pair with Sofie's citrus notes. He offered a beautiful play of roasted bananas cream panna cotta, Nilla Wafer, strawberry mousse "macaron" with whipped cream, Nilla Wafer brittle and meringue. He added a dehydrated candy strawberry that's not on the menu.

"I feel the need ... the need for more beer," Chef Hudson didn't say as he bought the room another round of Bourbon County Aged Stout, as well as poured his personal bottles of Matilda and Goose black saison Pepe Nero.

You can be my wingman anytime Chef Hudson!

January 22, 2015 at 10:29am

Taste Bates Technical College's national award-winning Snooty Chef Burger Jan. 27

Bates Technical College's Culinary Arts 2014 World Food Championships award-winning Snooty Chef Burger. Photo courtesy of batestechnicalblog.org

One of life's greatest mysteries is: "who has the best burger in all the nation?!" It's one of the grand questions of the ages and is put to the test time and time again with burger competitions.

Bates Technical College's Culinary Arts crew threw their hat into the ring during November's 2014 World Food Championships in Las Vegas and came out on top with their Snooty Chef Burger. This masterpiece, created by Bates chef instructors JJ Meland and Roger Knapp, features ground Kobe beef and rib eye steak mixed with a Hungarian ragout blend spice from local gourmet seasoning gurus - two snooty chefs. They then add crispy bacon, tempura battered and fried Havarti cheese, a salad of spicy arugula, tomato and red onion tossed with a red wine vinaigrette and a caramelized onion mayonnaise all set upon a toasted Kaiser bun.

This behemoth earned them fourth out of 50 of those competing, advancing them to the final round where they placed in the top 10.

The displayed culinary prowess has earned them an invite to compete again this year in Florida and from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27, the citizens of the South Sound may dig into this championship burger at Bates Technical College's café for a cool $9.95 (price includes tax and fries).

Meland says, "We're excited to share this delicious burger we've worked hard to develop with our community. The Bates team enjoyed the 2014 competition and we are excited to develop a new innovative burger to bring to next year's World Food Championships."

Go forth and discover what a world championship contender tastes like and check out more about one of their secrets to flavor success at twosnootychefs.com.

BATES TECHNICAL COLLEGE, 1101 S. Yakima Ave., Tacoma, 253.680.7000

December 4, 2014 at 2:25pm

Words & Photos: Annual 7 Seas Beer Dinner at Brix 25

For the fourth year in a row, Brix 25 restaurant hosted 7 Seas Brewing for a beer dinner to battle Black Friday nerves. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

First, let's dispel the likely initial reaction upon hearing "beer dinner." No, this is not some bacchanalian kegger where the winner is he who drinks the most. Instead, each course includes 10-ounce pours of beer, which is supposed to be sipped and savored, not chugged. Though, full-disclosure, Brix 25's annual 7 Seas Beer Dinner pre-dinner reception offered a chance to sip cocktails, which many participants did, and the dessert course arrived with two beers riding shotgun. So, that's all good news.

For the last four years, the Gig Harbor fine-dining restaurant has offered a fabulous way to wind down after Thanksgiving and celebrate small business, sailing through Black Friday with a beer pairing dinner with neighbors 7 Seas Brewing. Chef/owner Thad Lyman welcome the crowd of 7 Seas beer dinner regulars and new faces, announcing new flavors will be enjoyed, concentrating on "Southern Low County" flavors, Southern culture on the skids with Northwest twists.

>>> Brix 25 Chef/owner Thad Lyman

"Keg Commander" Colin Harvin, who concentrates on sales and marketing for 7 Seas, represented the brewery, substituting for co-owner Mike Runion who had his hands full with a newborn girl. Commander Harvin ran through the history of the night's first beer, the 253 Pilsner, how it was the brainchild of Runion and 253 Heart Foundation owner/Shake Shake Shake co-owner Steve Naccarato, the fact that proceeds benefit local charities and how the Northwest pilsner is crisp and clean. He explained co-owner and head brewer Travis Guterson incorporated Sterling and Cascade hops from the Yakima Valley, barley from Washington state and the golden cans are produced in Olympia. For more background on the creation of the beer and its charities, click here.

The 253 Pilsner was paired with breakfast, bacon and eggs on flat bread.

"Beer isn't just for breakfast; breakfast can be for dinner just as well," said Lyman.

Lyman used malts from the beer to create the béchamel, bacon lardons underneath the sunny side egg with a little Blanc Rose. Lyman suggested picking up the rich starter like a taco and let it drip away, which most did. The bacon and egg looked to dominate, but the refreshing, crisp pilsner found a perfect balance. Off to a good start!

The second course: fried oysters and grits turned out to be incredibly delicious, especially when paired with 7 Seas' Reign Man ESB - the toasty malt character with a slight caramel sweetness brought out the rich, creamy polenta. The Reign Man ESB rarely makes an appearance outside of the 7 Seas' taproom. The Northwest-style Extra Special Bitter features citrusy Yakima Valley Centennial hops and malt heavy, and was brewed in honor of the Seattle Space Needle's 50th anniversary. The Fat Bastard oysters from Taylor Shellfish Farms, which were in the water the previous morning, were prepared with a little okra, fried quick with cornmeal and placed on creamy polenta with a little bit of clams.

Up next, the main course - I think the best part of the night - was a short stack of Johnny Cakes with pulled pork paired with the Chili Pepper Imperial Stout. The beer basically made its South Sound premier at the dinner. Harvin introduced the nine percent stout treated with three different kinds of chili peppers - including ghost peppers - which were added during the second fermentation, letting the oils seep out. The beer starts off with a nice, silky chocolate, espresso roast flavor with the peppers hitting the back of the throat, cutting through the bitterness at the end, bringing back the chocolate notes. I could be my favorite 7 Seas beer.

Lyman slow-roasted the pork for hours, then removed the meat from the smoker and braised it with the Chili Pepper Imperial Stout, picking up the chilies and malted barleys. The pork was placed on high cornmeal cakes, with green Tabasco sauce, goat cheese drizzle and Jack Daniels maple syrup.

The crowd erupted in chatter after Lyman described the dish. "I mention Jack Daniels and the crowd stops listening," Lyman said with a laugh.

Runion made an appearance during the main course, to thank everyone and show baby pictures.

Finally, a delicious, rich dessert was brought out to finish the evening. Mississippi Mud Pie with caramel pecans, paired with 7 Seas' Port Royal Stout AND a return appearance by the 253 Pilsner for a "deconstructed" black and tan, as Harvin put it. The traditional English-style stout offered more flavors of dark chocolate, espresso and malt sweetness. Nugget and Mt. Hood hops gave it a nice, clean finish.

"As a little boy, I made mud pies, but as most of the men in this room would agree, it tasted like crap," said Lyman. "This mud pie has a dark chocolate ganache bottom with chocolate pudding on top and a malted meringue on the finish, toasted it off, decorated with rolled oats that went into the stout, toasted pecans and a caramel made with really heavy black sea salt to give it a little pop."

>>> Colin Harvin, left, and Mike Runion from 7 Seas Brewing

>>> The talent in Brix 25's kitchen

>>> I wish I could remember what Chef Lyman was discussing at this moment.

The dinner proved to be an enjoyable way to sip two 7 Seas Beers I haven't tried, and gain an appreciation for the ways in which various flavors combine and work together in nontraditional Southern dishes. Bravo!

BRIX 25, 4:30-9:30 p.m. daily, 7707 Pioneer Way, Gig Harbor, 253.858.6626

7 SEAS BREWING, taproom 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday-Tuesday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 3006 Juson St., Gig Harbor, 253.514.8129

October 21, 2014 at 8:09am

Flavor - a night of international dining to benefit Tacoma Community House

Try authentic Salvadorean food at El Pulgarcito in Lakewood.

Stanley & Seafort's, Pacific Grill, C.I. Shenanigan's, The Lobster Shop - or maybe even The Pine Cone Cafe - you've already got your favorite Pierce County dining out spots. Maybe it's close to your house, and maybe it says something about who you are. Or, maybe you prefer to stay away from obscene sausages, lutefisk dinners, balut eggs, pig uterus in tom yum soup and scary fish faces.

The good folks at Tacoma Community House are well aware of Pierce County's melting pot. TCH provides programs and services to immigrants, refugees and others to help strengthen their lives and help them become a part of the community.

Of course, TCH's efforts take money.

Flavor, a night of dining at immigrant-owned and immigrant-supporting restaurants has reached its second birthday Thursday, Oct. 23 with participating restaurants kicking back 25 percent of food sales to TCH. Participating restaurants include Adriatic Grill, Aviateur French Diner, Doyle's Public House, El Pulgarcito, Gateway to India, Il Lucano Ristorante, Indochine, Karma Fine Indian Cuisine, Pho King, Southern Kitchen and others. See the full list of participating restaurants here. This year's participating restaurants have a more international presence than last year, although Flavor still leaves out the flavors from Tacoma's Lincoln District and Lakewood's International District.

Tacoma Community House has become like a coach for food introverts, inviting you to embrace the unusual, the special and the unfamiliar in Pierce County's food scene. In other words, kiss the damn scary fish face.

Mark Oct. 23 on your calendar as the night you stand up for immigrants while sitting down for an adventurous meal.

October 16, 2014 at 12:03pm

Lunchbox Laboratory to perform experiments on 7 Seas Brewing

Lunchbox Laboratory has received favorable press from Evening Magazine, Food Network, Bon Appétit and Food and Wine Magazine. A year ago this month, a new round of Laboratory press hit the South Sound when the gourmet burger joint opened a third location in Gig Harbor (4901 Point Fosdick Dr. NW). The fancy Uptown Shopping District welcomed traditional patty and bun faves with twists, handspun shakes and funky cocktails.


October 16, 2014 at 11:29am

Salty's at Redondo to host New Belgium Brewing brewmaster's dinner

You've probably already sipped some craft beers from Colorado-based New Belgium Brewery - like a Fat Tire Ale, maybe. This environmentally friendly brewer has released a new beer this fall - Tour de Fall. The amber-colored pale ale is made with a dry hopping technique, Cascade and Amarillo hops, has notes of pine and citrus and is 6 percent ABV.

Glancing at the menu for New Belgium's brewmaster's dinner at Salty's at Redondo next month, the Tour de Fall is missing.

Oh well. Should be a tasty night anyway. Read on. ...


October 3, 2014 at 1:31pm

Words & Photos: Harmon Brewing's 2014 Brewmaster's Dinner

Harmon Brewing's brewer and production manager Bill Lundeen kicked off the 16th annual Harmon Brewmaster's Dinner with a jig. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

One of the best things about this time of year is all of the Oktoberfest-centric dinners. Last night, the Harmon Brewery & Eatery held just such a dinner. It was a fun night; the jig Harmon brewer/production manager Bill Lundeen performed next to co-owner Pat Nagle (above) confirms the statement.

I sat next to Harmon co-owner Carole Ford and Harmon Brewing Director of Brewery Operations Jesse Holder most of the night. Discussion of beer, future releases, European adventures and best Chinese food locales filled the gaps when utensils and glassware didn't hide our mouths. Harmon's 5 Mile Drive IPA will eventually replace the flagship Point Defiance IPA, adding citrus Zythos hops to the original formula as well as a full percentage point increase in alcohol by volume to 7.2. It has a big hoppy flavor. Harmon is also on the verge of releasing several sours - including a sour saison, sour IPA - a strong ale paying homage to former Parkway Tavern manager John O'Gara who passed this spring, a barleywine, barrel-aged saison and a pumpkin spice blonde, which released today.

For the first course, we received a pretzel basket with beer cheese and mustard. It was paired with Harmon Brewing recently released Fall Ball Red, an Imperial Red Ale with an extra helping of Munich malt to give it a rich body. The night began at 7.8 percent ABV thank you very much.

For the salad course, the kitchen served an outstanding celery, radish and pear with Gorgonzola. Incredibly refreshing, the salad paired well with Harmon's session Creamsicle Pale Ale. The Madagascar Vanilla Beans flavor pops.

I'll be dreaming about the wild mushroom crostini for the next few days. The richly flavored mushrooms tempt me to grab the paired 5 Mile Drive IPA and head toward the Five Mile Drive at Point Defiance Park in search for the little buggers.

The main course came in three acts - bratwurst, beer-braised red cabbage and an absolutely delicious German potato salad created by Hilde Ford. Harmon's six malt, four hops Black Tartan CDA sat at the end of the long plate. This brew looks like a stout but drinks like a hoppy IPA.

And for dessert: a scoop of vanilla ice cream floated in a sea of Super Samurai Barleywine Ale to make an ice cream float. Harmon's single Sorachi Ace hop barleywine overpowered the ice cream. I spooned the 11 percent ABV beer as if it was going to evaporate.

Harmon's Oktoberfest celebrations continue tonight at the Harmon Brewery & Eatery and Harmon Tap Room. It's "Bring Your Own Mug Night" at the downtown Tacoma Harmon. Have your stein filled for the same price as a 16-ounce pint. Harmon caps it at 24-ounces. In Tacoma's Stadium District, the Tap Room will have Jagermeister drink specials, a cooking with beer class and 99 biodegradable balloons released into the sky at 7 p.m. while "99 Luftballoons" by Nena screams from speakers. Seriously.

HARMON BREWERY & EATERY, 1938 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.383.2739

HARMON TAP ROOM, 204 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.212.2725

September 19, 2014 at 4:12pm

Oktoberfest South Sound 2014: Das BITE

Hotel Murano in downtown Tacoma will pair Bavarian food with Washington beers Sept. 26.

It's been a long month - back to school, Washington State Fair zaniness, bears roaming the streets. Too long to make like a rabbit and nibble on some gross, shrivelled salad for dinner. How does, say, schnitzel beef sliders sound? What about some hearty beer braised pork shank, blaukraut and kartoffelpuffer? Dat's goot, goot! As goot as in Munich! That'll pair quite well with an Oktoberfest beer. Throw on some Lederhosen or a Dirndl and head to BITE in the Hotel Murano. Chef Matthew Stickle will present a five-course Bavarian fare dinner paired with Washington beers.

"There was A LOT of beer tasting," says Stickle. "Both of my sous chefs, Ethan and Seth, and I tried both local and German beers to go well with traditional German dishes."

Once the beers were picked, BITE's restaurant manager Richard was off and running, gathering the beers that paired well with the dishes the kitchen chose. "Some of the beers are used in the recipes such as beer braised kurobuta pork shank using an Oregon lager by Ninkasi Brewing that has an earthy, grasp hop flavor, or the wurst and pumpkin spaetzle paired with Elysian Night Owl Pumpkin that helps the spaetzle with its nutmeg and cinnamon flavors and cuts the fattiness of the bratwurst," explains Stickle. "This will be a fun event that has a great price of dinner paired with some really great beers."

Besides the mentions pork shank and wurst pairings, Stickle and crew are sprechen beer and cheese soup and pretzel crouton paired with Pyramid Oktoberfest; schnitzel beef sliders with pickled beets and a brioche bun paired with Dogfish Head Pumpkin Ale; and black forest cheesecake with a Red Hook Pumpkin Porter.

OK, it's not held in a rustic, Old World setting ripe with musty smells and beer-stained floors. A modern setting and a $30 price tag is nothing to get your knickers in a twist.

OKTOBERFEST DINNER, 7-10 p.m., Friday, Sept. 26, BITE, Hotel Murano, 1320 Broadway, Tacoma, $30, 253.591.4163

LINK: More 2014 Oktoberfest events in the greater Tacoma and Olympia area

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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