Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

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October 14, 2013 at 12:17pm

Words & Photos: Harmon Brewer's Dinner and 2015 U.S. Open update

The view from Chambers Bay Grill Friday, Oct. 11 / photo credit: Kim Thompson

You'd expect a brewer's dinner to be all about the beer, right? Well, the Harmon Brewer's Dinner at Chambers Bay Grill Friday, Oct. 11 did feature tasty beer (and it flowed beautifully), but this dinner was so much more, such as knock-your-socks-off food pairings, great guest speakers, lively conversation and the Holy Grail of sunsets, which punctuated the event.

The dinner was indeed a celebration of many things: the launch of Harmon Brewing's Fearless Exploration Imperial Rye IPA, a collaboration of the brewery with the Tacoma Regional Convention + Visitor Bureau (TRCVB); the culinary magic of Chamber's Bay Grill chef Joshua Corcoran; the magnificent Chambers Bay Golf Course and upcoming mega-watt golf championship, the 2015 U.S. Open; and finally, where we live is totally awesome and we know it.

Top things I learned:

I (HEART) the Harmon Brewery, and the Chambers Bay Grill is a foodie's dream.

Let's start with the menu:

First course: shrimp ceviche, cucumbers, lemon and avocado paired with Harmon T-Town Blonde - A Summer Shandy.


September 30, 2013 at 9:09am

Words & Photos: Ginkgo Forest Winery tasting room in Old Town Tacoma

Ginkgo Forest Winery held a grand opening celebration for its Old Town Tacoma tasting room Saturday during the rain storm. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Like a lead singer with a side solo project, Ginkgo Forest Winery located on the Wahluke Slope AVA in Mattawa along the Columbia River opened a tasting room across the Cascades in Old Town Tacoma. Because owner/winemaker Mike Thiede - a scientist by training and a farmer by choice - has a noted Washington-based brand, growing apples, 900 ginkgo trees and 15 different grape varietals, including impressive Sangiovese and Barbera wine, a surprisingly tasty Pinot Noir, and plenty of gold medals, he has earned the right to open a mini Ginkgo in tiny Old Town. Then again, Thiede and his wife, Lois, received a big push by Puyallup residents Sonie and Doc Hansen to open the tasting room. The Hansens, who began as huge Ginkgo Forest Winery fans, reached "associate" status after encouraging the Thiedes to enter several wine competitions, which ended with a first place in the 2008 Ray's Boathouse Retrospective in Seattle.  Soon, the Hansen were pouring Ginkgo wines at festivals. Sonie convinced the Thiedes the Old Town Tacoma location would be a winning venture. "The drive to Old Town is much easier then back and forth over the Cascades," Sonie said with a laugh.

The Ginkgo Forest Winery Tasting Room held its grand opening celebration Saturday, pouring all 15 varietals, pairing each wine with a nibble such as animal crackers, blue cheese, Parmesan popcorn and amazing Raspberry Champagne truffle, which pairs marvelously with Gingko's Raspberry Sensation port. The tasting room, located in the former Sandpiper Gallery space, is handsome with marble tabletops, olive colors, hardwood flooring and art by local renowned artist Bill Colby.


September 27, 2013 at 9:15am

Words & Photos: Le Diner en Blanc Tacoma

L. Lisa Lawrence brought color to last night's Le Diner en Blanc at Tacoma's Wright Park. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

The cultural and epicurean phenomena known as Le Diner en Blanc started in Paris 25 years ago as a posh, alfresco dinner for friends. Francois Pasquier arranged to picnic with family and friends in a public park. To easily find one another in the crowd, all participants wore white, and a chic phenomenon was born. Since then it has spread across the globe to major cities like New York, London, Singapore, Sidney and Barcelona - and last night it found its way to Tacoma, thanks to the folks behind the First Night Tacoma celebration who staged the community builder and fundraiser.

Guests donning full white suits and top hats and white evening gowns, including Ryan Loiselle's white "Slut" T-shirt, dined on white tablecloth tables and white picnic blankets in front of the W.W. Seymour Conservatory. Guests brought their own food, white picnic baskets, white cutlery, white stemware and white napkins. The only objects not white were Adam Martin's colorful stars dangling from trees and his large horse of many different colors. Entertainment included acoustic melodies by members of St. Paul De Vence - arranged by The Warehouse folks - fire dancing by L. Lisa Lawrence, the chap portraying an 18th century European who chased away a group of college co-eds, and announcements of what to expect at First Night - including an attempt to break the record for most people clapping coconuts together (Year of the Horse!). My favorite picnic presentation goes to Team Tacoma School of the Arts who didn't have a speck of color in what can only be described as picnic art.   

LINK: More photos from Le Diner en Blanc

See Also

Adam Martin's Oceanic 2013 Lumins Festivus Saturday

September 23, 2013 at 10:05am

Words & Photos: 2013 Tacoma Pub Crawl

Bernie Lomax, the chap made famous in the film "Weekend at Bernie's, joined the Tacoma Pub Run Sept. 21. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Bars are magnetic. We flock to them for what they are and for what they are not. Cheers Bar & Grill on a Saturday night requires a pool stick and a push-up bra. The New Frontier Lounge means prize-worthy beards and flannel. Alfred's Café hosts blue-collar regulars and hipper-snappers. Wingman Brewers pours craft beers to the intellectually curious and happy-go-lucky 30-somethings.

Saturday night these four Tacoma Dome District watering holes served mostly one demographic: The red-shirted, prop-wearing, laughing Tacoma Pub Crawler.

Captain Planet and the Planeteers - a group of Tacomans who abide by the doctrine of the 1990-1992 animated environmentalist cartoon of the same name - hosted its third pub crawl in so many years. After spreading good cheer along Pacific Avenue and Sixth Avenue, the group and its many constituents tackled Tacoma's Dome District, specifically the aforementioned drink-sling establishments.

From 2 p.m. on, this group of around 50 or so had the most controlled fun I've witnessed in quite some time. Big props to the four venues for playing along and, in fact, adding to the fun.

The Planeteers add a charity element to their pub runs. The first two years they raised money for United Way and the Emergency Food Network. Saturday, the group gave Write@253 - a free community writing center - a check for $1,144.

Below are a few photos from the Tacoma Pub Run, as well as a link to a larger photo album.

Thanks for letting me tag along Ston, Stephanie and the Planeteers.

LINK: Tacoma Pub Run photos

September 22, 2013 at 11:32am

Words & Photos: Downtown to Defiance with Tacoma public officials

Tacoma public officials and state representatives pedaled into Point Defiance Park this morning. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

"You wait. I'm going to make it happen," Diane Wiatr, the City of Tacoma's active transportation coordinator told me at a Green Drinks meeting earlier this year at the Broken Spoke pub on Hilltop Tacoma. "I'm going to convince the city to close down Ruston Way to vehicles and we all are going to have a giant, roving party on bikes and on foot."

Wiatr has been dreaming of a critical mass-like event ever since she witnessed similar community celebrations in Columbia and Mexico. Bogota and Mexico City close down long stretches of popular roadways for Sunday strolls and rides.

Today, in Tacoma, Wiatr's dream happened.

Launching from the Tacoma Dome at 8 a.m. (Tacoma Wheelmen's Bicycle Club started earlier incorporating the route into a larger ride), a registered 800 people made the trek from the Tacoma Dome, along Dock Street to Schuster Parkway, Ruston Way then to the new $60,000 Interim Trail to Point Defiance Park, finishing in the Park's bowl. While it's certain many might have skipped the "Downtown to Defiance: Sunday Parkways" event due to the rain, those who did participate had a blast, enjoying games in the parks along the route, with a festival in the bowl, which included a giant checkers game, music by the Kareem Kandi Band, bounce houses and vendor booths.

Wiatr didn't pull this off on her own. Metro Parks, the city of Tacoma and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department partnered, with U.S. Bank kicking in more than $30,000. Many Metro Parks board members wandered the bowl in rain gear, including Erik Hanberg wearing a city of Tacoma replica helmet.

At 10 a.m. the "Leadership Working In Tadem" rig - pedaled by Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Tacoma City Councilmembers and state officials - rolled into Point Defiance Park to fanfare. One-liners from the officials poured harder than the rain, including someone shouting "Let's do the Five Mile Drive!" - which received moans from his fellow pedalers.

See Also

Weekly Volcano's feature story on Downtown to Defiance

September 15, 2013 at 11:23am

First Peek: The Hub at Gig Harbor

Planes, bikes and beers on The Hub at Gig Harbor's back patio. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Given the breakneck pace of most people's lives, sometimes neighborhood dining spots really do the trick - predictable, affordable and filling. I was happy to hear business partners Pat Nagle and Carole Holder were bringing their bicycles, pizza, burgers and beer concept to the other side of the Narrows, opening The Hub at Gig Harbor Monday, Sept. 16. The two took over the restaurant space at the Tacoma Narrows Airport. I found myself looking around and trying to remember the room before it looked so "Hub"-ish - reds, golds and bicycle parts. The change is dramatic ... and welcoming, full of colors and bicycle kitsch, such as mounted handlebars and saddles to resemble trophy animal heads. When full, as Friday's investors' party and Saturday's test run with friends, the atmosphere is lively and roaring, but it manages to be calm and serene too, with patio seating facing the runway and a large, outdoor beer garden off the left side.

Your dish favorites from the St. Helens Hub Restaurant grace the menu, loaded with pizza and burgers, a few pasta dishes and, of course, the Harmon brews. Fans of the weekend breakfasts at Hub and Harmon Brewery in Tacoma will now have to choose which side of the Narrows Bridge to start their Saturday and Sunday.

Many Gig Harbor familiar faces were in the house both nights, including chefs Lucas Ortiz and Jeremy Barber, and sous chef Aimee Cox, who command the kitchen.

I wouldn't be surprised if Gig Harbor embraces the restaurant. It screams, "Let's meet at The Hub," whether to enjoy drinks in the outdoor beer garden - lit by Tivoli lights, firewood and sunsets; enjoy burgers on the back patio and watch who exits planes; or watch the game, which is easy to do from all angles.

THE HUB AT GIG HARBOR, opens Monday, Sept. 16 for lunch, dinner and weekend breakfasts, 1208 26thAve. NW, Gig Harbor, 253.224.2624

September 13, 2013 at 1:39pm

Words & Photos: Squeak and Squawk Day One

J. Martin and friends were in tune last night at the Library at Sanford and Son. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

Last night's Squeak and Squawk Music Festival didn't disappoint.

Solo, or singing with buddies, J. Martin, he of Oh Dear! fame, kicked off the festival, christening the all-ages stage at the Library at Sanford and Son Antiques. His latest release, Awake of a Dream, was front and center, emotionally bare songwriting, and down-home charm. His folk-rock held the audience, in between chuckles aimed at Mr. Swimsuit on bass.

The Fame Riot's set may not have felt as blisteringly loud as their show at Art of the Ave this summer, but the band didn't exactly skimp on the volume either this time out. Between the sweeping dynamics, the tones, the swelling volume and the wild jumps on the stage, this show felt like a roller coaster ride. Not sure how the books remained on the shelves.

My apologies to the Xylophones. I had to spring across downtown for a haircut.

Freshly shampooed, I made my way to The New Frontier Lounge for the 21+ Squeak. Dressed as if they might jump off stage and heal folks, the white-clad Week of Wonders hit the stage like a great, long lost band from a remote Caribbean island. With its catchy melodies, and calypso rhythms, the band recalled the Talking Heads by way of the Cocteau Twins at the Sandals resort.

I Like Science followed, with one giant song. I jest, but damn these guys can go forever. More a throbbing ball of hypnotic electricity than a collection of songs, I Like Science answered the eternal question, Why did the chicken cross the road? Answer: Because art is alive. Peter Tietjen can freakin' play drums.

I caught People Under the Sun's show at last year's Squeak and Squawk, and I was so looking forward to seeing the talented neo-psychedelic band on a larger stage. However, the wife texted that she had popped a bowl of corn at the new Star Trek movie hit the tube, so I grabbed that A-Train to Awesome.

See Also

Friday, Sept. 13 Squeak and Squawk shows

Filed under: Music, Photo Hot Spot, Tacoma,

September 3, 2013 at 9:44am

Words and Photos: Fab-5's AFTERLIFE celebration

Fab-5 and friends celebrated AFTERLIFE Sunday, Sept. 1 in Tacoma's 21st Street Park. Photo by Pappi Swarner

For those not in the know, Fab-5 created the L.I.F.E. Program (Living In Free Expression) in 2005 as a means of providing "relevant creative outlets" for our area's young people. The L.I.F.E. Program is described as, "an intensive series of urban arts workshops designed to allow youth to develop and explore their unique voices through a variety of different mediums," such as DJ-ing, breakdancing, visual arts and creative writing. Sunday afternoon in Tacoma's 21st Street Park, Fab-5 celebrated the culmination of L.I.F.E.'s summer program with AFTERLIFE, an event featuring a 2x2 breakdance competition, live painting graffiti fleet, food and happy smiles. Fab-5's Chris Jordan's spontaneous dancing and rapping brought cheers, as DJs Sav1, DigOne and others keep the groove going until 8 p.m. After several hours, the final two breakdance crews were members of F2D (Fresh Descendants) and Massive Movement. Each member danced three rounds and at the end, F2D took home the title.

There was good sportsmanship all around. Crews shook hands before and after each battle. People were cheering on the sidelines and dancing in their own side ciphers.


August 25, 2013 at 8:50am

Photos: Tacoma honors servicemembers

Thousands of people lined Pacific Avenue to honor active duty and National Guard units Saturday, Aug. 24 in downtown Tacoma. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

For the first time in 50 years, an all-military parade passed in downtown Tacoma yesterday evening.

The Daffodil Festival committee worked with community officials in coordinating the parade.

"It is great to honor those who serve," Joe Bernstein, a Daffodil Festival volunteer said moments before the parade began.

"This is just awesome!"

While thousands lined both sides of Pacific Avenue from 13th Street to 24th Street, more than 70 entries - comprised of active duty members, patriotic organizations, motorcycle units, historical groups and National Guard Soldiers - passed in review as Mayor Marilyn Strickland emceed.

Col. Joe Jackson, a Medal of Honor winner, served as Parade Grand Marshall.

The Daffodil Festival Royalty gave up their seats on the Queen's Float to 24 wounded soldiers from the Warrior Transition Battalion from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"It's good to see that some people around here care," said Army veteran Paul Bradshaw. 

>>>  Zoie Creso of Tacoma got up close with members of the Army's 56th Band as it played at Tollefson Plaza.

>>> American Gold Star Mothers marched in remembrance of those service members who have fallen.

>>> A veteran shakes hands with a Marine before the beginning of the Military Parade, which was hosted by the Daffodil Festival.


July 5, 2013 at 10:58am

Scenes from Freedom Fest at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Dominic Bias hangs on to his Dad during Freedom Fest at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. photo credit: J.M. Simpson

Thousands attended Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Freedom Fest at Memorial and Cowan stadiums. 

"I've been coming here since 1995," Kingsley Hoover, owner of King's Original Kettle Korn, said as he and Ryan Whittington stirred a large kettle of popcorn.

"And it's great to be here on the Fourth. I love this place."

While vendors offered everything from food and drink to balloons and T-shirts, the infield of Cowan Stadium was covered with classic cars.

"This event is a lot of fun to come and see these classics," Wendy Minnieweather said as she cleaned the engine of her 2005 Mustang Coupe.

"I can't get enough of this place."

Below are seven scenes from yesterday's Fourth of July celebration at JBLM.

>>> 1934 Ford Owner:  Norm Treen, an Army vet, checks over his 1934 Ford during Freedom Fest.


About this blog

News and entertainment from Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s most awesome weekly newspapers - The Ranger, Northwest Airlifter and Weekly Volcano.

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