Is the food better Around Tacoma?

Technically, Federal Way IS Around Tacoma. Sitting side by side with that North East part of Tacoma qualifies it as “Around”, right? Good! I had dinner at Verrazano’s the other night and not telling you about it is completely out of the question! My companion said “call Verrazano’s and see if they have room” and I, being dutiful and obedient (HA!!) called and was greeted and reserved and happy in less than 2 minutes….on a Friday!

We drove to the restaurant in the dark and since I’ve never been there before I have no idea really where I went. But it’s high above the coast on Pacific Highway and I bet if you go there when it’s not dark (which would NOT include November-March) you can have dinner with a very nice view. It even says so on their web site.

On to the good part…. the food! It all started with Mushroom Crustini. This was not at all the dish I ordered but my butchery of the menu meant we did not get the Bruschetta Della Casa, which I’d still like to try. In any case, the accidental Mushroom Crustini was divine, delightful, pure bliss. You think I am over the top on this but, no way baby! Mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, balsamic and béchamel on perfect little toasted crustini! I’ve never been so happy to discover I was wrong in my entire life! Well, there was this date once but that is for a different blog.

The entrées, while exactly what we ordered, were just as spectacular! I had Pollo Judea, which I roughly translate to “chicken of the gods”.  Chicken that was tender, moist and covered in this buttery, lemon, artichoke goo that was beyond reason in quality and taste. My date ordered from the specials board and had pork tenderloins coated in béchamel (can you really have too much?) and gorgonzola. People, that sauce was enchanting, the kind of thing you ask to marry you on the spot! Had I been in my own dining room I would have quickly eaten BOTH plates!

Combine all of that heavenly food with a tasty bottle of red and fantastic service and you’ve got a dinner that is worth driving outside of the Around Tacoma we know and so love.

The Linnie Sapphire

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Zombies in Tacoma

Imagine my surprise when I found out, thanks to Tacoma Komo, that there would be zombies running aroundTacoma on Halloween.  Not only that, but they are going to be in my hood—the North End!

 Be aware and be very scared as these Zombies will try to zombify you and take you back with them to their lair in the 2011 Dawn of the Dead Dash.  If you want to find out more, and are not too afraid, then check out the info at:

 http://tacoma.komonews.com/news/community-spirit/682742-zombies-will-walk-tacoma-halloween

 It’s bound to be a frightfully fun and a monstrous ghould time!

 

Breakfast Anyone?

It seems writing a blog about Around Tacoma is much easier if you are actually out and about and Around Tacoma. You need to go to restaurants in Tacoma or museums in Tacoma; you know….places that don’t include your own living room. I know it has become obvious here but, I just don’t seem to be getting out much. Maybe it’s the cooler weather and shorter days, maybe it’s our woe-be-gone and well publicized economy affecting my wallet, more likely it’s that I’m just a home-body who likes to work from home and cook and enjoy the  quiet of my (mostly) germ free house.

Still, I managed to get out of the house long enough to enjoy breakfast at Shakabrah Java on 6th Ave last Friday. I’m glad I chose a Friday, because Shakabrah now has table service (in the “back” room) Friday-Sunday. Not that I’ve got a problem with ordering my food at the service counter but we’ve established my lack of Around Tacoma-ing lately so it was nice to sit and let someone else do the ordering for me.  

The food and coffee were, as usual, great. I had the “Tina”… a yummy breakfast sandwich of fresh eggs, cheese and bacon.  The touch of tomato and mayo make this a pleaser, for sure.  Tina and I need to talk, though. I think a sausage patty is a better choice for the meat. But then it would be a “Linnie” wouldn’t it? Hmmmm… ?

My only gripe with Shakabrah is the potatoes. Everyone knows I LOVE a potato, all shapes, sizes and preparation styles included. Shakabrah’s taste a little bitter to me and it over-powers the awesome spices and potatoey goodness. I tried them once again last week and still…

Potatoes aside, I keep going back to Shakabrah. The atmosphere and peeps are always enjoyable and it’s good food at reasonable prices. It is definitely a great Tacoma restaurant and my go to breakfast place. No wonder it was voted the “Best Breakfast in Tacoma” by Volcano Weekly readers… we know they really meant “Best Breakfast AROUND Tacoma”!

The Linnie Sapphire

Let’s Get to the Point–Point Defiance that is!

 Of all the wonderful places to visit around Tacoma, one stands out above the rest–Pt. Defiance Park.  It may no longer be our best kept secret however since it has been named as one of 10 “Great Public Spaces in America” by the American Planning Association!

All I can say is that the people around Tacoma are extremely excited about this and the extra boost it will provide for Tacoma’s economy from visitors who come to stay, play, eat and drink. 

Now I may not be able to wear my fancy heels on the beach or trails but this is a sacrifice a Diva must make when enjoying nature’s beauty.  I love you Point Defiance–don’t ever change!

(Photo Courtesy of TripAdvisor.com)

 

Old 6th Avenue had a Farm…EE I EE I O

Okay, well they don’t really have a farm but what they do have is one fabulous Farmer’s Market!  Now of course I may be biased as I do share the same pea patch with the awesome Prez of the 6th Ave. Business District, Mr. David Printz, however, I also am a big supporter of everything local in our wonderful community and of course around Tacoma.

Having said this, I am excited to tell everyone about the 2011 6th Avenue Farmer’s Market Harvest Festival Fundraiser!  YEEEE HAWWWW!  Now I don’t know about you but every time I hear the word ‘festival’ I think beer.  Well, I actually think beer most of the time but enough about me. 

Our locally famous pub and eatery, E-9, will be presenting specials on handcrafted beers which are not to be missed.  There will also be a knock down battle between local restaurants in a chili cook-off and home-made soups from our local farmers and vendors.  But wait, there’s more!  They are bringing  back the pie eating contest!!  Puyallup Fair, eat your heart out! (or your pie).

Mark this date on your calendars:  Tuesday, September 27th from 4 – 7 p.m. on North Pine St. between 6th Ave and 7th Ave.

Tickets are only $10!!!  How do you get one?  Contact us or visit http://www.tacomafarmersmarket.com/calendar

This is the very last Farmer’s Market of the year for 6th Ave so come on out and show some love for the people who make it happen.  Oh, and maybe buy a carrot or two and some squash and zucchinis, or homemade apple butter or chocolate covered bacon, or fresh oysters and crabs, some bling, or lavender seeds or maybe some killer cookies, a blanket, some corn, peas (if you really want to), jams, jellies, spices, fresh handmade cheese, some more carrots, a dill plant, root vegetables, fresh caught salmon or clams, fresh-cut valley flowers, then take a long beer break and buy buy buy!!

See you there! 

Hugs and Carrots.

Diva Karen

This Ol’ House

There are many beautiful homes in and around Tacoma and some of my very favorites (and of course I may be a little biased) are in the North Slope Historic District.  As an owner of a really old home I have to keep reminding myself that with all the beauty and history, there is this one really big thing that often looms in the corners of every square inch of my property; it’s called MAINTENANCE.

Now, I’m not trying to scare anyone away from buying an older home because I am a serious lover of anything old…except milk.  I am, however, here to inform you of some things you may want to be aware of when you fall in love with something that is, well, how do I say it?  Okay, old.

Here are some things that I have found to happen to these awesomely charming homes or more specifically, a home built in 1905 that I knew I just had to have (like a pair of black patent leather pumps with red soles):

Settling:  Think of it like an old man with a cane who is slightly hunched over—it’s old, and it will possibly slope a little through time but its pillars are an amazing support.

Plumbing:  Again, think of it as an old man…yes, the pipes leak a little and may need to be replaced at some point but thank goodness there are replacement options.

Heating:  This one is interesting so think of it as having a huge trash bag full of dollar bills and then opening the bag on top of the Space Needle and watching that money float away in every direction.  If you are familiar with landmarks around Tacoma, then play the same scenario at Stadium Bowl.  Houses simply were not insulated well, so planning a budget for energy efficiency is a must and a heat pump will definitely pay for itself.

Windows:  Ah, the question that always arises with my clients—should we replace the windows?  Wood wrapped windows with the original ‘wavy’ glass are hard to come by and there are restoration companies around Tacoma that focus specifically on preserving these.  Now I may sound like a grandma but they just don’t make them like they used to so please try to save them…. and on a personal note, if you are on a historic register, you most likely are not able to take them out—and the window Nazis are everywhere.

Electrical:  Fact:  it will have to be replaced for insurance as well as safety reasons.  The old knob and tube, while fascinating to look at, will need to go.  Look at it this way, when the original system was put in, or even the ‘updated’ one from the 50’s, we didn’t have microwaves, TV’s in every room, massive stereo systems and stoves that could cook five turkeys, two chickens and a whole side of ribs.  If you can’t do it all at once, try a couple rooms at a time.

Paint:  I guess the best way to describe this is like having a manicure:  it takes constant maintenance to replace the chipped polish and sometimes just putting a new coat over the old coat may just make it worse. Oh, and make sure you do it at the right temperature and right time of year because it may dry wrong and we all know how that turns out on our nails….yikes.

I know this may seem like a lot, but if you truly love an old home, just be prepared to care for it and give it the attention it deserves.  Inside those old bones lies a lot of history, craftsmanship and memories.  And as far as mine is concerned and when all is said and done, I love this ol’ house.

Karen

Grocery shopping made cheaper!

Been to a great grocery store in Tacoma lately? We have a few. In general the “great” ones are the specialty stores like Metropolitan Market in the Proctor District and while I do love me some fabulous deli and bakery items you can’t really do any kind of serious, stock the pantry grocery shopping there.

I just did some serious grocery shopping and, long list in hand, I went to the WinCo Foods in South Tacoma. There’s been much debate about WinCo and the company’s entry into our market place. WinCo bills itself as employee owned and is non-Union.  While that fact has its own impact on how people feel about spending money at WinCo I have to say….I spend way LESS money there. The Wall of Values is a great place to be shocked and amazed by their pricing.  I can stand there, mouth open, reading the big signs and looking at the depth of their stock and think, “Well, I wasn’t going to get Spaghetti-Os but at 88 cents a can….who can resist?”

I never really like THE IDEA of going grocery shopping. I do however, LOVE grocery shopping while I’m doing it.  While I’m cruising those aisles and comparing prices and trying to resist the temptation to buy Easy Cheese, I am in my element.  I’ve been in most of the grocery stores around Tacoma and there are more than a few I would never consider stepping in again.  Some are dirty, some have rude or stupid employees and amazingly, some have those skinny aisles that will not, in any fathomable way, fit more than 1 cart (what?). WinCo isn’t one of those grocery stores and I am happy to spend my hard earned money there. And seriously, in real estate right now, it IS hard earned!

At an average savings of $1.00 per item (yes!!), I can easily save over $50 on a typical grocery shopping trip. That’s worth driving an extra few miles and bagging my own groceries, for sure. Sometimes it’s not worth the crowds and the packed aisles, which can be overwhelming.  But if you time it right, you can get in and out without bruised elbows or stepping in spilled coffee creamer (which can get really sticky between your toes, if you are wearing new, neon green flip-flops… just sayin’)

I still pop over to Fred Meyer for last minute kind of grocery shopping but WinCo has definitely added value to our shopping options in Tacoma. Plus, the Easy Cheese is way too affordable to pass up!

The Linnie Sapphire