Saturday, September 22, 2012

Taste of Tacoma

During my recent visit to Tacoma, Washington, my friend, Jan, and I had the delightful experience of sharing an evening meal together at Maxwell's Speakeasy + Lounge (   
 Maxwell's is located on a corner, at 454 St. Helens Avenue, which puts it on the edge of both the Stadium District and the Theater District.  It occupies a section of the historic Walker Building in Tacoma.  Our very knowledgeable waiter told us that the Walker Building was originally built to provide housing for the hundreds of families that moved to Tacoma during one of  its boom eras, of the last century. 
 In fact, Maxwell's is known for its stellar service, terrific interior space, and fantastic food.  This photo shows their "Butcher Block" appetizer that we started our meal with.  The waiter meticulously gave us the names of the assorted cheeses, fruit, spreads, greens, and meats that we were sampling, before he left it with us to savor the complementary flavors the appetizer provided.
 For entrees, I chose a chicken dish, and Jan chose a beef dish.  As you can see, the portions were generous---so much so that we each had enough for our lunch the next day, after the waiter kindly boxed up that part of our entree items that we did not finish. 
 For dessert, we shared a creme brulee, with fresh fruit garnish, that was absolutely divine.  It gave me a new appreciation of the commandment in the Bible that says "TASTE"!  In all fairness, I need to quote the entire sentence of Psalm 34:8, which is "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him."   You can be sure, we were blessed by the meal we had at Maxwell's.  Likewise, the management at Maxwell's is eager to bless others in the community, as evidenced by the NUMEROUS contributions that have made to charitable causes in the Tacoma area.  In addition, they are participating in the Tacoma Restaurant Week, which is set for October 14 - 18 and October 21-25.  The event was held for the first time a while back, and the executive chef of Maxwell's, Hudson Slater, is quoted as saying "compared to last year, diners can expect a better dining experience and a focus on seasonal ingredients and satisfying portions that will make up an appealing, elegant dinner."  To review details of the event, and see which restaurants are participating, check out 
 My last day visiting the Tacoma area might be called the "Farm to Fork Tour"!  Jan and I picked blackberries growing wild along the roadside.  Granted, there were several geese in the adjacent field that were giving us "dirty looks", as if those berries were for "the birds", and not us humans. 
The reason we came across the blackberries, is because we had seen this farm stand advertising sweet corn, and I wanted to photograph the big flock of geese that were "grazing" in the field beside the corn stand.  Upon closer examination, we saw that there was not an attendant at the farm stand, rather just a note to help ourselves to all the corn on the cob we wanted, at a mere 25 cents an ear.  There was a lock box secured to the back of the stand, where we dropped our money.  I can honestly say, that the corn on the cob I purchased from that stand was THE VERY BEST I have had in all my life!  Tasting it made we wish I had brought an extra suitcase with me, so I could take a bushel basket of the delicious golden nuggets back with me to Arkansas! 
 Later that same day, we had the added blessing of being a dinner guest of Jan's friend, Rose, a longtime Tacoma resident, who is a culinary expert (with Italian roots), and also the author or her very own cookbook!
 Rose, and her husband Don (who has also contributed some of the recipes in the cookbook) have taken culinary classes in the Tacoma area, and their frequent dinner guests are the beneficiaries of their expertise.
 Their back yard is a gorgeous example of an urban container garden, and we got to sample some of their harvest, such as the fresh, homegrown rosemary, that seasoned the chicken and vegetable dish they served.
 This Hot Artichoke Crabmeat Dip is one of the recipes in the cookbook, and I can vouch for its deliciousness!
 Also, Don has been trying his hand at winemaking, in small batches, for family use.  I was impressed with the colored labels he designed, with a shield containing the initials of this most hospitable couple.
 With the first name "Rose", perhaps this hostess was predestined to be growing fabulous roses in her backyard (see bouquet on the table), as well as having rose-shaped serving dishes, garnished with  local berries, and mint she grew herself!
 In our hectic lifestyles of buying convenience foods and frozen desserts, it is a rare site, indeed, to see a "made from scratch", New York-style cheese cake.  That is why I wanted to take a photograph of it, before Rose took off the sides of the cheesecake pan!
 And these culinary aficionados do not use canned or frozen whipped topping, either!  Rose had this special tool, complete with carbon dioxide cartridge, that instantly turns heavy cream into a beautiful, and tasty addition to the homemade cheesecake!
 The result of her efforts was this gorgeous and delicious dessert!
 Rose and Don had many interesting objects decorating their garden, and I was especially impressed with the way she had turned an antique Washington State souvenir plaque, into a decoration in her flower bed.  Looking around her lovely garden, it was evident why Washington is known as "The Evergreen State"!
 This stone book in her flower bed, with the passage from Ecclesiastes, made me thankful that the season that I was getting to experience in Tacoma, Washington, was one full of blue skies and pleasant temperatures!
 My "Taste of Tacoma" was SOOOoooooo rosie, that I am hoping that you will want to go there and get a taste of it for  yourself!  If so, just log on to to start planning how you can sample flavors that will give you Miles of Smiles!  Tricia
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