This Friday @ The Comet! Goldfinch, Drew Grow & The Pastors Wives, and more

January 20, 2010

There is a show high on our list of recommended events so far this year and it is happening this Friday January 22nd at the Comet Tavern in Capital Hill.    A Tacoma band that has stolen everyone’s hearts, Goldfinch, will be headlining their second show at the comet and supporting them, are an amazing cast of characters that make this show an amazing thing to behold from beginning to end.  Whatever you do, do not miss Drew Grow & The Pastors’ Wives!  Their live show never lets down and makes you want to climb the walls and sing at the top of your lungs.

See you there!

Bizarro Movie Night at Aster Cafe!

December 1, 2009

Here is an event high on our list of recommended local activities this weekend.  Local movie guru, IFC film fanatic champ, and pop culture aficionado, Tony Kay will presenting the first of what will hopefully be many movie nights at the lovely Aster Cafe in Ballard.  If you enjoy a good midnight movie, bizarre cinema, or watching a film that has Mexican wrestlers, Japanese Monsters, or zombies in its ranks, you wont want to miss this FREE event which includes a pre-movie lecture from one of our favorite movie historians and pop culture writers in the NW.

Henry Rollins has described Tony as being “Devistating, gnarly, and crushing”. We agree.  You can read his blog, pop culture petri dish, by visiting http://popculturepetridish.blogspot.com

When: Saturday December 5th @ 8pm

Where: Aster Cafe / 5615 24th Ave NW, Ballard

Why: Because you love Rock N’ Roll, Zombies, Mexican Wrestlers, and Go-Go dancers.   Or even just because you’re a lover of cinema. Even if you have a show or party to go to, this ends by 10:30 so why not start the night early?


Aster Cafe also boasts a nice selection of Beer, Wine, clover made coffee, and good eats.

Thaiku

October 9, 2009

Seattle isn’t short of great Thai food restaurants.  In fact, I would put the Thai Restaurant’s in Fremont alone up against any other major city on the west coast.  But when it comes to where the best Thai food is, I have concluded after much enjoyable deliberation, that the best Thai food in all of Seattle belongs to Ballard’s own, THAIKU.

Crying Tiger

Crying Tiger

What sets Thaiku apart from the rest of the pack is that Thaiku not only celebrates doing the norm to perfection (which it does), but most importantly bases most of its menu on coupling not so common regional specialties with creative dishes that are inspired by the reconstruction of traditional thai flavors with hints from other parts of the orient. When eating at Thaiku, you’re best served to do right by your stomach when venturing into the unknown.

I’ve almost tried every dish at Thaiku and I’ve never been let down.  For the appetizers, the highlight for me has been two very simple meat dishes grilled so perfectly that I’ve been tempted to thank the grill master in person.  The Chicken Satay with peanut sauce, a standard dish at most Thai restaurants stands heads and shoulders above any version I’ve had anywhere else.  Not because of any fanfare or secret ingredients, but because the chicken is always cooked so perfectly.   Along the same lines comes another appetizer that makes you take a moment of pause after your first bite as you ask yourself, “did that really taste that freakin good?”.  The Crying Tiger appetizer is a perfectly grilled steak slices with a spicy dipping sauce that has hints of citris.   So tender it almost melts in your mouth.

Kao Soy

Kao Soy

As for main entrees at Thaiku, the restaurant has an assortment of noodle, rice, and soup dishes.  The first dish I every tried here was so good that I didn’t order something different until my 6th or 7th trip.  That dish, still a favorite in all of Seattle, is a creamy curry noodle dish called Kao Soy.  Beneath a creamy yellow curry and coconut broth, lies soft egg noodles, your choice of chicken or tofu, and pickled mustard greens.  Above the concoction from heaven are a heaping helpful of crispy noodles, chopped green onions, and a side of chili oil (which I use all of).  The contrast of crispy noodles to soft noodles in the creamy and spicy broth is textural food porn and an absolute revelation.

Guay Tiow Tum Yum

Guay Tiow Tum Yum

Of the soup noodle dishes I’ve had at Thaiku, my favorite so far has been a dish called Guay Tiow Tom Yum.   Being from Hawaii, I am a big fan of Hawaiian Saimin and a sucker for the many versions of soup noodle dishes that exist in Asia and the South Pacific.  Whether it be Filipino Pancit, Vietnamese Pho, or Chinese Mein, I’m always in.  Guay Tiow Tom Yum has rice noodles, green onions, garlic, ground peanuts, chili paste, lime juice, cilantro and your choice of meat, in a hot and sour broth.    It’s a hot and sour soup that doesn’t overpower the other flavors but instead that has a light broth that allows for all the flavors to stand out on their own and occur at different depths making each bite unique.

I’ve tried many of the dishes at Thaiku and look forward to trying them all.  Each dish has been prepared perfectly and has obviously been created by a true chef with real vision.  It’s not often that I can eat food of this quality in a place with such a unique and wonderful atmosphere  for such a reasonable price.

Other dishes I’d recommend include;

Kao Moo Dang – A Barbeque pork and chinese sausage dish over rice with a tangy red sauce

Won Ton Soup – Its peppery!  It also has pork and prawn filled Won Tons

Grilled Prawns – Picture the Crying Tiger but with Prawns.. yum

The bar at Thaiku, Fu Kun Wu, deserves its own blog.   Can’t wait to spend a night covering that!

Thaiku is located at 5410 Ballard Ave NW and is open 7 days a week.

Old Town Ale House

October 1, 2009

The Old Town Ale House is simply a place where you can’t go wrong.  The beers are selected wisely and the bartenders and waiters are always good at recommending something befitting of your tastes.  The main draw to the Old Town Ale House though is the food.  For about $10 a dish, you have a wide selection of amazingly good and generously proportioned sandwiches that come with a heaping amount of french fries seasoned with salt, pepper, and a whole lot of Parmesan cheese.

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Pictured above is my wife’s favorite, the BMT.  Basil, mozzarella, tomatoes, and all those FRIES!  Along with the amazing selection of hearty sandwiches, The Old Town Ale House also offers up a healthy assortment of your standard pub fare, highlighted by their highly boasted fish and chips.  I personally have become a fan of their Gumbo (be sure to ask for bread).  For 8.99 you get a good portion of their version of Gumbo.  There gumbo is a succulent combination of sweet andouille sausage, shrimp, okra, and rice. (pictured below)

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Java Bean in Ballard

October 1, 2009

3970458022_0015cc0794 The Java Bean is a  Ballard staple that boasts having been in business for over 20 years.  It’s place that I’ve been frequenting more as of late and I can see why they’ve been in place for so long.   The staff is always friendly and well trained, the drip is always fresh, and the 50 cent refills are fair and allow me to spend entire afternoons reading, working, or doing crossword puzzles. They also frequently play KEXP on air, which is most definitely a bonus.

The decor has a rustic cabin feel, complete with postcards, pictures, and items that evoke images of back road travel of the 40s and 50s.  I personally enjoy the outside seating on 24th Ave NW.

3970459890_e570e20679I’ve found their variety of pastries (from the Alki Bakery) to be incredibly tasty and always fresh. My favorite is the Blueberry Streusel Muffin that I usually order with a cup of coffee.

The Sandwiches are a main draw to the Java bean and one day I might just order one and update the blog. But they do look good and given what most in the neighborhood tell me, I’m sure they are.   But I can say that if you are looking for a good cup of coffee and a pastry to go along with it, you can’t miss here.

The only criticism I would give Java bean is that they don’t have wifi internet.  A $40 router could go a long way for this place and I’d definitely go there more often if they had it.

Green Lake Golf Course

July 17, 2009

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So with the closure of our beloved Sunset Bowl and Leilani Lanes, I’m realizing that there are fewer recreational game options in Seattle that don’t involve having to go to a hipster bar in order to get a game of shuffle board or bowling in on an afternoon.

One place that has stood the test of time and offers a cheap and fun recreational experience for all is the wonderful Green Lake Golf Course. The Green Lake Golf course is by all means a “pitch n’ putt”, meaning it is a par three golf course that only necesitates 3 clubs (a pitching wedge, sand wedge, and putter). The upside to this place is that it is almost as user friendly as your neighborhood mini golf course where people of all ages and skill levels can have a very non-intimidating golfing experience.

golf4The course at Green Lake is always green, well watered, and is a big part of Green Lake’s charm. The staff is super friendly, and the price is very VERY reasonable ($7 per round, and $3.50 for each additional round).  So if you’re looking for something fun to do outdoors from spring to early fall, head down to Green Lake Golf Course with a few golf clubs (you can also rent them for a couple bucks there), and buy yourself a good time that will last you about as long as a movie.

For those serious golfers, the greens might be a little slow for your liking, but really, its a pitch and put and you get a lot more than what you pay for.

Address:  5701 W Green Lake Way North

Phone: 206.632.2280

Price: $7 adult / $5 for juniors & seniors (1/2 price for additional rounds)

Orcas Island / Doe Bay Resort

July 6, 2009

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Sometimes you need to get away from Seattle and go to a place where you are shut off from the world.  In this day and age where the verizon network guys and wireless internet follow you everywhere you go, it can be hard to shut your devices off and get a place where you can safely be alone, away from work and distraction, to absorb some peace and quiet.

This past weekend my wife and I decided the time had come that we needed a break from our normal grind to get away and simply be alone for a while.  We were able to cash in a gift certificate we’ve been saving to the Doe Bay Resort and Retreat on Orcas Island and on fairly short notice, were able to reserve a simple rustic cabin with a view for two nights (on a weekend in June!).

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GETTING THERE

A beauty in taking a trip to the San Juans is that part of the joy of going there is in the actual trip.  Door to door the trip to Orcas Island is about 3 hours from Seattle.  The first hour and a half is spent driving to the Anacortes ferry terminal, and then the next hour or so doesn’t feel like a commute at all.  A ferry ride to the San Juans, as most ferry rides on the sound, is a treat for the senses.  The San Juan Islands and the Pudget Sounds are geographical characteristics that set us apart from the rest of the country and it is truly a sight to behold that doesn’t get old.  As you make your way across the sound you’ll be able to spot some wildlife (we saw seals, and jellyfish), as well as many of the other islands including Shaw and Lopez Island.

SMALL TOWN CHARM

eerieAside from the unbeatable natural setting, Orcas Island is a charming place with a few small towns packed full of mom and pop stores and restaurants.  You’ll find plenty of local art, crafts, and even an abundance of locally farmed shell fish.  As you drive to anywhere on the island, be sure to have your camera handy because Orcas Island is simply ripe with breathtaking natural scenery, as well as the charm that small island towns bring.  The one town we stopped and spent the most time in during our trip was the small one stop waterfront town of East Sound.  While there, we went for a very lovely walk where it being low tide, we were able to walk out into the cove and see an assortment of clams, crabs, and take in the tidal sea life. We did some picture taking and window shopping in the towns handful of shops selling local arts crafts, and driftwood furniture.   If you have a car on Orcas Island, you can spend a nice afternoon driving around it. Since there’s only one main road, you wont really even need a map. Aside from East Sound we could tell that the other small dock downs of Deer Harbor, and West Sound would have a lot to offer as well.  We decided to keep moving and to tuck these places away for next time.

Vern’s Bayside Restaurant

While in Eastsound, we at at a lovely place called Vern’s Bayside Restaurant. This was actually our second time eating there, and we have found that Vern’s offers incredibly generous portions, delicious breakfasts, sandwhiches, accompanied by one of our favorite views on the island.  From the inside, there’s window side seating that looks out at a protective cove with a small island, and will likely be a couple boats anchored out in the bay. The restaurant has a bar in its lower level as well as patio seating aside the cove.   I highly recommend splurging a little more than the $10 fare at the restaurant and opt for either the crab omelet, or crab club sandwich for $7 more.  Not only are they generous with the portions of crab they include, but it is incredibly fresh.  If you’re not too hungry and are there with someone else, I’d advise maybe splitting a single meal because of its size. Vern’s is a down home slice of  island version Americana with a friendly staff and welcoming atmosphere.

DOE BAY RESORT & RETREAT

50770022 On the Southeast corner of Orcas Island lies a tucked away resort and retreat known as Doe Bay.  This place is simply breathtaking.  On bulletin board on the resort, the owners included this quote in a newsletter written for their guests.

“I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own” ~ Andy Warhol

This quote basically sums up Doe Bay in a nutshell. Like so many destinations in the Northwest, Doe Bay is a spectacular place on its own.  The Doe Bay Resort & Retreat exists to allow people to be in its space without getting in the way of the bay’s visual beauty, or disrupting it locations environmentally.  The Resort is 40 or so acres of pristine waterfront property that overlooks Doe Bay and the Rosario Straight of the San Juan Islands.  The staff are incredibly friendly and the main aspect I enjoyed is that I truly felt like the place can serve as a resort, or a true retreat.  We chose the latter, and spent 2 days in absolute quiet. I must give credit to the staff and the resort layout itself as I felt like we were simply left alone to let time stand still for a while.  The one resort type aspect we did take advantage of was the hot tubs and sauna. In the middle of the woods overlooking the bay is a beautiful sauna with a trio of hot tubs and cold plunge in what looks like a Japanese pagoda style building open to the woods around it. On the Friday of our stay, we were able to enjoy the hot tubs on our own. An amazing treat that got our trip started right. hot-tubs On the Saturday morning however, the hot tubs were not only a bit crowded, but also clothing optional.  We didn’t mind the clothing optional aspect of it so much as we felt like the odd folks out as we were the only ones who chose the option to wear swim suits. We reminded ourselves that next time we’d come on a weekday and hopefully luck out on getting to enjoy the hot tubs on our own, or at least with fewer folks. Should we have decided to indulge in more of the resort aspects of place, there were many options to take advantage of that included, massages in one of the many “massage cabins”, daily yoga classes, and daily kayaking tours.  There is also a critically acclaimed cafe and restaurant on the property that prides itself on growing much of the ingredients and produce used in the restaurant in the resorts very own organic garden.  Our budget didn’t allow us to eat at the restaurant, as we were opting for a bag of chips and cheep beer, but the beauty of that as well as the places we weren’t able to see is that it leaves us something to look forward to for our next trip to Orcas Island.

The accommodations at Doe Bay vary from cabins of different sizes, to hostels, Yurts, or simple camp sights. We opted for a small cabin called “Naga” and like all of the accommodations there, it was very simple and rustic. This is not the kind of place you’re going to want to stay if you’re looking for room service and plasma screen TV’s.  Its a real cabin with the bare essentials and for us, it was perfect.  Our Cabin was one room with a small kitchen, queen sized bed, bathroom, and a lovely deck that wrapped around the front

Yurt at Doe Bay

Yurt at Doe Bay

overlooking a prairie leading down to aspen groves and the water.  Deer seemed to be everywhere and watching them made for a nice way to take a break from my crossword puzzles and occasional naps.

If you plan on going there, you’ll notice when making your reservation that some of the cabins, and all of the yurts, don’t have electricity and/or running water.  There are a couple communal buildings with bathrooms and multiple shower rooms.  Some of the more beautiful camping spots are a bit of a walk (maybe 100 yards or so) from these facilities, so you’ll need to weigh out whether you want to be close to convenience or in a more beautiful location as the more remote camp spots and yurts are closer to the water, and have some of the more wonderful views.  Walking around the grounds, we happened upon the aspen groves pictured below.  The trail leads to the camp spots and yurts with the best views, but maybe not the most space.  We’ll be back in August and will be opting for the Yurt to get a different experience.  We’ll also be venturing to different parts of Orcas Island as well so we’ll see you then for Orcas Island Part two

Aspen Grove

Telegraph Canyon: A band from Fort Worth, TX that you should get to know

June 18, 2009
Chris Johnson and his beard.

Chris Johnson and his beard.

So it may seem odd that I’ve started this blog as a place that celebrates the culture of the Pacific Northwest and yet the first blog I write just so happens to be about a band from the South.  Truth is that with music we all know its good to have a great music scene where you are from (and we all know that the NW is one of the greatest), but in the end we don’t care where its from as much as we just want it to be good.  So for my first music review, I’m simply picking the “band of the hour” whom I recently saw live for the first time here in Seattle, and whose EP has been on constant rotation in my car ever since.   I  find it fitting that this wonderful group of musicians from down south will be coming back to play Seattle once again on September 8th at the very intimate and beautiful Jewel Box Theater in Belltown.  So given that this ties in with a NW event that you should not miss, this is very much a NW blog.

I spent a number of years studying, playing, and composing music, and in all my studies, no lessons were more important than the lessons I had with one particular piano teacher which were less about playing and more just conversations about “what is music?”.   We talked for hours on end about why we find it so beautiful and why we’d each willingly choose to go down a path of sure fire poverty in order to spend a life discovering it.  The one solid conclusion that we derived to was that music is simply a human language.  We felt that at its core, music is a means of human communication that when done right, transcends the evolution of language, making dictionaries obsolete.   We mutually loved music that had this longing to communicate at its core and it is probably also why we hated our studies when it came time to study atonality and indeterminacy.

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Tamara Cauble and Chris Johnson of Telegraph Canyon

Its for these reasons and my own longing to connect with any music that comes from someone who is simply trying to communicate something truthful, that I love Telegraph Canyon.   Its honest music, free of ego.  The band itself is quite big having 6, and what appears to be 7 people at times. A large ensemble of musicians that instead of taking an egotistical approach to their orchestration, (which usually results in a constant bombardment of all instruments), focus on humility and like any good artist, celebrate the negative spaces, or silence,  in their work as they do the positive ones.  The end result for Telegraph Canyon is simple and beautiful orchestration. It’s why we love the Arcade Fire. A band with many parts, none of them virtuosic or incredibly talented, but all there to serve the song and not themselves.  In Telegraph Canyon, I can find a great deal of that same accessibility and collaborative energy that made bands like the Arcade Fire famous. 

One of the many things that separates Telegraph Canyon from the rest and why they are a band unto themselves is that in their music you can hear where they are from.  Beyond singer Chris Johnson heartfelt and revealing words and the voices of the many instruments that sway in and out, you hear the sound of Texas and the south.  Not in any cliche way that echoes the past like some Sergio Leone film or what we define as being southern country from many moons ago, but instead, this is Texas now.  Its what happens when a cowboy is raised with a broader pallet than his predecessors and finds the common ground between a sad country song and the lyrical brilliance of a Bob Dylan, a man from another world.  It retains the energy and longing to let loose that made hoe downs the place to be after the end of a long work week, but finds alternate sources of that energy in everything from marching band rhythms to foundations of white noise a la Sonic Youth or Wilco .  Most importantly Telegraph Canyon retains that certain “thing” from the south that you just can’t put your thumb on, but for anyone who has been on a long road trip through the state, there is just something that makes you change the CD in your car somewhere between El Paso and Austin. Removing an artists from the East or West, and needing put one on that comes from the South and has that “something” that connects with the land’s summer heat and wide open spaces.

NW tour dates:


September 8 @ The Jewel Box Theater ~ Seattle, WA

w/ Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives (Portland, OR) and Goldfinch (Tacoma, WA)

September 9 @ Doug Fir Lounge ~ Portland, OR

w/ Weinland (Portland, OR)

What to Expect Here

June 17, 2009

So I’m a bit of a culture junkie who is in love with the NW.   I’ve started this blog to share my joy over everything from a new band I dig, how to make silkscreens and homemade wine, to a new plate of food worth trying.  Most of what I will write about will be focused on the Pacific Northwest, but being someone who has been just about everywhere, don’t be surprised if you see me pull a rabbit out of my hat.


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