SkyCity offers exclusive 6 course meal that will be part of the James Beard House dinner in NYC

If you haven’t been to the Space Needle for dinner in a while, it’s time to go back.

Via Seattle Weekly: “SkyCity Executive Chef Jeff Maxfield is offering diners a chance to taste the six course menu he’ll serve at a James Beard House dinner later this month in New York City. Available only tomorrow through October 11, the $99 meal at the top of the Space Needle includes Cedar Paper Roasted Anderson Lamb Loin and Mocha Braised Short Ribs. Call 206-905-2100 for reservations.”

I’m going to take a friend to this next week for a belated birthday gift. She’s an incredibly giving person – someone who really is there for her friends whenever she can help, so I’m excited to take her as my guest for a blog review of the dinner. I’ve never been more excited to try a corn soup (ahem, bacon and crab!) in my life. Also, salmon with absinthe? So excited. This whole menu has my stomach growling. Can’t wait to share with you what dishes stand out from the night!

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Update: just spotted this photo on their Facebook page – had to share:

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Review: Balagan Theatre’s Les Miserables is Dynamic and Soulful

For this review, Seattle Pockets is thrilled to welcome guest blogger, Chanel Ryssel.

Full disclosure: Les Miserables is my second favorite musical of all time, and after their production last season of my first favorite musical (Avenue Q), Balagan is quickly eclipsing all local theaters as the nearest and dearest to my heart. This summer, Balagan has found a new artistic director in Louis Hobson who also plays Jean Valjean in Les Miserables.  If his acting is any indication of talent at artistic direction, I would expect an excellent year for Balagan.

Without giving too much away, Les Miserables tells the humanistic story of the social injustice the working class faced in 19th Century France. Playwright Victor Hugo’s central themes are that love and compassion can be found even against the backdrop of destitute living, starvation and revolution. Balagan did an excellent job performing a show in their smaller sized venue that feels like it needs a lot of space. They utilized an intricate set vertically and with an interesting 3D aspect that didn’t need much set breakdown between scenes, thus lending a sense of escapism and cohesiveness between songs. Interestingly, the battle scenes were constructed to give an unexpected angular view to audiences who might feel like they have seen most possible renditions of blocking for Les Mis.

While the cast’s performance as a whole was tight for an opening weekend, a few star characters really make the show. Balagan’s Eponine (Danielle Barnum) steals the show with her gripping, emotional testament through song and amazing stage presence. Similarly, Madame Thenardier (Rebecca M. Davis) and Monsieur Thenardier (Robert Scherzer) are often cast as comedic relief, but in this production also serve to reinforce the motif of “the plight of the orphan” and contrast with their daughter Eponine to really display the compassion that  camaraderie can build in people despite their parentage and early station. .

Balagan, with its intimate venue and excellent stage blocking, does Les Miserables as much justice as big-house theaters!  I would recommend that both people new to Les Miserables and veterans see this production, all the original elements are well done with a few refreshing changes. All in all, Balagan’s approach is dynamic and soulful, exactly what one would want from an excellent production of such a classic show. No spoilers here but bring some tissues with you! Les Miserables closes September 28th.

Visit Balagan’s website for tickets and showtimes.

Balagan Theatre's production of Les Miserables - Photo by Jeff Carpenter

Balagan Theatre’s production of Les Miserables – Photo by Jeff Carpenter

Disclaimer: Balagan Theatre provided SeattlePockets.com with two complimentary tickets to see this production. As always, free doesn’t change our opinions!

Wasabi Grilled Cheese at Bleu Grotto

I have hesitated writing a post about the savory wasabi grilled cheese (just typing those words makes my mouth water!) at Bleu Grotto on Capitol Hill in Seattle because I have yet to get a photo of it that I like! Taking food photos with an iphone is really challenging (especially in low light situations). But I just have to tell you about it. I seriously crave this sandwich (and the starter salad) ALL of the time – probably more than any dish in Seattle!

Their wasabi grilled cheese comes with three dipping sauces. Yes, you get to dip it!  I’m not sure if it’s still spelled wrong on their incredibly quirky and large menu, but it is delicious, no matter how you spell it.  The three sauces are the wasabi sauce, something white and tasty and a peach like sauce. Ok I really should have done my research. I’ll come back and let you know more the next time I go in.  You can get the sandwich with a starter stetler salad (now with kale!) that also has hummus on it, which I strongly suggest (hold the onion please).

The old location of Bleu Grotto (then, Bleu Bistro) had a little bit more secret charm, but they have really done some special things to their new space. There are some tall community tables in the center of the restaurant, a bar, some small seating at the window and (my favorite) a few booths with curtains you can pull around them for more “secret” feeling dining. You’ll need some time to get through the menu (their cocktail list alone is long and fabulous). There are other great things on the menu, my friends tell me (I’m boring and just order the WGC every single time). I love their lemon drop as well.

That’s it. One of my favorite places in Seattle. It’s past 10pm and I’m getting ready to head out on vacation, so my brain is a little fried, but I hope you get a chance to visit them soon.  If I get sad about coming back from vacation, I’ll console myself with the reminder that wasabi grilled cheese will soon be in my future.

Pirates of Penzance delivers an evening of love and laughter

For this review, Seattle Pockets welcomes Guest Blogger, Christopher Monsos.

The Pirates of Penzance have sailed far from the waters off Cornwall and are now plundering the coastline of Canada during the show’s run at The 5th Avenue Theatre through August 4th, 2013.

A twenty two year old pirate bound an overactive sense of duty is released from his indentured servitude and cast ashore. He quickly encounters beautiful maidens (not usually found on the high sea), romance, and tests that put this heightened sense of duty to the test.

With thirty minutes left on his piratical contract does he give this band of pirates tips on how to better plunder? Once released from piracy, can he fulfill his civic duty and turn his old crew in? What consequences arise when he is duty-bound to uphold follow through with his agreements… to the letter?

The 5th Avenue Theatre delivers a solid production of the comic opera, with an vocally powerful cast giving the Gilbert & Sullivan score and patter songs its full respect. Frederic (Hunter Ryan Herdlicka) delivers a performance as tight as his trousers, Mabel (Anne Eisendrath) hits incredibly high operatic notes with strength, and Ruth (Anne Allgood) delivers fantastic comedy – quickly becoming a favorite character. The Pirate King (Brandon O’Neill) found his swagger by the middle of Act 2. The cast is rounded out by a booming band of Pirates-slash-Canadian Mounties, a cunning Major-General (David Pichette), a shuffling Mountie sergeant (Jared Michael Brown), and the scene-stealing bevy of beautiful mavens that are Mabel’s sisters.

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Opening night included some gags that could land harder if they were just slightly pulled back (hip thrusting, a decapitated Canadian goose as examples) and Act 2’s  set seemed oddly flat for what is possible with a static two-scene show.

The Pirates of Penzance delivers a solid and entertaining evening of love and laughter. Pay enough attention to the plot points being sung – but make sure you take moments to visually explore the scenes to catch some of the detail and comedic performances from the ensemble.

*****
GIVEAWAY! If we get 5+ comments on this blog post, we’ll give away a pair of tickets to the show!

Review of Fela! (on tour in Seattle through June 2nd)

I had a chance to see Fela! at The Paramount in downtown Seattle this week. The music really gets me moving and the first act was incredible – athletic, engaging dancers, gorgeous choreography, beautiful costumes (I want that black and yellow ensemble – the way those skirts move – wow!) and a lead actor who carries the whole audience with him as he tells the story of his character, Fela Muti.  Adesola Osakalumi is amazingly captivating. His charm, charisma, moves and passion get the audience on their feet to dance with the cast early in the show and take us through the experience of Fela!

Addressing a very serious subject (political activism in a corrupt Nigerian society) is very challenging within the style of musical theatre. The beginning of the show is fun and energetic while the second act is marred with the reality of things that happen to Fela and his family. While I loved the first act, the second act left me wanting more. It’s incredibly challenging to stay true to history while keeping the energy that the audience experiences in the first act alive, but I believe the book could be stronger – celebrating how the energy and music and message of Fela lives on, even after his death to end the show. It seemed to try to do this, but fell short.  The storytelling of the show is also problematic – most of the show is just Fela talking to us about what happened to him between songs, rather than having the action take place on stage. I did love the use of subtitles in the art projected on the back of the screen, however, which helped the audience understand more of his message during the show. Michelle Williams I believe was a casting mistake – her vocal power is weak and her sound didn’t match the rest of the cast. She wasn’t able to make the leap from pop singer to actor and the sound of her voice was distracting. Luckily, the talent, sound and power of Osakalumi, the amazing dancers and the incredible band made up for this, however.

The music is incredible, the dancing is incredible. I think the second act has some real problems.   I was expecting to learn more about what Fela was protesting than I did. But all in all, I’m glad I got a chance to see this show. There will definitely be more afrobeat music in my future – something I didn’t really have on my radar before hearing about this musical. This show won Tonys for Best Choreography, Costume Design of a Musical and Sound Design of a Musical. Buy tickets here (closes June 2nd).

…but don’t just take my word for it!

Read reviews from:

Seattle Actor

Culture Mob

Broadway World

The Stranger

The Seattle Times

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Quest Fantasy Exhibit opens at EMP tomorrow with cool event!

EMP Musuem’s Quest Fantasty Exhibit opens with a very cool event tomorrow night!

Among the many wonders you’ll experience:

» The Conquerors’ Scavenger Quest
» An archery competition
» A sword fighting presentation by Knights of Veritas
» Photo ops: Snap a picture of yourself atop the Iron Throne from HBO’s Game of Thrones
» A special appearance by the Carter Family Marionettes
» Gameplay with Card Kingdom
» Learn-to-play demos, artist signings, and R&D spellslinging with Magic: The Gathering featuring Mark Rosewater, Aaron Forsythe, Matt Cavotta, and Jeremy Jarvis
» Thirst quenchers in the form of mead or cider (21+ only) along with EMP’s particular brand of butter beer
» Spotlight talks with key figures in fantasy

Spotlight Talk Schedule:
7:30pm – Terry Brooks, New York Times bestselling author
8:15pm – Karen Falk, historian and head archivist for The Jim Henson Company
9:15pm – Mark Ordesky, executive producer of the Academy Award-winning The Lord of the Rings film trilogy

Tickets here. Hope to see you there!

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More details on the Exhibition itself:

From The HobbitThe Wizard of Oz and The Princess Bride to Harry Potter and Snow White and the HuntsmanFantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic invites audiences on a fantastical journey to unearth the inspiration behind this genre’s most magnificent creations.

Revel in hands-on installations that include world building and mapmaking, and legendary pop culture artifacts. See iconic costumes from TV and the silver screen including The Wizard of OzXena: Warrior PrincessLabyrinth, and The Princess Bride; pet a dragon designed by Seattle Opera; sit atop the Iron Throne from HBO’s Game of Thrones; and view original hand-edited manuscript pages from J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

I’ll be sure to come back and share a review of the exhibition after I see it.  Now, what to wear to the party tomorrow?! I wonder if there’s a fantasy character with an easy to put together costume (or one with brunette hair and some cool face paint)? Geeky Hostess, any suggestions? 🙂

Note – EMP’s exhibit “The Art of Video Games” closes May 12th – so now is the perfect time to see both exhibitions! I hear the Video Game show is pretty awesome and can’t wait to take Brandon!

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