Traditional Pork Chops with an Asian Twist

So many of us have been cooking more meals at home and are looking for new and interesting ways to jazz up our menu rotation. Adding an international flair to your typical meal can create just the buzz from your family that you are looking for. Here’s a family favorite from Sam Dahn … delicious, juicy Cambodian Pork Chops and yummy Mango Salad … presented recently as part of the Taste of Asia cooking series from the Asia Pacific Cultural Center in Tacoma.

Samuel Danh is of Khmer Krom decent, born in Bac Lieu, Vietnam. In the late ‘80s he was sponsored as a refugee to immigrate to America. Learning to speak English in Arkansas and Louisiana his life has been filled with various adventures … from owning his own restaurant in Shreveport, Louisiana comically named “Someplace Else” to becoming an ordained minister for the Asian community in Tacoma. Danh also teaches Okinawa karate at The Asia Pacific Cultural Center and is a union carpenter.

Cambodian Pork Chops

4-6 large pork chops

1/4 cup hoisin sauce (can substitute soy sauce)

1/8 cup+ minced garlic

3 tablespoons crushed lemon grass

dash of garlic salt

• Buy pork with the bone in

• Wash and cool your meat prior to adding the seasonings

• For best flavor, season your pork with the ingredients and place in the fridge for 1+ hours

• Fry the pork chops in olive or coconut oil for 5-6 minutes on each side

• Watch meat as it cooks and make sure it is golden to dark brown

• Keep a lid over the meat as it cooks to retain moisture & flavor of the seasonings

• Best served with sticky rice for its texture and sweetness

Mango Salad

3 diced tomatoes

1 cup diced green beans

1 cup purple onion

2 tablespoons fish sauce diluted in 1/2 cup warm water

2 diced Thai peppers

A handful of minced cilantros

3 diced sweet mangos

1 cup romaine lettuce

1/2 cup sliced cucumbers

• Always use fresh vegetables, never frozen or canned

• If you don’t like your beans raw, then microwave them for a minute prior to cutting

• Check out the video for easy cutting of mangos that avoids peeling them

• Place romaine lettuce leaves and sliced cucumbers as your base for salad on the plate

For more tips and to watch Sam demonstrate making this meal on Facebook use this address:

For several years the Asia Pacific Cultural Center has hosted a monthly cooking event at their center on South Tacoma Way in Tacoma on the first Saturday called A Taste of Asia. Each month features a recipe from one of the various 47 countries represented by the organization. Because of recent events, APCC began presenting their monthly demonstrations virtually with Facebook Live events. The recipe and presentation featured in the link within this article is one of these virtual events.


A Pearl of a Dining Experience :Chelsea Oyster Bar

Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar in Olympia offers its dining patrons a truly special experience — fresh local seafood sustainably farmed at its namesake Chelsea Farms. Owners Shina Wysocki and Kyle Lentz offer their dining patrons an experience that reflects the heart and soul of the family’s shellfish farming legacy.

Upon your visit, expect an authentic casual-chic Pacific Northwest dining experience. This lovely space, with a recently expanded dining room, allows guests a place to celebrate a unique occasion or meet a friend or two for one of the best happy hours and ‘bites’ in the South Sound. General Manager Amilia Forsberg and her team are known for going the extra mile to make guests feel special. “We love that our customers have made us their destination to celebrate their wedding anniversaries, birthdays, and marriage proposals; we love helping to make the occasion memorable.” says Amilia.

 A menu to satisfy the landlubber or the most adventuresome diner, ‘Chelsea’ offers a delectable assortment   of fresh food from the sea, as well as a few superbly done mainstays. Discover what many Olympians believe to be the best clam chowder, fish and chips, and burgers in town. Be sure to try the delicate and sweet geoduck tartare. Though geoduck is farmed locally and shipped all over the world, it is a delicacy all too difficult to discover on menus in the South Sound.

Be sure to explore Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar and check out the takeout menu which includes dinners and cocktail kits to go!


For Additional Information
Chelsea Oyster Farms

Indochine’s Creativity In Crisis

What do you do in a community crisis? If you’re Russel Brunton at Indochine in downtown Tacoma, you figure out how to prepare tasty meals for hungry local heroes and keep your staff on the job.

From the early days of the coronavirus challenge, Brunton joined several other restaurant owners to provide nutritious meals for medical personnel at local hospitals. They worked in collaboration with Hero Meals. Donors provided funds, and Downtown Tacoma Partnership ordered and delivered meals. Indochine has prepared some 30 delicious meals a week.

“It’s great to work with Downtown Tacoma Partnership,” Brunton said. J.D. Elquist is a fantastic coordinator. They promote online. He communicates daily, and people cooperate. Consistency is really important.”

“The shutdown has been an exercise in creativity,” Brunton explained. “We reduced our prices by 25 percent. The challenge has been to keep the food fresh and to keep the boxed orders straight.” Brunton found that fried rice, noodles and curry dishes travel especially well, but he tries to add something different to the menu every week.

During difficult weeks it hasn’t been just about the food or about community service. It’s been about individuals who need to work. Brunton says Indochine has been aggressive about keeping people employed. “It’s important to keep our group together, to keep everyone active, to keep their skills sharp,” he said. “Our business is skill-based and team-oriented.”

“I think the most exciting thing to me is when we are able to bring staff members back to work,” Brunton said. “We have a lot of young people working at the restaurant, and when we can bring one back, it is a great feeling. They are excited to get back to the restaurant and get back to work.”

Most staff work in the kitchen to prepare the signature Indochine dishes. During the shutdown phase, three or four team members have worked in the front on every shift to distribute pickup orders.

Cooperation, creativity and community service have been key to weathering the COVID-19 pandemic.


1924 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402

The Lasagna Lady spreads Love

As a youth growing up in the Bay Area of California, Michelle Brenner enjoyed big, traditional Sunday dinners with family. When lasagna was served, it usually accompanied an occasion of sorts and brought back warm memories. When she witnessed people buying store-bought, commercially made lasagnas as part of their pandemic meals, the Gig Harbor resident felt compelled to make an incredible offer via Facebook: She would make a lasagna free of charge for anyone who wanted one.

Eight weeks later, Brenner has made over 1,060 lasagnas, surpassing her original goal of making 1,000 total in eight weeks. Her small gesture has grown into a regional phenomenon. People order lasagnas to be sent to hospitals, fire fighters, senior centers, essential retailers, and even prisons. While Brenner says her lasagna may be no better or worse than others’ homemade lasagna, it comes right from her heart. Each pan has a bit of a different journey to reach its happy recipient, and Brenner is equally happy to continue making them.

“The lasagna is really only a small part of the story. The biggest part of the story is the connections I am making between people during this situation,” Brenner said. While she makes all the lasagna alone, other people who want to help do so by buying and delivering her supplies. More and more people are offering their support and help as she continues to provide delicious lasagnas to the community. Recently, the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club even offered her use of their commercial kitchen, which has improved Brenner’s capabilities immensely.

With the ingredients for each lasagna estimated at $16-19, depending on how successful her shopping in bulk is accomplished, Brenner hopes to raise money now that she has reached her goal of making 1,000 lasagnas. And as long as supplies continue to hold out, she can be found in her kitchen, spreading lasagna love. “Maybe this was my true calling. Something I was always meant to do. It took an awful thing to open this door.”


The Lasagna Lady

Talking Cedar: Brews, Distilling, and Food

Looking for a unique new restaurant and brewery to try this fall? Talking Cedar is a brand new distillery, brewery, and restaurant in Grand Mound. This beautiful facility encompasses 35,000 square feet and is owned and maintained by the Chehalis Tribe.

Talking Cedar has partnered with Heritage Distilling Company, a highly awarded craft distillery in North America (based in Gig Harbor), to provide customers a 15,000 square-foot tasting room and distillery with eight fermentation tanks for the production spirits. Talking Cedar Brewing also has a six-barrel production floor to create specialty craft brews on site. All of the brews are crafted from the aquifer that runs beneath the facility. “Using this fresh local water makes it extra special and the water is important to us,” says Managing Director Chris Richards.

The new restaurant welcomes visitors in to enjoy delicious and upscale pub-style appetizers and entrees with locally sourced ingredients, along with their artisan drinks. “You won’t find fresh fish and chips caught locally like this at many other places, Richards says” Some of the other savory dishes on the menu include mouthwatering options like the Bacon Blue Burger, house-made mac ‘n cheese, and pork schnitzel. 

Visitors can view take a self-guided tour of the distillery and brewery, which includes some key historical information. “We are most excited to offer visitors tours that are a hands-on experience. “Engaging and being a part of the craft beverage experience is special and we want to share it,” says  Richards. 

Gatherings at Talking Cedar are unique and offered in a beautiful new facility. Whether you want to share stories over drinks, taste some local favorites or simply enjoy good company, Talking Cedar offers a craft experience to be enjoyed. By Leah Grout

Visit the Talking Cedar website to find out more.

Fresh Herbs for Cooking and Cocktails

With summer here, it is a great time to enhance drinks and meals using fresh herbs that are plucked from your backyard, windowsill pot or planter. Here is a list of our favorite herbs to add a boost of fresh flavor to your favorite dish or libation.


For its prolific leaves, brilliant color, and its popular fragrance, basil is loved by many. Basil is so famous that it is widely used all around the world in both fresh and dried capacities. Its flavor can complement many different cuisines, and it also offers health benefits like anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.


Tarragon is widely used in classic French cooking, particularly as part of a bearnaise sauce, as well as with chicken, fish, and vegetables. Since the leaves are so tender, they can be mixed in with other greens for salads or sprinkled over a finished dish much like parsley. The anise flavor goes well in tomato dishes, so we can see using it in panzanella and caprese salads, in tomato-based soups, or in tomato sauces for pasta. Tarragon can also be muddled or infused into simple syrup for use in cocktails and summer coolers.


One of the most commonly called-for herbs, thyme is also one of the easiest to grow. Thyme is a more subtle herb, which, like basil, can work just as well in a cocktail as it does in a soup or mashed potatoes. Make lemon-thyme butter to slather on roast chicken, or combine it with sweet tea, vodka, fresh lemon juice, honey, and ice for a refreshing drink.


The dill herb provides a pleasant anise-like flavor to soups, seafoods, salads and sauces. The subtle taste of dill makes an excellent complement to foods with delicate flavors like shellfish and fish.


Lavender tops many gardeners’ lists for ornamental value alone; resilience, drought tolerance and the fact that it’s a bee magnet only further illustrate why this sun-loving Mediterranean native is a great herb garden addition. Oh, and it’s a killer cocktail ingredient.


Grown in a pot by the kitchen, fresh mint refreshes everything from dressings, salads and sides to drinks and desserts with a sprig or two.


Old Town Delights Cares for Seniors

Owner Kelly Garofalo of  Old Town Delights became involved with Weatherly Inn in Tacoma reaching out to them to help provide treats for an event.  From the moment Kelly walked in the front door of Weatherly, “it just felt like home the staff and seniors were so welcoming and friendly”, commented owner Kelly Garofalo  

When these trying times of Covid 19 came to pass, Old Town Delights went into action. “We could give back to them by dropping off caramels and boxes of truffles for their wonderful employees and seniors.  We hoped that this would bring them a smile and give them a boost, says Garofalo. It certainly did the seniors and staff love the treats. 

 Kelly says that, “Weatherly Inn is such an important part of our community and has embraced our candy company by supporting small local businesses.  “It is our turn to give back to them”. ShowCase Magazine applauds this simple act of compassion that brought smiles to the faces of many seniors and staff at Weatherly Inn.

Community helping Restaurants

The COVID pandemic is brutalizing every industry. Every industry has their experts, and I trust them to tell their stories. For the last 13 years, we have told the stories of the people in the food and libations industry and we have come to love and adore the local owners. 

As you can imagine we have seen a lot. Due to the recent outbreak restaurants are closing and having a tough go of things. Many report business is down between 20-80 percent. Small, independent restaurants need our help the most. I’m not against chain restaurants. But right now—if you have the means—pick a couple independently owned places to support. Most chain restaurants have the financial means to weather the economic fallout of COVID (some independently-owned franchises are an exception). Most bistros or local spots you love do not. 

What’s crushing them further is that restaurant profit margins have always been notoriously low. The way they make money is through the high markup on alcohol sales. With the mandate to close restaurants this has become a difficult time for restaurants as alchohol sales are limited.

What can you do?  We’re trying to balance two things here—preventing the spread of a global pandemic, while also preventing economic ruin for our neighborhood restaurants and the untold number of locals employed by them. What we can do is order food to-go from the restuarants that are offerign this service. Many local favorites are offering curbside pickup. Several people we know have said, “we are committed to dining take out with our local restaurants twice a week to support them through this,” We like that idea to keep it simple and easy and strategic support the local business owner. If you are choosing to opt in for home dining only, buy a gift certificate from them for later use.

Bottom line is that this is all changing minute to minute. But for now, it looks like we can support local restaurants without putting our at-risk people at more risk, with take out and gift certificate purchases. 

Crudo and Cotto: A Fresh Twist on Italian Cuisine

Giampaolo Falchetti and Kathryn Philbrook recently opened Crudo and Cotto, a fresh Italian and northwest inspired restaurant in Proctor. The husband-wife dynamic duo are also the owners of Olympia’s Basilico Ristorante. Italian cuisine comes naturally for Giampaolo; he grew up in Umbria, Italy, where food is synonymous with fellowship, providing a hospitable meeting place for family and friends to share moments together.

The dining room is an old house restored to a chic new dining option with a bar. Diners can enjoy the visceral experience of watching the food being prepared. The restaurant invites you to linger with friends and loved ones and spend time together.

Crudo and Cotto has a playful and unexpected menu featuring both uncooked selections, with salads, cheese, fresh prosciutto, seafood and oysters, and cooked offerings for entrees, such as pasta and braised meat. The dishes represent a mix of Italian tradition, modern Pacific Northwest influence and a healthy sprinkling of local ingredients, all presented with a dash of fun. Giampaolo says, “We want to bring a new dining experience to Tacoma that is fresh and inviting. This is our pleasure!”

Some favorite items include the raw oysters, shucked fresh at the bar, paired with a light bubbly drink. Salmon and halibut are cut expertly, and Giampaolo’s mom’s favorite dish, Fritto Misto– an assortment of vegetables, shrimp, and calamari– is perfectly prepared. Ravioli di Salmone, also a favorite on the menu, is freshly made ravioli with a salmon-filled center. Specialty cocktails include signature Italian cocktails, liquor, and digestives. There is sure to be something for everyone.

Crudo and Cotto offers a dining experience that is fresh and inviting, like a fresh breeze from the sea, with a focus on delicious and well-presented food. It is certainly a place where care is given to each and every dish. “It is like having art on your plate,” says ShowCase publisher Robin Lucas. Visit Crudo and Cotto for the food and fellowship, and taste Italy in a new, refreshing way.


Crudo and Cotto

Magnuson Kitchen & Brewery Opens at Ruston

Point Ruston’s newest addition to its waterfront dining options is the Magnuson Kitchen & Brewery, an eagerly-anticipation second location and expansion of the Magnuson Cafe & Brewery in Seattle. Located on the edge of the one-acre Grand Plaza at Point Ruston, Magnuson’s offers an exciting and fresh culinary experience. 

The restaurant and brewery features a progressive beer assortment from their onsite brewing operation. Fourteen beers on tap and the ability to brew each batch on-site allows every batch to keep the highest quality and richness of flavor.

Magnuson’s also offers a full brunch menu on the weekends from 10 am to 2 pm, perfect timing to bring friends and family to catch up over a satisfying lunch. Chef Jody Rosencrance has curated an assortment of menu options that offer creative and delightful dishes for everyone. A few specialty favorites include the Magnuson Burger, with beef, vegetables, a brioche bun, and house sauce, the Shrimp Bahn Mi sandwich, and chilaquiles for brunch, with avocado, eggs, and freshly made tortilla chips.

Beyond the mouthwatering food choices, Magnuson’s has an idyllic location on the shores of Lake Washington. The restaurant highlights a large outdoor deck on the warm afternoons and evenings and has a view of the water to enjoy while dining. This “modern American brewhouse restaurant” will certainly be a new local favorite for hand-crafted meals and richly brewed beer. Visit their website or their new Point Ruston location at 5108 Grand Loop, Ruston WA 98402 to try it for yourself!