Over the Moon Cafe

Over the Moon Cafe
709 Opera Alley (Court C), Tacoma

Over the Moon Café, tucked away in Downtown Tacoma’s secluded Opera Alley, is an under-appreciated gem. Located in a historic building where Sarah Bernhardt once performed “Camille,” just blocks away from the Pantages and Rialto theaters, the Café naturally caters to the evening arts and theater crowd.

The artsy decor is a quirky mix of warm brick, colorful paintings and softly lit, rich lampshades and chandeliers (many of which were plucked from the nearby Ruby Collection store). Don’t let their self-proclaimed “unpretentious restaurant” label fool you. Over the Moon has a sophisticated palate, with a strong emphasis on fresh ingredients and French and European flavors. The crab cakes (available as a starter or an entrée) and the crab bisque were some of the best we’ve tried locally. The asparagus with blue cheese and balsamic sauce was simply decadent. Cilantro and lemon perked up the halibut cheeks with pasta in a light cream sauce. On a prior visit, we found the steaks to be perfectly cooked to order, and the Café’s choice of sauces (balsamic and blue cheese; port mushroom; or horseradish and dill) beckoned us to return and try them all.

Over the Moon is also open for lunch, serving up fresh soups, salads and sandwiches. Standards have been replaced by sandwiches with a refreshing, creative twist. We recommend the “Luna Tuna” (made salty as the sea with artichoke hearts and capers) or the “Not Your Ordinary Grilled Cheese Sandwich,” which consists of sourdough bread soaked in sweet white wine sauce, smothered in melted Gruyère cheese. Who says you can’t have wine and cheese for lunch?

Dea Finigan & Sarh Haushild

Mercato Ristorante

Mercato Ristorante
111 Market St. NE, Olympia

Only a few restaurants possess the ability to transport a diner to another place. What is really happening is that the particulars of the food, the sounds of the dining room, the buzz of the kitchen, the tablecloths, and the gleaming flatware all combine perfectly to affect the guest’s senses, to transport them-not to someplace else-but simply away from themselves.

It’s a real trick, in fact. And Mercato is one of those places that pulls it off. A Thursday night in Spring found us tucked into a roomy table. We peeled off jackets and enjoyed studying the menu.

We started the eating experience with one of their succulent appetizers – the sweetness of balsamic syrup mixed with the rich flavor of prosciutto – wrapped prawns created a rich harmony. Next we proceeded with the Pear Gorgonzola salad, which is always amazing. The tartness of pears and blackberry vinaigrette dances eloquently off the a wonderfully pungent flavor.

For an entree the fresh salmon was well prepared and delicious followed by house-made Tiramisu dessert. Mercato delivers a culinary experience you will not soon forget. From the house-made focaccia bread and salad dressings, to fresh pasta and sauces, everything is hand made.

Mercato continues to delivers top notch simple and fresh food experience. And it takes us away to that other place every single time we visit.

Leah Grout

Spa History

A business traveler wants to minimize jet lag. A mother of three wants some time to herself. A group of friends plans a birthday celebration. A man with back pain seeks relief. A teenager is troubled by acne. A weekend warrior is sore from overexertion. A man decides to stop smoking. A pregnant woman wants to feel more comfortable. A couple wants to reconnect. Where can all these people go for help? A spa.

Today’s spa is a center for healing and nourishing mind, body, and spirit. People go to spas for fitness, stress management, peace of mind, pampering and pleasure, and health and wellness. Spas offer a wide variety of techniques and services – traditional and modern, from the East and from the West – to meet the diverse needs of their clients.

Spas come in many shapes, sizes, and focuses – from day spas where you can get a single treatment to destination spas where you can stay for a week or more to medical spas that treat cosmetic and chronic health problems. Spas are everywhere. The number of spas in the U.S. grew at an annual rate of 21% from 1995-1999 and continues to show strong growth.

Although spas seem to have sprung up overnight, that’s not the case. “The Waters” can be traced back to early civilizations. Like water, spa popularity has come in waves throughout history. Social bathing was an important cultural process practiced by Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Minoans, Greeks, and Romans whenever they sought health and relief from their pain and diseases.

With the medical discoveries of the early 20th century, scientific clinics and public hospitals replaced the spa. Existing spas responded by offering luxury accommodations, and many eventually turned into vacation locations or clinics that concentrated on weight loss, catering to the wealthy, with the spa origins obscured. In recent years, the value of prevention, healthy lifestyles, and relaxation has been rediscovered and the spa is again finding its place in modern society as a place uniquely qualified to address these needs. Spas now appeal to and are accessible to a much broader population.

Today’s spa is an interesting combination of ancient traditions and modern mechanical wonders. However, the heart of the modern spa, just as the ancient spa, is water and the rituals that evolve around it.

There have been many recent additions to spa water therapies in recent times. The Jacuzzi whirlpool, a central fixture in many modern spas, was invented in the 1950s, followed by Hydrotherapy Tubs, Swiss Showers, Scotch Hoses, and Vichy Showers. In addition to these mechanical inventions, new therapeutic ways to use still water have been discovered: Floatation Therapy, Watsu, Wassertanzen, Water Dance, Liquid Sound, and Dreams and Rituals in Healing Waters have been developed. The spa today embraces and celebrates its origins in water and is constantly looking for new ways to express it.

Leah Grout

Escape to the Princess

I find it difficult to imagine a better place to “escape” than the Fairmont Princess in Scottsdale, Arizona. I am not speaking of just a physical escape; rather a complete experience of refreshment, renewal and relaxation.

The anticipation of a great adventure was in full bloom as my sisters, my mother and I arrived at the hotel, took leave of our cab, and entered the enchantment
that is the Fairmont Princess. The 36-acre resort is set against the backdrop of the McDowell Mountains. This sprawling resort still has what it takes to wow guests twenty years after its opening in 1987. Mexican Colonial-style architecture relies on sun-washed stone, fountains, waterfalls, palms and cottonwoods to create an ambiance that is both elegant and relaxed. Fun seekers of all ages will enjoy the water park, boasting two 200-foot water slides. Seven tennis courts, a
tennis club, and a 5,000-seat stadium accommodate top tournaments. All this, in addition to a world-class spa. It truly is an oasis in the midst of the desert.

After arriving, we were escorted to our suite, where we found a blend of Mediterranean design with Southwestern accents. Spacious and comfortable, the accommodations had a fantastic view, a sunken tub, and a large balcony. One of my favorite things about the room were the thick window shades, which completely blocked the sun, allowing Yours Truly to sleep in as late as needed.

After getting settled, my sisters and I decided to go poolside. The sun was exquisitely hot. We found ourselves gazing at the pool, soft music playing in the background, when my sister exclaimed, “This is Princess Living!”

The next day, we visited the Princess’ luxurious Willow Stream Spa, a world-class 44,000 square foot spa, magnificent from the moment you open the door. The decor is made of natural elements such as cedar wood art and sandstone flooring. As we entered, the smell of a warmly-glowing golden teak candle overwhelmed
us, complimenting the Zen music playing softly in the background. Within minutes of arrival, I was lulled into relaxation.

“Find Your Energy” this is the stated goal of the Willow spa, accomplished through everything from Pilates and Yoga Classes to all sorts of body treatments. The rooftop swimming pool is an oasis of comfort, and includes a meditation garden complete with a 25-foot waterfall, which provides a sports-like massage when a guest climbs in and lets the water flow over her body.

I treated myself to the Desert Moonlight massage. Treatment rooms with private outdoor patios were adjacent to the falls, allowing us to relax to the sound of falling water while a therapist’s soothing hands worked their magic. True to its name, the Desert Moonlight massage took place under the stars. Nearby, we heard the water fall and smelled the earth cooling. After the hour-long massage, I took an exhilarating swim in the adult-only rooftop pool under the stars.
I was the only person on the roof top. Better than chocolate! It was simply the best escape experience that this mother of two could have imagined.

I floated out of the spa renewed, re-energized, and with a sense of (oh yeah baby) energy found!

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess

Robin Lucas

Summer 2008


Academy Awards Party: Tacoma Grand Cinemas
In The Spirit
Artist Spotlight: Walter Grio
Tacoma Art Festival


Escape To The Princess
Spa History


Woody’s On The Water
Mercato Ristorante
Over The Moon Cafe

Artist Spotlight: Walter Grio

He never set out to be a philanthropist, but Walter Grio is right where he is supposed to be. Walter explains that Shoot for Change manifested itself after a fashion and makeup photo shoot in Stockholm, Sweden. After posting those photos on the web in November 2006, a couple of people asked him to take their photos and to name his price. He was not a professional photographer and was surprised when someone asked him to do this, let alone actually wanting to pay him for his services. Walter then realized that money would never be a motivating factor for him. He thought about it and a few hours later, this statement was born: “All the money from every photo shoot that I do will go to a charitable organization.”

Since then, Shoot for Change has become a creative community with one thing in mind: to shoot for change and inspire the world one click at a time. www.shootforchange.com.

What was your favorite thing as a child? Why?

My favorite thing as a child was this really large gray teddy bear and I never let go of it.

How do you measure success?

I think if you’re happy with what you have, then you’ve been successful. Life is hard enough to try and measure happiness based on numbers. The bottom line is that most people have everything they could possibly need right in front of them.

Who do you admire most?

I admire my parents greatly. They sacrificed so much for me and my sister. They could have easily stayed in the Philippines, but they knew that their children’s future was at stake. So they decided to move – left their friends, careers, family, their home. All for a better future for their children.

What is the most memorable compliment you have received?

My first client, which was actually to video their wedding, said that I cared about their wedding just as I would if it was my own.

Who would you take a cross country trip with and why?

My girlfriend Nicole. She loves to drive and she has great taste in music and she loves to eat snacks.

Who/what inspires your style?

James bond. I’ve always liked his style. When I needed photographs for my first version of shootforchange.com we decided to shoot it like James Bond style with me holding a camera in each hand while I wore a black suit and a black tie.

Who do you think most deserves the spotlight?

Hal Samples. He is a photographer from Dallas and he cares and tirelessly works to help raise the issue about homelessness in Dallas, Texas. I wish there were more people like him. Everyone should visit his website believe me, you will be inspired. (www.halsamples.com)

Leah Grout

Tacoma Art Festival

One weekend last August, my girls and I were walking through the University of Washington campus, when we encountered a large, cardboard facsimile of a bus stop. What was this for? My children wondered, and immediately began a long, imaginative game. The bus stop invited us in, and virtually begged for interaction.

This year’s Showcase Tacoma Festival will shift your reality. That is the message Tacoma Arts Administrator Amy McBride would like to get across about this year’s event, to take place in Tollefson Plaza on August 8th and 9th. Don’t expect it to look like last year, or like any other local festival. This year, the event takes on a new motto: Expand, Explore, Explode! I am looking forward to seeing this in action.

We hear a great deal about Tacoma’s arts scene, but at times it can seem a bit distant, fragile (glass, especially) and inaccessible. Showcase planners hope to change this perception, by bringing the experience of artmaking to the community. They would like visitors to leave with not just an appreciation for art, but also a desire to create their own. Showcase has always been about bringing Tacoma’s arts scene to the community, through demonstrations, participatory activities, and performance art. Metro Parks Tacoma and the Tacoma Arts Commission would like to expand our perception of the role of art in our community, to consider new ways of expression, to learn where to take classes, and how to utilize studio space around the city.

Last year, Showcase featured everything from Taiko drumming to live glass blowing. This year, the festival will embrace an even broader array of artists and art forms, from fragile glass pieces, to urban indie craft artisans working in media such as crochet, silkscreen, and jewelry.

We had a wonderful time last August, admiring the chalk art, checking out the wares of local glass blowers and listening to jazz on the plaza. This year, Showcase will take advantage of the Northwest’s long summer nights to bring us interactive demonstrations as late as 7, and music until at least 9 pm. The entertainment lineup will feature a broad range of musical genres. Festival organizers are seeking the right mix of performers to satisfy the entire community, and bring people in off the street to see what is happening.

Even the food vendors will be a part of the community spirit. Showcase has always featured local, downtown restaurants. This year will be no different, but restaurants such as TWOKOI plan to take their participation to the next level, with special extras like sushi-making classes.

I recently spoke with Phedra Reddifer, one of the coproducers of Showcase Tacoma through Metro Parks. “The great thing about Tacoma is that it truly is an exploding art scene,” said Reddifer. “We want to bring art to the street level and make it accessible to all of our community.” Visual art, dance, performance art, theater, music, and crafts will all be represented, and opportunities will abound for interaction between artists, artwork, and guests.

Chalk art is always a highlight of the event. In the past, students from Tacoma School of the Arts have displayed their talents in this challenging, temporary medium. Student artists would begin early in the morning of the first day, and put the finishing touches on their works just as the festival came to a close. This
year, organizers plan to include SOTA students, but also recruit others through a juried selection process, as well as develop large works to which the community can contribute their own artistic touches.

If you have Click! Network, you can shift your reality soon, by watching Showcase Tacoma On Demand programming. You can also visit www.showcasetacoma.org. We will be sure to check it out, and to be on the lookout for more surprises this August.

Jennifer Boutell

In The Spirit

A thousand years glow from carved cedar. Light falls shy of tooled depths, tracing tales of indigenous people. A glance away, the glow dances on reflections in crafted glass and steel – illuminating a story that is anything but over.

This uniquely modern blend of cultural tradition with current perspectives awaits collectors and visitors at the third annual In the Spirit: Contemporary Northwest Native Arts Exhibit at the Washington State History Museum this summer.

The juried month-long exhibit of works by noted Native American artists will be accompanied by seminars, demonstrations and an arts festival and market – offering a chance to experience traditional and modern aspects of Native American cultures.

“There’s music, storytelling, the artwork itself, a community of people that are here… it’s almost like a celebration,” said Puyallup tribal member Connie McCloud.

McCloud is captain and caretaker of the Puyallup Tribal Canoe Family, which will provide the opening ceremony for In the Spirit at the museum in Tacoma — on land their S’Puyalupubsh ancestors walked upon thousands of years ago. The Puyallup Indians are part of the Salish
people indigenous to the Pacific Northwest.

As their ancestors would have many centuries ago, tribal members will welcome visitors with a reception of drumming, songs and a blessing at the free public opening June 19. The juried arts exhibit will be on display in the museum until July 20.

The market and festival will feature works from a variety of artisans in the outdoor plaza and amphitheater on June 28 and 29. Festival visitors can sample traditional foods and enjoy performances by dancers, musicians and storytellers from local tribes and arts demonstrations by Northwest carvers, printmakers, weavers and bead artists.

The exhibit will showcase works by more than 30 contemporary Native American artists from across the United States, many of whom live and work in the Pacific Northwest. Through works ranging from glass and steel sculptures to more traditional weavings or carved wood, art in the exhibit will reflect experiences and expressions of today’s Native artists.

“There’s really something to be said about recognizing that it is an evolving culture,” said Abigail Azote, the museum’s public relations coordinator. “Members of this community continue to evolve in their lifestyle and their culture and, of course, their art,” she said. A resurgence of enthusiasm among Native people has generated new depths of expression in contemporary works, said Connie McCloud. “There’s an excitement. There are more people looking at their culture and looking at who they are and finding their own gifts to express themselves,” she said.

The festival will include a screening of “Shadow of the Salmon,” a docudrama about a young Lakota Nation man who visits the Pacific Northwest and learns about the relationships between salmon, the environment and local tribes.

Understanding Northwest Native Art, a collector’s seminar on Northwest art forms, will include presentations from a number of Northwest Native artists and a collector of historic Native art on June 28. Appraisals of historic tribal art will be available after the seminar.

Washington State History Museum is at 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma. More information is available at 1-888-BE-THERE, www.washingtonhistory.org or www.evergreen.edu/longhouse.

Krista Olson