Weather in the Pacific Northwest can be wonderful, but the climate of South Puget Sound doesn't always perform as you would want it. On a soft summer evening in late July it delivered its glorious promise, however. A year and a half in the making, we presented a special dinner party, which Peg and I had donated to an auction for the Broadway Center for Performing Arts.
When asked to donate for a fund raising auction, I like to give something unique. For this one I had chosen an autographed photograph of TV chef, Mario Batali of the Food Network's Iron Chef America, who has Italian and Seattle roots. Mario had signed the photo, "Spaghetti is love." In addition Peg and I had given a dinner party for six featuring original marinara sauce from Bimbo's Restaurant, which stood as a beacon for a faithful legion of spaghetti lovers for many years.
Peg and I are always happy to help local theaters. In addition to her reviews of Seattle stage productions, and our various adventures around the Pacific Northwest, we just love live entertainment and do what we can to promote groups sales.
In the late 70s and early 80s Peg and I were season ticket holders at the Tacoma Actors Guild. Our tickets were for Sunday matinees. Attending with us were two of Peg's sisters, her mother, and a family friend. After each performance we would adjourn to Bimbo's Restaurant on lower Pacific in downtown Tacoma.
Bimbo's could have easily been transported back in time and place fifty years to "Little Italy" in New York City. The restaurant was small, felt ancient, and you didn't want to visit the bathroom unless you absolutely had to go, but the food was wonderful.
I wouldn't have been surprised to see Al Pacino as Michael Corleone returning from the bathroom with a tape-handled revolver ready to deliver a message over a less than friendly meal of spaghetti in a scene from The Godfather.
The local sauce was an acquired taste perhaps, but those that loved it came back for more. Bimbo's was bought by the City of Tacoma to make way for an improved downtown core. They also bought the recipes and kept them a secret for ten years. However, I know where to buy the basis of the love of Bimbo's, the long simmered meat sauce.
The dinner was won and shared by three board members from the Broadway Center. They brought their spouses for a friendly gathering at our home. Although the board members all knew each other not everyone knew the spouses, so the evening presented a nice opportunity to meet new people and talk about similar interests: food, movies (The Insider, My One and Only, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), books (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked Over the Hornet's Nest), travel (Tuscany and Barcelona), and the development of the Broadway Center since bringing David Fischer back to Tacoma to run it.
We invited long time friend, Jan Runbeck to help serve, dine, and chat. Jan is a great mixer with people, a fantastic worker, an enthusiastic play-goer, and a super community volunteer. She also appreciates good food. As always, Peg and I make more food than can be easily consumed at one meal. We like variety, but it all starts with taste. Leftovers went home with Jan for a volunteer reception on Sunday evening . . . okay, some leftovers went home with Jan.
In addition to spaghetti with Bimbo's sauce, other highlights were an artichoke tapenade, "Swiss Steak Italiano" with roasted vegetables (purchased on our trip to the Olympia Farmer's Market) and pork, Peg's special shortcake (Shorte Torte) featuring a layer of vanilla yogurt with lemon curd folded-in accompanied by fresh blueberries.
Served also were blood orange soda with frozen mellon balls, and several wines including some "Paisano" served in fancy water glasses as it's done in Italy. The glasses were designed by Tacoma Calligrapher Kathy Whitacre.
The dinner party lasted for nearly four enjoyable hours. Our guests left contented. Jan helped clean up and left with baggies and bowls of food for her reception, including an ice tray of frozen mellon balls. Peg and I put food and dishes away before relaxing and dreaming of a second helping of Peg's Swiss Steak Italiano and Bimbo's spaghetti on Sunday evening.