At one time April meant field after cultivated field of golden daffodils throughout the Puyallup Valley from Puyallup, Sumner, and Orting. What a celebration spring was. There were roadway flower stands selling the flowers on most busy streets from Everett to Kelso. Now, not so much. Many of the local farmlands currently grow 2500 sq foot homes, apartments, strip malls, and warehouses. But the sight of daffodils blooming along sidewalks, and private gardens brings a smile to local faces. Daffodils mean spring and spring means the Daffodil Festival and many events like the selection of Daffodil Princesses from each of the Pierce County High Schools, the Junior Daffodil Parade, and the Marine Daffodil Parade . . . and many more reasons to enjoy spring and flowers.
This year we didn't find out that our grandson Riley was marching in the Puyallup Daffodil Parade until the week of the event. The parade and other family members participating in their community meant a trip to Puyallup. Thursday found Peg and I enjoying and supporting different cultural events. Peg went with our son, Patrick, to watch granddaughter, Laci, sing in a chorus at her elementary school, while I went with daughter-in-law, Wendy to Puyallup High School to watch a talent show. Granddaughter Bailee, sang and played guitar there. She is pretty much self-taught on guitar and has been playing and singing for the last year at her church. She fretted about the selection until the last minute, but still was calm and collected when she performed.
Friday Peg and I drove around looking for a good place to watch the parade on Saturday. Grandson Riley, was marching and playing his Euphonium for the parade in downtown Puyallup. The parade includes Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner, and Orting. When I was at Clover Park I played the baritone Saxophone and marched for three years in multiple cities. I still enjoy good march music.
I found a good place to park (just a few feet from the parade route) for the Saturday parade and returned early the next morning to claim my spot well before anyone else took my place.
I had been talking to Patrick about Crockett's in Puyallup. The restaurant had appeared on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Network. Guy Fieri the TV host loved the restaurant and so do a lot of other people, now. Patrick had eaten there a couple of times. He recommended the fish and chips. Crockett's Public House is located on at 118 E Stewart, just off South Meridian. Parking is difficult. I knew they were right behind Trackside Pizza and Auntie B's, and still had a tough time finding them and locating someplace to park that didn't involve getting towed away. If you get there early enough, there are four spots along the west wall of Crockett's. Otherwise it's street parking and a shared parking lot between Crockett's, the train track, and about six other businesses.
Signage is a little confusing. The window and the website says they open at 11:30 for lunch, but Peg walked in about 11:20. Opening at 11:30 in Tacoma would be the kiss of death, but it must work in Puyallup. The menu took some time to look over. Pet ordered the mint limeade to drink. After a taste of her drink I ordered one to replace my Diet Coke.
I ordered the northwest chowder. Both Peg and I loved it. I wish it were a little thicker, but I had no problem with the taste. I found two huge chunks of fried bacon, a large forkful of salmon, and a prawn. Clams were somewhere in the mix also. The chowder and a salad would make a great lunch.
There is nothing wrong with the portions at Crockett's. Peg ordered the BLT, which was wonderful. Large sourdough slices of toasted bread with lettuce, thick pieces of beautiful brown crispy bacon, avocado, and thick slices of tomato. The sandwich is heaven. Everything was perfect. Accompanying the BLT Peg ordered the sweet potato fries. I wanted to eat them all, but didn't. There were the little shoestring cuts. Crispy, orange, salty and dipped in ketchup.
The only thing better than the fries and the BLT was the service. The food was served in record time . . . and ready to eat. The staff was constantly checking if we needed anything else. This was Seattle-type service.
Even though Patrick recommended the fish and chips, the street taco caught my eye. It used beef brisket. Brisket just speaks to me. I do worry about street tacos. Many places serve them with a single corn tortilla, which falls apart almost immediately. I asked and was told it just had one tortilla, but I ordered it any way. I took a chance that they knew what they were doing. The tortilla turned out to be flour instead of cornmeal AND it was served slightly crispy, so it held together.
The taco also had a nice slice of avocado. The taco just tasted so fresh. Next time I'll order two tacos and . . . oh, lord who knows. I think I'll find so many new favorites.
Saturday Morning I was up early and drove to downtown Puyallup. I parked our car where we could watch the parade and then walked a couple of blocks to Cattin's Family Style Restaurant for breakfast. I ordered coffee and chicken fried steak with eggs and hashbrowns. I bought the early edition of the Sunday News Tribune and went through the ads and articles. Made up my latest "To Do" list as well as "Points to Ponder" about online marketing and website development.
I like sitting in cafés and writing. The only interruptions are "Would you like more coffee?" When I was through thinking I called a cab to take me back to the Holiday Inn Express on top of South Hill. Peg and I had a King Suite for a few days.
The parade in Puyallup started at 12:45. Riley's band was slotted at position #41. I called for a taxi at 12:45. This is where my plan started to go wrong. The cabbie was not only unfamiliar with Puyallup, but also the English language. I knew the worst case scenario would be for the driver driving through the South Hill Mall looking for the hotel. That's what he did. We saw him blocks away. We were on the main street. All he had to do was continue straight to us. I took off my hat and waved it. He made a left turn into a blind alley. He turned around and I thought he saw me, but no. He again turned off the road and into the parking lot where we were, but a hundred feet away. Luckily he was flagged down by two people at McDonald's. We scampered over and got in the cab, while the cabbie was talking to the people and then to us asking what those people wanted. I said, "Please, you need to get moving." My next direction was "Take a right at the light and go straight down the hill." He turned the corner and stayed in the right turn lane. In unison Peg and I shouted "You're in the wrong lane. You need to go straight down the hill." I don't think he knew English or even his left from his right. When we got in the cab it was forty-five minutes from when I had called. I had him stop and drop off Peg near our car and then had him drive two and half blocks further along the parade route hoping I'd catch Riley. I gave the cabbie a twenty dollar bill and told me just give me eight dollars change. He counted out ten dollars. I hustled over to Meridian . . . too late. Depressed I walk back to Peg, my son Patrick, and our car.
In disgust I sat in the car while Peg watched the parade for a few minutes and then she joined me. Patrick mentioned that even he didn't get a picture of Riley. With the big bells of the horns, ponchos and faces down it's hard to get a decent picture in the few seconds of a passing parade.
Peg was interested in returning to Crockett's for lunch, but there was no place to park. We had to circle the parade staging area and finally found ourselves driving South on Meridian looking for some place to eat. We finally saw an Outback. We've eaten there maybe twice in fifteen or twenty years. There were no cars in the parking lot and the restaurant looked dark, but it was open. There were maybe two other couples there.
I was surprised by their menu selections and chose king crab, Even though it was more than I wanted to pay. I felt abused and disappointed from the taxi adventure. Another disappointment was only seconds away, we were a half hour early for the baked sweet potato I ordered as a side.
King crab isn't as tasty as Dungeness, but it's easier to pick out the meat. Slits in the shell allow you to open up and remove portions of crab meat around four inches long and a good half-inch wide. Soon my ramekin of clarified butter was over-flowing. I squeezed lemon juice liberally and gave a Peg a huge chunk and then began devouring the crab.
Peg chose lamb. Lamb chops are almost like lollipops. To do justice to the lamb it's best to pick them up by the bone and nibble. Two of the chops were double slices. She would have preferred just a touch pinker, but loved what she got. She shared her asparagus with me. With butter and lemon juice they were perfect.
Outback serves New Zealand lamb. The chops came with a rich cabernet wine sauce. I believe it is certified "halal." "Halal is often used in reference to foods and drinks, i.e. foods that are permissible for Muslims to eat or drink under Islamic Shari'ah (law). The criteria specifies both what foods are allowed, and how the food must be prepared. The foods addressed are mostly types of meat and animal tissue."
Although, we were just going to have a steak for lunch, the selections and service at Outback opened our eyes. Not only were the main dishes excellent, but so were the sides. My steamed vegetables were just as I like. I did leave broccoli on the plate, but ate all my carrots and yellow squash.
After we were completely served our waitress, Andrea, she returned with the baked sweet potato, that I didn't want to wait for initially. "They came out early today," she said. No charge. She didn't have to do that, but she did. That's what great customer service can do. Peg and I were tired and dis-spirited when we came into the restaurant.
We returned to the hotel delighted and happy. Peg sketched for most of the afternoon, while I wanted a couple of movies (John Wick, Foxcatcher and Whiplash) and checked emails.
Sunday morning we slept in and then packed up and left the Puyallup Valley . . . but not the daffodils. It was a beautiful day. As we drove along Ruston Way and the waterfront, Katie Downs Tavern and Eatery called to us.
We ordered from the menu. Peg passed on a glass of wine, but I ordered a bottle of pear cider (we were only blocks from home). We thought this would be a good place to un-wind. All of the window seats were taken, but we could still take advantage of the view. Since it was still chilly out, no one was being served on the deck. So, we had a great view . . . and soon the show began. We were just in time for the Marine Daffodil Parade.
One of our clients is the Totem Yacht Club. I'm sure most of the boats in the marine parade were from either the Tacoma Yacht Club or the Totem Yacht Club. Peg and I have friends in both. Some of the boats looked familiar, but we didn't have binoculars to see a lot of details.
I know the Daffodil Queen and princesses were onboard . . . and each boat is decorated in some fashion with daffodils.
People sipped beer and wine and ate their food in the comfort of Katie Downs, while local boat owners motored past us. I can't think of a much better way to watch a parade than live . . . eating . . . sipping . . . and being waited on. When we left the tavern was pretty much full.
Although Katie Downs is most well-known for their pizza, we prefer other choices as well. Peg loves their Flat Iron Steak Salad. The steak is cooked medium rare. She always gives me a piece. Plus it's a good fresh salad.
Every once in a while Peg will order a personal pizza, but mostly she has the salad. The prawns and chips are a good alternative, also.
Peg usually has a glass of wine (pino grigio) with lunch and dinner. Returning from our short trip she knew she would have to unpack and wash a load of clothes. The wine would almost necessitate a nap.
I almost always order the fish and chips (cod) with four pieces. I usually ask for the salad rather than the fries, but when I do order the fries I like the curly ones. The fish is beer battered and the pieces are large. I have half a piece of fish to Peg. I should order the three pieces, but I'm greedy. Their fish and chips is one of my Tacoma favorites. Other than Katie Downs, I prefer the fish and chips at nearby Spar Tavern. The Spar doesn't have a spectacular view like Katie Downs, but it does have spar chips and a large squirty bottle of sour cream.
Sunday was wonderful just sitting, munching, and watching the Marine Daffodil Parade. The spring weather was absolutely perfect for love, dining . . . and daffodils.