We wanted a nap and it was too early for dinner. The hotel had construction going on. Above our King Suite, they were using a drill to destroy the kitchen and bathroom tiles. We had to get out of the hotel before the blasting began. There were no other King Suites available on the upper floors.
We drove across the street to another section of The Alderwood Mall, Barnes & Noble, where both Peg and I purchased some books, and I purchased two magazines: Biblical Archaeology, and Archaeology. Each time I picked up a magazine there was a connection to things I was working on or thinking about. I wanted Jamie Ford's latest novel, "Love and Other Consolation Prizes," but it's not due out until September. Later that evening I purchased an advance copy on eBay. I also purchased the Immortal Irishman, but it turned out to have print so small I couldn't read it in bed.
The magazines were perfect for me. I read and re-read the articles. I belong to a reading group (all men) and Peg belongs to a different reading group (all women). My group's next selection is "The Marches: A Borderland Journey between England and Scotland" by Rory Stewart. The non-fiction book is about a father and son who renew their friendship and explore the lands north of Hadrian's Wall. "Archaeology" featured an article about Hadrian's Wall. Using the book and the magazine together gave me a huge insight into the area and its history. I might have preferred "Alice in Wonderland," but I couldn't find an article on the exact rabbit hole.
As Peg paid for our purchases we heard loud booms. Thinking it might have been our hotel imploding, she asked about the noise. "Thunder," was the reply. In the excitement of reading and shopping, we hadn't noticed the darkening skies.
With reading material in bags, we hurried to our "shining armor" colored Buick.
The Old Spaghetti Factory was located in the same general area of The Alderwood Mall, we just needed to snake around to the entrance, which was slightly uphill. We pulled up short when we saw that we had to go through a mysterious cave. As we entered the darkness a pumpkin with an evil grin carved into its face was dashed nearby onto the pavement. A black horse with a headless rider rode by. We heard a shout, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." We were un-Dante'd.
We drove through the tunnel and up a steep incline before coming out into the growing gloom. As we neared a parking spot by the restaurant, the sky opened up and the deluge began.
We parked in the nearest parking slot and ran for the covered walk and the entrance to The Old Spaghetti Factory.
We had to stop and stare. It was raining so hard that there were waves running down the roadway to the street. Looking toward the Hampton Inn, which was just across the street from Barnes & Noble, we could barely make out a dark shape, which was the hotel. The rain obscured everything.
Other runners stopped at the entrance to the restaurant. I opened the door for them and Peg. No tip.
I stayed behind to take more photographs. The fury and the amount of rain was facinating. As the old saying goes, it was raining cats and dogs . . . and I stepped in a poodle.
Inside, we were greeted warmly. The plush chairs were comfortable. I liked the building. It looked like it might have at one time been a factory, or a warehouse. But then, who wants to eat at a Spaghetti Warehouse?
On the placemats, each local Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant showed when it opened. I think Tacoma was opened in 1973, which would mean that we've been dining at Old Spaghetti Factory for about forty-three years. The majority of those dining experiences involved family celebrations, first with our own kids and then with our grandchildren. What's changed perhaps is that the grandkids usually order the mac 'n cheese.
A dining experience with just the two of us . . . doesn't come to mind. So this stormy day in May was something new. We requested a table by a window. The seats were very comfortable. I think this was our lucky day. Not only did we have very cushy chairs, but we ;possibly had the best table in the restaurant for the view.
One of Carole King's classic songs is "Up on the Roof" where she sings "at night the stars they put on a show for free, And, darling, you can share it all with me." The lightning was putting on a show just for us. When our server, Dave stopped by, he would pause and look through the window and up into the blue/gray sky.
Each time we looked out, streaks of lightning dashed across the sky like an electronic Etch-a-sketch dancing the jig. Our window provided enough excitement for us and everyone in our corner of the eatery. As the light show danced right at our table it was as if Carole kept singing "all my cares just drift right into space." And they did. They really did.
We no longer needed a nap and we no longer cared about the construction going on at our hotel. What did it matter? Our whole world was before us, and we were happy and content.
Peg ordered a salad and I ordered the soup, minestrone. We didn't have candle light to flicker and make our food taste better, we had lighting. The soup was fantastic. We shared back and forth.
We laughed and talked as we were entertained by nature.
A good soup not only warms your body, but tickles your taste buds as well.
Minestrone is thick soup with Italian seasonings and vegetables. It reminds me of a good stew. I like a rich broth and chunks of vegetables. Common ingredients include beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock, and tomatoes. I don't know that there is a recipe for minestrone.
At one time I would have required it start off with a beef or chicken broth, but any more a good vegetable broth works for me as well.
Just like a good stew, minestrone demands good bread. Peg and I love crusty bread . . . and butter. I can eat the bread without minestrone, and I can eat minesrone without bread, but if they are served together then it is an obligation to combine them.
With stew, we like a good home-made biscuit, but I think perhaps we could add a biscuit to our Italian menu and include a biscuit with our minestrone. Perhaps, with a little rosemary or sage in the dough.
We find it difficult to pass by a bakery and not follow our nose. Peg tells a story of living in France as a child and her and her sister Pat going to the bakery and returning home with fewer loaves than when they left the bakery for home.
I know the problem . . . and I understand.
Since 1969 the Old Spaghetti Factory has been using the same recipe for their rich, meat sauce. Ripe tomatoes and browned, ground beef with onions, celery,and garlic combined with Italian seasoning. It still works for me. I orderd an Italian sausage link, but I think that was overkill. I didn't finish the sausage.
In addition to the meat sauce I've always loved the Mizithra cheese with browned butter. Perhaps, I just like the historical note that supposedly Home lived off this version of spaghetti while he wrote the Iliad, but when you think about it, that couldn't be true. Writing hadn't been invented, yet. According to my "Archaeology" magazine, Homer would have sung or recited individual stories or sections and then hundreds of years later it was written down.
By ordering the meat sauce and the Mizithra cheese sauce I can eat them separately or combine them . . . depeneding upon my temperament.
Peg ordered the Chicken Marsala, which features a chicken breast with a mushroom and Marsala wine sauce. It is served with Mizithra cheese as well. I think this was Peg's first time of having the Marsala at the Old Spaghetti Factory. She just had it a month ago at a very nice Tacoma Italian restaurant in Tacoma's northend. The revelation was that the OSF version was better. I've never been tempted to order it on my own, but I really liked the way they used thicker slices of mushrooms. The sauce was fantastic. I may have to switch.
Peg complaned that the Mizithra cheese was dry. So, she asked Dave, "What happened to the browned butter?" Soon he and his manager delivered a little bowl for her. I never turn down butter, but I do like the cheese dry. It goes better with the meat sauce that way.
Dave brought us bowls of spumoni. Spumoni means "foams." It's a molded Italian ice cream somethmes with whipped cream folded in. It has layers of different colors and flavors. It's included in the three course meal, so what the heck.
We were charmed by the lightning, but the recipes worked their maginc on our tastebuds, too. Our server Dave, did an excellent job for us and we had a very, very nice time in Lynnwood's Old Spaghetti Factory.