We traveled from Tacoma to Seattle to see our granddaughter graduate from Seattle Pacific University at Seattle's Safeco Field. There were three of us, my son's family, and over 13,000 close friends.
Our granddaughter Vanessa finished college in record time after attending Tacoma Community College while still enrolled at Wilson High School in Tacoma. Vanessa didn't start off as our granddaughter, but we have known her all her life. She originally was the granddaughter of our friends Randy and Andi Melquist. Eventually, our son Del married their daughter Johanna and she because our granddaughter. On graduation day, Andi stayed home with pneumonia, while Randy, Peg, and I drove to Safeco.
The ceremony began at 2:00 pm. We never saw our son, our daughter-in-law, nor our other grandchildren. There were over eleven hundred graduates. Del called Peg's cell half-way through the graduation. They were somewhere between home and first base, while we were somewhere between home and third. Graduation was beyond second in center field.
Vanessa was in the fourth row from the last. As we finally got into Arts and Sciences the names no longer matched the program. We knew she had a green "V" on her mortarboard, but it was a long ways a way from us. I had my camera in hand watching the video monitor about fifteen feet away. All of a sudden her name was announced. I switched my camera on and promptly snapped a photograph of the person following her in line. Peg had binoculars and Randy had a monocular. I was expecting some word of warning. Oh, well. We should have discussed a step-by-step plan.
We knew there was no way we were going to meet up with anyone after the recessional, so the three of us headed to the parking lot. Peg and I were interested in visiting a downtown pastry shop, but we found it closed. Darn. We hit the freeway and began our trip home. I knew Peg hadn't eaten lunch (there were no vendors at Safeco), so I suggested we stop somewhere for dinner. We decided on Mama Stortini's just outside Sumner.
Mama Stortini's is located at the site of the old Antoine's Restaurant between Puyallup and Sumner. Peg and I had eaten at Mama's, while it was in University Place, but had not been in their new location. The restaurant is beautifully painted by my friend Keven Sullivan, who owns Sullivan Painting Service. Kevin is a professional painting contractor of both commercial establishments and residential homes. He does interior and exterior work. Both were nicely done at Stortini's.
I could swear that in the old days there was a view of the Puyallup River from the banquet room, but driving around the building, we saw a large parking lot, apartment buildings and lots of greenery blocking a view of the water. Too bad. The river cuts across the valley and has trees and plants growing along the banks. In our weird cool summer, the river looks very peaceful.
Although this was Sunday evening, we were greeted quickly by the hostess. We had a choice of a booth or a table. We chose a table next to a window, which looked out on some nice shrubs and trees. The shrubs had little lights clipped to the branches, so it must look very nice at night. Through the limbs and leaves we could see the parking lot with kids on long-boards, people riding motor scooters, and couples walking hand in hand.
Our waiter was Michael. Peg and Randy had a glass of wine each, while I ordered a Shirley Temple (they look so festive) with a cherry amongst the ice cubes. When Michael delivered our bread and soups he struck a serious pose for his photograph. He was usually smiling. We talked about golfing High Cedars and McCormick Woods, where his sister will be married. He was an excellent waiter.
Peg and I ordered the onion soup and as soon as it was delivered, Randy chimed in with the same order. Onion soup is so hearty when it is prepared correctly. The onion soup was prepared perfectly. Michael added cracked pepper on top of the cheese. The cheese of course formed a chewy topping of the soup. The broth was tasty and the soup was filled with pieces of onion one to two inches long. Their caramelized sweet onions are slowly simmered in a rich beef broth with a hint of brandy and sweet vermouth. Topped with a house made garlic butter croûton, the melted cheese is Emmen thaler Swiss. I left half my soup after eating the cheese and croûton along with broth. I could have finished it all like Randy, but chose not to. I like to sample. I could have eaten the entire basket of country style Italian bread seasoned with garlic butter and fresh basil that was delivered to our table. I would have liked it dipped into the soup, but luckily I had restraint.
Perhaps on another day I will try their country minestrone with its slowly cooked white and green beans, sliced celery,
fresh carrot, diced sweet onion and chopped bacon in a rich beef-tomato broth. With the bread, a glass of red wine . . . and an afternoon with nothing to do, this would make a wonderful lunch.
Randy ordered the Vegetarian Delight pizza and a take-home box. He took home half to his wife, Andi. It looked wonderful with just the right amount of cheese on top.
Since we were eating late in the afternoon/early evening I declined ordering an appetizer, but there were several that looked interesting. I love good bread and the their Gorgonzola flat bread sounded perfect: toasted pine nuts, caramelized onions, Gorgonzola, Beecher’s
white cheddar and Parmesan inside folded flat bread. It was priced at $7.95 and for an additional .95 you could add prosciutto. Another selection that was calling to me was the Parmesan Crusted Zucchini Crisps, which was served with a side of fresh cucumber-garlic sauce. Of course I wanted the crab and artichoke dip as well. You can see why I stayed away from the appetizers. There would have been no dinner involved for me.
Peg ordered the lamb shank. Whenever there is lamb on a menu I am happy to point the selection out to her just in case she missed it. I know she loves it so much. Her Braised Lamb Shank with Barolo Demi-Glace was “Fall off the bone” tender. It was served over their house made lamb demi-glace and a side of
Mama’s garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli. Michael added fresh Parmesan and pepper to whatever we wanted extras on.
I was surprised that Peg enjoyed the potatoes. She hates mashed potatoes, but she declared them "wonderful." I would have liked the lamb served on a bed of tagliatelle or even just plain egg noodles, but that's me. Lamb cooked perfectly is rare, but the lamb was excellent. She have me a large portion, which I gladly accepted. The gravy (demi-glace) was flavorful and mixed well with the potatoes. I shared a bit of my entrée with Peg, also.
At the Puyallup Fair Foundation Golf Tournament on Thursday I had grilled Fillet Mignon. I think the flavors were still on my tongue, because I ordered steak again, which was unusual. The Petite Fillet Mignon with Ruby Port Butter featured a certified Nebraska tenderloin steak grilled to order, brushed
with steakhouse butter, served with crispy onions, garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli. My only complaint . . . well, actually I had two. One, I wished I had ordered the Sautéed Mushrooms to accompany the dinner. Two, I ordered the steak medium rare, but it was served medium. It was really good, but the Fillet Mignon at High Cedars Golf Course was served medium rare . . . and absolutely perfect. I did enjoy the little crispy onion rings served with it. And the mashed potatoes with garlic as well . . . but a few noodles would have gladdened my heart.
Some of my broccoli joined Peg's broccoli, mashed potatoes, and lamb off the bone in her take-home box (very nice sealing boxes by the way).
I asked for the dessert menu. On the way from Seattle to Sumner Peg had called Andi Melquist to let her know we were going out to dinner. Andi wasn't really interested in dinner, but asked for Tiramisu. In looked over the menu and asking Michael about the gellato flavors, we ended up with a cherry chip for me and a butter-nut for Peg. As soon as the gellato was brought to the table I knew I had ordered the wrong item. Mine looked like little chocolate shavings on vanilla ice cream, while Peg's looked creamy and rich . . . and nutty. Both were served more frozen (like ice cream) than I like. Peg gave me a small sample of her's and then gave me the "stink-eye" when I snagged a nice caramelized nut later. She didn't need to taste mine, which turned out to be good . . . just not as good.
I am assuming that the tiramisu made it home along with the pizza. Randy and Andi only live about four minutes away from our north end home.
It will probably be a long time before we return to Safeco Field for a graduation, but I'm thinking it won't be that long before we return to Mama Stortini's on a Sumner or Puyallup adventure.