Monday, February 23, 2015

The eaters have spoken, and photographed: Early favorites from #INRestWeek

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 12:22 PM

Inlander Restaurant Week got off to a tasty, rousing start over the weekend, and if you weren't able get out to one of the 97 restaurants involved in 2015, you still have a week to get it together. If you need some information on Inlander Restaurant Week, hit our complete guide online, our coverage in the new issue of The Inlander, and our handy how-to for first-timers

When you DO get out there, be sure to help your fellow diners out by letting us know what you think of what you're eating. Hashtag your posts #INRestWeek on Twitter and Instagram, or shoot us some photos directly @TheInlander and @InlanderRW. 

Here are some samples from happy eaters from the weekend. Stay tuned for more shots through the week: 





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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Inlander Restaurant Week: A beginner's guide to navigating the dining event of the year

Posted By on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 12:25 PM

Venison burger from the Rusty Moose Bar and Grill. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Venison burger from the Rusty Moose Bar and Grill.

Inlander Restaurant Week
kicks off tomorrow, and with such a vast assortment of tremendous delectables available, the task of choosing can be delightfully overwhelming. To remedy this, we’ve compiled a quick and easy how-to for newcomers, as well as some personal recommendations. Inlander Restaurant Week lasts until March 1, so you have 10 days of feasting ahead of you all across Spokane and Coeur d’Alene and points in between. Feel free to consult this handy guide as you eat your way across the Pacific Northwest.

What do I do first?
Well, be hungry. For inspiration, just look over the Restaurant Week menus until something inspires you.

OK, I’m hungry. Now what?
Go to the restaurant! You might want to make a reservation, though that’s not necessarily required. It never hurts to give a call; it might help you avoid any long waits. 

I’m at the restaurant. Is there a special menu?
During Restaurant Week, the selected menus are actually fixed price. This means that each participating restaurant’s 3-course menu is either $18 or $28. This should ease your planning woes pretty quickly.

Now that I know how much this costs, what do I do?
Eat! With three courses — and up to three options for each course — you’ll certainly be well-equipped to battle your hunger.

What if I get hungrier? What if I want more?
That’s the spirit! Some restaurants will offer add-on or upgrade options, and these will be clearly marked on your menu.

Speaking of spirits, I want a drink. Do I need to go to a bar afterwards or can I get a drink right now?
Each restaurant carries local libations, i.e., wine, beer, and — yes — spirits. Drink responsibly and avoid any Wolf of Wall Street tendencies and you’ll be fine.

I’m all done now. Do I just get up and leave?
No! Pay the total and tip generously. Karma is real and it starts at 15 percent — at a minimum. 

OK, I’m leaving the restaurant now. Do I just go to sleep?
You certainly can, but be sure to share your dining experience across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook by using the hashtag #INRestWeek. You can also tweet us at @InlanderRW and @TheInlander, respectively. Also, feel free to repeat this entire experience across all ten days of Inlander Restaurant Week!
New Orleans Prawns from Central Food. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • New Orleans Prawns from Central Food.

Okay, what do you recommend?
We recommend everything, of course, but I’ve outlined a few personal suggestions below. Happy eatings!

Saranac Public House
This vegan-friendly hotspot makes a dynamite roasted butternut squash soup and an unparalleled vegan cannoli.

Twigs Bistro
Their Insalata Mista, a blend of romaine and baby greens with candied walnuts and dried cranberries tossed in a red-wine vinaigrette, is divine.

Fai’s Noodle House
Fai’s offers a variety of authentic Asian entrées, sake and beer. Be sure to try the sweet & spicy edamame and the saké.

Latah Creek Winery will be offering their Latah Creek Wine Flight — a Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Flanc — for just $10.95 at Satay.

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars will be offering a glass of their 2010 Sangiovese for $8 at The Melting Pot.
Chocolate Cheesecake from The Wandering Table. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Chocolate Cheesecake from The Wandering Table.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Spokane's Jeremy Hansen is up for a James Beard Foundation's Best Chef Award

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 1:41 PM


It's been almost two years since Spokane chef Jeremy Hansen, owner of Sante, accepted an invitation to cook at the prestigious James Beard House, bringing Northwest Cuisine to the New York institution of fine dining where only the best-of-the-best chefs come to cook.

Now, he's gotten another notice from the folks at James Beard. He's been named as a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef Award for the Pacific Northwest region. The list of 20 chefs in contention for the award features no other Spokane or Idaho chef and almost every other nominee is from either the Portland or Seattle area.

The prestigious awards — a James Beard recognition is about as high an honor for the nation's restaurant industry as there is — are chosen from a field of about 35,000 nominations, which are then whittled down to the manageable list of semifinalists by a committee of food critics, chefs and others.

Awards are given out at a gala in Chicago on May 4 and you can be guaranteed that Spokane's culinary committee will be hoping that Hansen gets an invite.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

USDA approves non-browning GMO Arctic apples

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 4:00 PM

The Department of Agriculture has approved the first genetically modified apple for planting in the U.S., Bloomberg Business reports. The Arctic apple, developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits in British Columbia, doesn't brown when sliced, diced or bruised. Okanagan's founder, Neal Carter, hopes his innovation will encourage people to eat more apples and reduce food waste. 

The Inlander interviewed Carter two years ago for our cover story on GMOs and Washington's failed ballot initiative to require the labeling of foods made with genetically modified ingredients. Carter emphasized that designing a non-browning apple doesn't mean "putting pesticides into apples or bacteria or anything else." The scientists at Okanagan use a technique called "gene silencing" to suppress the trait in apples that causes enzymatic browning. The process is explained in-depth here.

Here's what Carter said to the Inlander about his project:
The way he sees it, genetic modification isn’t the sole answer to the world’s food problems, but it’s an important tool. Sometimes the right one, sometimes not.

Carter speaks with an even tone even when recounting the hostile comments routinely directed at the company.

“It is a point of frustration that sound bites and attention spans are very short,” he says. “But that’s the reality, right?”

The company faced a new round of disapproving attention last year when the USDA opened the comment period on the Arctic apple application. Even the U.S. Apple Association voiced opposition, writing that the non-browning trait was “insufficient to warrant introduction into and possible disruption of the consumer marketplace.”

Carter says the industry so far has done “just a really bad job” communicating with consumers. The company actively engages with angry commenters on Facebook with a firm, cheerful tone, and invites critics to look at the trove of documentation posted online.

Despite the hostility, Carter is confident that consumers can and want to understand the science. He trusts that people who look into it sincerely will come to believe the assurances he’s repeated many times.

“They’re as safe as any apple,” he says. “They just don’t turn brown.” 
Read the rest of our cover story on the science behind — and controversy surrounding — GMOs here.
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Start your drooling, the Inlander Restaurant Week menus are now public

Posted By on Thu, Jan 29, 2015 at 11:05 AM

Braised Chicken from Durkin's Liquor Bar.
  • Braised Chicken from Durkin's Liquor Bar.

We might still be a few weeks away from the beginning of Inlander Restaurant Week, but it's never too early to start strategizing how you're going to take advantage of Spokane's biggest culinary event of the year. 

Almost 100 restaurants — 97 to be exact — are taking part in the third edition of Restaurant Week, which starts on Feb. 20 and runs through March 1. Yes, we know that's longer than a week. We wanted to make sure there was plenty of time for readers to take full advantage of the special fixed-price, three-course menus available for either $18 or $28. 
Pastrami Duck from the Wandering Table.
  • Pastrami Duck from the Wandering Table.

Cruise through the Restaurant Week website, and you can plan your culinary attack by area of town, or by the type of cuisine or price, and there's an incredibly easy guide to show you how this whole thing works. The most important thing to remember is the need to make a reservation as early as possible, because the restaurants will fill up. But if you do end up having to wait a bit for a table, you can always have a drink from one of many local distilleries, breweries and wineries involved. 
Cuban Pork Sandwich from the Backyard Public House.
  • Cuban Pork Sandwich from the Backyard Public House.

Between now and Feb. 20, study up at the Inlander Restaurant Week site, look for a guide around town, and start building a healthy appetite. You're going to need it. 
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 Inlander Restaurant Week is coming: Feb. 20-March 1

Posted By on Tue, Jan 13, 2015 at 3:01 PM


Let the countdown begin: the third annual Inlander Restaurant Week is about five weeks away, starting on Friday, Feb. 20, and running for 10 days through Sunday, March 1. Creative menu concocting is underway, and the offices of Visit Spokane and the Inlander have been abuzz of late with preparations for the fast-approaching event. 

For its third inception, the basic format is the same as diners should remember from the past two years. Culinary teams at participating restaurants from the Inland Northwest's hugely diverse dining scene put together a menu of three-courses especially for Restaurant Week. Depending on the restaurant, that three-course meal is offered at a fixed price — or, in French, prix fixe — of $18 or $28 per person. Restaurants featured range from casual pubs to fine dining establishments, and many restaurants pair their courses with local libations, too.

Menus for the more than 90 (so far) participating restaurants in Restaurant Week 2015 are to be released online on Jan. 29, two weeks from this Thursday. Then, watch for the official Restaurant Week guide, inserted in the Feb. 19 issue of the Inlander, along with all our editorial coverage previewing the event. (Check out last year's RW features to whet your palate.) 

For its third inception, Restaurant Week has grown immensely from what it sought to be in its inaugural year, when 53 restaurants in just the Spokane area participated. In 2014, that number grew to 74, and we expanded the event across the border to North Idaho.

For the third year, roughly 40 percent of restaurants participating are new to Restaurant Week, including many establishments that have debuted since last March.

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Meet the dudes who drank at 789 breweries (including 7 in the Spokane area) this year

Posted By on Wed, Dec 31, 2014 at 12:16 PM

The premise is a beer-drinker's suds-soaked dream. Spend a year visiting breweries across North America, doing little else other than drinking beer.

Well, until you start thinking about details like hangovers and calories and burned-out tastebuds. But two guys from Dallas, Brandon Wurtz and Michael Roberts, actually did this, spending all of 2014 tasting their way across the continent. The numbers they racked up are impressive, if not shocking: 789 different breweries, 7,124 unique beers (averaging more than 19 tastes per day) and 40,000 miles logged (apparently relying mostly on campgrounds and kind strangers for lodging). They documented their efforts on their blog, Brews Traveler 365.

The guys rolled through the Spokane area and visited Budge Brothers, No-Li, Perry Street, Ramblin' Road, Twelve String and also made it over to North Idaho for stops at Selkirk Abbey in Post Falls and Slate Creek in Coeur d'Alene.

Here's a full list of all the breweries they visited and if you really want to get wonky, here's the beers they tasted.

Anybody up for a road trip?
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Eat your heart out with Pizza Rita's newest food challenge

Posted By on Tue, Dec 30, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Pizza Rita's 5-lb. challenge pizza. - KIANNA GARDNER
  • Kianna Gardner
  • Pizza Rita's 5-lb. challenge pizza.

Many have tried but only few have triumphed. To be exact, only 28 contestants amongst 130 brave souls have conquered the infamous Pizza Rita 5-pound pizza challenge. These true testimonies to talent gorged their way through 24 oz. of crust, 12 oz. of sauce, 9 oz. of cheese and 35 oz. of various meats and veggies to earn their rightful plaque on the wall of champions.

The rules of the challenge are simple: the pizza must be consumed within 30 minutes, only one person can tackle the monstrous pizza, substitutions can be made as long as the weight remains at five pounds and previous winners can only partake once a year following their victory.

Spokane's Torrey Lybbert holds the current winning record at 11 minutes and 48 seconds. In addition to a plaque on the wall, winners receive Rita Bucks (Pizza Rita gift certificates so they can eat even MORE pizza), a $40 donation to a charity of the winner’s choice, a stomachache and a pride boost. 

In recent years however, Pizza Rita has seen a decline in people daring to try their hand at the 5-lb. challenge. In light of so little participation, owner Brian Dickmann will be adding a new gut-busting pizza challenge to the list: Rita’s Rapid Challenge.

“It will be a test of speed,” Dickmann says. “If someone can consume a large thin-crust single-topping pizza in under five minutes we will give them 50 Rita Bucks.”

The thin-crust pizza is meant to entice participation from those who are intimidated by the original 5-pound challenge.

According to Dickmann, Pizza Rita offers these contests for three main reasons: for charity, for fun and to demonstrate the true meaning of a “large pizza.” 

“Everyone says ‘we have a large pizza’ but really, how large is large?” Dickmann says.

Pizza Rita hopes to begin offering the Rita’s Rapid Challenge this January. These challenges are not for the faint of heart, and those willing to eat his or her heart out can mentally prepare themselves for the physical turmoil by reading former Inlander staff writer and current contributor Jordy Byrd's testimony of the 5-pound challenge here.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

No-Li Brewhouse is the people's choice at Seattle Winter Beer Fest

Posted By on Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 4:01 PM

  • No-Li Brewhouse

It's the honest truth: No-Li Brewhouse took home the #1 People's Choice award at the Seattle Winter Beer Fest held at Hangar 30 in Magnuson Park over the weekend. 

More than 50 breweries were on hand serving more than 130 beers, all competing for the attention of thirsty and discerning beer drinkers — you can find a complete list of the breweries on hand right here.

No-Li Brewhouse came out on top of three consecutive sessions at the festival, serving up Big Bang Barley Wine, Aksel (barrel-aged on cherries) and Rise & Grind, a vanilla and chocolate-infused brew. "It's a humbling experience to win the People's Choice among so many fantastic Washington breweries," said No-Li's Seattle sales rep Jordan Kowalsky. "With our beer being from Spokane, it's truly amazing to have so much support from Seattle."

The new honors come on the heels of being named #1 Craft Brewery at the Inland NW Craft Brewers Festival and winning #1 IPA at the Washington IPA Festival. 

Read more about No-Li in our profile of the company from 2013
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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Seasonal sipping on tap at this weekend's PowderKeg Brew Festival

Posted By on Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 1:57 PM


A total of 22 regional and local craft breweries and cideries come together for the second annual PowderKeg Brew Fest this weekend, Nov. 7-8, a sampling event catering to the various tastes of Inland Northwesterners. Attendees can choose from one of three tasting packages ($15-$25), take a spin at the prize wheel and try out some seasonal beverages in celebration of the coming winter.

  • Dzhan Wiley

After we've set our boots by the fireplace, shed our frost-covered scarves and put our feet up after a good day on the slopes, it just feels right to indulge in a seasonal ale that can only be appreciated during this time of the year. Local Hopped Up Brewing Company features Destroy my Sweater at PowderKeg, an earthy beer brewed with caramel and mulch malts. Some other seasonal drinks include the Jubelale and Chasin' Freshies from Deschutes Brewery, Sleigh'r from Ninkasi Brewing, No Li's Winter Warmer, the Winterfest Seasonal Ale from Sockeye Brewing and Trickster's Brewing Co.'s Winter Ale. Mmmm. Get cozy. 


For fruit lovers, One Tree Hard Cider pours their Ginger Lemon Cider to wake you up and a Caramel Cinnamon Cider to bring you back to Grandma's apple pie. Finnriver Farm & Cidery goes tart and purple with their Black Currant Cider, made with organic and heirloom apples. 

You're into the hops? Try Alaskan Brewing Co.'s classic Freeride APA, MickDuff's Noho, or Bale Breaker's Topcutter IPA with hops from the nearby Yakima Valley. More of a porter person? Give a taste to the bronze medal winner from the 2011 North American Beer Awards, MickDuff's Knot Tree Porter. 

Here's a comprehensive peek at all the beer and cider on tap at this year's PowderKeg:

  • Alaskan Brewing Co. | Alaskan White and Freeride
  • Bale Breaker Brewing Co. | Topcutter IPA and Field 41 Pale Ale
  • Deschutes Brewing Co. | Jubelale and Chasin' Freshies
  • Elysian Brewing Co. | Bitfrost Winter Ale and Space Dust IPA
  • Finnriver Farm & Cidery | Forest Ginger Cider and Black Currant Cider
  • Hopped Up Brewing Co. | Destroy My Sweater and Quality Cream Ale
  • Icicle Brewing Co. | German Chocolate Cake Ale and Bootjack IPA
  • Iron Horse Brewing Co. | Mocha Death and High Five Hefe
  • Liberty Ciderworks | Turncoat and Stonewall ciders
  • MickDuff's | Knot Tree Porter and NOHO
  • Ninkasi Brewing Co. | Sleigh'r and Total Domination IPA
  • No-Li Brewhouse | Winter Warmer and Rise & Grind
  • One Tree Cider | Caramel Cinnamon Cider and Ginger Lemon Cider
  • Orlison Brewing Co. | Underground Coffee Stout and Two Finter Pour
  • Perry Street Brewing Co. | Barley Wine and India Red Ale
  • Ramblin' Road Craft Brewery | Smoked Molasses Saison and Pale Ale
  • River City Brewing Co. | Midnight Marmot Imperial Stout and Huckleberry Ale
  • Sockeye Brewing | Winterfest Seasonal Ale and Powerhouse Porter
  • Trickster's Brewing Co. | Soul Warmer Porter and Extra Pale Ale
  • Twilight Cider Works | Tradition and Inland Empire ciders
  • Waddell's | Waddell's Winter Warmer and Smoked Porter

If it turns out your friends don't want to be your designated driver. Don't worry — we're partnering with Lyft. Only one ticket purchase is necessary for access both days to these two festive events: PowderKeg and Snowlander Expo. Get yours at the Snowlander Expo site, at the door or through Tickets West.

PowderKeg Inlander Brew Festival • Fri, Nov. 7 from 4 pm-9 pm and Sat, Nov. 8 from 12 pm-8 pm • $15-$25 • Spokane Convention Center • 334 W. Spokane Falls Blvd. • 

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