Memorable meals make vacations even better

  • Written by Shannon Michael

It began innocently at the Applebee’s adjacent to the hotel we stayed at just outside of Baltimore in 2002. It wasn’t the restaurant’s fault; it was mine for poor planning.

As a longtime subscriber of Bon Appétit, I enjoyed the articles about terrific restaurants throughout the country and world. I loved making recipes from the monthly R.S.V.P. column and wondered if I’d ever eat at any of the establishments featured in it.

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Timber! Outdoor Music Festival expands to three-day event this July

  • Written by Shannon Michael

When the Timber! Outdoor Music Festival opens for its second annual jam-packed July weekend, about 3,000 attendees will be greeted with an even bigger and better festival than the sold-out inaugural festival last year.

Held in Carnation’s Tolt-MacDonald Park on July 24, 25 and 26, the festival is an event for the entire family. Tickets are $65 per person, not including service fees, for all three days, with children 12 and under admitted free. A limited number of single day tickets are also available for $20 to $35, not including service fees.

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The Herbfarm’s Lopaka is newest member of certified advanced sommeliers

  • Written by Shannon Michael

Sommelier. The word oozes world-class elegance, sophistication, knowledge and expertise, and is French for wine steward. When you meet The Herbfarm’s Joey Lopaka, though, you’re greeted by a down-to-earth guy who just happens to be passionate about wine.

Lopaka made news in late April when he passed the rigorous third level of exams to become an advanced sommelier recognized by the Court of Master Sommeliers, established in 1977 to promote excellence in hotel and restaurant beverage service. It is a testing board that runs four hard levels of exams for those aspiring to become master sommeliers.

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Seattle International Film Festival

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman

Now in its 40th year, the Seattle International Film Festival brings 435 features, documentaries and short films to the Seattle area from around the world.

This year’s festival runs from May 15 through June 8, and if you don’t feel like making the trip to one of SIFF’s nine venues in Seattle, you can also see films on the eastside at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center and at Bellevue’s Lincoln Square Cinemas.

The festival’s offerings range from the obscure to the relatively mainstream, so there’s something for everyone.

Tickets for most films are $12, matinees are $9 and Films4Families (weekend matinees) are $7. Discounted ticket packages are available, as well as discounted tickets for SIFF members. For more information, including a list of films and showtimes, see
Here’s a look at a sampling of the films.

HalfOfAYellowSun Still03Half of a Yellow Sun In this adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel of the same name, sisters Olanna and Kainene return home to Nigeria in the 1960s after being educated in England. At first, the sisters are preoccupied with romance, sometimes straying into deceit and retaliation. The Nigerian Civil War interrupts that, and they’re forced to struggle for their lives. The drama insightfully shows conflicts of class, race and gender in 1960s Nigeria, but the story of the sisters’ love affairs is less interesting. (Nigeria/United Kingdom, 2013. Directed by Biyi Bandele.)  KeeperOfLostCauses KeyArtThe Keeper of Lost Causes “The Keeper of Lost Causes” might be a good movie — if you have a strong stomach. Clearly, I don’t, because I had to stop watching after a particularly gruesome torture scene. This crime thriller follows Carl, a moody, difficult detective who’s assigned to “Department Q,” where he will follow up on the last 20 years’ worth of cold cases in the hopes of closing them. He becomes obsessed with the case of Merete, a politician who seemingly killed herself by jumping off a ferry. The film will make your heart pound. But, although it’s full of suspense about who made Merete disappear, I had no real doubts about whether Carl would find the suspect. (Denmark/Germany/Sweden, 2013. Directed by Mikkel Norgaard.)

NaturalSciences KeyArtNatural Sciences When 12-year-old Lila begins acting out at boarding school, her teacher Jimena realizes her rebellion stems from a desire to find her father, who she’s never met. Without even knowing Lila’s father’s name, the two embark on a 2,000-km road trip to find him. Jimena uses the journey to impart scientific knowledge, urging Lila not to jump to conclusions, as well as emotional wisdom. Lila alternately nags, defies and shows small acts of kindness to her teacher. Lila finds both disappointment and connection in her search for her father, and it’s clear that she grows up in the process. (Argentina/France, 2014. Directed by Mattias Lucchesi.)  PatemaInverted Still01Patema Inverted Patema lives in an underground society in which questioning the rules is forbidden, but she sneaks out to explore and dreams of finding other worlds. Age, bored, is staring at the sky when he spots Patema, clinging to a fence to keep from drifting away. Although the two teens are from different worlds with different gravitational pulls, they fall in love. The worlds they come from are strikingly similar in that the leaders of both value authority and morals, and fear science and progress. Patema and Age try to defy arbitrary rules and fight to stay together. Their desire to explore takes them even further than they expect, in this truly imaginative sci-fi romance. (Japan, 2013. Directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura.)

ClassEnemy KeyArtClass Enemy A high school class is distraught when the teacher they love is replaced by a cold disciplinarian, who expounds upon the importance of rituals and makes a student read the definition of “loser” aloud after she fails to answer a question. When that student kills herself, her suicide sets off a witch-trial-esque series of allegations, in which students, parents and school officials blame each other and themselves for her death. I kept waiting to figure out who was innocent and who was guilty; then, I realized I wasn’t going to. There are no easy answers in this story, and no one’s words or actions are completely pure. “Class Enemy” is a slow-paced but tense drama that touches on many hot topics, like bullying and whether kids today are too overprotected. (Slovenia, 2013. Directed by Rok Bicek.) 

I Pass Panhandlers

  • Written by Thor Skeel - Special to the Weekly

On my weekday commute from Woodinville, through Redmond, to Bellevue, I pass panhandlers and I am always curious about their stories. After talking with them I came away with a better understanding of panhandlers as people. Contrary to some stories I have read elsewhere, I definitely did not get the sense that anyone was making an easy living or spending the money on drugs. Everyone was a pleasure to meet.
These are their stories.

Connie DSC 2336003We had our tent up at South Kirkland and they removed the railroad track so it became the City of Kirkland and then we suppose the city came in one day and cleaned us out when we were at work and we came home and everything was gone. Um, yeah so we save up barely about $55 a night for a motel. I’d like to save enough for two days at a time but that is pretty much impossible. How we got here is, well, we went up to Alaska to do fish processing and we both got swine flu. Right now, whatyacallit, we’re living day-by-day out here. — Caleb & Connie in Redmond  Jeremy DSC 2313004Hmm, well, ah, yeah I’m living off the street right now. I have a friend I stay with a couple days a week. I’m out here trying to make a couple bucks. I don’t actually like being out here. I actually hate doing this, but, it helps get the things I need. Well I’m staying with a friend at Shoreline a few days a week. I’m used to staying outside. Like Caleb, him and Connie over there, every night they get enough money to go stay in a hotel room. Thanks for the conversation. — Jeremy in Redmond

Norm DSC 2287005I am a Marine veteran from the first Gulf War. They won’t see me at the VA. This is my buddy Norm. He just got out of the hospital. Yeah, sure, take a picture. They told him his lungs, kidneys, and liver were all bad. Oh, yeah, it was bad. Brent was the only one that come visit me. I was over at Overlake Hospital. They gave me a walker. — Norm and Brent in Bellevue  Patrick DSC 2361006I had kidney failure in ‘98. I spent 14 nights in a dumpster in Montana in February, 32 below. But I have had so many complications. I have had 25 surgeries and I had a triple bypass a year and a half ago. I built over 300 houses in Montana. I was a contractor and I had 35 people working for me, I lost $400,000. I found serenity here in Woodinville. It’s very peaceful here. I built six houses for my wife and I. You lose your money, you lose your wife too. I look kinda fat in that picture you took. — Patrick in Woodinville

Sean DSC 2274007We take different shifts on this corner. We make what we can and hopefully get a room for the night. I got injured fishing up at Dutch Harbor. I got hit by a trap. The kid had hooked it wrong and it came off on me. We’d be fishing for crab and in the off season we’d be fishing for cod. But it was back in 20 years ago. Then I lost my wife and I kind of had a little breakdown. Yeah, that was really the big thing, man. That was bigger than getting hurt. Thanks brother. — Sean in Bellevue