Friday, July 20, 2007

Party Brenda Loves Reggae Fest

Blogger: Party Brenda


And YAY Tulsa for showing up to the Riverwalk to support it.

I got to the amphitheater right at the start, 4 o’clock.
The Riverwalk was got busier and busier as the day went on.

The Riverwalk was a great place to have reggae fest this year, by the way. I am a loyal fan to the festival and go pretty much every year. There wasn’t as much stuff going on as I had seen in years past, but I’m pretty sure the atmosphere made up for it.

During the down time there was a nice variety of reggae music coming through the loud speakers. The music was outstanding! The first guy up at 4 played the drums. He’d made his drum set completely out of recycled goods.

Recycling was a big theme at the fest this year, actually. There was an overwhelming number of recycling bins laid out. Many were labeled plastic bottles only and cans only. I struggled with what to do with my plastic cup that had the few melted drops of what remained of my cheesecake ice cream with cherries mixed in (got it at The Marble Slab, YUM). The cup was plastic, but not a bottle, but I decided to put it in the plastic bottle bin anyway. I hope I didn’t piss the recycling workers off. I didn’t want to just throw it in the trash.

Ah well.

My fellow co-worker Molly and I met up and while I ate my ice cream and she sipped her beer, we floated from vendor to vendor. My favorite items were all the wonderful tributes to Mr. Bob Marley. You would think the man was Jesus from how he was revered at this place.

Molly’s favorite stuff was the many selections of jewelry there. She purchased two necklaces and two pairs of earrings. The pieces were promised to be original and one of a kind, just like my friend Molly. *smiley*

There was all sorts of all natural products there, including breads and bath stuff. You could even get a henna tattoo! But, my Mayfest experience with the henna kinda got me in trouble, so I opted out. Other than that, there were painters and musicians and plenty of hippies at the festival this year. People from all walks of life were really enjoying themselves.

It was SO HOT though. What’s with summer happening all of a sudden? Geez. I’m glad I had chosen my favorite hippie girl dress – the one that’s really airy and the closest piece of clothing I have to being naked.

And yay for all the local musicians that came out to chill and help others to chill.

In summary, I think Reggae Fest was great. There weren’t any bongs for sell this year though. Sad.

But really, anytime you have a lot of beer + food + outside + Awesome Music+ illegal smoke = GOOD TIMES!


Editor's Note: Brenda sent this to me Monday morning for posting. Due to work hassles and all the stuff that's gotta be done when you get a certain type of exciting news (found out Sideshow Husband and I are going to have a baby!), I haven't been able to post it until today. My bad. But, as Party Brenda would say, party on!

Monday, July 9, 2007

New Correspondent Brings 'The Quest' to TDT

Blogger: Natalie

Let me first say that, as a lifelong reader of Tasha Does Tulsa, I’m honored to appear on this blog. Now that’s out of the way, I’ll move onto my purpose here.

Those who know me know I love my pizza. The sweet marriage of melted cheese, bread and sauce makes any day better. Even bad pizza is still pretty good pizza in my book.

Recently, in homage to my favorite food, I formally announced The Quest for the Best Pizza in Tulsa. I solicited opinions and recommendations and set out, knowing full well the effect The Quest will have on my waistline. But, it’s a risk I’m willing to take if it means I am able to report back to you fine people about this important piece of culinary goodness.

The Terms
The Quest is serious. It’s relevant, important and all those other words one would use to describe such an endeavor. I’m looking for the best pizza in Tulsa - not just the pizza you have delivered from the franchises you can find anywhere in the country, though they, too, have their positives. I’m looking from the classy restaurants with cloth napkins to the hole-in-the-wall places where the vinyl booths are taped with duct tape. No place is too good or too sketchy. If it comes highly recommended, I will go.

I’m looking for traditional, old-fashioned pizza, not specialty pizzas with unorthodox toppings/sauces, though those, too, have their place (shoutout to the Little Kahuna at Hideaway). Because the best pizza is subjective to the diner, I will consider the opinions of others. Ultimately though, for purposes of The Quest, my own verdict is final.

Since I have officially begun The Quest, I have visited Hideaway at multiple locations and Pie Hole, 2708 E. 15th St.

The Quest to Umberto’s
I set out on a Quest mission last Thursday with my good pals Party Brenda, Kyle, Aaron and Tasha to Umberto’s, 3228 E. 21st St., which came highly recommended by family members and several coworkers.

Umberto’s serves up New York-style pizza. If you’re going for the décor, you’re out of luck. Even Party Brenda, our resident interior designer extraordinaire, declared it a “lost cause.” But if you’re going for the pizza, then you’re in luck.

It’s pretty simple. The menu is above the counter, and you can order pizza and its variations with all your basic toppings, including Canadin (sic) bacon. No need for salad, sandwiches or pasta dishes here, folks, which is just fine by me. Personally, I appreciated the simplicity. In my mind, it shows a dedication and an intense focus on great pizza.

So, we girls approached the counter to order while the men discussed how one gets a saxophone to stick to a brick wall like the one that hangs in the restaurant (“really strong super glue,” says the engineer of the group). Deciding on the 10”, which is the smallest you can buy, Tasha and I ordered pepperoni/jalapeño and sausage, respectively. Party Brenda changed it up with a supreme calzone. All three of us ordered a side of the Garlic Knots, which came highly recommended from other folks in the place, most of whom seemed to be regulars, as I noticed some of the staff greet them by name.

After eating here, I kind of want to be a regular.

The immediate response after the first bites was excellent. The sausage pizza, I noticed, didn’t have your average crumbled sausage, but instead appeared to have been sliced thin like pepperoni. I found I really liked it that way, and Party Brenda agreed, as she occasionally reached out to pluck a slice from my pizza. I found this pizza to be a little chewier than one might expect from New York-style, but not enough to declassify it as New York style.

Aaron and I agreed the crust was excellent, and because the crust is a vital factor in my decision, this earned points for Umberto’s in my book. Kyle declared the sauce “a little too thin,” while a lively discussion on the merits of thick vs. thin sauce ensued. I was on the thin sauce side, and I said too much sauce can really ruin a pizza. Kyle agreed by saying too much sauce was a downfall of Chicago-style pizza. We decided comparing New York-style and Chicago-style pizza during The Quest would be a little like comparing apples to oranges.

The food was fairly prompt, though our Garlic Knots were forgotten until Tasha politely requested them. Service is sparse, but I didn’t mind.

Now, I understand that they are called Garlic Knots, and one would expect to taste some garlic in there, but wow. Be prepared for a literal garlic explosion in your mouth. Cancel your vampire-repelling plans, because you won’t need them. And, don’t plan to kiss anyone for a couple of days. These suckers are literally covered in garlic. Don’t misunderstand – they were tasty – I just feel I should prepare everyone for the garlic-ness that is the Garlic Knots at Umberto’s. Needless to say, we were passing around the Orbit gum afterwards.

Fully expecting to take part of my pizza home, as I do not have a husband with whom to share my pizza, I was surprised to find only two pieces left on my plate, one of which Party Brenda snatched up at my request after she and Kyle made quick work of the calzone. Miserably full, we stumbled out the door.

Arrivederchi…For Now
All that to say this: Umberto’s is highly recommended in my book.

The pizza is excellent. The ingredients taste fresh, it’s incredibly reasonable in price and the crust is superb. These people know how to make a pizza (and they deliver!). The atmosphere is pure hole-in-the-wall, but I think it adds to the experience.

So far, Umberto’s is my frontrunner in The Quest for the Best Pizza in Tulsa and is certainly ahead in the New York style category.

Next up on the list (after I take a short break to step up my exercise routine to work off Umberto’s): keeping the New York style theme with a visit to Mario’s. Stay tuned.

Correspondent's note: If you have a recommendation for the Quest, please feel free to submit them here, as all recommendations are welcome and appreciated. If you would like to participate in a Quest mission, please submit an application listing prior pizza experience, three letters of recommendation and a statement as to why you love you some pizza. Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Editor’s note: Natalie is a public relations professional living and working in Tulsa. She actively helps to make Tulsa a better place via her involvement in TYPros and the Tulsa chapter of PRSA. All requests for a life of pizza-sharing with Natalie should be forwarded to Party Brenda at her blog for screening.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Independence Day 2007 in Sperry, Oklahoma

Blogger: Natasha
(Photo credit: Sarah Nicodemus)

No, I didn’t go see the fireworks at River Parks this year. I didn’t go to see the displays at Southern Hills, Tulsa Country Club, Grand Lake, or the one by my old stopping grounds you could watch from the Wal-Mart in Sapulpa.

What I did for the Fourth of July was, in my opinion, much more entertaining. Sideshow Husband and I went to his parents’ house in Sperry to celebrate Independence Day 2007.

My parents-in-law live in a small development along Highway 11 crammed with homes packed full with large, middle-income families. We had to park at the end of the street and walk to Aaron’s parents’ house because at the time, there was no parking anywhere along the entire street.

After dinner, plenty of parking opened up when residents moved their cars near where we’d parked earlier. They were making way for what would become a one-eighth mile firework launching pad.

After we ate copious amounts of chicken tenders, baked beans, mustard potato salad, tabouli and homemade peach ice cream, the show began. About 70 people flooded the driveways and streets - and that was just Aaron’s parents’ house, next door, the houses across from them and the house across from us.

We got to enjoy everything from illegal pop-bottle rockets duct-taped four together, to chained-together fountains, to circuit-fused shells. For about an hour, the different acts in the light show came at such a rapid succession that I had to make two trips into the house to rinse the smoke taste out of my mouth.

The family across the street put on the best show. Before the sun set, the homeowner brought a roll of Black Cats to the street-turned-launch pad that was so large he had trouble wrapping his arms around it.

Being a former band kid, I’ve heard a lot of really loud sounds. However, I have never heard anything as loud as that roll of Black Cats going off for what was probably three and a half minutes.

After dark, they strung together what was probably hundreds of those ear-splitting missile things. This display stopped all other action on the street, again for several minutes, and was followed by applause and cheering from up and down the entire street.

There was a pretty serious accident at the house next door to us. In the tradition of the people who live in this neighborhood, a group of boys from that house set up a long circuit of tubes full of shells that make those huge starbursts in the sky. One of the tubes fell toward the house and shot a shell at the tightly packed clutch of family and friends gathered in the driveway. We saw a wave of green sparks fly from the house, and everyone went quiet as we heard a child screaming and the family hustled him indoors. They didn’t resume shooting fireworks until much later in the evening, so I assume the child was hurt. We didn’t hear any official news from the other side of the fence, though.

Aside from that incident, I don’t know of any other mishaps or injuries that took place last night. One of our tubes tipped over a shot a missile-type firework at the open van in our driveway, which was full of my brother-in-law’s pyrotechnics. Nothing catastrophic happened, but you can bet I’ve never seen my father-in-law move so fast.

What I really like about celebrating Independence Day at Aaron’s parents’ is the mass exodus of all the neighborhood families from their homes and into the street to light fireworks together – or, sometimes, at each other. Everyone is eating, laughing, lighting things on fire and having a great time. All the residents seem to know each other, since I saw several people fluttering from yard to yard, swapping fireworks lighting groups and finding other porches on which to have another beer. Several people were cruising the launch pad on go-carts or on foot, since the number of people and debris in the street made the road virtually impassable to cars and trucks.

I come from a good ol’ part of Tulsa, but I’ve never seen a community pull together to such a magnitude without a natural disaster demanding everyone’s helping hands.

I wish more neighborhoods in Tulsa proper were like this. Ours certainly isn’t. Where we live, the gap between the growing number of absentee landlords and their tenants and the middle-income elderly folks who are dismayed at the so-called growing crime rate in the neighborhood that they are sure is a result of the low-income tenants makes getting together for the annual homeowners’ association garage sale or picnic tense enough.

It’s strange how Fourth of July celebrations can vary so widely in a relatively small city. I know that fireworks shows at venues like River Parks and the local country clubs bring thousands of Tulsans together, but I’d like to see a little more grassroots activity. You can’t commiserate with your next-door neighbor over picnic food about the kid who blasts his music when he drives by if you do all your holiday celebrating at River Parks, and you can’t hold the new neighborhood babies at a country club fireworks show – at least, not the new babies in my neighborhood.

Though we can share a great experience with multitudes at a mainstream venue, when there are so many people around, we don’t get to interact, really, with anybody. Neighborhood-level celebrations would help reinforce that comfortably cosmopolitan feel (see Tulsa Convention and Visitor's Bureau's new Web site) that really does come naturally to this town.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Ray Does Jenks

Blogger: Ray Tuttle, Tulsa's Small Business Journalist of the Year (pictured with his son Bryson)
(Photo credit: one of Ray's other kids)

Yet another example of why rain ain't so bad:
Taken from Jenks (Ray said to type "Jenks proper" in here somewhere) looking east. Credit: Ray Tuttle.

Ray took this picture during a break from cleaning up the branches in his yard fallen after the storms this week, sweating profusely and screaming at his kids to get busy and help. He knocked on the door of the 80-year-old couple that lives across the street to come look at this rainbow. Actually, he ended up causing an impomptu neighborhood gathering.

"There were some other neighbors working in their yards, and we all stopped and chatted," he said.

Way to bring your neighborhood together for shared rainbow enjoyment, Ray!
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