Sunday, August 27, 2006

Is Hawaiian Food da Bomb?

As a matter of fact, yes.
As I've stated before in previous posts, I don't have that much exposure to Hawaiian food, never lived in Hawaii, and am no expert on the subject. But I sure like it.
The Seattle area doesn't have very many Hawaiian restaurants, so the fact that Renton has two is pretty astounding, and makes the folks in Renton pretty lucky.
I've previously posted about Aloha BBQ, and many comments were made in response, pretty heated stuff.
I thought nobody ever read this blog, and then, out of nowhere a firestorm over lau lau and kalbi.
But just to clarify:
I eat at both L & L and Aloha, and I like them both. I wasn't really trying to compare them.
L & L is a big, successful chain for a reason. The reason is because they're good and deliver a consistant,good product in big portions at reasonable prices. I ate there this afternoon and feasted on their low carb plate.
Aloha is a mom and pop new place just getting established. I love going there. The service is friendly and personal and the food is great and reasonably priced and creative.
I 've posted about Mexican places, Chinese places and Italian places, and there's dead silence.
I had no idea how passionate folks were about their Hawaiian food, and even though there was some hostility and things said less than nice, I really enjoyed reading every one of the comments and I'm becoming a big fan of Hawaiian food.
There's plenty of room for both L&L and Aloha to be very successful, and I hope they are both in Renton for many years to come.
Were there a couple of restaurants in Renton specailizing in lutefisk, they might struggle to survive, as there might not be enough folks willing to spend money on lutefisk, but Kalbi ribs, lau lau, etc, are delicious and addictive.
I'm not saying patronize only one of Renton's Hawaiian places. Go to both, support your local Hawaiian restaurant.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Renton Has a Mountain?

Yes, indeed.
For those of us who like to pretend to be real hikers, Echo Mountain is the place to go. It's a tranquil uphill trail in very lush woods. When you have hiked to the top of the mountain you will be rewarded by an incredible view of Mt. Rainier and the forested parts of Maple Valley, Auburn and beyond. Walking at an average pace will get you to the top of the mountain and back in about forty five minutes.
Echo Mountain is part of an undeveloped King County Park called Spring Lake/Lake Desire Park . It is south of the Cedar River and just a 10-15 minute drive east of beautiful downtown Renton. Take the Maple Valley Highway to 196th Avenue. Turn right (i.e., south) and travel about a mile. Turn right on SE 183nd and follow the road counter-clockwise(bear right) around Spring Lake. Park at the road end. Follow the obvious trail that angles to the right and up; turn right (uphill) when the trail intersects the gravel maintenance access road. Take the Peak Trail ( you'll see a sign) to the summit at about 800 feet above sea level.
You will rarely run into other hikers, and it's a very scenic short but vigorous hike.
It's also very convenient to Aloha BBQ. So if you've just consumed 10,000 calories there and feel guilty, you can burn a few of them off by climbing this nearby mountain.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Renton Gardening Progress Report

Halladay Mortgage Lifter

Tomatoes are quickly turning red. There are three varieties growing: Halladay Mortgage Lifter, which is a variety not available commercially, but does well for Pacific Nortwest Gardeners.
Often with many tomato varieties, long periods of hot and sunny with warm nights are required, something the Seattle area cannot provide, which is why many gardeners around here grow smaller tomatoes, rather than beefsteak size, because they ripen more quickly.
But Halladay grows big and heavy quickly, and is sweet and juicy. This is my third year growing them, and I save the seeds for future use, since one can't find the seeds or starts in stores.
Then there's Sweet Baby Girl, a fairly common but nice and prolific red cherry tomato.
And last but not least is Sun Sugar, a relative of the much heralded Sun Gold, an orange cherry tomato that's smaller than Sweet Baby Girl, but bursting with tangy sweet juiciness.
Peppers are also doing well. Giant Marconi is producing large, long peppers that are great for grilling or roasting.
And the "Tam" mild jalapenos are prolific as usual, and very dependably produce well in these parts.
Originally had 19 melon plants, and now have 5, but have some small green melons. Melons are pretty finicky.
Had lots of lettuce, and just planted more for a fall harvest, and also planted mustard greens, turnips, spinach, broccoli, and brussel sprouts for the fall.
Sugar Snap peas recently got all harvested, then dug up to plant broccoli. The peas produced dependably for about a month.
Blueberries are fruiting well now, marionberries are done after a month or so of producing large and sweet berries, and raspberries are producing in fairly small numbers at this point. It's the Autumn Bliss variety, a berry a bit firmer and larger than many raspberries, and delicious.
For the first time, grapes are producing fairly well. It took a few years.
I'm ready to dig up the kiwi vine. They demand water and don't produce fruit, and I don't especially like their looks. Diane thinks I should give them another year, but I think they belong in the compost bin, that another grape vine would do well on the same structure.
Some day I'll grow pumpkins.
Last year we donated quite a few of the mild jalapenos to the food bank because they were so prolific, and in doing so may have disappointed a few Mexicans, who maybe were expecting something hotter.
But the mild jalapeno is an all ocassion pepper, good in salads, omelettes, stuffed, grilled, etc.
It's good to garden in the Pacific Northwest. Some things can be grown almost all year, because it doesn't get all that cold.
But I'd be happy if avocados grew here.
I guess I'll just have to wait for more global warming.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Who Is Howard Bulson?

Renton, Washington may be increasingly hip and cool, and is increasingly gaining many things it's neighbor Seattle has, but it doesn't have Howard Bulson.
Who is Howard Bulson?
He is one of the best piano players anywhere, and plays gigs throughout Seattle, as an accompaniest to anyone who wants to sing with him. Like a karaoke, except with a live piano, Howard Bulson knows all the songs, and plays them well.
In his seventies, he represents a part of Seattle that is fading fast, just plain good, with style, a cool that doesn't broadcast "World Class", which too many things in Seattle scream out lately.
I sang once with Howard Bulson playing, and connected with my inner lounge lizard. I intend on doing it again.
Howard Bulson plays at Julia's on Broadway Sunday's 6-8:45 ish, Martin's @ 14th and Madison Sunday and Tuesday 9 PM-2AM, and Dexter and Hayes Monday 9 PM-2AM..I'm sure he has other gigs I'm forgetting about.
If he played Renton I'd be there all the time...but my orientation has become less Seattle focused since living out here in the burbs.
If you want to have a good time, go hear and sing with Howard Bulson. The range of people who sing with him range from godawful drunks to professional singers who sing jazz and opera and standards and pop tunes...he knows them all.
He looks like a rumpled old guy who's too skinny to fit in a suit but wears them anyway, looks like he rolls out of bed in the afternoon to start his day smoking cigarettes and drinking.
This guy is a treasure, and if you haven't experienced him, I'd strongly recommend it.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Still Groovin on Da Kine Hawaiian Food

Have now revisited Aloha BBQ on several occasions. Why?
Because it is an undiscovered gem.
Freakazoid Freddy uses four criteria to judge a restaurant:
Food: If the food's that good, a lot of other things can be forgiven.
Service: I'll go back to mediocre places if I'm treated well.
Atmosphere: If I like hanging out there, I'll put up with mediocre food.
Value: Doesn't mean inexpensive; it's all relative to what you're getting. In Renton, the Melrose is not inexpensive, but it's a good value.
Aloha BBQ: The food is good to excellent, service is friendly and attentive, atmosphere is cozy, seats around 14 or so, and the value!! That's the thing..It's kind of unusual food, they feature daily specials that almost always include a fish...tonight was hasa hasa (mackerel), previously is was butterfish (black cod)..dishes are served with rice and three salads.
At many Hawaiian restaurants, salad means potato or macaroni..
Aloha lets you choose between potato, macaroni, pickled radish, green salad, seaweed salad, kim chee...Portions are rather large, prices are from several decades ago.
Where else can you get a fresh seafood meal for 5.99?
There is also a daily steak special. tonight's was t-bone, for 9.99, and it was probably twelve ounces.
At this point, may I suggest that this is one of Renton's best restaurants?