Category Archives: Food

Welcome to Pork Orchard

It started as a joke at a meeting last year of the Port Orchard Bay Street Association.

Clancy Donlin, a contractor who was chairing the Taste of Port Orchard 2014, asked Mayor Tim Matthes if they couldn’t change the name of the city for the day to Pork Orchard. Everybody laughed, then the subject of barbecue came up. Donlin, a self-described “crazy foodie” and barbecue aficionado, later was chatting with his friend Don Ryan (involved in the Port Orchard Public Market among other ventures) and they cooked up the idea (pun intended) of an event centered on barbecue.

Hog Fest 2015 is set for Sept. 20 on the Port Orchard waterfront, and will include a “competition, meat tastings, beer garden, root beer garden for kids, ALL DAY MUSIC with several bands, half-time events for kids and family, Hog Rally with (Harley riders), a professional butcher shows you how pork meat is cut into chops and more to come…,” according to the event’s Facebook page.
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Planning began last fall for the event, which is sanctioned by the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association. The Port Orchard Bay Street Association is sponsoring Hog Fest and has put up the $5,000 in prize money, to be divvied up among contestants in various categories, Donlin said. The judging is double blind, with judges provided by the association, according to their website.

Sanctioning by the association means points for professional barbecue chefs, who compete at local events like Port Orchard’s Hog Fest 2015 to qualify for regional and national events. Like rodeo, only for meat. There will be an amateur division. More on that later.

The nonprofit PNWBA has a mission “to provide education about barbecue,” according to its website. The organization has about 700 members (one need not be a member to participate in sanctioned events) and hosts about 40 shindigs, like Hog Fest, each year, mostly in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, California and western Canada, but sometimes farther afield. Top chefs and judges have participated in events such as the Jack Daniels World Invitational, The American Royal
and the Great American BBQ.

But back to Pork Orchard (has a nice ring, doesn’t it?). Organizers are inviting amateurs to preliminary “satellite” barbecue competitions, where they can qualify for Hog Fest itself. The first one is 10 a.m. Sunday at the Red Dog Saloon in Port Orchard. Here’s the rest of the schedule:
Aug. 8: Whiskey Creek Steakhouse, Keyport; McCloud’s Grill House & Saloon
Aug. 9: New Way Vapors, Port Orchard
Aug. 15, Al’s Market, Olalla
Aug. 30, Wig Wam Pub, Gorst
Sept. 5, McCloud’s again
Sept. 12, The 19th Hole Bar & Grill, Bremerton

Hog Fest will start out small, compared to some of the other PNWBA-sanctioned events, Donlin said. They’re not going to go whole hog, so to speak. The thought being to keep it manageable the first year of what organizers hope will become a beloved Port Orchard tradition.

“With Hog Fest, combined with our other food events, the Chocolate Festival (held in November and sponsored by Fathoms ‘O Fun) and Taste of Port Orchard (held as part of the town’s Labor Day festivities), we plan to turn Port Orchard into the culinary capital of Kitsap County,” Donlin said.

And, yes, the event has been the butt of many jokes and puns, like “praise the lard,” a phrase on one Facebook post.

Oh, wait, I’ve got one, “Hog Fest, it’s nothing to swine about.”

Think you can do better? Of course you can! Have at it.

Peninsular Interning: The best of Kitsap

Peninsular Thinkers, you know your towns better than anyone else. So what are the things you’d recommend to someone who’s never set foot in the Pacific Northwest before? If your relative came into town (and you liked that relative) what are the places, attractions and restaurants you would insist they experience?

That’s the position that I’m in. My name is Miranda Davis and I arrived in Kitsap County about two weeks ago to spend my summer interning at the Sun. The plot twist? I’m from Kansas. I’m a senior studying journalism at the University of Kansas and I drove two thousand miles at the end of May and before that, I’d never been west of Denver. Everything I thought I knew about the area before arriving was from Grey’s Anatomy and Starbucks. I know, I’m awful.

When I tell people I’m new here they say I’m so lucky, because summer is the best time to experience the area, and I completely agree. It also appears as if I brought my pink rain boots for nothing.

So send in the things you think I have to see, eat and experience before August 1st, and I’ll give them a try. Ideally, I want to experience the things that you think of when you think of the word “home,” so hopefully that includes a mix of tourist attractions and things that are off the beaten path.

My rules:

  1. I am willing to drive up to two hours each way if It’s something I can do for the majority of the day. I also like taking the ferry to Seattle but I plan on trekking it on foot once I get into the city.
  2. I’ve already been to the Space Needle and Pike Place Market (It was so busy! There was too much happening around me! I ate a really good grilled cheese!)
  3. I have no diet restrictions and I will eat almost anything. Seafood is growing on me every minute I’m up here. (However, bonus points if you recommend an awesome cheeseburger, and double bonus points if you recommend barbeque)
  4. I’m not afraid of heights but I really dislike roller coasters. Please don’t make me go on a roller coaster.
  5. While mountains and large bodies of water are new to me, I like hiking and swimming, but do not expect me to run a half marathon.
  6. I want to attend festivals and events and I’m 21 years old (so yes, I would really like to know what craft beer I should be purchasing at the grocery store)

I’ll post about the best of my experiences on the Peninsular Thinking blog, where you can see what I think of the best Pacific Northwest and weigh in from the comments section or on social media.

Send all ideas to Miranda.Davis@Kitsapsun.com, or find me on Twitter @MirandaDavisUDK. That’s also where I’ll be posting photos, videos and unrefined thoughts from my adventures.

Signs of life at the Lighthouse

Back from the ashes … again, the Lighthouse restaurant will reopen next week under new ownership, former general manager Brookes Konig said Friday.

And the new owner would be Konig himself, who is leasing from property owners Tim Tweten and Gordon Rush, doing business as 429 Bay Street LLC.

By now, everyone in Port Orchard knows the back story: how the grand landmark building sat unoccupied during the recession, how earlier this year Eric A. Smith of Bothell, a Seattle cop took a stab at the restaurant business, hiring Konig as general manager, how Smith called the place Robert Earl Lighthouse, after his dad, how the community was happy to see the place reopened in May.

Konig, former regional manager of Famous Dave’s, had no personal connection to Smith. A friend of Konig’s in the local hospitality industry hooked them up. So Konig was just as shocked as the rest of South Kitsap when Smith was charged July 2 in Snohomish County with three counts of first degree child molestation. Business, dropped off after the charges came to light. Employees were laid off, and in mid-July, the Lighthouse closed.

Word was, Konig was looking for a backer to reopen the place. On Friday, he signed the final papers on the lease, and he has purchased the business from Smith.
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On Saturday (that’s today) Rotary members will be at the restaurant, now called the Port Orchard Lighthouse, helping get the place back in shape for reopening some time next week. There’s a free barbecue from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and anyone is welcome.

Konig is eager to regain the good will of the community and hopes to distance the Lighthouse from the tarnish of allegations against Smith. “The recovery is what’s so important to this restaurant,” he said.

Konig has rehired 23 former staff members and is still hiring.

The Pink-a-Nator petitions to park at the courthouse

Surely you’ve seen the Pink-a-Nator. It’s hard to miss the Pepto-Bismol pink utility truck with the slogan “Servin’ it up curb side.”
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The food truck dishing out specialty burgers, po’boys and other hearty comestibles has had a regular spot at the Annapolis Sunday Market and in a lot near the Fred Meyer shopping center (although not so much lately, since owner Michelle Roberts-Wash has been busy with catering).

Now, Roberts-Wash has her sights set on the Kitsap County Courthouse campus.

She attended last week’s Port Orchard City Council meeting to pitch her plan. The truck would occupy more than one space. The council’s public property committee has discussed the idea, said Councilman Jeff Cartwright, a committee member. The committee suggested a 90-day trial pending feedback from the county.

Meantime, the Kitsap County administrator expressed concerns about loss of parking spots that are already at a premium, according to Port Orchard City Clerk Brandy Rinearson.

Roberts-Wash had scoped out parking spaces on Austin Avenue between the county administration building and public works building. Councilman Rob Putaansuu noted that, at the previous meeting Aug. 12, a city resident had complained that she couldn’t find a place to drop off her ballot.

Other spaces Roberts-Wash had looked at were in front of the courthouse or the Sheriff’s Office.

Councilman Jerry Childs asked if this would set a precedent. What if others came along looking for space to sell their wares?

The public property committee talked about that, Cartwright said. In fact the Pink-a-Nator sparked a wide ranging discussion about food trucks, including Portland’s approach of designating whole blocks to meals on wheels. “Should the city have its own designated food truck zone?” the committee pondered.

“We talked very heavily about the parking versus the convenience of having a food service there,” Cartwright said. “We also talk about would that food service impact other businesses that also serve food.”

A hot dog vendor has a permit to sell in front of the administration building. Inside, Coffee Oasis has an espresso stand that sells food items.

Several council members commented — in the spirit of free enterprise — that competition with other businesses shouldn’t drive their decision.

Putaansuu also suggested the Pink-a-Nator might work in “underutilized” areas including Cline Avenue (the flat part not the mountain climb) and the gravel lot off Taylor Avenue.

Mayor Tim Matthes said South Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido “would appreciate more notice and more information than she’s received so far.”

The council agreed to honor Garrido’s request, and Roberts-Wash said she’s fine with that.

So what do you think? If Port Orchard were to designate a food truck zone, where should it be?

And, if you’re a restaurant or cafe owner with a brick-and-mortar location, what are your thoughts on a food truck zone?

Lighthouse restaurant closed, seeking new backer

The Robert Earl Lighthouse, open in late May, closed Monday, disabled by criminal charges against owner Eric A. Smith of Bothell. General manager Brookes Konig is looking for new financial backing, according to bar supervisor Linda Martens of Port Orchard, who came out of retirement to work with Konig.

Smith, a Seattle Police officer, was charged July 2 in Snohomish County with three counts of first degree child molestation. Business, dropped off after the charges came to light, said Martens, who was at the empty restaurant Wednesday, awaiting delivery of final paychecks for the remaining employees. Initially, after Smith’s legal troubles were reported, 20 of the roughly 55 Lighthouse employees were laid off. Smith struggled valiantly to keep the restaurant afloat, Martens said, and the hope is that a deal in the works might still be brokered.
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Martens had high praise for Konig, who has a long career in the food and beverage industry. “He’s such a wonderful man,” she said. “He cares about his employees like they’re his family.”

Konig preferred to be call “coach” by employees, Martens said. “He doesn’t want to be the boss, because he feels like his strength is coaching.” She added that Konig “moved heaven and earth” to make sure the final paychecks were cut.

Martens also praised the team Konig assembled to re-open the landmark restaurant, which had sat shuttered for a number of years. “I’ve never seen a group of people so dedicated to one person, and that was Brookes,” Martens said.

Smith, doing business as Robert Earl Enterprises LLC, had leased the Lighthouse from property owner Tim Tweten, whose parents opened the original Tweten’s Lighthouse in 1984. Tweten’s was a destination, special occasion kind of place. Konig wanted the new Lighthouse to be more of an every day, gathering place for the community, Martens said.

Martens hopes the Lighthouse, named for Smith’s father, can outshine the tarnish of the accusations against Smith, who was placed on administrative leave from Seattle PD. “It’s up to this town if it does come back to step up,” she said.

Where the sidewalk ends: the sequel

Last week, I wrote about public works mowing mishaps that resulted in damage to private property. And our theme of the intersection of public and private land continues.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Port Orchard City Council discussed a disconnect between its own code, which calls on private property owners to maintain and repair sidewalks, and the city’s practice of making repairs on its own dime.

At the same meeting, the council considered the question of sidewalk bistro tables. Bay Street Bistro, earlier this year got permission from the city to place tables on the sidewalk, European cafe-style. The request was screened by the public property committee and later approved by the council.

In the past, the city has regulated things like sandwich boards, tables of merchandise and other temporary sidewalk accoutrements as an accessibility issue overseen by the code enforcement officer. ADA rules require at least four feet of passage on sidewalks. Bistro tables must adhere to that regulation, as well.

With the Bay Street Bistro’s request, and a later request from Cafe Gabrielle, the council discussed a more formal process of permitting and oversight.
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They initially suggested charging a fee of $10 per month for business owners whose applications for sidewalk tables or benches are approved. But Public Works Director Mark Dorsey reminded the council that the sidewalk right-of-way is actually under the state Department of Transportation, which owns Highway 166 (Bay Street).

Dorsey at an earlier meeting with the council opined that the city shouldn’t be the one charging a fee, since the ROW belongs to the state. The ROW runs from the center line of the road to the edge of the building.

Dorsey thought (mistakenly he later found) that the issue of jurisdictional authority could be resolved if the city simply didn’t charge a fee with its sidewalk table permit. He called the DOT and spoke to an official who said not only should the city not charge a fee, they had no authority to grant the sidewalk table permit in the first place. That ball is in the DOT’s court, Dorsey was told.

The state would charge about $90 a month for granting permission to place bistro tables in the right-of-way, he found.

“They take it very seriously that someone is using that right-of-way and making money off it,” Dorsey said.

The council stepped out as middleman Tuesday by approving a revised city permit (that would still give the city oversight over ADA issues) with a notice/disclaimer that the applicant also needs to apply to the state for use of the right-of-way.

“Whether they do or not is between them and WSDOT,” said City Attorney Greg Jacoby.

Voila, problem solved. The issue of whether business owners can afford the $90 fee becomes “an economic decison on the part of the vendor,” Jacoby said. “That’s really a private business decision.”

How much of Port Orchard does Samadpour own?

On Wednesday the languishing Myhre’s building was purchased by Abadan Holdings LLC of Lake Forest Park, the company owned by Mansour Samadpour.
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Over the past decade Samadpour, a real estate investor and world renowned microbiologist, has accumulated ownership in a significant percentage of Bay Street real estate. Here’s a summary of what he owns (the buildings, not the businesses that lease from him, all on Bay Street): Dance Gallery (702), Port Orchard Pavillion (701), Cafe Gabrielle (707), Port Orchard Public Market (715), Old Central Antique Mall (801), Coffee Oasis (807) and the space next to coffee oasis, vacant (809) and now Myhre’s (2 parcels 737 and 739).

Samdpour is notably media shy. I couldn’t get any comment from him on his plans for Myhre’s, but Bryan Petro of Windermere Real Estate, who negotiated the sale, said it’s likely it will be leased as some sort of restaurant or pub.

Seller Dick Rylander, whose family has had an interest in Myhre’s since 1930, said he felt a little “wistful” about the sale. My story includes a thumbnail history of the place from Rylander’s perspective.

People who complain about “all those vacancies” on Bay Street are running out of argumentative ammo, what with the reoccupation of the bakery and the opening of the public market. Myhre’s and the Los Cabos building are the most conspicuous vacant buildings on Bay Street. Farther west on Bay, Robert Earl Lighthouse opened this week in “the Lighthouse building.”

So hold your head up Port Orchard. And oh by the way, we have hanging flower baskets, too. Just like Bremerton.

What would you like to see at the Myhre’s building?

PO Farmer’s Market needs volunteers for canning demo

The Port Orchard Farmer’s Market is one of 50 farmer’s markets in the United States chosen to participate in canning and vaccum sealing demonstrations sponsored by Ball and FoodSaver through their Discover You Can: Learn, Make, Share program.

Canning demo days at the market are June 7, July 5 and Aug. 2. Market Manager DiAnna Lanskey, the vendor contact for the market, is looking for volunteers knowlegable about canning to help with the demo on June 7. Lanskey also is looking for people with vaccum sealing skills.

Ball and FoodSaver partnered with the national Farmers Market Coalition on the You Can program to spread awareness of the benefits of food preservation for healthy, sustainable living. The coalition recently announced the 50 markets (only 4 in Washington, including PO) that will participate. Markets get all the supplies they need from Ball and FoodSaver, and they can win cash prizes in different categories for each demo day.

Port Orchard Farmers Market also will participate in the first ever International Can-It-Forward Day, hosted by judge of Bravo’s Top Chef Hugh Achesonon Saturday, August 16. Markets in the United States, South Africa, Australia and Canada will participate.

The Port Orchard Farmers Market is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays on the waterfront. The season runs April 5 through October 11, 2014

What to do while we wait? Make chili!

Ten days, 43 minutes and 2 seconds until our Seahawks meet the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII. That is unless a snow storm “of massive proportions” plays havoc with the game.

In case you just arrived from another planet, kickoff is at 3:25 p.m. (PST) Sunday, February 2, at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

I am the epitome of a fair weather fan. I’ve watched one football game start to finish … ever. And guess which it was? Lucky me.

Now, like everyone else, I’m counting down the days until the Superbowl. So I can relate totally to fans at the End Zone Sports Pub in Port Orchard, who have a strategy to make the waiting (and a weekend without pro football) less agonizing.

“What about the Pro Bowl?” I asked Janet Wilson, who owns the pub with husband Steve. “Doesn’t that count?”

OK well, you can see I’m a newbie. The feeling of the End Zone’s customers about the Pro Bowl is a unified, “Meh.”

So what are they going to do with all that down time? Make chili.

The End Zone plans a chili cook-off at 1 p.m. Saturday. It’s a tradition started six years ago by a handful of customers just trying to kill time’ til the Super Bowl. Last year, there were close to 25 entries. Most who enter are guys. There have been some husband versus wife match ups. Last year’s winner was Lisa Gilliand.

Variety (not necessarily heat) is the name of the game in this crowd, many who are hunters.

“We’ve had elk; we’ve had salmon; we’ve had chicken,” said Janet Wilson (no relation to Russell, unless I missed something). “We’ve had some horrible ones. A lot of them were men who didn’t know what they were doing.”

But they’ve come along, learned a lot over the years. “I think the guys generally want to be the best cook,” Wilson said.

There are no rules in this “customer driven” contest. The prizes are bragging rights, your name on a plaque and the chance to wear the Chili Crown for a day.

A panel of six judges makes the call on the best batch. There’s also a people’s choice award. Once the judging is over, they break out the cornbread and cheese and the feast is on.

Speaking of chili, I will now reprise a recipe for Uncle Dan’s Habañero Hellfire Chili given to me courtesy of Dan Saul. Saul, related to the owners of Hubert’s Christmas Tree Farm, was handing out samples when I did a story on the farm in December 2012. It was the perfect thing after stomping around in the cold and rain. Warmed you right up and then some.

Uncle Dan’s chili consists of little chunks of beef and pork swimming in a fragrant, spicy broth, with grace notes of chocolate and the kick of 15, count them, 15 habañero peppers (for a recipe that serves 20). Not so secret ingredients include bittersweet chocolate, strong coffee and a quart of dark beer. Is it hot? Heck, yeah!

Uncle Dan is a colorful character. You can read all about him in my original blog post about the chili.

Here’s the recipe for Uncle Dan’s Habañero Hellfire Chili. Don’t say you weren’t warned. (If you don’t need 20 servings, hopefully you can do the math to cut it down.)

Serves 20

Ingredients:

4 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 pounds ground beef
2 pounds ground pork
15 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
15 habañero peppers, seeded and chopped
20 Anaheim peppers, seeded and chopped
1 quart dark beer
4 cups coffee (strong brewed)
2 (28-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
5 (16-ounce) cans chili beans
1 (six-ounce) can tomato paste
1 cup chili powder
2-ounces bittersweet chocolate, shaved into fine pieces
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
3 tbsp. cumin
3 tbsp. smoked paprika

Directions
In a stock pot brown beef and pork over medium-high heat
Season with salt and pepper
While meat is browning, stir in all ingredients except beans
Reduce heat to simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally
Add beans and continue simmering for 45 minutes.

“Bon appetite,” says Dan.

How to speak the turkey’s language of love

Some holiday traditions were made to be broken, but here’s one we can’t resist … pulling out this old chestnut from 2008.

Al Prante of South Kitsap is a champion turkey caller. In this video, he gives some tips on how to attract a female turkey by sounding like a proud and sexy male turkey. It’s really quite educational.

(P.S. Sorry I couldn’t get the links to our other turkey videos to work if you viewed an earlier version of this blog.)

Happy Thanksgiving to all … especially those who have to work on the holiday.