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Fun in the Sun & Living the High Life

I know you are loving this weather! It has been gorgeous and it even got Mark and I out on our day off, which is oh so rare these days. Saturday we got out of the cafe before 1, so we hit the Port Orchard Farmer’s marketwhere I picked up beautiful bunch of lilacs (the last of the season I am told) and they are fabulous on my sideboard. Mark got some kettle corn (it’s been ages since we had any and it is so good!) and we chowed down on Kitsap’s best BBQ done by the amazing Ken Brown and his boys, at Grillside Mobile BBQ. His mobile bbq unit is the only true bbq around here, in my opinion, and it is in large part due to his sides.

I have not eaten at every bbq joint in Kitsap (by the way, I know of three, and the one I have not had is in Poulsbo.) The other two (one is a national chain and the other is not) do meats that are tasty, though not near as good as Ken’s, but their sides are sorely lacking. Lacking in flavor, lacking in texture and are mushy, and a real lack of imagination. Ken Brown does greens!!! Collard greens are an essential part of the bbq experience and NOBODY else does them around here. There is something very wrong with a bbq place that does not offer greens. His chicken & ribs are fantastic, his brisket is hands down unbeatable and then there are the brats and hot links. Oh. My. The hot links are too hot for many (read: Mark), though I LOVE THEM. Ken could put just about anything in his smoker and I would eat it. He does lots of fairs and festivals, is almost always at the PO Market and the Olalla Bluegrass Festival (I go for his food!) and you can rent him and his rig for your own parties and events! Please invite me if you do.

After that we went to the Gig Harbor Farmer’s Market and Mark bought his very own heirloom tomato plant. Watch out Jared and Sarah! My favorite find was the Willapa Hills Farmstead Cheese stand. Samples? Why yes, thank you! Oh baby, is their cheese good. I wanted them all; I got away with buying 3: Baw Faw Peak Yogurt Cheese-sheep/cow mix (whimper-with-pleasure good!); Whey Fresh Ricotta-sheep/cow mix (moan-with-remorse-that-it-will-soon-be-gone good); and Little Boy Blue-all cow (oh-my-gawd good). Just wait ’til you hear what we did with our cheeses. Oh yea!

On Saturday night we had a simple salad: Arugula (still fresh from the Port Orchard Farmer’s Market last weekend) tossed in premium olive oil and balsamic, and salt & pepper was the base. On top there was chopped tomatoes, a bit of red onion, rare roasted beef tenderloin, and the Little Boy Blue cheese. A bit of toast topped it off nicely! We watched the Sounders all the way to their floundering end (a tie, but weak for them). We ended our evening on a stronger note than they did: Fresh strawberries, the Baw Faw Yogurt Cheese, and a few drops of the best aged balsamic I have ever tasted (I brought it back from Italy) took the simple dessert to heights far beyond anything you can imagine!

On Sunday we went for a gorgeous drive, went out Forest Service Road 2340 and ended up at the High Steel Bridge. I even walked on it (I get anxious on bridges, especially when they move!) and we took a little hike down one of the trails to get some fabulous pictures of the bridge from down stream. It is called “high”, and mind you this thing is 100 years old and 420 feet in the air! The river rushed far below, seeming to be in a hurry to get to the canal. That cold water was filled with silt and it really made the surrounding forest lush and green. On the way back we stopped at Hunter Farms’ General Store in Union. We enjoyed some Olympic Mountain Ice Cream (the BEST in the WORLD!) from Shelton, and picked up some local oysters and smoked salmon from Elma. It was a sunny drive home.

Mark fired up the grill for the oysters and we had us a M&M style tapas party! I took some sea salt crackers and put a schmear of the Baw Faw Yogurt Cheese on, then topped it with the smoked salmon. This was so amazingly good that I kissed myself! Seriously, who needs creme fraiche or sour cream when you have the lovely and amazing Baw Faw from Willapa Hills. I sliced tomatoes (this dish will be way better when they are fresh and in season and heirloom tomatoes; I cannot wait!) and topped them with the Whey Fresh Ricotta. A drizzle of premium olive oil and a dash of salt & pepper, and it was hard to stop eating those babies! A few mixed olives thrown in a ramekin and we were in business! Until… oops! The grill ran out of propane. I threw a pan on the stove and turned on the fire, put a touch of water in and Mark finished the oysters there. As they popped themselves open he loosened them out of their shells and they were fantastic! Briney and fresh and really wonderful. They did not need a thing added to them.

I ate too much. It was SO good! The foods of Spring/Summer/Fall are so wonderful and we love eating like that-a meal of many small tastes. Nearly everything was local and fresh and full of fabulous flavors. We really need year round farming here, don’t you think?