My Saturday morning routine: sitting at the computer taking care of business (no, not facebook!), while listening to commentary on HPR (Hawaii Public Radio) – today, about government-sponsored unmanned drones flying high above us (say what?? And which government??) snapping photos for some obscure officially sanctioned agency . I didn’t quite get the purpose of those silent flyovers. Did someone mention 1984? I snapped to attention at the reporter’s comment of “…when you think you feel a mosquito on your neck, it’s probably a Chinese drone flying high above you…”. I stop in my tracks, freezing slightly, as if a gun were pointed at the back of my head, trying to conquer the creepy sensation of being watched. The journalist concluded that over 50 countries are now using the easy-to-acquire drone technology, which is very similar to those found on laptops, tablets and smartphones. Parts to build them are also readily available at electronic stores in every country on the planet.
Fortunately, NPR’s popular Saturday morning program, “From the Top” quickly followed the sinister story, leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth, which I had to replace immediately by switching gears to a more pleasant thought – food!
A recent Babes lunch at Mike’s BBQ at the Kona International Market in the “old industrial’ seemed to be just the opportunity to distract me from the disturbing notion that we may quickly be headed towards global Orwellian rule. As I listen to a youthful string quartet rip into a fiery Piazolla tango, barbecued fare comes to mind.
The Food Court at Kona International Market has, sadly, lost several culinary tenants. Happily, Mike’s occupies the Eastern corner near the back entry door. Mike Lamb, a former chef at Don the Beachcomber’s at Royal Kona Resort, took a leap of faith and opened his dream eatery with wife, Valerie, who graces the front counter with a huge smile.
The menu is large, and offers many choices to consider, making sure that you return to try all of it at some point! Although I was drawn by the “Sausage Grinder” – house made smoked sausages with Red Cabbage Kraut and Grilled Sweet Onions, I succumbed, along with the others, to the special of the day: The Super Pig – Mike’s Famous Rubbed Pulled Pork, stacked high on a grilled hoagie bun (custom made for them by Buns In the Sun Bakery in Lanihau Center), accompanied by local tomatoes, grilled onions, kosher pickle, one side and one sauce – all for $7.95. The side choices available were cole slaw, potato/mac salad or green toss salad, bbq beans.
I opted for the potato-mac salad and a side salad of fresh greens, tomato, cucumber graced with the Mango Vinaigrette for $4.95. The house made dressing is flavorsome and worth purchasing a bottle for home use.
The bbq sauce(s), all made in-house, is delivered in a separate container with your meal. Probably due to our diverse personalities (and taste buds?) , we each tried a unique sauce, trying to isolate the distinctive essence: Honey Rum Mango Glaze, North Carolina Vinegar BB-Q Sauce and Hot Lava BB-Q Sauce.
A recent conversation with a friend was very enlightening in that she and her hubby picked up a new habit of buying a ‘tray’meal to take to the beach to watch sunsets on Saturday afternoons.
“The Trough”, a trio of Spare ribs, Pulled Pork and House-Smoked Sausages was a recent favorite, followed by “Mambo Combo”, a hefty combination of Spare Ribs, Smoky Roast Chicken and Beef Brisket. All Tray meals are accompanied by fresh Cornbread, 2 sides and 2 sauces. She was quick to mention that the Raspberry Chipotle BB-Q Sauce combined with the fall-apart Beef Brisket was her absolute hands down favorite.
Meanwhile, back at the table, Carol’s frizzy maned baby – Annie (from Australia) –relentlessly followed our every hand-to-mouth movement with her soulful brown eyes; as if such determination and focus would magically entice a chunk of succulent pork to fling itself onto the table before her.
The outdoor dining lanai is a wonderful spot to share a meal or refreshments with friends, and also to bring your pets (on a leash, of course). Other marketplace diners and shoppers stopped at our table to chat, and even Chef Mike came out to visit. He is as jovial as his spirited sauces and mentioned his success at the Keauhou Beach Hotel Farmer’s Market where his products are a sellout every weekend.
Don’t worry, Chef Mike – We’ll Be Back!!!! (and so will the rest of the bb-q loving, beachgoing town of Kona!)