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Let's have a picnic: Filling a basket for less than $40
While sunny days may be sprinkled throughout the month, they are still cause for spontaneous celebration, with a picnic to enjoy some of Renton’s scenic parks.
I did just that on a recent bright weekday afternoon. I filled a picnic basket for under $40, with food and beverages from local retailers and headed to Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park on the shores of Lake Washington.
To fill my basket, I struck out for some of the city’s tasty treasures.
Renton is host to many ethnic restaurants and mom and pop businesses. A Pacific Northwest business with one of its four locations in Renton is Uwajimaya. I stopped there to peruse the grogrocery and specialty store’s produce section and pick up some snacks. I found a carton of strawberries ($2.17) and for a different take on potato chips, I chose a 10-ounce bag of baked shrimp chips ($1.99). Don’t knock them until you’ve tried them. Uwajimaya is a great place to explore and try something new. And if you need help or suggestions, staff can give advice on everything from snacks to saké.
Next I headed into the heart of Renton to swing by Cedar River Smokehouse on Wells Avenue for the main course. There, my Brisket Sandwich ($8.49) and BBQ Hot Link Sandwich ($8.49) were packaged up and waiting for me. Calling ahead for takeout is most efficient for picnicking. Dean Radford, my editor, thoroughly enjoyed the Brisket Sandwich with mild, rich barbecue sauce and a hint of sweetness. The heat of the sauce he called “perfect for someone who wants to come out of the experience with the lining of their mouth” still intact. I, on the other hand, do not like my food tame. I usually ask for all the stars or spices when asked for my heat preference. So the BBQ Hot Link and accompanying hot barbecue sauce gave my taste buds a nice workout. Included with the smokehouse’s sandwiches are your choice of sides: chips, cole slaw, homemade baked beans, corn on the cob, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, macaroni salad, tossed green salad, baked potato, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn bread and Texas Chili. I selected the corn and potato salad for my picnic basket.
In the next block downtown, I popped into Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes to add a couple of large specialty cupcakes to my basket ($2.50 each). These sweet puffs are scrumptious, made with buttercream frosting daily.
Next, I headed around the corner to The Met Coffee and Wine Bar on Burnett Avenue South to look at its selection of 500 bottles priced from $15 to $300. Most of the wines are from Washington, 80 percent are reds and 20 percent are white wines. Owner Lise Kaneshiro picked out a Two Mountain 2011 Rosé ($16.99) from Yakima Valley to pair with the sandwiches.
“This is refreshing and it can stand up to the meat,” she said.
Adding wine to a picnic basket is kind of a splurge, but a nice touch for a few more dollars to enjoy where permitted.
For a non-alcoholic affair, I headed to Cost Plus World Market for their “Nostalgic Single Sodas” ($1.49). The store has a collection of retro soda brands made with real sugar cane. There are classics like orange, grape and cherry sodas to root beers and ginger beers, grapefruit, key lime cream, strawberry rhubarb and lemonade sodas.
At last, I arrived. Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park has plenty of scenic perches to view Lake Washington and enjoy a picnic feast. There is the beach, lawn areas (with or without goose-droppings), lots of picnic areas and even a boardwalk with covered seating. Coulon is a popular sunny-day destination in Renton. There is a playground, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, an interpretative botanical walk, a fishing pier, a swimming area, and 1 1/2 miles of trail along the shoreline. The park is accessible to everyone and anyone looking for an escape to nature.
Renton has 29 developed public parks that are listed on the City of Renton’s web site. Explore the city for eats and have a picnic of your own in one of the city’s parks.
TRACEY’S PICNIC PICKS
Uwajimaya, 501 South Grady Way, 425-277-1635
Cedar River Smokehouse, 304 Wells Ave. S., 425-255-4820
Common Ground Coffee and Cupcakes, 900 S. Third St., 425-235-1717
The Met Coffee and Wine Bar, 232-C Burnett Ave. S., 425-687-7989
Cost Plus World Market, 721 N. Landing Way, 425-277-7580