Showing posts with label Hawaiian eats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hawaiian eats. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Hawaii: Malasada Mondays and Other Tropical Tales

For the last month our weeks have started on a sweet note: Malasada Mondays ~ a lyrical combination that has brought smiles to our faces and – big sigh – added a few pounds to our weight.

Malasadas, a favorite treat in Hawaii, were introduced here in the late 1800’s by Portuguese laborers from Madeira and the Azores who came to work in the plantations.

Think donut holes – great BIG donut holes. Some served with a sugar coating and others sliced open and filled with melt-in-your-mouth custard.

The temptations were great
DSCF1618 We’ve been lucky this year as our Hawaiian home at KoOlina has begun hosting one of the many Farmer’s Markets that take place throughout this island chain.

Although teeny in comparison to most, our market brings one Honolulu baker who serves up loaves of Hawaiian sweet bread and rolls filled with tropical flavors like coconut and pineapple. (He doesn’t have a retail outlet, but similar treats can be found at Leonard’s in Honolulu)

One of our favorite things about this one-time-kingdom-now-state in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is the diversity of people here and the customs and foods they’ve brought to this tropical paradise.

They came in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s as laborers to work in pineapple, taro, and sugar cane fields and related industries, from islands in the South Pacific, China, Korea, Japan, and Europe. Thanks to them bringing their foods and flavors from home, today’s Hawaii offers food lovers a feast of diverse culinary cuisine.

Hot and spicy - Korean vegetables

An editor of mine, many years ago asked, “Can you get American food there?” (Yes, he was serious. And yes, you can. Col. Sanders is serving up buckets of fried chicken while Quarter Pounders are being grilled under the Golden arches and Big Box pizza joints are making home deliveries.) But why would anyone come here to eat that food when there’s so many other 'Ono grinds' (good food)  just waiting to be sampled?

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Waipahu Saturday morning farmer's market - O-'ahu
SPAM, I am

Some foods though just call out ‘Hawaiian’ in our minds. For instance, SPAM. That canned meat product is so popular here they have an annual SPAM Jam Festival!

IMG_20150124_105645_777 More SPAM®, according to one of the conference sponsors, is consumed per person in Hawaii than any other state in the United States, which makes it somewhat appropriate for their signature food festival, which in 2015 takes place May 2.

SPAM® stands for ‘spiced ham’; a product introduced in 1937 by the mainland  Hormel Foods Corporation.  The food cube inside the can is a mix of ham and pork shoulder and now comes in low-salt, spicy and original (simply salty) versions. It is believed to have been introduced by the service men stationed here during WWII.

Its popularity continues to grow. There seem to be new variations available each year! Costco, the big box U.S. chain store, sells it here by the case.

Two key statistics in the SPAM Jam news release caught my eye:
* nearly seven million cans of SPAM® are eaten every year in Hawaii.)

* in the decade since it began, the Waikiki SPAM® JAM, has become one of the most popular festivals in Hawaii. More than 20,000 attend the annual event.

Shave Ice

My Hawaiian friends are offended if I compare a Hawaiian ‘shave ice’ to what we mainlanders call a ‘snow cone’. The premise is the same for both, shaved ice that is flavored with syrups of various flavors.  Apparently – it is the way the ice is shaved that can make this treat a true Hawaiian melt-in-your-mouth (pun intended!) version or a lumpy mainland version.  And a trip to the island of O’ahu isn’t complete without going to the North Shore for a stop at Matsumoto’s for shave ice.  Lines often wind into the street from the shave ice counter in this 1950’s wood-frame grocery store that now sells only shave ice, tee-shirts and souvenirs.

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Matsumoto Shave Ice - an island favorite
Food Trucks:

And one can’t make a trip to the North Shore and not be tempted by the eateries that line the two-lane road through Haleiwa (a once-laid-back-surfer-town now teeming with tourists) While these photos were taken in Haleiwa, you’ll find food trucks tucked away in the most unexpected places around the island:

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North Shore O'ahu Food Trucks
When you travel do you stick to foods that you ‘know’ or do you ‘go local’? Tell us in the comments below or shoot us an email.  Thanks for the time you spent with us today ~ hope to see you again soon!  "Malamapono a hue hou" ~ Take care until we meet again!

Linking up this week:
Travel Photo Thursday – Budget Traveler’s Sandbox 
Travel Inspiration – Reflections En Route 
Mosaic Monday – Lavender Cottage Gardening
Travel Photo Monday - Travel Photo Discovery

Monday, September 22, 2014

Kaua'i: Where Memory Lane leads to Louise’s

She was as exotic as any I had person I’d ever seen back then.
(I’d spent my life in an agricultural community in Central Washington State). 

She was enormous.
(from my five-foot-almost-one-inch point-of-view)

And she had a smile that just wouldn’t quit. She made you feel warm and welcomed – prompting that  kind of ‘I-don’t-want-to-leave’ feeling and a desire to return soon when you finally did leave.

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Louise Hauata - Tahiti Nui, photo March 1983
That’s how I remember the woman, Louise Hauata, from the Austral Islands of French Polynesia, just south of Tahiti. We met her back in 1983  in Hanalei on Kauai’s North Shore. She was a single mother running the Tahitian style bar and restaurant that she and her American husband, Bruce Marston, a former Lt. Col in the U.S. Air Force, had opened in 1964. They had met and married in Tahiti then moved to Kauai. He had died in the mid 70’s.
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The Scout - reluctantly posing - Princeville, Kauai, March 1983

We were young back then – barely married three years -- and travel was doled out in brief 10-day-per-year-doses by our employers. Hawaii, a mere six-hour flight away from the Seattle airport, was  a favorite destination for us.  Kauai’s North Shore was of particular appeal; in part because of Louise’s Tahiti Nui.

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Tahiti Nui - March 1983
We’d sit in those cushioned rattan chairs on her front porch sipping Mai Tai’s and watch the occasional car go by on the two-lane road that gives way to hiking trails and the rugged NaPali coast a few miles beyond Hanalei.  The bar made such an impression that to this day we have an enlargement of this photo hanging in our den.

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Scenes from the Tahiti Nui luau - March 1983
It was at this little place we attended our first – and only – Hawaiian luau.  The dishes were prepared primarily on site, but we recall some dishes were brought by locals – think potluck style.  We paid some ridiculously small amount and dined on authentic Hawaiian dishes: roasted pork, poi, salads, lomi lomi, lau lau. . .the works.
Before we sat down to eat, Louise had us encircle our tables, join hands and she said grace. Then the feast and entertainment was on. The hula show provided by local talented young ladies.

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Hanalei Valley 1983 left, 2014 right
The Hanalei Valley really hasn’t changed much during the decades that have passed since those youthful visits of ours to paradise. The landscape is still carpeted with agricultural fields– with a fair share of golf courses and visitor accommodations in nearby Princeville, where we stayed. 

The town of Hanalei has a grocery store now, a small (tourist-oriented) shopping development and several restaurants and bars from which to choose. However, prior to our return, we were delighted to read in the Lonely Planet’s guidebook, “Kauai” that the Tahiti Nui is run by Louise’s son, Christian and her nephew, William Marsten.

Although Louise had died in 2003, we were eager to follow memory lane back to her Tahiti Nui.

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Tahiti Nui, Hanalei, 2014
I raced up the stairs after taking this photo to peek inside as it was early Sunday morning and the place -  now twice the size it had been -- was closed. Just as I got to the doorway, a woman inside snapped, “We open at 11!” and shut the door in my face. 

So much for that warm welcome I remembered. . .

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The "Nui" now - 2014

Oh well, not to be deterred, we were pleased to learn they still have a weekly luau. . .not so pleased to learn it was capped off at some hundred guests or so, each paying $75 a person.  Maybe a regular dinner there would work, we reasoned. . .

We stopped by the one evening we were in town and the place -- with its cross between funky Tahitian and dive décor -- didn’t look much different from how we remembered it. It was, however, crammed with diners and drinkers thus making its interior stifling hot and stuffy.

But no smiles like Louise’s greeted us from the bartender or the wait staff.

ManitoKauai2014 120There really seemed no room nor real reason to stay.

We took a final look around.

Then tucked those sweet memories away. . .

. . .and ate pub grub at Kalypso a bar/restaurant down the street where we were greeted with a warm welcome.

If You Go:

Tahiti Nui
5-5134 Kuhio Highway
Hanalei, Kaua'i

5-5156 Kuhio Highway
Hanalei, Kaua'i

Linking up:
Foodie Tuesday – Inside Journeys

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kaua’i: Market Day

It turns out that on this Hawaiian island every day, but Sunday, is a Market Day somewhere. 

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Kaui Community College Saturday Market - Lihue
We generally seek out these temporary markets – often set up in parking lots, city streets or vacant fields - when we travel because they are some of our favorite places to meet growers and buy locally-sourced food. On this island we didn’t have to do any seeking; we were offered market schedules at check-in at both places we’ve stayed.

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This week we are in a condo on the island’s south side where there are any number of markets taking place. The photos in this post were taken at the Saturday morning market held weekly on the Kaua’i Community College campus. We arrived minutes after its 9:30 opening to find shoppers were already lined up to make purchases.

ManitoKauai2014 231Coming from the Pacific Northwest where a tropic flower stem can cost more than $10, you can probably understand our delight at finding entire bouquets for $7!

(A similar market earlier in the week in Hanalei on the island’s North Shore had them for $15 which we had thought had also been a terrific price.)

We’ll enjoy this $7 beauty for the rest of our stay. . .

In addition to flowers we came home with a bag of just-husked corn on the cob ($5), a bag of six heads of Manoa lettuce ($2.50), and a bunch of just-picked yellow bananas ($1) . The temptations were to over-buy. . .great prices and great products.

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Generally, one of our favorite travel tips is to shop at these markets because they are a great places to save money as well as to get  fresh foods.

That wasn’t the case at all the Kauai markets.

The farmer’s market at Waipa Ahupua’a Field in Hanalei on the North Shore had growers offering pineapples for $8 each and some with papayas at $2.50 each.  One couple, however, offered papayas  for $1 each with a “buy 2 and get 1 free” deal. . .and that’s where we bought our week’s supply. (Food prices at grocery stores there were also high.)

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Back on the South Shore, we did shop for groceries and adult beverages at Costco, the big box store in Lihue, where the price of a Hawaiian pineapple, was $3.50 and a box of five papayas $5.50. I can tell you the place was packed with locals and tourists during our Friday morning visit.

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Red ginger stems
There’s a two-hours-only “Gourmet Farmers Market” taking place on Wednesday at nearby Kukui’ula Shopping Village.  We were told there would be wine tasting and food available for purchase. So far wine prices at bars and restaurants have ranged from $14 – $35 a glass so we can hardly wait to see what the prices will be at the ‘Gourmet Farmer’s Market’ . . .

If You Go. . .

Kauai is the furthest north of the major islands in the Hawaiian Island chain.  There are direct flights from several U.S. West Coast cities, including Seattle. The North Shore is famous for the amount of rain that falls there; it’s south shore is far more sun drenched. Farmer's Market schedules are readily available.

Map picture

Linking up:
Foodie Tuesday @ Inside Journeys

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Island of Lana’i ~ For a Flavor of Old Hawaii

We took a step back in time and place when we arrived two weeks ago on the small island of Lana’i.

Here -- unlike its neighbor island Maui where traffic jams and shopping malls have become the norm and from where we had just spent a hustle-bustled week – we found the Hawaii we’d been seeking.

Take the Plantation Store for example. It is the only place selling gasoline on the island. The island’s only car rental agency is located at the back of  the store.

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On this island an afternoon stroll could lead to the horse stables and corrals; a place where the island’s paniolos (cowboys) hone their calf roping skills.

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But the real flavor of old Hawaii was strongest when it came time to dining. 

Because that’s when we’d join locals at some of the many restaurants, housed in the small wooden buildings built during  yesteryear’s pineapple heydays.

They are the kind of places you must remember to hold the screen door or it will slap shut announcing to all that you’ve arrived.  

One of our favorite eateries, 565, (pictured to the left and below), exemplifies that old time charm.

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Why, 565? Well, because the name is easy to remember.  It is the prefix for telephones on the island!  We learned that the day we stopped in for lunch, lured in by the banner reading: Korean Katsu Chicken.

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Served as a traditional ‘ plate lunch’, it came with two scoops of rice, and that Hawaiian trademark, macaroni salad. We’ve eaten a lot of Katsu chicken in our day but this was by far the best ever! Moist white meat in a crunchy honey and sesame crust. . .oh my mouth waters just writing those words. . .

So good was lunch that we asked about dinner.  Yes, it was served. No, they didn’t serve alcohol but that was no problem, said the owner, just go to the store and buy a bottle and bring it with you.

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So it was off to Richard’s Market  that evening where the chilled wine was kept in the back – all four bottles of it.  Joel chose our bottle, paid for it and then. . . .

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. . .served it as any good wine steward would do! 

We had the outside seating to ourselves as we sipped the wine waiting for our blackened mahi-mahi with fresh pineapple salsa to be served. 

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If You Go:

* We had several restaurant choices in Lana’i City – far more than could be visited during our four-night visit here. 

* The win-win in Maui County, of which Lana’i is a part, is that if a place doesn’t have its own liquor license you are free to bring a bottle with you – which you must open and serve yourself.  And at $19 for the bottle, compared to the $14 a glass and more, at the Four Seasons Resort where we stayed, it also kept the travel budget in the black.

*The meals pictured were less than $20 and one serving was plenty for two people.

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If your idea of ‘perfect Hawaii’ is the hustle and bustle of Waikiki Beach on O’ahu or Ka’anapali Beach on Maui, this wonderful laid-back place may not be for you. For us, this was the Hawaii we’ve been seeking. We will be back – and we will be coming hungry!

Thanks for the time you spent with us today and we hope you’ll come along as we continue our Tales from the Pacific

Linking up today:
Foodie Tuesday at Inside Journeys
Sweet Shot Tuesday

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hawaii: SPAM and Other ‘Ono Grindz’

Ono grindz:  means good food in Hawaiian.

One of the ways Hula Babe and Beach Boy ‘go local’ is by the way we eat!  But that can be said of us no matter where in the world we travel. Half the fun of travel is trying the local cuisine.

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And there’s no bettah way, as they say here,  to get a taste of Hawaii than by eating some of the killah ono grindz and that includes, my friends, none other than. . .SPAM!

SPAM, its name derived from ‘spiced ham’ was the creation of Minnesota-based Hormel foods back in 1937. They came up with a recipe to use left over pork shoulder and an employee is credited with giving it the immortal name of “SPAM” as result of a contest.

spamhawaii2014 006Despite what some of you may believe is in those ubiquitous cans, it is a mixture of ground pork and ham, with salt, sugar and other special ingredients.  It is cooked then canned and cooked again, then cooled in the can. 

Of course, in Hawaii they have versions of SPAM we never see back home, like the little SPAM singles to the left. 

In Honolulu they have an annual SPAM JAM event that spans several days in honor of this tasty treat. (Even at KoOlina, where we are, weekly SPAM carving/cooking/creating contests always draw contestants.)

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We were blown away by the varieties now offered – think Starbucks and its variations on a cup of coffee - compared to the original flavor,which many of us at this age recall eating in our childhoods.

Hawaiians consume more SPAM than anywhere else in the world, with Guam a close second, and South Korea in third place. (SPAM is sold in exquisite gift boxes and considered a luxury gift given for special occasions like Lunar New Year in South Korea, according to numerous mainstream media articles.)

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But man cannot live by SPAM alone, so another of our favorite Hawaiian treats is poke.  Pronounced, POH-kay, it is a Hawaiian verb, meaning ‘to section or slice’.  It is made of fresh fish -- okay you squeamish ones out there -- that is, raw fish that has been ‘marinated’ in a sauce or doused with spices.

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Fresh ahi (tuna), shrimp, mussels in spicy flavors, soy or oyster sauce draw us to the massive poke bars at the local island supermarket, Foodland and even Costco offers a poke bar in the town of Kapolei.  Poke is traditionally served as a side course or appetizer, but we’ve often made entire meals out of two or three of these tasty treats.

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And then there is Kim Chee. also known as Kimchi and gimchi; some of our favorite Korean vegetable delights! These are fermented and/or pickled vegetables – spicy hot and usually served on a bowl of rice. Since we are cutting the carbs, we eat them as sides.  (Remember, finicky ones, sauerkraut is fermented vegetables as well).

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I almost worship this bar each time we enter our local store and never leave without a carton of the cucumbers in spicy hot sauce.

Hawaii is an international melting pot of culinary delights and we must give a nod to the Portuguese for bringing their hot spicy sausage to the islands so many decades ago.

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If you can’t bring yourself to try some SPAM and eggs for breakfast, you must try Portuguese sausage and eggs!

KirkHono2014 051And then there is Lau Lau, a local favorite made of pieces of pork and butter fish wrapped in taro leaves and steamed.  (If you’ve ever been to an authentic luau you will have had this dish along with poi (made of taro) as your buffet selections.)

So do they really eat this stuff, you are probably asking yourself. Yes, we do. We buy the lau-lau ready made and steam it in its leaf wrappings as shown on the left, below. While it steams we put Kim Chee and poke on the plates. . .unwrap and add the lau-lau. 

And there we have it, one of many of our dinners. . .

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. . .a feast that would have even made Hawaii’s King Kamehameha proud!

That’s it for today.  Hope you have a great week and see you back here soon! We appreciate the time you spend with us and always look forward to your comments.

Linking up:
Inside Journey’s Foodie Tuesday


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