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Posts Tagged ‘Kauai’

Ice cream, Lycee Agricole, Moorea

Three glorious scoops, rapidly melting in the South Seas shade.

I’ve turned a lot of corners and had my eyes pop at what I saw, I’ve felt meh about going somewhere only to get knocked out, never saw that coming, I’ll always remember this. These are some of my most exciting food discoveries. A brief chronicle, presented in the hopes that 2016 has plenty more…for the both of us.

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Mo’orea, a tiny island off the coast of Tahiti, was one such corner and one such pop. We’d read about the Lycee Agricole, the farm school, on the island. The students there make homemade ice cream and sorbet from local produce. One day we turned off the main road to a low little cluster of buildings and pulled over. The soursop and the citron sorbets were gorgeous. But the above picture…I wish it could do justice to the quality of the ice cream. Three scoops: banana, vanilla…and gardenia. Locally grown. Or wild, for all I know. It was one of the most exquisite experiences of my life. At the end of a narrow, dusty road on a sandy rock in the middle of the Pacific, I ate flowers.

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Farther north, on Kauai and Maui, I ate lots of mahi and ice cream* and enjoyed every bite. But it’s practically a given, stamped on your plane ticket and all, that you’ll come across great mahi and ice cream (along with sea turtles and a luau every Tuesday night at your hotel). What you don’t expect to come across are pastures filled with cows. We learned Maui of all places has a thriving cattle ranch industry: All of that juicy green grass gets transformed into, I’m told, absolutely righteous steaks and hamburgers. I was in shock; if you blinked, you’d think you were in Wyoming.

Turtle, Kauai

I can’t find my cow pictures and we didn’t do a luau, so here’s a sea turtle.

I grew up slurping nectar from honeysuckle blossoms every spring at the ball field with my sister and our neighbors. A couple of years ago I wondered if I could make something edible with the nectar, as the Lycee students on Mo’orea did with gardenias. Found a recipe for honeysuckle simple syrup, and it was like what Tim Leary said acid was like. Not the flipping-out part, but the opening-your-brain-to-an-entirely-new-universe part. I mixed the syrup into vodka, I sold some to a local bartender, I drenched warm homemade pound cake in it. And soon I’m going to try it out in homemade marshmallows. Why not? And while I’m at it, why not flavor them with the other things I pick: quince, beach plum (they’ll be lavender!), wild mint, persimmons? Tim would be so proud.

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Honeysuckle and its progeny.

I have a cookbook, nearly 50 years old, of English recipes. It’s commonplace to roll one’s eyes at British Isle food, but I’ve never been able to because it tastes as good as it does. Traditional English Christmas cake, Irish fruitcake, Toad-in-the-Hole, and many more recipes later, I found Scotch Woodcock. It sounded pretty good. I was wrong. Anchovies and paste, very softly scrambled eggs, and buttered toast—so simple yet so out-of-the-bloody-park luxurious that I actually started laughing at the first bite. Recommended when you’re a little deprived and disheartened. Winter can do that to you.

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Open face and open mouth.

For my birthday in 2012 my brother and sister-in-law took me to Ben’s Best in Queens, NY, for real Jewish delicatessen. I ordered chicken noodle soup. The big surprise here was the nonchalant way they brought me a bowl that was clearly intended for a full-grown bull mastiff. I brought home leftovers and ate them for lunch for four days.

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For last: this is something I dream of eating all year. They’re so good I almost dream of eating them while I’m in fact eating them. I don’t even have a proper picture of them because I eat them too quickly to grab my camera first. Fried squash blossoms. I made them on a whim in 2013 and was almost overcome by how lovely and delicate they were. Never expected quite that level of good. Stuffed or unstuffed, half burned or delicately browned, that’s enough, I have to stop thinking about them because it’s only January.

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*Lappert’s. Holy cow, go. It’s only sold on the islands, and believe me, I tried to get them to ship it here to the states. Coconut cream. That’s the one!

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Does Hawaii even know how to cook bad food? Everything was amazing.

Kauai

  • Caffé Coco

— Ahi sandwich—best I ate on both islands (Shore locals—this place is like a tropical Inkwell)
— Hibiscus tea

  • Postcards

— Wahoo with peppered pineapple sage sauce
— Housemade chocolate volcano. It’s 12 bucks, it’s small, but it’s beyond.

  • Hanalima Bakery

— Cinnamon buns with cream cheese icing. Enough calories to stupefy a rhino; still worth it. Once!

  • Java Kai

— World’s most perfect chocolate chip cookies, served up warm at 8:30a by a smiling stoner. Welcome to Hawaii!

  • Lappert’s ice cream

— Mango ice cream/mango sorbet swirl really rocked; so did coconut/passionfruit sorbet. Also try Heavenly Hana and Big Island Inspiration.

Maui

  • Cheeseburger in Paradise

— The food’s great—the atmosphere is even greater. Deck over the ocean at sunset, some dude strumming a guitar, and everyone in the house singing, “Give me the beat, boys, and free my soul…” The place is a Maui brochure.

  • Roselani’s Ice Cream

–Sold at various places on Hawaii, though, sadly, they don’t ship to the mainland. (Of course I asked.) So you have a perfectly sound reason for gobbling it like a demented goat while you’re on Hawaii. If you eat *nothing* else during your trip, eat their coconut custard ice cream. Coconut diehards will want to take nude laps in it. Still getting bits out of my hair.

  • Serpico’s

— Allenhurst’s best (okay, only and best) pizza guy sold his store to a new owner a few years ago, moved to Maui with his wife and six kids, and opened a place in Pukilani, on the road to Haleakala. The pizza tastes exactly like the one I get ¼ mile away from home, which is to say fresh, made from scratch, and awesome. And the owner, Hatch, runs just as friendly and community-oriented a place as he did here.

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