Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thee best fries

First of all, I'm not a gigantic french fry person. Well, that's not true. Fries are great. You gotta have 'em with a burger, I believe this to be true. I just don't need a million of them. Alright, alright... the point is, I want to introduce you to thee best fries I've ever had. All you have to do is head to Kaimuki, to TOWN restaurant. The magical, crazy, lovely thing with these fries is that they throw in parsley & sage with their skinny little potato slices and fry them to a super crispiness before sprinkling them with salt. THAT is why, when I ordered one of TOWN's fabulous burgers for breakfast/lunch a couple of Saturdays ago, I couldn't stop eating them! Fried sage & parley?! Come on!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Today's Lunch

Yeah, it's a little crazy. Whatever. I came across a tantalizing photograph of a dessert today, & remembered I had these beautiful strawberries lurking around and just so happened to have some vanilla ice cream in the freezer..... Sounds like lunch to me.

But here's the truly whacky thing: I remember years ago, in Seattle, having some sort of strawberry-balsamic vinegar-dessert concoction. So in a whirlwind, I sliced up the strawberries, threw them in a bowl with a little splash of balsamic and some honey and some (stay with me here..) basil. I know, that sounds crazy. But I double dog dare you to give it a try.

There's something with the sweet of the berries & the sweet, slightly sour of the vinegar with the woodsy thing in the basil. Ohh la la...Lunch is served.....

Sunday, April 25, 2010


These guys are crazy. They're pretty. They're poky. And they taste good! I have been eating artichokes since I was a kid. Years ago I lived in the Bay Area. Each trip made to Monterey was done so by driving through fields of artichokes. I love the rows of plants with their beautiful, thistly flowers poking their heads out. There are roadside places offering fried artichokes, fresh artichokes, artichoke this & artichoke that. And it always started a craving.

The design of these strange vegetables is a thing of wonder. Layers & layers of thorny leaves nestled around the soft hairy stuff that seems to stand watch over the heart of this flower. And then there's the taste...

How do you describe the taste? They seem like some distant relative in the broccoli or cauliflower family, don't they? There is a meaty, heartiness to them. So unlike a crisp, cool cucumber. The polar opposite of a sweet, soft tomato. They are their own creature. I love them.

I have always eaten them boiled then dipped in mayo, which admittedly sounds disgusting. But it just works. However, recently I threw some garlic, lemon juice, egg yolk, olive oil, salt & pepper in the food processor, and came up with something like a lemony, garlicky, mayo. Good lord, It worked!

SO, if you have some other exciting artichoke possibilities with which I can feed my artichoke cravings, do tell....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Corn & Potato Chowder & Cheddar Onion Biscuits

This was a killer lunch. But I'm not in the mood to give you a blow by blow recipe. Is that wrong? It happens to be that particular week of the month where I suddenly have chronic fatigue, I eat like a wild animal, & I have noise allergies. Too much information, I know... Anyway, I'm just not in the mood. But you need to try it. So I'll give you a quickie:

Throw some chopped onions & garlic in a pot.
Chop up a few slices of bacon & cook in a separate small pan. Drain off fat and set aside.
Peel & chop a biggish potato, put it in a bowl with some water & cook in microwave till mostly cooked, then add to onions & garlic.
Pour in a cup or so of chicken stock & cook until potatoes are tender. Then add 2 cups of milk, a cup or so of cooked corn, salt & pepper.
Let this cook for a few and then scoop about half into a blender and puree. Pour back into pot & add the bacon, some chopped parsley & some parmesan cheese.

For the biscuits:
1 1/2 C flour
1 C. Cornmeal
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt (I used part salt/part garlic salt)
2 tsp. sugar
Cut in a stick of butter
Add 1 Cup + 1 Tbs. buttermilk (Whoever has buttermilk, I know?! Just add some vinegar to milk till its thick)
Stir in some grated cheddar & chopped onion.
Spoon onto baking sheet & bake @ 375 for 20 minutes.

Ok, there you have it. Enjoy!

Ginger Peach Martini, The Saga

Here's something I threw together as a result of needing a cocktail & having just made a peach cobbler. Huh? I know, here's the real story.

I had drained a can of peaches for said cobbler, but for some reason reserved the juice. It lurked on the counter in a measuring cup.

Upon realizing the need for a cocktail, and then realizing my lack of ingredients aside from vodka, the peach juice glittered on my horizon. Then I remembered a semi-expired jug of ginger juice in the fridge. The three met in my cocktail shaker, did a little dance, and Bam! The Ginger Peach Martini arrived in my glass.

The rest, is history...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kukkula Wines

I was on the Big Isle recently, you've been paying attention, right??? I was there to photograph a few kids for the Heart Gallery, a non profit organization where we photograph children in the Foster Care system who are in need of permanent families. I am lucky enough to get to spend some time with these kids, give them the stage all to them selves, so that they can shine & I can capture a beautiful image of them with the hopes to inspire someone who will see it to adopt or provide some stability for one of these kids.

So that's what I was really up to on the Big Island. It just so happens that I have some good friends over there and was able to make a weekend out of it. Sometimes after photographing these kids, I am filled with hope for their future but also a heaviness for all that they go through. So after finally finding the place, then spending some time photographing them, I realized I had a little bit of free time. But my phone battery was dying. What does this have to do with Kukkula wines, you ask? I'm getting there.

This was my first time to the Big Isle, so I didn't really know where I was. But alas, even hawaii has new shopping centers with Sports Authority & Target. So I pulled into such a place, hoping to find a Verizon Wireless store where I could beg them to plug in my phone for a few minutes. And of course, there was one! As it charged, I walked out to see what I could peruse and to my delight there was the Kona Wine Market right next door!!! As I walked in, I was invited to join in the Friday Tasting with Paula, wife of Winemaker, Kevin Jussila of Kukkula Wines. Well, I don't mind if I do...

The wines were all great, but when we came to the end, it was the Lothario that really got me. I was saying how "Tait's The Ballbuster" is my fave and the wine rep predicted I would love the Lothario. She was right. It is a Grenache/Mourvedre/Zinfandel combo that was so thick & juicy you almost need to chew. I love that in a wine.

I had a great time and left with a bottle for my friends who i stayed with and one for my night at the B&B. You can find out more about the Jussil's, their farm & their wines at: http://www.kukkulawine.com. I know if I'm ever in Paso Robles, a trip to the winery will certainly be on my list of things to do! Until then, I am happy to learn that my favorite wine shops here in Hawaii carry their wines!

So... I was fortunate enough to be able to do what I do with the kids there & also to stumble upon this little gem. Life is beautiful.

"With bread & wine you can walk your road"" ~Spanish Proverb

Lunch at the Edge of the Ocean

So when you are sitting here, on a lava flow at the edge of the ocean, what would be your swigs and grinds of choice? Well, for me it was fish tacos & a local Big Island beer called Mehana. Watching the pools ebb & flow was hypnotizing and beautiful and as I looked out at the never ending horizon, I couldn't help but feel very connected & very content.

I might not have felt so content however, if we wouldn't have figured out how to open the beer with the "natural" bottle opener of the lava rock! Where there's a will, there's a way...
The Mehana Brewing Company is a premier "craft brewery" located in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. They offer a Mauna Kea Pale Ale, Hawaii Lager, Volcano Red Ale, Humpback Blue Beer, and a Roy's Private Reserve. We chose the Mauna Kea Pale Ale. If you're looking for a Swig with local style, and you happen to be in California, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, Japan, or of course, Hawaii, grab a Mehana! Select establishments in these areas carry Mehana Brewing Company products.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hale Maluhia

Hale Maluhia means "House of Peace" in Hawaiian. And who doesn't need that, right? As much as I try to make my little country house a peaceful little respite, many times the stress of life, the noise of kids and the hectic-ness of life can suck the peace right out of the place. When I came across this particular house of peace while researching Bed & Breakfasts on the Big Island of Hawaii for my quick weekend trip for work/pleasure, it seemed like just what the Dr. ordered.

It is located about 11 miles south of Kona. We drove up a winding forest road where chickens & wild turkeys mingle with cows grazing behind rustic fences. And then, around on one corner, we came upon Hale Maluhia.

There are five rustic, casual rooms to choose from, as well as a private cottage that can sleep 2-5 people. Along with a large common area with couches, chairs & a grand piano, a library/movie room, a large covered lanai with breakfast seating & a view of the horizon along with another area with a covered hot tub. Rates are an amazing $80-$170 a night.

If you are looking for a a place to stay on the Kona side of the Big Island and feel like the swank of the major resorts is not for you, this quiet mountain House of Peace is a GREAT way to refresh and renew.

Here's a glimpse of the beautiful breakfast that was laid out for us as we mingled with other guests and the owners & managers of the bed & breakfast.
I came in from sipping wine on the covered lanai, listening to the Coqui frogs the night we checked in and met a quiet older man rolling out dough for cinnamon rolls for our breakfast the next morning. I came back for seconds!
A giant loaf of homemade bread also awaited.
The help-yourself omelette bar was a pretty cool feature, which helped us feel like we were right at home, whipping up something in the kitchen while chatting with the Inn keepers.

The beautiful fruit trays..
Eggs collected from the chickens that roam the property sit waiting for you to turn them into your perfect omelette.
Juices & homemade smoothie to wash down the breakfast.

Ken & Sue are the owners of Hale Maluhia, and chances are when you call to make your reservation you will talk to one of them. The were wonderful & warm. I loved this little spot & looking forward to spending many more nights there.
You can see more on their website: www.hawaii-bnb.com/accommodations.htm

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Treasure I Stumbled Upon

So the other day, I met a client in Kailua & afterward I had a minute to grab something to eat before heading to a photo shoot. I ducked into a little hole in the wall called India Cafe - for some killer Indian food. Normally, this being a food blog & all, I would go on & on about how great the Lamb Masala was, and it was - but while I was waiting the 10 minutes it took for my naan bread to come out of the oven, I wandered into the bookstore next door.

Ahhh... I love food but I also love a bookstore. I like the big ones, with coffee to be sipped and big chairs to be sat in. But I LOVE the little, independently owned bookstore. As soon as I walked in I was in heaven. There were books everywhere. New books in the window, used books on the shelves, stacks of books on the floor, on benches, EVERYWHERE.

I perused the Literature section, and by the time I got to the cookbook section, my ten minutes was up. I contemplated bagging lunch altogether and hunkering down in the crowded isles of the bookstore, but finally duty - and hunger - called.

Even though it's on the other side of the Island from where I live, I decided it's worth it to make a trip over the mountain at least once a month to stroll through the piles at "Bookends". And if you happen to be in the neighborhood, it's definitely worth it for you to check them out at 600 Kailua Rd. But make sure you eat your Indian food first and save plenty of time to peruse. I think I could have stayed in there for days....