Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oahu: Lanikai Beach

Is Lanikai Beach one of the most beautiful beaches in the world?  This girl says yes.  No wonder fashion photographers make this their stomping ground.  I can only hope that your computer monitor (or phone?) can display the many shades of aqua and turquoise.  It looks like a place that I made up.

This area of Kailua is primarily residential, but as state law requires that all Hawaiian beaches are open to the public, you can walk from the street down one of the many footpaths and enjoy this exclusive area for yourself.  It is glorious. 

Since we had planned to bring our beach chairs and plant ourselves at another beach down the road (which was also gorgeous), we brought only our cameras when walked down the path "to check it out."  This was spot to end all spots and I implore you to pack a lunch and plan to stay a while when you finally reach Lanikai Beach.  And if you see Giselle, tell her I say hi. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Honolulu: Hibiscus Lady Nursery

I was so excited when I saw this display that I startled the woman that grows these!  Jill Coryell is the "Hibiscus Lady" and she hybridizes hibiscus. (Say that 5 times fast!)  She sells her plants at her farm, online and every Saturday at the Kapi'olani Community College Farmer's Market in Honolulu.

Many shoppers were gathered around to admire these flowers, but what I don't think they understood was that Jill "designs" these hibiscus.  She goes beyond specializing in hibiscus and their care and actually plans and creates the shades and styles of blooms that she wants.  Hybridizing deals with pollen and fertilizing, seed pods and ovaries.  It takes time, patience and vision.  She made a GRAY and peach hibiscus!! Are you kidding me?  This woman is a genius.
And my questions, enthusiasm and photo-taking through her for a loop.  Especially because I don't live in a climate where hibiscus can live.  Darn you Zone 5.  My friend pointed out that the general Hawaiian temperament is quiet and relaxed - the opposite of how she would describe me.  But tell me the truth, if you stumbled upon a woman who created a display like this, wouldn't you get excited too? 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Oahu: Banzai Pipeline on Oahu's North Shore

"Yahooooooooo!"  I imagine that there must have been some sort of primal whoop going through this guy's mind.  I wish I could track him down and show him the photograph I was able to get.  The only thing as coveted as a good run, is a photo of it.  Am I right?

I spent a good three hours watching and photographing the surf at the Banzai Pipeline on Oahu's North Shore.  The waves did indeed form a pipe and it was interesting to watch the 50+ surfers floating on their boards waiting to sync up with the perfect wave.

I gave into the calm rhythm of the waves - it gave me time to think.  No phones, no conversation, no hurry.  I loved it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hawaii: Best Shaved Ice on Oahu

Up in the town of Waialua, we tracked down the "best shaved ice on Oahu." Essentially a giant snow cone, we were curious to try this local specialty.

A darling salesman/surfer explained the flavor choices and unexpectedly gave us an impromptu taste test between the mango flavoring that "the others" use and the homemade recipe used at the Old Sugar Mill. What a difference!

That, he explained, is why all the locals come here. The mango syrup was light and fresh and delicious. I ordered a split of mango and coconut and slurped my way through this refreshing Hawaiian treat. 

We shopped the store, toured the chocolate/coffee production area out back and was lovingly shown a local route to the best view of the North Shore pipeline on a map. 

Our visit to the Old Sugar Mill in Waialua was Hawaiian hospitality at its best. Mahalo!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Honolulu: Neiman Marcus

During our pre-trip planning, my friend Corinne kept saying that we had to have lunch at Neiman Marcus. We had done this many times at home, so I figured it was more out of nostalgia than anything else.

Then when we walked onto the open air balcony, it became clear that we weren't just there for the popovers. Our table had a view of the ocean!

If you are ever in Honolulu on vacation, brush the sand off your feet, put on a cute sundress and make reservations for lunch at the Neiman Marcus at Ala Moana. It's the best girl lunch ever. Shown here is my "Grilled Lemon Shrimp with Romaine Hearts, quinoa, goat cheese, asparagus, tomato and mint." Yep, I wanted to stay all day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hawaii: Birds in Paradise

This little beauty is the Japanese White Eye (http://www.honoluluzoo.org/japanese_white-eye.htm) A yellow songbird that I have seen day after day flitting between the branches of the orchid trees here on Oahu. I love to investigate the flora and fauna of a new place and so far this bright yellow bird is my favorite find.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Oahu: Sunset and Surfers

We were on the North Shore of Oahu for a casual sunset dinner at "Jameson's by The Sea." Luckily my friends were patient with me, as I kept popping up out of my chair to run and take a picture. The sky was continually changing and I didn't want to miss a thing. I was rewarded with this shot of a surfer and his board crossing the breakwater. I feel confident when I say that this guy was having a good day.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hawaii: Eating the Local Delights

Now this is a breakfast of champions! Fresh papaya (with a squeeze of lime juice), yogurt sweetened with Hawaiian sugar, fresh grilled pineapple, dried apple banana chips and the crunch of roasted macadamia nuts. Yep, Hawaii suits me.

When Corinne and I visited a friend of hers, I noticed a full size tree in the neighbors yard loaded with orange-colored fruit. I asked her if they could possibly be tangerines ripening on the tree. Oh yes, that tree is very productive, she said.

A few days later, Corinne dropped by her friend's without me and returned home with an armload of fruit! The neighbor had dropped off a bunch and she shared some with Corinne. So lately our "snack" has been fresh tangerines! Eating them somehow feels different because I know they weren't picked from a stack at the grocery store. They feel like a gift - true Hawaiian hospitality.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Oahu: View from Diamond Head

Sea, Sun and Surfers - this is the epitome of life in Hawaii. On our way from the farmer's market, we drove along the shore under Diamond Head and took advantage of a scenic pull off to take this beautiful photograph.

I love the salt and pepper dots that are surfers waiting for the next big wave. The ocean dictates the fun around here, one pull of the surf at a time.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oahu: Idyllic Beaches

"Oh darling,want to go for a swim?" If we'd had time, I would have thrown on a swimsuit and gone swimming at this picture perfect beach called "Hanauma Bay."

Doesn't it look divine? The footpath down to it is a bit tenuous, a steep and dusty path from the highway down to the sand, but it looks oh-so-worth-it! If there only was time for all of this. This is the beach location for the famous kissing scene in the movie, "From Here To Eternity" (with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr) was filmed - a movie set indeed.

I took this photo from above at the scenic pullout for the Halona Blowhole.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Oahu: Two Scoops Ice Cream Parlor in Ko Olina

Doesn't this look pretty? The mural says it all: Hawaiian hospitality meets the charm of an English tearoom. I love ice cream; I love tea. Can the two ideas really be that far apart?

I can only speak to the ice cream, but was delicious! I had a scoop of the Hawaiian Mud Pie - rich homemade Kona coffee ice cream with Oreo cookie crumbs hidden within. Yum Yum Yum.

The English owners offer tea and scones as well and my friend was raving about how cute the parlor tables looked when they were all set up for afternoon tea on her last visit.

If your sweet tooth gives you a nudge after dinner in Ko Olina, stop by Two Scoops (www.twoscoopsicp.com) for an inspired ice cream treat.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Oahu: Aulani Resort

Have you ever felt like you were actually on a movie set? The ocean, the food, the atmosphere felt worthy of an epic love story filmed by a renowned movie producer on his best day. I mean it!

My friends suggested we have an early dinner at the oceanfront restaurant 'AMA 'AMA (within the spectacular Disney resort, Aulani (www.http://resorts.disney.go.com/aulani-hawaii-resort/dining/table-service/ama-ama-beach-restaurant/) so that we could watch the sun set over the Pacific during dinner. Sounds good to me!

The Aulani resort just opened in September 2011, so it is brand new and absolutely gorgeous. The resort theme tries to capture the spirit of Hawaiian culture through art, music, food and design and I think they did a beautiful job. The scale of the resort is grand, but the atmosphere remains distinctly calming.

After a lovely dinner (you can see my salad course of Heirloom tomatoes, Buratta cheese and a white corn vinaigrette below) at a table close to the ocean, we wandered up to the open air lobby to visit the gift shop (would you believe a Aulani-specific Dooney & Bourke purse?) and take a look around.

In this second floor lobby, there are alcoves and balconies where you can sit and listen to live Hawaiian music waft up from the patio below. I'm not sure my blood pressure could go any lower - it was lovely.

Is the Aulani a "must visit" site on your delightful tour of Oahu? Absolutely.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Honolulu: Farmers Market

It exceeded my imagination. I knew that I wanted to visit a local farmers market when I was in Hawaii; I could see the tropical fruits stacked on tables in my mind.

When I visited the Kapi o lani Community College's farmers market (http://kapiolani.hawaii.edu/object/farmersmarket.html)on Saturday, the sights and sounds of this bustling market were a cook's dream come true.

I saw beautiful pink and black Hawaiian salt for sale. One vendor specialized in local honey and had sample tray with tiny drops of each flavor honey for shoppers to sample. The "hibiscus honey" stands out in my mind. And look at these gorgeous papaya!

I took pictures, sampled pineapple cake and sipped an icy made-while-you-wait Ginger Lemon Basil Cooler. It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning. The next time you are on vacation (with access to a kitchen), try to visit the farmers market. Fresh never tasted so good.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Honolulu: Q-Pot

My oh my, are these necklaces cute! I discovered a store in Honolulu's Ala Moana mall that is pushing the boundaries of what a "charm" on a necklace should be. This Japanese store is called Q-Pot (http://www.q-pot.jp/eng/brand-items/necklace.html) and you really should check it out.

The store sells tiny French pastries, macaroons and scoops of ice cream as pendants on necklaces. They are sooooo cute. I've never seen anything like it and, as a sugar lover, I wholeheartedly approve.

The sales girl was modeling their latest creation - tiny hamburger necklaces where each charm is a layer that stacks on the next - bottom bun, beef patty, tomato, cheese...whatever you want on it. No joke! It's cute, but it can't compare with a tiny pink macaroon.

There is only one shop in the United States (and apparently they don't sell online) but you can email: qpot-alamoana@lyrausa.com or call the store at (808) 955-9330 for sales inquiries.

Honolulu: Hiking

Are you up for a hike? I wasn't when I realized that this famous "Koko Crater Trail" has 1,048 steps to the top! But I can show you what's possible on this gorgeous island; feel free to send me pictures from the top.

Apparently the railroad tie trail is the remains of a funicular track that carried men and supplies up to a radar facility on top of the crater during World War II. The view is said to be spectacular and is a fun milestone activity for those who like a physical challenge on their vacation.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Honolulu: Whole Bead Show

Didn't I have fun? The 17th Annual Honolulu Bead Show (whole bead.com) coincided with my trip to Hawaii. This is what you call having the moon and stars align.

My friend Corinne is new to jewelry making (her specialty is sea glass) and we had so much fun looking at the beads, findings and inspiration pieces at the show.

I found some beautiful shell charms and whipped up this beautiful charm necklace and have already worn it to dinner on this trip! I love to make a piece of jewelry and wear it immediately. This is what I call "shell chic!"

Friday, January 13, 2012

Honolulu: Ukelele Love

For the past few years, my mom has been keeping ukeleles on my mind. She shows me articles about the growing beach scene for young musicians who like to tote a less precious instrument with them to the beach to play. She's the one that got me to look up Jake Shimabukuro's ukelele version of "My Guitar Gently Weeps" (you can find it by searching on YouTube) - it's lovely. So...you can imagine that when I was invited to visit my friends in Hawaii, her eyes lit up. I am on a quest to bring her a ukulele from the source: Hawaii.

The ones you see here are gorgeous! I was perusing the wall, settling on my favorites, when I realized that most of these were $500-$1,000. Whoops! A little too much to spend on whimsy.

So the hunt continues. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Oahu: Dole Pineapple Plantation

I love fresh pineapple and this is the ultimate in "fresh", wouldn't you say?

I visited the Dole Pineapple Plantation today (look at the pineapple field with the Pacific ocean in the background! Gorgeous.) and was surprised to learn that each pineapple plant can produce one pineapple 3 times; the first pineapple takes 18 months to develop and reach maturity, the second pineapple takes 32 months for it to develop and the third and final piece of fruit takes 45 months before it can be picked and eaten. Isn't that hard to imagine? And after that 3rd pineapple is picked, the plant is finished producing forever.

I really had fun looking around the gift shop and "had to have" a lovely dark wood cutting board in the shape of a pineapple. The pineapple is a symbol of hospitality and I know that I will have fun using this board for appetizers at my house. I have a vague recollection of a cream cheese/pineapple recipe that would be nice with crackers. I'll have to see if I can find it when I get home. If I do, I promise to post it here.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Honolulu: Chai's Island Bistro

We had a lovely dinner at Chai's Island Bistro (chaisislandbistro.com) on a steamy Honolulu night. A cruise ship in the harbor was a magnetic pulling groups of two and three vacationers past our table and back to the ship. Every grouping I saw was casually strolling the shopping plaza, and then I noticed that they would eventually arc and be pulled onto the same path toward the ship. A floating city ready to take them to the next port overnight. Fascinating.

I had a nice bright salad of mesclun greens with roasted beets, carrot wisps and a balsamic vinaigrette. Dinner was wok-seared jumbo black prawns in a spicy ginger sauce with Asian vegetables and Jasmine rice. Yum! Part of the fun of dining at Chai's was looking at the wall of celebrities that had been there over the years: Justin Timberlake, Michael Caine, Billy Baldwin, Mick Fleetwood and Kathy Ireland. No celebrity sightings on our night, but it was fun to look. Ahhhh, the fun of dinner on vacation.

Honolulu: Bird of Paradise

It's is easy to remember that I'm in "paradise" when I routinely see the exotic flower "Bird of Paradise" on my morning walk. Large healthy shrubs bloom along the paths here as part of the landscaping. It's lovely!

I haven't identified all of the flora yet, but there is an "Orchid Tree" blooming near my friend's place and when the breeze blows, the air smell so sweet!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Honolulu: Coconut Water

You know how the coconut water craze has taken expanded the shelves of the "healthy drinks" section of the supermarket? Vitamin water, fruit juices and now coconut water tempt us all, athletes or not.

Well, there may be something to all the buzz about coconut water, which is said to contain healthy compounds that can aid in restoring hydration, regulating body temperature and the like. Well, I spent 2 hours at the Honolulu at the swap meet in 86 degrees and did surprisingly well.

Could it have been the coconut water I drank directly from THIS coconut? One of the vendors was popping open the base of fresh coconuts, inserting a straw and letting the customers drink the coconut water inside. When you had drained it, he took the coconut back and cleaved it open with a bayonet - no joke. You can see the gorgeous flesh inside, which he loosens for patrons to eat, by running a special knife around the perimeter.

I liked drinking the coconut water, but frankly the raw white flesh was a little indigestible. When it comes to eating, I will stick to the flaked and fabulous coconut from the store.

But I did feel fabulous while I walked the perimeter of the Aloha Bowl shopping for Hawaiian trinkets and treasures. Was the coconut water the secret to my hot weather stamina? In the name of research, we've decided to buy a bottle of coconut water for me a the supermarket to take along with us to the beach. Bring on the sun!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Buying my purses and jewelry

Aloha! I have put my Etsy store in "vacation mode" while I am traveling in Hawaii. You will be able to shop my cigar box purses, Delight totes and super cute jewelry once I return. Thank you!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Honolulu: Hawaiian Sun Juice Cans

Guess who is going to make gorgeous flower arrangements?! I imagined that I could find some pretty soda pop cans in Hawaii, but these cans by Hawaiian Sun exceeded my expectations! I will bring them home empty (thank you flat rate shipping boxes!) and use them this Spring and Summer as vases for flower arrangements. I can not wait!

I bought six 6-packs and we are having fun tasting all the flavors. Pineapple Orange is a favorite. have you ever brought home a beautiful bottle or can from a trip?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Honolulu: Honolulu Cookie Company

Yes, I am doing a lot of "research" for you and tasting everything that looks delicious and unusual for you. Enter stage left: The Honolulu Cookie Company.

Imagine tropical shortbread in the shape of a pineapple, possibly dipped in chocolate. Wow. I cruised the sample bar and can say that "Pineapple Macadamia" and "Lilikoi Mango (it's pink!) were my favorites. My friend has a "frequent shopper" card here so I know that I will get to come back!

If you order online (www.HonoluluCookie.com) I would get the "No Ka Oi (meaning the very best) Pineapple Wrap Box" - it holds one of each of the 15 flavors!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Honolulu: Roy's in Waikiki

It was my first dinner on Oahu and my friend had arranged for us to meet up with 2 of her friends at Roy's.

"Roy, the famous Hawaiian chef that I saw cook on Top Chef Masters - that Roy?!". Yep.

I was over the moon. I had been joking that my favorite foods are shrimp, rice, pineapple, coffee and coconut, so Hawaii was the bullseye in my culinary map.

I am eating local! The salad had Kula butter leaf lettuce, Big Island goat cheese, bacon, Tempura onions from Eva, with local papaya and a curry yuzu vinaigrette. It was light and delicious, although next time I would get the dressing on the side.

The entree (and part of the meal I had difficulty making conversation through because I was completely entranced by the dish!) was Jumbo Shrimp Roasted in butter served with Avocado and Eggplant risotto with a Tomato Lime broth. Roy, you are a genius!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Aloha from Honolulu!

Pinch me! I am visiting friends in Honolulu and THIS is the view when we are out enjoying the day and "running errands". Can you believe it? I took this photo from a moving car and grabbed a little bit of paradise to show you on this first day.

Do you have any favorite places on Oahu? Please share them with me here. Mahalo, which is the Hawaiian word for thank you.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Downton Abbey: Season Two

Wonderful news!  For a limited time, you can watch the first season of Downton Abbey (for free!) on the PBS Masterpiece Theater's website and prepare yourself for the long-anticipated Season Two which airs next Sunday January 8th!

Doesn't this kind of news just proclaim Happy New Year!