|Farmer's stand in Haliewa, O'ahu|
|Musicians entertain during Wednesday |
farmer's market at Blaisdell Center
During our February escape from Alaska, my husband, Matt, and I once again discovered and savored Hawaii’s decadence. Here are some of my favorite food experiences from that visit.
|Locally owned Hawaiin Chef cooperative|
Bluewater Shrimp & Seafood Market
|Great local seafood is available |
My step daughter happens to live in Waikiki and was generous enough during our recent visit to share some insider information on places to get tasty food. Not surprisingly, she spoke highly of the dinners prepared at the establishment where she works, Bluewater Shrimp and Seafood Market, so one evening after dark, we headed down to the International Market in the center of Waikiki to try it out for ourselves. The open air International Market is a Honolulu institution. Winding through the better part of a city block, the market holds covered kiosks hocking plastic tropical flowers, made-in-China jewelry, racks and racks of bright Hawaiian shirts and sarongs, and rubber flip-flops. Bluewater Shrimp stands on a corner of the market, next to the stage where tourists gather to watch hula dancing, steel drums, or Hawaiian folk music. The line of customers that forms at Bluewater’s counter each night is long enough to tell you it’s got to be good. The menu was tortuously difficult to choose from because everything sounded enticing and reasonably priced ($13.00-$15.00). I eventually ordered the furikake (sesame and seaweed) crusted ahi tuna, which came with a tossed green salad, pineapple and red bell pepper salsa, and a mound of sticky white rice. Matt ordered clams in a garlicky sauce. The ahi was fantastic – tender and sweet under the thick layer of salty furikake. The salad was made of fresh leafy greens and shredded carrots with a tropical flower garnish and the rice was a perfectly neutral accompaniment. Just as we finished eating, the hula performance started with the dancers performing to piped in, old-fashioned kitschy Island music. On that particular warm evening, with a full stomach, surrounded by tourists like ourselves from all over the Pacific Rim, the hula music was perfect.
Down to Earth is a Hawaii-based vegetarian-only grocery store chain with its philosophy printed in large letters above the deli cases: "The single most important thing an individual can do for their health, for the environment, and for the sake of the innocent animals is to adopt a vegetarian diet." Vegetarian has never looked, smelled, and tasted so good. We were particularly enamored with the hot and cold lunch bar that featured a spread of entrees, salads, pastas, soups, olives, and desserts succulent and attractive enough to certainly turn a meat-lover into a vegetarian. Creative combinations of quinoa, seaweed, curry, vegetables, tofu, and all varieties of rice were available for $9.95/pound and salads were offered for slightly less. For dessert, Matt selected a dense oatmeal cookie loaded with nuts and dried fruit and I tested the vegan pumpkin bar with a delicate citrus glaze. Down to Earth’s ample produce section is all organic, though not exclusively locally grown. I bought imported mangoes and apples to take back to the condo that were sweet and juicy. As an added benefit, the non-profit Silent Dance Center offers daily yoga classes in a funky studio behind the store for just $10 (one hour classes, yoga mats provided). I have a true confession to go along with this part of my blog: I was so overly exuberant about finding such a gem of a food source, that I actually got in trouble with the staff for taking photographs. Thus, I do hereby formally apologize to Down to Earth for the photographs. I couldn’t help myself: I love your store.
|at "home" in our Waikiki condo|