Ginger and Mochi

Grandma and Grandpa dropped by our house the other morning, big plastic container in hand. Ginger and Mochi. Grandma makes this “good luck” sweet every Christmas, New Years, and on certain birthdays. Rounds of chewy pink and white mochi in a calming ginger syrup bath – pleasing to both the eye and tongue. I prefer this sweet chilled, straight out of the fridge. Mom and dad, however, like it warm, which actually does sound more appealing on this snowy NYC morning. Hope you have a Happy New Years!

Pa’ala’a Kai Bakery: Puffies

At family dinner the other night, Victor arrived with a bakery box. “A gift from my ex-girlfriend,” he said. BAKERY BOX. My eyes widened. The top was stamped, “Pa’ala’a Kai Bakery, Waialua, Hawai’i.” A box marked with that bakery name could only hold one thing: PUFFIES.

What is a Puffy?

It’s very simple, and simple, after all this fancy NYC mishmash, is what you need sometimes. Puff pastry on the bottom. Puff pastry on the top. Custard sandwiched in the middle. Milk chocolate drizzled over the surface. Sugar dusted. Messy in the best way possible. Bite and the shell shatters everywhere before the remainder sinks into the mound of creamy custard. The surface chocolate never fails to melt away too quickly while you’re busy contemplating how something so very basic can be so very wonderful. Honest and straightforward. It’s absolutely beautiful :)

Pa’ala’a Kai Bakery

66-945 Kaukonahua Rd

Waialua, HI 96791

(808) 637-9795

Cinnamon’s, Lanikai, and Island Snow

(Note: Just arrived back to NYC this morning, but there are plenty Hawai’i posts to come :)

Kelly picked a bunch of us all up Saturday morning, (while half the city was still without power), for a day of breakfast at Cinnamon’s + Lanikai Beach + Shave Ice. Eating with Kelly is always a good time because she’ll eat most things, and then eat a lot of it. All very enthusiastically! Cinnamon’s is our go-to breakfast spot when we’re all back home for summer/winter break. Mainly for carrot cake pancakes. Remember those?

But on this visit, we noticed a new (or to us at least) change on the menu. Guava Chiffon pancakes!! The sickly pink appearance was a slight turn off at first, they look sugary sweet, no? But appearances were thankfully deceiving in this case. The classic Cinnamon’s pancakes – airy and near puffy light, were topped with a duo of guava chiffon sauces, one foamy and creamy light, another more tangy and sharp on the tongue. Together they worked well, especially when combined with the pancake itself, gave a feel not to far off from the classic guava chiffon cakes so popular on the island.

We also tried another new pancake: Blueberry & Corn. Local honey butter on the side. Marie remarked, “I don’t know if I’m eating breakfast or lunch,” as she speared a wedge with both ripe berries and corn kernels specked throughout. In the old days, Cinnamon’s was known for their daily pancake specials (the lemon curd pancakes were ohmansotasty). But it seems they’ve done away with that and instead decided to expand the daily pancake menu.

We followed the sweets with two savoury dishes, the first being an order of Eggs Benedict, home fries on the side…

…and then, Loco Moco! I’m no loco moco expert, but this is one of my favourite versions on the island (second would be the one at Rainbow Drive In). At the base, a ton of white rice, followed by a hamburger patty, lots of gravy, two eggs over easy, and then mushrooms and sautéed onions. So long as the gravy is good, the rice well-cooked, the patty generous and the mushrooms and onions super buttery, you can do no wrong. I love how loco mocos fill you up in that incredibly satisfying, the-world-is-just-a-okay sort of way. You could be having the world’s worst day, but eat a loco moco, and then everything is good and happy again. Like magic, I swear.

loco moco upskirt!

I also love how there are never any greens. No greens in loco mocos. Ever :D

Bellies full, we headed to Lanikai Beach right afterwards. I’m not a fan of the sand, sun or water, but must return to the ocean once a year to reconfirm the fact that, yes, I’m just not the go-to-beach type of person. It’s often assumed that because you’re from Hawai’i, you love the beach, and of course, excel at surfing. So far from the truth, hehe. I like the look of the beach, but from a distance ^_^

Unfortunately/fortunately, the day proved too cold, windy, and rainy so we only stayed for a short bit before heading for (hooray!) more food at…

…Island Snow. Shave ice time! Waiola’s has the best shave ice, but Island Snow earns bonus points because they don’t charge for ice cream. There’s nothing like breaking into your shave ice and finding a frozen mound of creamy happiness at the base. Almost as good as having a snow cap (condensed milk) ice top!

Flavours are aplenty as you can see here

Everyone has personal preferences, I know Kelly loves Snazzleberry, and Tiff is a Banana fan. The other nice thing about Island Snow is that you can choose up to three flavours (most places only allow two). I went with Mango, Li Hing Mui, and Lychee. Ahhh, shave ice: one of the many local foodstuffs that NYC could never do justice ^_^

Cinnamon’s Restaurant

315 Uluniu St

Kailua, Hawai’i 96734

(808) 261-8724

Island Snow

130 Kailua Rd

Kailua, Hawai’i 96734

(808) 263-6339

On Oahu.

Islandwide Blackout Yesterday…

…and Lanikai Beach Today!

Left to Right: Alicia, Tiff, Kelly (thanks for driving :), and Marie. Full post to follow. Hope you had a tasty Christmas!

Guilty Pleasure?

I have only one.

The Costco Food Court.

Some of you might be aware of my great affection for Costco, and more specifically, the Costco food court. The $1.95 pizzas, $1.50 hot dogs (comes with soda!), $3.95 Caesar Salad, and those Chicken Bakes. Oh, and don’t forget $1.00 Churros, along with the Mocha/Latte Freeze and Very Berry Sundae. Man, those are tasty. I’m well aware that all this food is quite disgusting. Doesn’t stop me from loving it.

Mom and I were at Iwelei Costco last night to purchase up some odds and ends. We had an early lunch that day and were quite famished as we waited in one line to pay. Then another line to check off our receipts. As we exited, mom asked, “What’s for dinner?”

It’s been two years since I last ate at Costco. And that is an awfully long dry spell from my old two times a week during those youthful Punahou days. Back when my metabolism worked at warp speed. I lusted after those thick crusted slices of pizza oozing cheese and glossy pools of oil, crisp pepperoni, and always finished with extra chili peppers, and sauerkraut! I love sauerkraut on pizza. Love, love, love.

And now, even after trips to Di Fara’s and the likes and legends of NYC pizza, I still have a soft cuddly spot for Costco pizza. Nothing can change that.

In answer to mom’s question, I pointed right, right at the Costco Food Court where the lines were long, the food cheap, and the crowds happy. Mom and I each had a Hot Dog and shared the Caesar Salad. I filled my soda cup with a horridly delicious mix of Coke, Fruit Punch, and Sprite, and the put every single topping possible on top of the hot dog. A purist, I am not ;)

75% through the hot dog, and with the salad demolished, I noticed the Japanese couple next to us splitting a slice of the pizza. Oooh The Costco Pizza. I got all weepy and weak in the knees. Oh why, oh why did I order hot dog instead of pizza? 22 years old and yet I make such silly mistakes.

I did the next logical thing, and shoved the remaining 25% hot dog in my mouth and told mom, “I’ll be right back!” Then went to stand in line, with the biggest smile on my face, a perfect $2.08 neatly counted out, and hopped from foot to foot, giddy with excitement. Costco pizza! Costco pizza! Costco pizza!

I ran back to the table, with the pizza piping hot in on hand, and three packets of chili peppers in the other. A joyous moment indeed. Mom looked at me as if I were positively psycho, and then burst out laughing. I love my mom. The pizza was awesome, just as I remembered, with a sloppy doughy interior, and far too much cheese, the cheap kine super salty cheese, just enough black olives, pepperoni and green peppers to keep me happy.

The plan was to eat half and THROW THE REST AWAY. But my good intentions were foiled as those lovely high school memories of hot Coscto pizza scarfed down post-beach, post-school, post-everything & anything, came tumbling back. The pizza was gone in just over a minute.

And then because I had the pizza, I needed to do the meal justice, and stood in line once more for the Very Berry Sundae. Don’t worry, I didn’t not eat all of it. Just under half.

I felt so good for the first few minutes. And then really disgusting as it all sank to the greasy dark pits of my stomach.

I suspect it’ll be another few years before I have a Costco meal again, but when I do, you bet I’ll be having a hot dog, half a salad, and a slice of pizza, and a bit of the sundae. Heck, I should throw in the Latte Freeze next time. Nothing like a complete meal ^_^

(Note: the goodness I describe about the Costco Food Court applies ONLY to Hawai’i Costco’s. I’ve eaten at the Costco Food Courts on the mainland – totally NOT THE SAME :)