Sunday, July 27, 2014

Home-Grown Tomatoes

Does anything say "summer" as much as home-grown tomatoes?  For having only a single plant, growing in a pot on the lanai, we've done pretty well.  Take a look at what Michele did with some of the red-ripe beauties:

Insalata Caprese--featuring home-grown "Celebrity" variety tomatoes and home-grown basil.  The pita bread wedges came from Kamal's restaurant, Kan Zaman, where last Thursday evening we were treated to a most wonderful Moroccan-Lebanese dinner.  A nice glass of Chianti accompanied this beautiful dish.  Buon Appetito!

Same plate, with the already-bitten pita wedge, in early evening light.  Only two things could have made this even better:  One--enjoying it in Pitigliano, Italy, with Mario, Anna and the rest of the family... and Two--using genuine Italian Mozzarella di Bufala .

Hope everyone had a relaxing Sunday!

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Night To Remember.

Last night, we were treated to one of the most interesting, eye-opening and fabulous meals we've ever had the pleasure to enjoy.  Kamal invited us to his restaurant, Kan Zaman, as a thank-you for the portrait of his father and last night was THE NIGHT.  You are invited to join us.  Click on any of the photos to enlarge. 

This starter, not on the menu, was mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, olive oil and pita bread.  It was as delicious as it looks and though it may sound hard to believe, was quite filling.  This, and perhaps one other soup or salad could easily make a meal, but not tonight!

Their blog mentions the fact that the Lebanese people began making wine 2,000-years before Alexander the Great and they encourage guests to bring a bottle of Lebanese wine.  We didn't have any Lebanese wine at home, but did have this very nice bottle of 2012-Argyle Pinot Noir, made from grapes grown in Oregon's Willamette Valley, about an hour south of Portland.

For a second appetizer, Michele selected Taktouka, a cooked salad made of tomatoes, bell peppers, olive oil, spices and herbs, served with pita bread.  If you've ever enjoyed caponata on the island of Sicily, you would love this dish.  I ordered a bowl of lentil soup, curious to see how it was prepared compared to the Italian version we love so much.  You will have to take my word that it was superb, because I was so busy slurping it up, I forgot to get a photo!  The taste was similar, but subtly and exquisitely different from the Italian style.  Also, the lentils were pureed, resulting in a smooth, creamy soup.  Both the taktouka and lentil soup are excellent examples of how thoroughly cultures and cuisine in the Mediterranean area mingled over the centuries.

Michele's main course was chicken taouk, served on rice, with tabouleh (chopped fresh parsley, tomatoes, onions, with olive oil and lemon dressing) here, atop hummus, warak inab (grape leaves stuffed with rice, mint and lemon and served with a mint yogurt sauce and pita bread

I selected lamb tajine, tajine-style braised lamb shank, with preserved lemon, saffron, white beans and herbs.  It was so rich and falling-off-the-bone tender, I surrendered before finishing.  I can hardly wait until tomorrow...leftovers! :)))

Luckily, we both stopped early, saving room for dessert.  Michele chose katayef, an Arabic banana pancake with orange blossom cream, honey and toasted nuts.  In a word...WOW!

My selection was baklava.  I simply love the combination of layers of filo dough and nuts, drenched in honey.  It's another example of a food common throughout the Mediterranean area and the Middle East.  It was delightful. :)

Though the sweet mint tea is standard here and truly delicious, I opted for coffee to accompany the baklava.  Ashley brought this small pot of French press, allowing me to do the honors.  Bless her heart for erring on the strong side.  I used up nearly every packet of regular sugar, as well as, the non-calorie sweetener, along with two small vials of cream!  By then, it was just right and a great cup of coffee.  We were very impressed that they serve French press here.  Thanks, Kamal!

Michele snapped this photo of a very contented customer.

Amazing just how much we took home!  We know what's for dinner tomorrow night! :)))

The folks who made the evening extra special:  Kamal, along with Samantha (left) and Ashley.  The title of this post says it all.  Our knowledge of Moroccan and Lebanese food prior to this fabulous dinner was sorely lacking.  Now, our eyes (and taste buds) have been exposed to a whole new world of great tastes in a setting as warm as home.  If you're ever lucky enough to visit Hawaii, (or already live here) put Kan Zaman Restaurant on your Must Do list.  You'll be glad you did!  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This And That.

Not a particularly creative title for today, but it fits.  These photos were taken over the course of the last several days and cover everything from RIMPAC to sunsets to aircraft.  Almost forgot:  Kamal came by last Saturday for a look at his father's portrait and was very pleased.  He now has it and I hope to post an image of him with the painting in the near future!  I guess I was surprised he was so happy with it and completely forgot to take photos. :(  We're having dinner at his restaurant, Kan Zaman tomorrow evening and maybe I can talk him into having the portrait there.  Now, if I can remember to take the camera! :)

Navy hospital ship, USNS Mercy, here for RIMPAC exercises, passes a U.S. submarine.  The Mercy was heading southeast and the submarine, west, toward Pearl Harbor.  All photos in this post were taken from the lanai.  Click on any to enlarge.

Here, the submarine has passed by another large naval vessel.  The south shore of O'ahu was on the receiving end of a large ocean swell last week, as you can see by the size of the wave breaking.  The surf was too high for me, so no images of me on a surfboard.  I've no idea what the ship on the left is doing so close to shore, unless the captain wanted to see how many of his crew gets seasick.  We could actually see a tanker, anchored not far from this location, rocking and rolling.

A brace of F-15's, here participating in RIMPAC, just after taking off from Joint Base Pearl Harbor- Hickam.  To eliminate any confusion, this base shares its runways with Honolulu International Airport, located directly adjacent to the military facilities. 

A day or two later, I caught this F-22 Raptor taking off from the reef runway, also known as Runway 8-right.  Notice how steeply the nose is coming up.  Raptor pilots frequently perform the most amazing vertical takeoff and this one is just beginning.

Same aircraft a few seconds later.  Watching this maneuver is always a thrill, as the Raptor climbs out at what appears to be ninety-degrees nose-up, looking more like a missile than an airplane.  I can imagine the pilot has a huge grin on his, or her face.

The islands caught the remnants of tropical storm, "Wali", this week and along with lots of rain in the mountains, it brought us some pretty spectacular sunsets.

Here's that sunset reflected in a nearby office tower.

We often see beautiful clouds in the skies of O'ahu and this one, parked near the airport demanded a photo.

And since we're at the airport...I caught this scene of the mid-afternoon rush hour, featuring an inter-island passenger jet on short final to runway 4-left or 4-right, (from our lanai, it's almost impossible to determine which one) while a 747 begins the takeoff roll on the reef runway and another inter-island plane waits its turn.  From our vantage point about, six miles away, the air traffic looks uncomfortably close in these situations.

Hope you enjoyed the photos and have a great evening!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Kamal's Father

After about a week letting the portrait of Mohammed rest, I've been back at it.  Today, happily, was a good day.  You may recall me bemoaning the reference photo with its harsh, black shadows, washed out values and colors due to the flash and very busy background.

The photo hasn't changed, but my attitude has and that has made all the difference.  Most every instructional book on painting that I've read, stressed the importance of problem solving.  The portrait of Mohammed has provided me with more-than-ample opportunities to prove, once again, just how true that is.

I could've bailed out and simply duplicated the photo and Kamal would've likely been okay, if not actually pleased with the result.  But, no-o-o, that would have been too easy.  Instead, I've been trying to make a good portrait in spite of the inherent problems and solving so many has been a challenge.  In fact, frustration led to the hiatus. 

Yesterday and today, significant progress was made at overcoming the many hurdles and I hope to show the painting to Kamal tomorrow.  I can only hope he will appreciate the effort and truly like the result.  We'll see!

Mohammed, today.  Here's what I've done to solve a few of those problems:  Eliminated the black shadow running from his hat, all the way along and down to the left of his pipe and out of the photo.  This was done to add a sense of space behind him.  I've invented his left shoulder from that black shadow.  Invented light-filled shadows thrown by his beard and pipe.  Added significant color to his face.  Darkened the background on the right to add depth.  The background is actually a beaded curtain mounted at the door.  They're popular throughout the Mediterranean area to keep insects out and let the breeze in.  I've eliminated the shadows and color caused by his glasses reacting to the flash, which Kamal approved at the start.  Click on the image to enlarge. 

I guess that's about it.  Sounds rather easy and simple, I know, but trust me...it gave me fits.  I'm still not certain about it all.  Hopefully, Kamal will make my day and love and approve of how it looks! :)

Have a great tomorrow, everyone!   

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Saturday Travel-Jog.

I hit it early today, (by my standards) in order to get to the 14th annual Korean Festival and be back in time to enjoy the brunch Heidi prepared at our building cafe.  She had blueberry pancakes on the menu and it's been so long since I've eaten them, I didn't want to miss out.

So, I did my sets at a couple of weight machines, did two sets of "planking", put in the ear buds and headed for Magic Island, site of the festival this year.  C'mon along for the jog...

Running my route in reverse, as well as, late morning, I noticed things in a new and different light, so-to-speak.  These two gorgeous flowering trees are located on the state capitol grounds.  Their colors were exceptionally rich with the sun nearly overhead.

This state office building has beautifully-adorned concrete decorative panels, with very tall plumeria trees around the building.  Their perfume is such a wonderful and familiar delight here, it's easy to take them for granted.  Click on any of the photos to enlarge.

This simply shows some of the large monkeypod trees lining Kapiolani Boulevard.  The shade they provide to shoppers and joggers is most welcome.  When I jog late in the day, this part of my route is shaded and cool.  I was pleased to find it was the same way at mid-day!

Magic Island, site of the Korean Festival is also part of Ala Moana Beach Park, an expansive park mostly used by locals.  In the distance, you can see a barge which is carrying its own crane and the tug towing it.  The land to the right is the entrance to Kewalo Basin, a small harbor used by both private and commercial water craft.

I took this photo, still at Ala Moana Beach Park, as I was working my way over to Magic Island.  Those tower cranes are evidence of  more condo towers under construction.

The surf forecast called for a bit of a south shore swell to continue today.  Way off in the distance to the west, you can see the Waianae Range.

Looking down from a walking/jogging path in Ala Moana Beach Park, I saw this young lad negotiating his surfboard over a portion of reef, on his way out to the bigger waves.

Magic Island is to the left and this well-protected lagoon is almost like a gigantic private swimming pool.  Not much of a crowd either.  It's perfect for smaller children and those who prefer calm water.

Finally made it to the Korean Festival and just in time for the opening remarks by dignitaries.  Here, Honolulu Mayor, Mr. Kirk Caldwell just presented an award or plaque to, I believe, a festival organizer.  With the primary election coming up, all the candidates were there.

This juice and beverage stand was really calling my name, but with a couple of miles to run home and those blueberry pancakes on my mind, I resisted.

You may have seen these on the news.  They're the latest thing in ice cream cones.  They're made from corn, hollow and meant to be filled with ice cream!

A local Korean restaurant offered several of its most popular menu items.

A portion of the many canopies offering food, fun and a variety of services to visitors today.

I walked behind a food canopy and was overwhelmed by the aroma of grilling meat and sausages.

The Korean Artists Association offered painting experiences for children today.  Nice!

I know, I know...we should all eat less, as well as, healthier foods, but bacon wrapped hotdogs!  Tough to resist.

Another stand offering the new style ice cream cones.  I'm intrigued.

This place was pretty busy while I was at the festival.

A fine selection of hotdogs you don't find around every corner.

It's kind of fun walking behind the food vendors tents to see what's cooking.  I have no idea what was so furiously boiling here.

We've said farewell to the Korean Festival and are working our way out of Ala Moana Beach Park.  A glorious rainbow shower tree caught me eye.

Couldn't resist taking this photo of a newlywed couple having their photos taken on the beach.  Congratulations!

Got lucky here.  The "Treasure Seeker" pirate ship returning to Kewalo Basin and the Star of Honolulu heading toward Diamond Head.  I'm running on the walkway just off Ala Moana Beach.

The Treasure Seeker was motoring right along, so I had to run pretty hard to be close to Kewalo Basin as she was entering the harbor.  I don't care how small or cheesy this "pirate ship" is, there's just something about it that brings out the little boy in me.  Maybe it's the location, too.  It's not the Caribbean, but the palm trees and sparkling blue waters are close enough.  Aye!

On the east side of Kewalo Basin, I found Rip Curl was sponsoring a surfing tournament today.  I think it was for younger folks.  There were some serious photographers working there, too.  I approached one, who had two cameras mounted on tripods, each sporting a nearly foot-long telephoto lens and said you really know how to make an amateur feel inadequate as I showed him my palm-size Canon!

My woefully inadequate surfing photo.

The line-up, with one rider in action.

One of several parasail boats heads toward a berth at Kewalo Basin.  Time to head for home.

The tropical sun did a pretty good job on me, so when I got close to downtown, I headed for the shade of tall buildings for the remaining mile.  The structure in the distance is Honolulu Hale, or Honolulu City Hall.

I'll wrap this travel-jog up with a photo of my favorite Hawaiian flowering tree, the Plumeria.  I made it home in time for Heidi to rustle-up those blueberry pancakes, along with a banana-strawberry smoothie.  Sadly, I gulped the cold water she brought with them and could hardly finish the food. :(

Hope you had a most excellent day!!