Sunday, June 30, 2013

Nnamdi Today And A Great Lunch.

Today, being Sunday, we (generally) tend to stay home and leave the beach and other great leisure spots to those who aren't on a permanent vacation.  So, I spent the morning working on Nnamdi's portrait and then had a wonderful lunch.  Not to worry...I'll jog it off later this afternoon! 

More work to be done, but here he is today.  It's a 20 x 16-inch, oil on canvas.  Hey!  Time for lunch!!

Macadamia nuts with sea salt--one of Mother Nature's perfect foods--great for lunch, dinner, brunch or breakfast.  But, gee, a guy could get pretty thirsty eating a couple handfuls of these crunch, salty delights.  Hm-m-m...what to drink?

How 'bout one of the most refreshing beers I've ever had the pleasure to drink?!  And it's made with passion fruit, too!!  Are you kidding me?!  It's a healthy and refreshing beverage to wash down my lunch.  This specialty golden ale is brewed by the Kona Brewing Company over on the Big Island and I just found out they have a pub serving food along with their great beer, right here on O'ahu! :)  How lucky can you get?!  To learn more...visit their website:  Kona Brewing Company

I'll end this post with a photo of a frosty mug of wonderful ale.  I'm serious when I say, it really does taste like a tropical island-brewed beer should.  I sure hope you all had a good day and I wish you all good beer and everything else in the week ahead.  Cheers!


Friday, June 28, 2013

All Things Pineapple and Lychee.

Last night, the pineapple was ceremonially prepared for consumption as slices, chunks, juice and tiny umbrella drink garnishes.  We also found a package of Hawaii-grown Lychees--our very first time to try them.
Here we go!  I wish Google Blogger had "smell-o-blog", so you could enjoy the perfume of this ripe pineapple.

Say goodbye to the tough skin.  In addition to seeing me performing the duties of sous chef, notice the view of Chinatown through the kitchen windows (click on the photo for a close-up).  It's a great idea and it does wonders for making the small kitchen seem larger, but there is a catch...the window back-splash!  If we use the back burners of the stove, that window will be a real challenge to clean if anything splatters on it.  It shouldn't be too much of a problem though, since lots of take-out restaurants are located nearby! :)

Michele took over after she decided I was taking too much pineapple away with the skin.  My pineapple filleting skills need improvement.  I'm looking forward to more practice!  Here, she's  removing a few "eyes" remaining after peeling.

The fillet has been halved and then quartered and Michele is seen here removing the core from the sections.

Ta-Da-a!  Mission accomplished!  You know what comes next.

Pina Coladas!  Well...sort of.  I didn't feel like following the recipe, which calls for ice to be added to the mix and the rum and exercised in a blender.  Of course, that resulted in a overly-thick, way-too-sweet, not particularly appealing version of this famous cocktail.  It didn't bother me too much, 'cause anything with rum and fresh pineapple on the rim of the glass can't be all bad...right?  Wrong!  Michele will never have another one as long as she lives and I blame myself for making such poor bar-tending choices on this occasion.  I should explain why Mai Tais weren't on the menu...While we were buying some wine, I noticed a grocery cart filled with cocktail mixes on sale at ridiculously low prices.  Manhattan, Old-Fashioned and Pina Colada--for ony $1.98 each!!  Amazing!  There didn't appear to be anything wrong with the bottles--and you know which one I chose.  So, it was to be Pina Coladas with fresh pineapple garnish.  Oh well...we have more pineapple in the refrigerator!

Dinner was ham, baked with brown sugar and pineapple and coleslaw with pineapple chunks.  It was wonderful, though Michele was unable to enjoy it as much as she would have if it weren't for the drink.  She's much better today, but I'm fairly certain no alcohol with, or without pineapple as a garnish will be on her agenda.

On a lighter note, how 'bout those Lychees!

Here they are.  This is a "first" for both of us.  Despite visiting the Far East many times, we never have eaten Lychee fruit.  I'm glad Michele picked up a bag yesterday and I'm also thankful for Google and the Internet so we knew what to do with them! :)

So this is a lychee...

They peel quite easily.  Seeing them like this, my hope was they wouldn't taste anything like the pearl onions they look like! 

Thought you might want to see what the seed looks like.  They were really nice.  Not too sweet, easy to eat and the seeds don't really pose a problem.  I'm going to need to eat a few more before being able to describe the mild flavor of this fruit.  Pleasing, but like nothing I've ever eaten.  I'll report back when there's an answer.  Have a nice weekend everybody!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Few More Hawaiian Delights.

Here are a few more Hawaiian delights, some from the Dole Plantation and some purchased today.    Our plan for today was a visit to Pearl Harbor and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial.  Sadly, tour companies scarf-up nearly all the tickets and those islanders and visitors with a flair the spontaneous are left out.  If you feel like showing up at the ticket office at the crack of dawn (at least some time before it opens) you may get lucky and snag one of the daily-issue tickets, but be aware--there aren't many of those to be had.

I did discover it's possible to book a reservation on-line.  If you can believe it, the earliest we could find an available opening was August 20th!  So, Tuesday, August 20th, at 10:45 AM, we have two reserved tickets to visit the memorial.  We love spontaneity! 

Since we are aware of the low odds of actually getting a ticket, we gave it a shot anyway, but at a comfortable 10:30 AM.  As expected, we couldn't even find a space in the one of several parking lots.  So, we followed our back-up plan and drove on to the Pearl Harbor Commissary and Exchange to get groceries and a few other things.  The "few other things" must have jumped into the basket when I wasn't looking. :)  Okay, you gourmets out there, have a look.
Notice the depth...of flavor?  I've got to find out if they really run a pipe that deep or get the water in some other magical Island way.  This salt was purchased at the Dole Plantation the other day.

Here's the story.  I am able to report that the crystals are very "salty".  One goes a long way, even for someone with a "salt tooth", like me.

Man!  That's deep.  Other types of Hawaiian salt were available, but this was the one for us.  Had enough salt?  Okay, let's move on 'bout something sweet?

This is one of those items which jumped in the basket today.  We felt so badly about coming home from the Dole Plantation without an actual pineapple, this was wonderfully compensating.  It came from Dole and I can hardly wait till later today when we'll cut into this aromatic beauty.  Walking by the kitchen is about as close to heaven as I'll get today!  That is, unless some distracted motorist takes me out during my jog!:(

A close-up.  How does Mother Nature come up with such wonderful things.  Can you imagine the first person to bring one of these home?!  To eat?!  They seem more like an early form of hand grenade than edible fruit. 

Another "jumper" today.  I'm sure we would have gotten some of this had we seen it in the Plantation gift shop, but we didn't.  No hesitation about this today.  Passion fruit, or Lilikoi, Butter.  I love the name of the company almost as much as the product. 

A beautifully simple ingredient list.  Reminds me of the makings of Lemon curd.  Tasted a bit like it, too.

Here it is...slather a piece of toast with it and enjoy! :)  It's great!

The final product we found today, was a much larger jar of Lilikoi jelly.  Upon our return home, the call went out for bread, toasted or otherwise, like this.  Let the taste test commence.  Since it's often said we eat first with our eyes...are you full yet?  Blood sugar spiking?  Mine is!

So, that exhausts our tour of goodies from the North Shore, Dole Plantation and the Navy Commissary.  I'd write more, but it's time to get started working off all the calories consumed in the name of journalistic honesty.  I honestly hope each of you had a spectacular day, too.

PS  As promised, here's our report on the Waialua Coffee, purchased at the Dole Plantation Sunday:  This morning with breakfast, we each had a cup.  We make our coffee fairly strong and today was not an exception.  We judged the beans to be a medium roast.
The flavor was smooth and quite delicious.  Being journalistically pure, I cannot honestly report we savored, or in any other way, tasted the likely present, subtle flavors, but, despite this challenged palate problem, we thoroughly enjoyed our first experience with Waialua Coffee.  Sadly, though we most heartily recommend it, affordability issues will preclude it being served in our home on a daily basis.      

Monday, June 24, 2013

Another Day Trip.

Sunday, we decided to have a look at one of the many iconic attractions here on O'ahu;  The Dole Plantation.  It's located in the central part of the island, not far from Wahiawa.  Traffic was light and we were entering the grounds by noon, Hawaiian Standard Time.  Daylight Savings Time is not used here (just in case you didn't know).

There is plenty to read about James Drummond Dole and his pineapple empire at their website:

The history of this remarkable fruit is interesting, amazing and fascinating.  Here now, are some images from our visit...
Welcome to Dole Plantation.  It's been here since July 28, 1900.

Here they are, ready for visitors to purchase and be shipped home or to friends around the world.  They will even cut-up a fresh one to take back to Honolulu if you don't want to do the work yourself.

This popular feature of the Plantation is said to be the largest maze in the world.  We decided to skip this today.

Here is an aerial view of the gigantic maze.  More about this can be found on the Plantation website.

All about the pineapple.  Click to enlarge and learn more.

We opted for the Garden Tour.  They also feature a small-scale train tour, especially popular with children.  We skipped that, too.  I don't know what we did with our spirit of adventure today, but it wasn't here. :)

One of the first things you see walking through the garden is this Mindanao Gum tree, also known as a "Rainbow Eucalyptus".  Amazing colors!

Early photo of one of the thousands of workers who came to the islands for jobs. 

This is the reason Hawaii boasts such a unique blend of the world's cultures.  Click on the photo to enlarge for easier reading.

My favorite...a papaya tree, with fruit!  What tropical garden would be complete with one?! :)

The garden featured this lily pond which also had a small lava rock waterfall.  If any of you have the Monet spirit, feel free to use this photo as a reference for a painting.

A couple of years ago, during a vacation, we saw these mini, decorative pineapple plants at the Foster Botanical Garden.  The pineapples are about half the size of what most of us know as a "normal" pineapple.

These Heliconia flowers are really impressive.

Bromeliads of various types and colors, with Michele on the path.

Now we're talking!  Too bad these bananas were a little too high up for me to pick a "souvenir".

Blossoms on a pink Plumeria tree.  Their perfume is intoxicating.

Ti leaves, used for many things throughout Polynesian cultures, are also important in many Hawaiian religious ceremonies, worn around the neck only by High Priests (Kahuna) or Chiefs (Ali'i).  The roots of the mature plant could by eaten and were also used as medicine.  Several Pacific cultures use the leaves as skirts, other clothing, as well as, for wrapping food and thatching for roofs.

This beautiful flower was growing in a maze of roots.  It appears to be part of a bromeliad plant.

Okay...something for the engineers out there.  This is a pineapple harvesting machine and you can read all about it below.  Remember--click on any image to enlarge!

Click to enlarge.  This will end our Garden Tour.  Next, on to the main attraction: The restaurant and gift shop!  At long last...SHOPPING!

 After all that walking, it was time for something cool and refreshing.  Michele had a pineapple soft-serve ice cream cone, while I chose something I had my eye on from the start...

Pineapple soft-serve ice cream on a bed of the most heavenly sweet, fresh pineapple chunks.  Wow!

With our blood sugar level fully restored, it was time to enter the gift shop.  The possibilities seemed endless, with all things pineapple beautifully-displayed, calling our names.  We decided to only purchase those items made in Hawaii.  That decision put quite a dent in the list of those possibilities.  This jar of pineapple preserves, as you can see on the label, met the standard and we can now report how delicious it is.  I consumed nearly half the jar after returning home and lathering-up a piece of toast with butter and this fabulous jam.  An example of a "non-purchase" can be found below:  

This wonderful example of "Hawaiiana" seemed perfect to dress-up the dinner table.  When I turned it over, it said, "Designed in Hawaii, painted in China".  We're all for a global economy and frequently purchase all sorts of things made in China.  Today, however, was different, so we did not get this great platter.

We couldn't resist this local product.  Most of the world knows about Kona coffee, grown on the big island of Hawaii, but who knew coffee trees had been planted here on O'ahu?  Not us!  We're looking forward to our first cup and I'll try to remember to report back on how it tastes.

This was a "must" purchase, too.  One hundred percent Maui coffee.  What's not to like?

This was an easy decision.  One hundred percent Hawaiian honey.  It's a flavor explosion in your mouth.  It was too sweet to consume a lot at one time, but it's a wonderful product and we look forward to enjoying it over the next month or three.  Here's the info on it:

Read all about it.  Click to enlarge.  It's really good stuff!

This is really a very tiny jar, but packs a huge flavor profile.  Notice the "Made in Hawaii" on the label.  It was difficult to limit ourselves to only a "taste".  Fabulous jam.

Of the three jams and jellies we purchased today, this Passion fruit, also known as Lilikoi, narrowly came out on-top of our taste tests.  A jar of this will reside in our refrigerator from this time forward.  The unique taste is superb, interesting, unique (didn't I already say that?) and different.  Try it!

Finally, almost, we purchased  Dark and Milk chocolate bars, made here on O'ahu, by the folks at Malie Kai Chocolates.  Again, who knew cacao trees were grown here?  Now, we do!  Read all about this delicious chocolate below.  I probably don't have to tell you this was gone early last evening.  Michele only ate about half of her bar, though I haven't a clue how she stopped.

Click to read The story of Malie Kai Dark Chocolate.  I wish I was able to confirm tasting the various flavor notes listed on the label, however, the frenzy with which I consumed the bar didn't leave much time for actually tasting it!  Despite the speed of consumption, I can report that it's wonderfully silky and perfectly not-too-sweet, yet sweet enough for me.

We did purchase a couple of other Hawaii-made treats, but you've seen the best of the best, in our always humble opinion.  The one item I didn't buy and now wish I had, was a baseball, covered with colorful Dole Pineapple stuff.  A dear friend, Mr. Bruce White, of Portland, Oregon, is a huge Los Angeles Dodgers fan and I know he would've gotten a huge kick out of it.  If we ever return, I'll get him one, no matter where it's made!

So, that's it for yesterday.  Another check off the tourist's list of "Things we gotta see in Hawaii".  I hope you all had a good day today.