Sunday, July 28, 2013

Dragon Boat Festival And Team Opala Express.

It must be summer!  Every weekend there seems to be another festival--or two.  This weekend, it's the Dragon Boat Festival AND a Beer Festival!  Despite my legs and feet still feeling a little worn out from the chocolate quest, I saddled-up and headed for Ala Moana Beach Park and the Dragon Boat races.  And, as luck would have it, the Beer Festival was set-up just across Ala Moana Boulevard from the beach park.  Is life sweet, or what!  Click on the photos to enlarge.

Say Aloha to the Opala Express Dragon Boat Team.  I'd taken all the photos I wanted and was ready to head for home when I saw this group hanging out, waiting for their turn to race.  I quietly asked if I could get a photo.  To my complete amazement, a leader of the team gathered the group together for this photo.  I told them about being from Portland and watching the Dragon Boat races that were an event of the annual Rose Festival.  One team member piped-up that he'd be happy to go for a year if I would pick-up the expenses.  Everyone laughed at that.  I then mentioned that we'd moved here just four months ago and how wonderful each day is, filled with new experiences and interesting people.  Their deep feelings for their island home became evident as several of the team members added what makes this place special to them.  One said, "It's the people!"  I was overwhelmed by their obvious pride and love for Hawaii.  After thanking the group, as I turned to go, a team member closest to me said, "Aloha".

At the time I heard it, I uttered "Thanks" and walked on.  I didn't even turn my head to see who had offered this important and truly beautiful Hawaiian expression of many meanings.  A few minutes later, I realized what had happened.  It was the very first time since moving here, that the full significance and power of this beautiful word struck home.  Years ago, I'd learned about the true Hawaiian meaning of the word, but to finally feel it, offered from a young person who didn't even know me five minutes before.  Well...It hit me like the proverbial bolt out of the blue.  I was deeply touched by this simple, yet profoundly honest and sincere welcome and I'll never forget it.  I doubt this young person, or the team, will ever realize the impact they had on this somewhat cynical old timer.  As I retell the story now, the computer screen is a little hard to see and I'm not ashamed to tell you why, though I believe you all probably know.  I hope they won their race!

After taking photos of the Dragon Boat races and the crowd, I crossed the street and inquired about the Beer event.  It's a fund-raiser for the Blue Planet Foundation and for $60.00 you receive entry to the event, a bunch of tokens for beer tasting, all the beer-centric food you want and live music.  Over fifty craft beers from Hawaii, the mainland U.S. and international breweries will be available for tasting.  Free parking, too!  Here's the odd thing:  The event only runs from 2:00 PM to 6:30 PM.  That's not very long for a festival, is it?  Maybe the goal is zero impaired driving incidents and that would be a good thing.    

Time to get the show going.  On the way, I cruised through the Kewalo Basin because you never know what you'll see there.  Luck was with me and here are the photos to prove it. 

Luxury charter yacht, Pangaea, out of Montego Bay, Jamaica, berthed at Kewalo Basin.  It's 184-feet long (56-meters) and carries its own 36-foot sport fishing boat, housed on the forward deck!

Wow.  I asked a busy crewman about this vessel and he said it's a "fishing boat".  I laughed a little, remarking that those fish must be very expensive, then he smiled.  Apparently, this was available for charter, but currently is not.  Darn!  I was thinking about a weekend rental. :)  Google the name to find out more about this vessel.  Click on the photo and you can see a crewman hard at work, cleaning the yacht.

After looking at Pangaea, I found the Sashimi, with the owner busy filleting a very fresh mahi-mahi.

I swear that fish was looking at the camera, but for sure, not smiling.  For those of you who missed the Honolulu Fish Auction post, mahi-mahi is also known as dolphinfish.

Half-way to mahi-mahi fillets for dinner.  I really hoped he'd offer me a taste, but sometimes things don't work out.  He was pleased that his boat would be featured on this blog.

Almost at the Dragon Boat races, I turned to get this photo of the long walkway just off the beach.  Underneath those shade trees, all along the shore, were lots of canvas canopies with families enjoying their Saturday, grilling all kinds of foods, playing music and games and just relaxing.  It was pure Hawaii.

Turning to the east, several teams were getting ready for their heat.  Diamond Head and the hotels of Waikiki make a nice backdrop.

Ready to go!

Heading out for the starting line.


They're neck-and-neck!

What they're racing for:  Trophies, as well as, bragging rights.

Beer Festival?  I gotta check this out.  Living in "Beervana", aka, Portland, Oregon, for ten years, how could I miss this!

This is as close as I got.  They didn't open until 2:30 PM and I was too early, didn't have enough money or any ID.  Probably just as well.  I needed water more than beer.  The event is a fund-raiser for Blue Planet Foundation and they're all about greening-up Hawaii, so I hope they did well without me.

This bird, and a few of his buddies, were hanging out near a man doing some recreational fishing in the shallow west arm of the Ala Wai Canal, which runs parallel to Ala Moana Boulevard.  The fisherman, just as I jogged by, tossed a small fish on the ground and this bird was the winner of the ensuing food fight.

Here he is, intently watching his line for another bite.  The birds are just out of the frame, jockeying for position in case another fish comes their way.

Another "first" for me today.  I'd run by here, but never noticed it before.  I'm still in Ala Moana Beach Park.  Lawn Bowling?  I guess not everyone in Hawaii surfs.

There is a wall, about four feet high, surrounding the green, which may explain why I never noticed it before today.  Folks really do this, as you can clearly see from the players and equipment.

As you can see in this photo, the green is quite large.  Now, if I can just find a polo field...

It was another great day here on O'ahu and I'll sleep very well tonight.  Hope you all have a good Sunday.  The championship Dragon Boat Races are being held today (Sunday) and I hope the Opala Express brings home a trophy!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Chocolate Quest--Part III

In this final installment of my search for some of the finest chocolatiers in Honolulu, we'll pay a visit to the Honolulu Chocolate Company.  The jog from Padovani's just about did me in, but since this would be the last visit for today, I figured it was finally time to enjoy a sample (or two) and buy some items to bring home.  Carrying chocolates would enable me to stroll the final couple of miles home, guilt-free!

This shop is located in the Ward Centers, a group of shopping and dining "neighborhoods" not far from Waikiki.  Let's have a look...

The final stop today...The Honolulu Chocolate Company  They have another shop in the Sheraton Waikiki.

Say Aloha to Angela.  She was very kind, tolerating my sweatiness and questions, all with a most pleasant demeanor and a winning smile.

A fraction of the beautiful chocolates filling the display cases.  Click on the photos to enlarge.

Some of the chocolate "bark" available. 

Angela told me about the company while I gawked at the display cases, filled with the most gorgeous truffles and all manner of delicious looking examples of the confectioner's art.  I asked her which was her current favorite and she pointed at the Dulce de Leche truffles, consisting of a milk chocolate shell, filled with caramel and a hint of vanilla sea salt.  She had me at caramel!  Immediately after biting into this glorious creation, I asked if she would take a photo.  She captured the look of delight as I consumed the sweet, gooey confection.

This is it!  You can't imagine how ready I was to taste this.

Angela captured the moment of sweet ecstasy.

Italian marzipan!  Molto Speciale e Molto Buono!

While Angela assisted a customer, I wandered about, taking pictures and finding many other amazing ways chocolate is turned into edible art.  How 'bout a Christmas wreath of chocolate-covered strawberries! 

One of the most curious finds was this tin of sardines, with the lid rolled back to reveal the top row of tiny fish.  Of course, inside the silver-colored wrapping is milk chocolate.  I thought this "tin of sardines" would be fun to bring home to Michele, a sardine lover, telling her I'd made a special stop in Chinatown along the way.

I expressed my gratitude to Angela for being such a good sport today, took my purchases and departed.  Just across the mall, a coffee shop beckoned, but instead of caffeine, I opted for a papaya smoothie.  I was desperately needing hydration and what could be better than liquified papaya?  The drink really was good and it was nice to enjoy it sitting down outside.  I walked the two miles home.

Friday morning, it was time to get photos of my purchases from the day before and here's the bacon truffle.  Yes, there is bacon within the dark chocolate shell.

  Those amazing "sardines".  This product is made in France.

The two Dulce de Leche truffles.

Milk chocolate with Macadamia nut bark.

What more needs to be said about this, one of my all-time favorites?  The shop had several sizes and it was all I could do to buy anything smaller than huge.  I really, really love this.

I wanted you to see how beautifully-coated each kernel of popcorn and each macadamia nut is.  The caramel is luxurious.  The container is now empty.

That's it for now.  I'm sure there will be future stops on the quest to discover the Finest Chocolate in Honolulu, but my sweet tooth is, at present, well-satisfied.  I wish to thank the shop owners and sales staff who were so kind to me during my visits.  It was indeed, a pleasure to explore the sweeter side of Honolulu!  Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Chocolate--Part II.

After a delightful eight-plus hours in bed, it is definitely time to present the second part of the quest to find Honolulu's finest chocolate shops.  Here we go!

After departing Menehune Mac, I backtracked about a mile till arriving at the old Dole Pineapple Cannery, now a multipurpose collection of businesses.  Take a look at their website to see the full list of tenants:  Dole Cannery.  The tenant I was searching for was Padovani's Chocolates, located on the second floor, suite-280.

Click to enlarge this image to get a better look at what they offer in addition to the finest chocolate creations.

The brothers Padovani--Philippe, left and Pierre, on the right.  Philippe was born in Marseilles, France and after the family emigrated to Australia, Pierre was born.  For those of you who want to learn much more about their company, their most impressive culinary qualifications and experience, not only in Hawaii, but around the world, as well as, a long list of their achievements and awards, visit their website:

Ah-h, this is why I came here.  Beautiful, hand-crafted chocolates, made from the very finest chocolate produced by Valrhona.  Valrhona was created in 1922 in the Rhone Valley of France, by a pastry chef for pastry chefs.  Like to read more about Valrhona?  Here's a link .

This photo doesn't do justice to the opalescent beauty of these chocolates.  Pierre told me about how they are "painted", though I must admit, my hearing wasn't too great in their shop.  You'll just have to visit Padovani's (It's just across the Costco parking lot to the Dole Cannery) and find out for yourselves--and trust me on this--It is a Very Good Thing to do! :)

The brothers make special chocolates for certain holidays, too.  You would think these were made for St. Patrick's Day, but they're more to celebrate the forty shades of green to be found in the Emerald Isle...and Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey!

Just in case you need any additional reasons to visit Padovani's, maybe this will help!

And finally, here's a display found just inside the shop, beneath a clear dome.  The boys really know how to draw you in and I must admit it was killing me knowing I couldn't eat a single bite--I still had several more miles ahead of me this day.  They also make wonderful coffee--also from the islands--to go along with the sweets.  So, if you feel like tasting some fabulous chocolate and a taste of France with a Hawaiian accent?...This is the place!  Bon appetit!

So, I've made a publisher's decision to stop for today.  Each of these wonderful companies deserve  their own special day on this blog.  Tomorrow, I'll feature my visit to the Honolulu Chocolate Company.  If you need a "tease" to visit was there that I finally bought some goodies.  This morning I made a point of photographing those treats, (before they were consumed!) so you'll see what I thought was special enough to bring home.  See you then and have a great weekend! 

There Be Chocolate Here!

Blogging Buddy, Rhonda Carpenter, just had to jump on the Jeanette Jobson bandwagon and send me on a quest.  In this case, the assignment consisted of finding some excellent chocolate shops here in Honolulu.  It's a tough job, to be sure, but...well, you know the rest.

Today was the day and after a quick Google search, I found three promising establishments, all of which could be reached on foot.  I mapped out my route, suited-up, fired-up the MP-3 player and headed out.  I was successful in visiting all three shops, but the 7.6-miles pretty-well did me in.  Since it's already ten-thirty, I'll feature Menehune Mac, (my first stop) tonight and post the other two tomorrow.  I fell asleep in my chair earlier tonight and was awakened by the pain of a mighty cramp in my calf.  Guess I should've found some water along the route.  But, as they say here in the islands, "No worries!"  It was well-worth the effort.   

First stop:  Menehune Mac  Strange name for a chocolate and confection business.  The company logo features a small Hawaiian character and thanks to Wikipedia, I can let you in on the story.  The "Menehune", according to Hawaiian mythology were a group of people living here before the first Polynesian settlers arrived.  Small in stature, they lived in the mountains and hidden valleys and were skilled hunters and craftsmen.  They are associated with legends telling about their building skills and activities.  Lesson complete.  On to their chocolate!

Their location at 707 Waiakamilo Road, features a showroom, chocolate factory and bakery.  They do it all here, including producing a line of sugar-free chocolates.  They've been in business for 39-years and that says a lot about this great place.

Say a big Aloha to the charming Susan Morita, Executive Chocolate Taster and all-around lovely lady.  She tolerated my sweaty presence in her shop, offered me all the samples I could eat and when I politely explained why I couldn't, she "forced" me to have just one heavenly dark chocolate-covered Macadamia nut. :)  By the twinkle in her eyes, she just may be a real, live Menehune!

A wall of windows in the shop offers a look into the space where the chocolates are created.  They do their own baking in a separate room.

I was really surprised to learn that Lucy and Ethel Mertz worked here, a long time ago!  This poster was hanging in the showroom and I couldn't resist getting a photo.

Their best seller, dark chocolate-covered Macadamia nuts.  I can report it is well-worth it!
They sell a wide variety of island jams, jellies and other tasty items, including this wonderful shortbread and of course, many more kinds of delightful chocolates.  We'll be back to visit when I can do some proper shopping.

On the way to my second stop, I noticed this sign.  Thanks to Wikipedia, I've learned more than I need to know about this island beverage made from the roots of the Kava plant.  The traditional drink produces sedative and anesthetic affects.  I wonder which of my blogging pals will suggest tasting this for my next quest!

And finally for tonight, another business on my route today.  Tamashiro Market sells fresh seafood and the gigantic crab and pink building certainly grabbed my attention. 
Stop by tomorrow, when I've recuperated, and you'll be "treated" to stops at Padovani's Chocolates and Honolulu Chocolate Company.