Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On Location: Eating In on Kauai Island

Cooking away from home is a real treat to me. Eating out is a great way to take in the culture and traditions but something about shopping at local markets and preparing a home cooked meal feels like the most truly authentic experience.
Between the ample fresh fish markets and daily farmer's markets, Kauai is an ideal springboard upon which to do some seriously delicious at-home cooking. As we were staying on the North Shore, the markets we frequented were in Hanalei but truly there is great, fresh fish and fruit to be had the island over. 
The avocados are the size of your face and run between $1-2. It truly is paradise!

Among some of our favorite meals...
Ahi Belly tacos. You've heard of pork belly but have you ever heard of ahi belly? We hadn't so of course we had to try it. Again lightly seared on a high heat grill draws the excess fat out of this cut and makes for an incredible fish taco fish. We also ate the seared ahi belly over brown rice which was equally great.
Sushi grade striped marlin, lightly seared. Raw kale salad with peanut chile pepper dressing and corn on the cob, both grown within miles of where we were staying. This meal made our Christmas Eve dinner deliciously non-traditional.
Macadamia nut pancakes with ginger syrup and poached eggs provided the perfect Christmas breakfast.
Rainbow chard frittata was delightful but the strange, unidentified root vegetable we paired it with was less than stellar. Physically, the tuber looked more like a yam but tasted more like a parsnip or turnip. Not our favorite.
I could not speak highly enough about the bananas in Kauai. If Butter Date were to have a sister site in Kauai, it would be named 'Apple Banana' because these bananas were out of this world. Completely unlike anything you'd find on the mainland they are half the size and twice as flavorful with a slight apple crispness to them. Yum!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

On Location: Kayaking Kauai's Hanalei River, New Years Day

One year ago, DH and I awoke at dawn on New Years Day (a first for us both!) and drove ourselves and all our worldly possessions up Interstate 5 to our new home in Oakland.
It was a ceremonious way to start the year and over the year we have fallen in love with our home, our community and the Bay Area as a whole. How could we ever top last year's festive New Year's start?
Our answer was to go for a kayak ride up the Hanalei river. It is more common to kayak the Wialua river up to the Wialua Falls, which both are gorgeous, but the beauty of kayaking Hanalei is that there are no boats allowed along this small river, only kayaks and paddle boards and when you are alone, there is almost no sound at all.
At some points the river is pure glass, creating a mirror-like quality of the surrounding bamboo, taro fields and turtle families surrounding the river.
Near the end of the river is a nice little stretch of beach where kayakers can take a break and enjoy a picnic. It was New Year's after all so in addition to some homemade egg salad on locally baked rye bread, we popped a bottle of bubbly to keep things festive.
It is the most serene, peaceful thing we've done all vacation and was the perfect way to celebrate the new year.
***word to the wise***
Because the rental fees for kayaks are available only in 24 hr. periods and because you will not be towing it to your rental car, DH and I both believe it best to begin your rental mid day, say noon or 1. That gives you more than enough time to kayak the entire river, have a picnic and even kayak out to where the river meets the ocean. If you are the ambitious type, you will then be able to return early the next morning to finish your 24 hr. rental. Of course if you are like us, you will probably opt to get in more beach and bakery time! C'est la vie.