Archive for January, 2010

Post Maui Depression

January 24, 2010

How can you go from paradise back to work and a rainy San Fran?

By drowning your sorrows in some fried chicken and waffles at Little Skillet. Yum.

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Mahalo Maui

January 24, 2010

Friday, 1/22/10 – Friday brought the end to our great trip and it was sad to say goodbye to the Ritz.

We returned the rental car and flew from Maui to Oahu, squeezing one more meal and alcoholic beverage in at the airport’s Kona Brewing Company.

Maui Day 6

January 24, 2010

Thursday, 1/21/10

Sadly, it was our last full day on the island, so we walked the Kapalua Coastal Trail once more, this time making our way to the end and arriving at Kapalua Bay beach.

Afterwards we grabbed some breakfast at the charming Honolua Store. We then headed back to the pool and eventually made our way down to D.T. Fleming Beach where we had a couple snacks (Kalua Pork Lumpia in Ginger Plum Sauce and Chicken Lemongrass Skewers) at the The Beach House.

We laid out by the pool some more and then it was off to Oneloa Beach.

We also paid some respect to Conan.

That night we had our best meal of the week at Plantation House Restaurant, set on the beautiful Plantation Golf Course.

To start, my wife had the Panko-crusted Goat Cheese Salad (organic Kula greens, Kapalua Farms tomatoes, Greek olives & passion fruit vinaigrette) while I had the seared ahi tuna (and could not stop raving about this appetizer for the rest of the night). The entrees were well executed too: my wife had the snapper prepared “Taste of Venice” style (panko-pressed, on shrimp, asparagus, sugar peas & orzo, finished with golden raisins & toasted pine nuts) while I had the fish special that was prepared with crab and avocado. Dessert was awesome too – key lime pie. Probably the best key lime pie I’ve ever had – the texture was smooth and creamy, and overall it was really flavorful. I’d highly recommend this place to anyone headed to West Maui for the stunning setting, attentive service and well prepared, fresh and tasty food.

Maui Day 5

January 24, 2010

Wednesday, 1/20/10 – Wednesday was my wife’s birthday. We started out the day walking the Kapalua Coastal Trail.

Afterwards, we laid out by the pool until it was time for our scheduled massages at the Waihua Spa.

It was definitely the nicest spa I’ve been to (from the pre and post-relaxation amenities such as the heated whirlpools (in a Hawaiian grotto environment), the eucalyptus infused steam rooms, cedar saunas, indoor relaxation room (and outdoor relaxation lounge and whirlpool).

While in the locker room, one of the attendants asked if I had met Mr. Torre. I said “no”. After that, I ran into him in the locker room, restroom, steam room, and even at the cashier. I didn’t say a thing though since we were both there to relax and pretty sure he didn’t want some stranger talking him up. As for the massages, they were great. It was relaxing and we could hear the wind blowing through the palm trees through the open windows.

In the evening, we drove down to Lahaina to attend a luau and celebrate my wife’s birthday at the Feast at Lele. Unlike traditional luaus, this one was a sit-down dinner serving courses from different nations (Tahiti, Somoa, Hawaii and New Zealand). The food was okay (not great) but the show was entertaining, the atmosphere fun, and the setting attractive.

We were the first ones seated and immediately were given leis and mai tais.

Here’s the menu:

1st course – Hawaii

Mango sauce poi, kalua pork, fresh island fish with pohole ferns and heart of palms salad

2nd course – New Zealand

Sea bean duck salad with poha berry dressing, kukupatties-Maori fishcake with mussels, salmon and scallops, harore kumara, roasted mushrooms, orange sweet potato, onions and garlic.

3rd course – Tahiti

Steamed chicken and taro leaf in coconut milk, marinated fish and scallop on the shell

4th course – Samoa

Supa-sui, a grilled steak dish with baked breadfruit and a shrimp and avocado accompaniment

Dessert

Caramel macadamia nut tart, papaya coconut haupia pudding, fresh tropical fruits, vintage chocolate truffle

The best part of the show was the Samoan fire knife dance which they save for the very end.

They claim unlimited drinks but to be honest, the mixed drinks are tasty but didn’t have much alcohol so eventually I switched to the local Big Swell IPA from Maui Brewing Company.

We probably wouldn’t do a luau again if we went back to Hawaii but since it was our 1st time here and we had reason to celebrate (a birthday), it was a fun experience.

Maui – Day 4 – The Road to Hana

January 24, 2010

Tuesday, 1/19/10 – On Tuesday we broke our routine of sleeping in and got up early due to the pick-up time for our scheduled tour. Our tour guide was prompt as we were his first stop. Along the way, we picked up a few others en route to our 1st destination – breakfast. It was a random little place and to be honest, breakfast was a bit underwhelming (juice, coffee, bagels, muffins) considering the cost of the tour. However, we were excited about the promise of the day and after picking up the rest of our fellow tourists, set about to travel the road to Hana.

Our tour guide was entertaining – informative, humorous, loquacious, and would end almost every sentence in a hard to describe cadence frequented with phrases like “that’s for sure”, “oh my”, and “oh yeah.” He had the rest of us introduce ourselves and it was a fairly geographically diverse crew (us, another couple from California, some friends from Switzerland, a couple from D.C., a couple from Canada, honeymooners from New York and a family from Australia).

In retrospect, I’m definitely glad that I did not drive Hana’s “617 curves and 56 one-lane bridges”. It might have been more adventurous for sure, but I would not have been as relaxed (some of the those turns were sharp, steep and/or scary) and definitely would not have been able to focus solely on the sights.  And what sights we did see. Since the tour took all day, it would take me equally as long to detail everything we saw, so below are some of the highlights:

The Rainbow Eucalyptus Trees

Lush rainforests, vegetation, fruit, etc. (mango trees and more)

The Ke’anae Peninsula

Waterfalls

The black sand beaches of Wai’anapanapa State Park

The ranches of Hana

The beauty of Hamoa Beach (where we had lunch and laid out in the sun/dove in the water)

Pointsettas growing in someone’s yard

The fact that for a stretch of the trip we were driving ridiculously close to the edge of the road (next to a cliff, with no guard rails)

The desert like topography around Kaupo Road

Ulupalakua winery

Besides all of the above, we learned lots of other things along the way (some history of the pineapple and sugar cane plantations, the Hawaiian emphasis on family, etc.). It was an awesome tour.

Weary from the sights of the day, we showered back at the hotel and grabbed a bite to eat and had some drinks at the Alaloa Lounge.

Maui – Days 1, 2 & 3

January 23, 2010

Last week we were in Maui. It was a great trip and timely getaway from a rain soaked Northern (and to a greater degree, Southern) California. Here’s a rundown of the events:

Saturday, 1/16/10 – SFO to LAX. Then LAX to Maui. Who’s sitting in 1st class? Yes, ex-Doobie Brother, Michael McDonald. Our flights are on time and we get to the rental car place. We pick up our car and head down to the hotel – The Ritz Carlton in Kapalua. It’s an easy drive down highway 30 to Kapalua. We get there no problem and are greeted with a couple leis. Weary from our travels but excited about the spectacular weather and surroundings, we set about checking out the resort grounds.

Eventually our hunger pangs kicked in and we settled in at the Pool Bar & Cafe and order a couple pina coladas along with some rock shrimp and veggie quesadillas. Later in the evening, we decided to buy some breakfast/lunch items for the week at a nearby Safeway and also checked out the adjacent Lahaina Cannery Mall.

Sunday, 1/17/10 – It’s pool time at the Ritz. We decided to ease into vacation by spending lots of our 1st full day at the pool. The temps were good (low 80’s) and the sun was out.

In between catching some rays, I grabbed a drink at the bar to watch the Jets/Chargers game at the pool bar.

In the evening, we drove to nearby Pineapple Grill. It had lots of promise: some good reviews, a nice setting (see pics below) and everything on the menu sounded good.

We started out with the lobster thai bisque and crab cakes, respectively. We both had fish for our entrees (my wife had the Lehi while I had the Monchong). Both the appetizers and entrees were okay but failed to live up to their promise and tasted pretty average. Combine that with a waiter who initially paid lots of attention to us (and then sort of disappeared as the night went on) and it was a fairly disappointing dining experience. Besides its great location on the Kapalua Bay Golf Course, the only other redeeming factor was dessert – pineapple upside down cake (Hana Bay dark rum-caramel sauce, Maui’s own Roselani macadamia nut ice cream, toasted coconut). It was the best thing we had that night!

Monday, 1/18/10 – In the morning, we headed out to explore the Kapalua Coastal Trail. We walked past many beautiful homes (time shares? condos? not sure) but even more beautiful were the surroundings: colorful flowers, lush greenery, monarch butterflies, views of the ocean, cliffs, and even rainbows! My natural reaction to it all was that it was pretty much how I would imagine paradise to look like. Yes, a strong statement but I had never seen such natural beauty before.

Afterwards, we drove around the island, checking out other beaches. Eventually, we made our way down to Front St. in Lahaina, a popular touristy main drag with shops, restaurants, etc. We ended up at Ululani’s for some shave ice and it was tasty.

I picked up a t-shirt at Honolua Surf Co. and after strolling down Front. St, we went back to the Ritz and spent some time at DT Fleming Beach. In the evening, we stayed at our resort and had dinner at Kai Sushi. It was a nice meal – we had miso soup and braised short rib potstickers as appetizers; California, tuna, (and another whose name is escaping me) rolls, and toro sushi. We finished up with carmelized banana creme brulee.

After dinner, we grabbed a drink at the Alaloa Lounge, where my wife opted for the Grapefruit Caipiroska while I had local Maui Brewery’s Bikini Blonde Lager. We also noticed ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit hanging out with his wife and 4 kids around the lounge/hotel lobby (and proceeded to see them around the resort every day thereafter). Seemed like a nice family.

Santa Cruz

January 10, 2010

Yesterday we visited some friends in Santa Cruz. We had a nice drive down Highway 1 and made our way to our friend’s house for lunch. Afterwards, we took a stroll, watching the surfers do their thing and eventually made our way to a dog beach.

Fort Funston

January 3, 2010

Today we went to Fort Funston, an area within Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Here are some pics:

Exploring SF

January 2, 2010

Today we had some dim sum at Yank Sing and really enjoyed it. The food was tasty and service attentive. Our favorite was their signature Shanghai Dumpling (Minced Kurobuta Pork, scallion and ginger wrapped and steamed in its own aromatic broth). Although some may not consider it a truly authentic experience (it isn’t located in Chinatown and prices are a little on the high end), many have recognized them, including the James Beard Foundation.

Afterwards, we headed to North Beach and walked around, finally settling on Caffe Greco where we had a cappuccino and cannoli.

Next, we made our way through busy Stockton St., taking in the sights of Chinatown.

Finally, we did a little shopping around Market St. before heading home.

Scenes from San Fran

January 1, 2010

Union Square – the day after Christmas….