Banana and mango breads were ubiquitous throughout Maui and the Big Island, and were the perfect snack during long car rides or after a day of adventuring. I've adapted this recipe from a couple of sources, most of which cite the chef Sam Choy as their source. While the original version does just fine, I had to make my own tweaks and changes, so I've upped the ante with a browned butter base, rum-soaked raisins, and a toasted coconut topping. You don't need these additions to enjoy mango bread, but you certainly won't regret them.
The first time I tried to make my own curry was in college. It was my first apartment, winter break, my senior year and I had gotten a vegetarian cooking book that contained, among other future flops, a curry recipe. (It may not have been entirely the book's fault that everything in it I touched turned to "meh.") The over-priced bottle of curry powder I bought for the occasion lingered for many years, as every time I revisited it, the results were underwhelming. There was just no curry flavor, none of the boldness and warmth, just some sad limp vegetables swimming in bland coconut oil.
Fast forward a few years later, and a jar of Trader Joe's coconut cream has been kicking around my pantry driving me nuts. The basil plant on our deck is flourishing (unlike, sadly, our chive crop which was almost instantly devoured by Murphy - who knew cats like chives?), which gave me the inspiration to give curry a second try after I found this recipe on simplyrecipes.com.
This salad is so fresh and easy and a perfect side to pretty much anything you'll make this summer.
My vacation's long gone now, but in an effort to keep that joy and relaxation going, I've done a round-up to bring a touch of the Big Island to the Big City (see what I did there?).
Even if the only sun you're getting are the harsh beams bouncing off concrete sidewalks, these items for your closet, beauty cabinet and home can help incorporate the scents and prints of paradise into everyday routine.
On the recommendation of J's friend Chris, we spent our final days in Hawai'i at Puakea Ranch. Set in the northern tip of the Big Island in paniolo country (that's Hawaiian for cowboy), it's a fully restored, historic ranch - complete with horses, goats, chickens, a friendly pig named Pele (after the Hawaiian volcano goddess), an organic vegetable garden, a swimming hole and a couple of amiable dogs - that just happens to also have stunning views of the Pacific.
Tucked behind a beautiful floral hedge with a swing beckoning enticingly from the lovely old tree out front, the James Cottage was our home away from home (only a million times nicer than our actual home, so).
Taking a break from the vacation posts to keep my promise (made on Instagram) of sharing this recipe.
I wanted to make this with broccoli rabe, but then the grocery only had kale so I used that instead. And I think this would be better with penne or rigatoni or some other short pasta, but what I had was papperdelle, so I used that instead. And it still ended up being exactly what I wanted.
I started off looking to make something simple and quick, with a few ingredients - we'd just gotten back from vacation so cupboards and refrigerator were a wee bit bare. This evolved into something slightly more complex, but the flavors are there and it really didn't take much more effort to take it up a step, and definitely still qualifies as a quick and tasty dinner. Garlicky, creamy and comforting, it's perfect for a night in or an impromptu dinner party.
Our first full day in Maui was a big one. We started by waking up at 3 am to see the sunrise at Haleakala Crater, an incredible experience: driving there was a race against the sun and once at the top it was like watching a new day dawning on a different planet. Driving back down to civilization afterwards, we realized we were above the clouds.
Once we checked out of our hotel, we got started on the Road to Hana, a winding drive along a narrow road with hairpin turns and one lane bridges along the northern coast of Maui. With a couple of stops to hike through lush tropical forests and splash at the feet of jaw-dropping waterfalls, it took us a few hours and was thoroughly enjoyable (more so for me than J, probably, since he was the one tasked with making sure we didn't crash into oncoming traffic or veer off the road).
Once at the end, we continued for a bit to the Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park to hike the Pipiwai Trail. In the late afternoon light, the forest seemed every bit an enchanted fairyland.
Yes, that's from Kailua-Kona's Da Poke Shack, famous for being the number one rated restaurant on Yelp. I was a little skeptical going in - really? The number one restaurant in the world? Would it be over-rated? Would my expectations for number one be too high?
Nope. That meal was amazing. We had poke a couple different times in Hawai'i, and every time it was good, but this was phenomenal. We got the bowl for two - a steal at 22 bucks - and loaded it with all kinds of the freshest raw fish, including Pele's Kiss (spicy ahi) and shrimp. Two scoops of hapa rice (mixed white and brown rice), macaroni salad (ubiquitous in Hawai'i and I get why), seaweed salad and a six-pack of Kona Brewing Co.'s Castaway IPA and we were happy as clams. Seems like number one to me.
We're sunburned, bug-bitten, refreshed, and a little exhausted (from the ten hour flight, the six hour time difference, lots of excitement) - and back from Hawai'i! And, oh yeah, that happened ^ we got married!
After greeting the sunrise at the Haleakala Crater and driving the Road to Hana (with stops for waterfalls, hiking, and banana bread), we met up with our families on the south side of Maui. We woke up Sunday morning, did some snorkeling and sunbathing, then got ready and met back up on the beach in front of our hotel (the perfect and lovely Makena Beach and Golf Resort - check out the photos of the hotel courtyard!) for a barefoot ceremony in the sand just before sunset. Exhilarating, joyful, emotional, and pretty dang perfect.
After a few days relaxing with family, they went back home and we took off for the Big Island for some more adventuring and honeymooning. All of it was just so incredible.
First of all, the landscapes are so diverse. From waterfalls and lush tropical forests . . .
. . . to otherworldly lava fields and volcanic craters . . .
. . . to the breathtaking vistas where hot lava once met the cold Pacific Ocean waters, and black sand beaches formed over years of volcanic activity . . .
. . . one of four green sand beaches in the world . . .
. . . and, right, some of the most stunning beaches and coastline vistas in the world.
Much of the time, especially on our hikes through misty forests and ancient valleys densely overgrown with prehistoric ferns, I felt like we'd been dropped into Jurassic Park (not that far off - it was filmed in Kaua'i). I couldn't stop marveling at the diversity of ecosystems and terrain, or at the jaw-dropping beauty of it all. And the food! We ate very well - but that's another post (or two).
Plus, the whole getting-married thing was pretty cool too.