21 April 2011

Aloha spirit

Aloha! I've been meaning to document last month's trip to the Big Island of Hawaii for some time now. Seems work and school and life have gotten in the way. But I wanted to share a few images from the trip, and some treasures we brought back from Kona. On our last full day on the island, I posed the question aloud to myself: What will I bring home from this trip? I wasn't thinking about the sand in my suitcase or the tan that quickly faded. Rather, lasting, indelible memories - specifically in the form of tastes and smells.

Papaya is common on a Hawaiian tropical fruit plate. I've never cared for it much, unless a heavy squeeze of lime juice corrects the over-sweet flesh to tone it down. On this trip, though, we discovered a new way to eat, and use, papaya: as a vessel for tangy plain yogurt, covered with a healthy sprinkle of coconut granola. I've made this at home weekly since our return, inspired by the breakfasts at Island Lava Java in Kona.

Smoked mozzarella: Where have you been all my life? Specifically, why have you not been on pizza? For festive occasions, I've sometimes bought a braid of smoked mozz to slice alongside some crackers. Once or twice, I've even grated it atop smoky chili. But I never thought of the joy this smoky, rich flavor would bring to a wood fired pizza. We went back to Kona Brewing Co. twice for their Puna Pie - slices heaped with roasted garlic and smoked-mozzarella perfection.

I eat a salad nearly every day, and have for decades. I look forward to the cool, crisp crunch of greens to end my meal. This trip provided the best lettuce I've ever had on the islands - locally grown, both tender and crisp, and shockingly fresh. In some cases, like at the charming cafe up the hill from King Kamehameha's Royal Grounds, the lettuce was grown mere steps from my plate. In Kona, at Huggo's on the Rocks' outside beach-bar (where I dined with sand in between my toes), I had a Hawaiian version of one of my favorite concoctions: warm protein (preferably fish) atop crunchy greens. Huggo's version came topped with a macadamia-nut crusted whitefish and a side of white rice, which I quickly blended in to my greens. All was topped with a sweet, tangy, gingery dressing and served, delightfully, nestled inside a bamboo steaming basket.

Plumeria is my happy-place scent. Upon arrival to the islands, it is a welcoming custom to be given a lei. Here's mine - pink and white plumeria strung on a simple thread. The heady, sweet scent is intoxicating. The other picture is of the most beautiful plumeria trees I've ever seen - deep pink flowers resting in the foreground to the bright blue ocean. At a gas station. The most unlikely of spots to find beauty.

As our trip came to an end, I knew I couldn't leave without some tangible memories. At the postage stamp of an airport on Kona, I stocked up on all things plumeria: a sticker for my car, a couple of hair accessories, and a bottle of lotion. None are the real deal, but they'll help kickstart memories of a lovely trip. Much like Aloha can mean hello or goodbye, the scent of plumeria, to me, represents a welcome as well as a bon voyage (or, preferably, a "see you soon").



  1. Where has smoked mozzarella been all my life?! My mouth is watering after reading this post! Great pics!

  2. Amy - I want that pizza right now! I love roasted garlic almostnas much as my iPhone. :)