Archive for ‘hawaii’

August 3rd, 2011

Nuts!

It seems like every day, we read something different about nuts.  On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, we read stories that they’re a healthy snack alternative to chips or pretzels, while on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, we find articles telling us to avoid this fat laden food.  Like anything, much has to do with the way nuts are prepared and presented. This is why, at home, I usually make sure our pantry is stocked with the boring kind– raw and unsalted. While my husband and I would love to pop open a can of Mr. Peanut while we watch a baseball game on t.v., we don’t.  I think a part of getting older and wiser is realizing that the five minutes of pleasure is not worth the bloating feeling we suffer with, the next day.  On the other hand, every time I’m at a bar, I get excited to see what version or variety they serve, as more often than not, it’s more than just the standard salted nut.While on vacation  on the Big Island of Hawaii, we were fortunate to find Beach Tree.  When you’re watching the sun sink slowly into the ocean while listening to live Hawaiian music, food and drink don’t matter much.  It would literally take something out of the ordinary to make you take your eyes of the view and take notice of the taste.  That out of the ordinary, or should I say, extraordinary thing happened when our server brought us a small plate of the most delicious nuts I’ve ever eaten.  Not from a can or a cartoon wearing a monocle, these nuts were thoughtfully prepared and somehow managed to balance the salty, the sweet and the heat, perfectly.  The best part?  No guilt-ridden bloating the next day.

My husband and I are both not big on drinks.  We didn’t go to bars when we were dating, but lately, as bars have slowly evolved into gastropubs, we’ve been more adventurous.  Since I like seafood and Asian food and he likes hearty American food, it’s hard for us to find a mutually agreeable restaurant.  But at a bar, you don’t have to commit to a big entree, and with a few small plates or sips, we can quickly figure out if the place is worth our while.  The Beach Tree definitely was worth the price of admission.  In addition to a phenomenal view of the Pacific, everything was close to perfection.  We both loved their fresh food, fabulous drinks, and excellent service. As the saying goes: “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?”  Heeding that advice, we went back four nights in a row, timing our visits perfectly, in order to catch the sunset and eat those nuts!

On our last day, our server thoughtfully asked if there was anything she could do for us.  I had my request ready from day one:  “What is that amazing seasoning on these nuts?”  The answer wasn’t a simple word like ‘salt’, but rather, she mentioned that there were quite a lot of spices involved.  When I hear that, my mind instantly translates the restaurant code to mean ‘secret recipe’ known only to the privileged few.  But I was wrong.  Instead, I got the exact opposite–the recipe. Do you want to guess what my first project was when our plane landed back on the mainland?  I immediately bought a bunch of raw nuts and began my attempt to recreate the Beach Tree’s magic. Having been successful was a mixed blessing.  What started as a snack, has slowly begun to replace my meals!  Thank goodness I showed some restraint as the recipe I was given was for ten gallons!  Think I’m exaggerating?  Try the recipe for yourself and enjoy a cocktail or two.  Mr. Peanut will understand.

 

July 29th, 2011

Fish out of water

Why did it take getting married for a Japanese girl to learn about Japanese culture?  What did I learn?  Well, for starters, our diet depends heavily on fish.  We eat fish for breakfast, bring fish to work for lunch, and, you guessed it, fish for dinner.  We use fish stock and eat fish raw, grilled, dried, fried, and even fermented.  If that weren’t enough, we even eat fish as snacks.  IWith that in mind, imagine my fish-phobic American husband’s horror when my father offered him a fish snack the very first time when they met.  My husband understands the honor code of Japan, if you are offered something, you take it and (pretend to) enjoy it.  Since that first meeting, my husband has tried many varieties of fish,  and has even found a few fish items that he likes tolerates (still not including fish snacks).Hawaii, as you know, is a beautiful island.  And, Hawaiians too, eat a lot of fish.  We spent our honeymoon there, and maybe as an act of love, my husband started to eat fish at least once per day while we are there. That’s quite an effort for a guy who needs to be forced to eat fish one or two times a year.  His reasoning?  On an island, the fish has to be fresh, which means, none of that annoying fishy smell.  Unfortunately, I agree with my husband on the smelly part, as many of the dishes at seafood restaurants in America do indeed smell.

We have a simple deal.  If the fish isn’t fresh tasting, I will resist my urge to make him try it.  So when I think there’s a chance of finding the freshest stuff, of course, we have to try it.  This was the case on our recent vacation to the Big Island, where we were thrilled to find a well-reviewed a food truck hat served only the freshest stuff.  Although it’s a truck, it is permanently parked on a lot next to a small fish market (which doesn’t smell) and seating was simply a few patio tables and chairs under a blue plastic tarp.  Imagine the exact opposite of a chain restaurant, complete with a vintage looking handwritten menu on the truck.  To order, you simply choose a fish and the way you want it prepared, and the owner herself, Dee Dee, cooks it right there for you.We picked Mahi Mahi, popular Hawaiian fish, known for its flaky meat like texture.  As I hoped, the fish was very fresh and tasty, which I could have told you without tasting a bite.  How?  My husband actually finished his first and to confirm its freshness, asked Dee Dee how long ago his meal was actually swimming in the ocean.  This morning,” she replied with a straight face.  Even though the dish was simply prepared (lightly breaded and fried), I would have a hard time duplicating it as I’d have to
1) move to Hawaii;
2) go to a dock to buy fish or
3) go fishing myself.
As I have no plan of moving to Hawaii, or waking up at 4AM, the only option I have left is to visit Hawaii as much as possible in attempt to convert my husband into a regular fish eater.  Who knows, with any luck, one day, he’ll be munching on fish snacks with my dad.