Today is May 1st, which means that "May Day is lei day in Hawaii"...when I was growing up, our school would have May Day programs which we would perform (either sing or dance or something) for our parents and for the May Day court. The May Day court consisted of the 6th graders, who were chosen by their peers to be King and Queen and attendants that represented the Hawaiian islands. We also had lei contests in which we could create lei and enter according to different categories...the good ol' days...
Well, my "vacation" is rapidly coming to a close...sigh...and although I missed the cherry blossom season in Japan, I had LOTS of excitement here--which started with rain, and flooding, and more rain, and more flooding, and at one point, we were even sweeping water(more like paddling with a broom...) out of our patio, so that it wouldn't come in towards the house!
Plus, we got together to celebrate my Grandma's 90th. I got to see most of my friends and got to eat at some of the places on my "to-eat-at list". I also got to order most of the things on my wish list at Amazon.com and watch hours upon hours of the "Food Network" and "Oprah" and reality shows on Bravo (most which I'd never heard of!). It's amazing how much high fiber this, low/no carb that, organic and fair trade and no trans fat everything is here, you won't see much of this in Japan! And the gas prices...yipes!!
My father got his 2nd hole-in-one (the first one was 32 years ago!) at the Ted Makalena golf course (Congrats!!)
Oh, and I finally got to meet and bond with my two and a half, second cousin, Kellen, what a cutie!
Here are some other things that I didn't get a chance to post, but still wanted to share with you all.
While at my Aunty Merle's, I saw an ad for this in a copy of her yoga magazine called "Breathe". Green & Black's Maya Gold chocolate, an organic, fair trade, dark chocolate with hints of orange, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. I then found it at a health food store in the same building I used to work at in Waikiki.
Pickled mango is one of my favorite local snacks. Green mango is soaked in a vinegar, sugar, salt sauce and a sweet and salty Chinese dried plum called li hing mui are also added to the mixture. Once you get used to the salty, sweet and sourness of this, you will be hooked! We got some from my mom's friend, May. Ono (delicious)!
On my trip to the Honolulu Chocolate Company, they had some "new"(to me) chocolates: Domori's Barrique which is a 75% cacao with pink peppercorns, mace, cinnamon & ginger and Barratti & Milano's Ecuador which is a 75% cacao dark chocolate made in Torino (site of the 2006 Winter Olympics).
Apple bananas are a little tart, a little sweet and definitely addicting. I love to eat this with peanut butter! These bananas are really popular here, even though the outside looks really ripe, the insides stay firm longer then those "chiquitas". Once you get used to these, you'll never eat another "chiquita"...(oh, you can get them in Okinawa too!)
I found these bath products last year, they are made by Island Bath and Body. They smell really nice and are reasonable, whether you buy the French milled soaps or the Exfoliating Bar they are just $5 each! They also have other items such as bath salts and lotions, but I really like the soaps (easy to pack!) The last time I had only bought Mango Melon, but decided to try their other "flavors"; Lavender Gardenia, Pikake Jasmine and Plumeria Vanilla. UPDATE: store in Ward Centre closed (7/2009)
My friend, Debi, recommended culinary mysteries written by Diane Mott Davidson. If you love mystery and food, these books are for you. Plus, the author shares some recipes throughout the book too! (Bonus!)
Picnic food for our family usually consists of musubi (rice balls), mochiko chicken (fried chicken which uses mochiko and some flour-- you won't get messy hands because everything is marinated and "floured" in a bag, just drop in oil and fry!), spam, portugese sausage (a spicy sausage, kind of like chorizo) and egg roll(scrambled eggs rolled up while cooking). Ono!
A trip to the swap meet (like a flea market) can be a great way to find inexpensive gifts for your friends, family or even for yourself! My brother and Satoshi love to walk around here. This is the one at the Aloha Stadium which is held on weekends and on Wednesdays.
This is a dish called hekka. Similar to Japan's sukiyaki and Korea's chapchae. I'm not too sure why it is called hekka, but my mom said that during the plantation days, to have this dish was a treat. All I know is, the day after, when you're reheating the leftovers, dropping an egg(not scrambled) in will make it taste even better!
During my visit, I learned that Satoshi's car turned into a race car, of sorts. Corey (the new owner) used to race it on an obstacle course at the Hawaii Raceway Park. This park has since lost its lease and has closed down, giving racers no where to go except out on the streets and highways...BRING THE PARK BACK!!
Papaya from Hilo is the best! If you get a chance to go to Hilo (on the Big Island) make sure to go on Saturday morning, so that you can catch the Farmers Market in Downtown Hilo. You can get 5 papayas for only $1! They are sweet and delicious.
Great views of Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean can be enjoyed while eating at most restaurants in Waikiki. This was taken at the Ocean Terrace. I had the veggie panini, it was way too big (I had to bring half of it home), but really delicous! That is the good thing about eating in America, they let you bring home your leftovers, you'll never see this in Japan! UPDATE: Sheraton Waikiki does not have a restaurant called Ocean Terrace, it was changed when they renovated
We recently said goodbye to an "old friend"-- a table made from an old telephone cable spool. Our city runs a free bulk pick-up system to pick up items to take to the dump. Some people even threw out their old bathtub! In Japan, we have to pay between 300 and 600 yen per item(between $3-6) to have them take things away.
One night, when my mom had "Hawaiian night", she bought some laulau, poi, lomi salmon and poke to feed my cousins from the mainland (continental U.S.), my brother and the rest of our family. This was the dessert that she made, a mandarin orange cake with pineapple frosting and haupia (like a coconut jello). I don't really like Hawaiian food too much, but really enjoyed these desserts!
The other day, I helped my mom and some of her church group make baked manju. It is similar to the manju that is steamed. There is also a version using pie crust, this one is really flaky and oh so ono!
This is the Two Ladies Kitchen's ichigo daifuku (strawberry rice cake). If ever you get a chance to visit Hilo (on the Big Island) be sure to pick up some assorted mochi from here. (They also have a chocolate peanut butter one which is really good too!) This strawberry version is similar to the ones I can get in Japan only the strawberry is bambucha (huge)! Call ahead to make sure they are open!!
Two Ladies Kitchen
274 Kilauea Avenue
My cousin, who owns or co-owns (not too sure) a printing company called Aloha Paper, sells these beautiful note cards. Six blank cards with envelopes for $6.25. Some have flowers, some have scenery. If you'd like to order or for more info, call 808-593-0744 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
My Aunty Merle and I had a massive half of a reuben sandwich with Sun Chips (she had hers with cole slaw) from A Taste of New York in Kaimuki. This place also has a deli. When you order your sandwiches they bring a HUGE container of dill pickles which are HUGE too. Luckily these pickles are sliced. There is lots of meat (pastrami or corned beef, your choice, I think it said 11oz.) in their reubens. They also bring their bags of chips in a HUGE punchbowl and let you choose your chip. We wished we had left some space for dessert (Empire State Cheesecake!), but half a sandwich was more than enough to fill us up!
A Taste Of New York--closed as of Feb 2008
1137 11th Avenue
Honolulu, Hawaii 96816
Open Daily: 10:30-21:00
My AuntyMarian and her BF, Mike, brought over my favorite malasada--Champion Malasadas has come up with their "stuffed" versions in chocolate, custard and "an" (sweet bean paste)...these were good, but my favorite is still the original!!
Oh and by the way, Golden Week starts on April 30th in Japan, so most people have the whole week off. (In the past, this was the time of year that the Japanese tourists would flock to Hawaii. Now, it seems that Las Vegas is more of their "thing".) Satoshi will be off just in time to meet me at the airport on May 3.
So after 5 weeks here...it's back to the grindstone, so to speak, I'm refreshed and relaxed, ready to face the everyday life(I mean chaos) in Japan!
Thanks for all the great comments and I hope you enjoyed this "vacation" as much as I did! I'll be catching up on all of my blogging friends' happenings when I get back to Japan :)