Thursday, April 29, 2010

"I'm not really a dessert person"

One great thing about Hawaii is that there are no snakes there. No snakes! The largest land predator in Hawaii is the human.

Strange as it may sound, this helped me sleep at night.

Once you venture out into the ocean though, it's a different story. People would say things like "Oh I don't like that beach, too many sharks." And I would be calm on the outside but thinking: "Too many sharks? I'm inclined to think ONE is too many."

Needless to say, I have what I consider to be a healthy fear of the ocean. I respectfully keep my distance, admiring the lovely coastline, lying in the powdery sand and occasionally dipping my feet in when I need to cool off.

It's probably a shame that I am seafood-averse, since it's everywhere in Hawaii. Probably because it's an island.

Ignore my obvious commentary.

Anyway, even someone with a limited palate, such as myself, can eat amazing food in Oahu.

After picking me up from the airport with a lovely yellow lei (sometimes things are just like the movies), ND took me to the only five-star hotel on the island for dinner at The Halekulani.

Everything in Hawaii is set up to make you feel like you are outdoors, which with their weather, is quite lovely. We ate at House Without a Key and I had delicious roasted chicken with cilantro butter (combining two of my favorite ingredients) a green salad with balsamic and asparagus.

ND, meanwhile, had eaten sushi right after school and ordered only drinks and dessert. The dessert? Coconut cake. I'll caveat this by saying that I'm not really a dessert person. I like it, but day to day I live without it**.

I can honestly say that now, in my post-coconut-cake existence, that I don't want to live in a world that does not include that most heavenly of cakes. It was that good. That perfect, even. The cake was light and sweet, the frosting was creamy and there were raspberries involved. We went back to the same place on Saturday night and ordered different entrees but split another because we could not pass it up.

Another restaurant ND raved over and took me too was an authentic Greek place called The Olive Tree. Their hummus and pita could have filled me up for the evening but the chicken souvlaki won me over as well. I was sorry not to have KS with me to try the house-made baklava at the end of the meal, since it was easily the best I've ever had.

Since it got windy and chilly at night, we also ventured out one night with ND's roommate E for some Vietnamese pho. I had never tried it and for something that looked like a broth-y soup, it was actually very filling. I put some sriracha with it as well, which made me want to learn to cook more Asian dishes.

As is well-documented on this blog, I am also coffee drinker. No, that's being too polite to myself: I am a coffee snob. No one makes better coffee than me and my N'espresso machine. Away from my beloved coffeemaker for an entire week, I knew I would have to make due. What I did not anticipate was liking the local, Kona blend coffee so much. I'm used to one cup of coffee a day and so I got a little amped up on refills a few days when we were having long breakfasts or brunches.

The Saturday morning I was there was a treat because we went and visited the big local farmer's market. I just went to a farmer's market in my hometown a few weeks ago with my mom, so I was expecting something small-scale and charming with a few merchants.

Not at all.

The farmer's market was huge and bustling and a culinary adventure completely on its own. I should have known I would like it after an unassuming table with an espresso machine at the entrance sold me a truly fantastic latte. We walked from table to table to see and smell all manners of fresh fruits, flowers and vegetables; curries, eggs benedict, sushi, pizza, snocones, before settling on slices of pizza that I kept seeing everywhere: a layer of pesto topped with yellow and red tomatoes, fresh mozzerella and chopped basil. For breakfast, no less.

I followed that up with purchasing a fresh coconut, whose water I drank through a straw. It made me look like a tourist but I loved it.

During one day of my trip I randomly asked ND about Leonard's, which kept catching my eye whenever we drove down the same main road through town. ND wanted to curse me for noticing it, but Leonard's, she told me, is an institution in Oahu. Leonard's makes delicious, Portuguese donut-like balls called malasadas, which you can purchase coated in something as simple and time-honored as cinnamon and sugar, or you can get them with different flavored fillings like chocolate, coconut cream or mango.

Needless to say, we stopped and bought half a dozen different flavors to sample.

One book I was particularly glued to during my trip was The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman. If you're not into cooking or don't find culinary school interesting, you probably wouldn't like it, but it made me look at and appreciate the food on my plate and the labor that went into making it so much more. It's such an art form.

My friends in Dallas can expect me to attempt making coconut cake, the farmer's market pizza and chicken souvlaki in the near future. And probably homemade hummus. I'll spare them the guilty-pleasure malasadas.

For now.

Food is our common ground, a universal experience.
-James Beard

**This would later prove to be a false statement, as evidenced by the remainder of this post.

*P.S. I did not link any of the restaurants listed, but if you ever find yourself in Oahu and would like a more comprehensive list of restaurants to visit, feel free to e-mail me!

*P.P.S. Chocolate-dipped macadamia nut cookies. That is all.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Island Report

*Tap tap*

Is this thing on?

Hi! Remember me? I'm alive!

I've (reluctantly) returned from island life and I'm back on "the mainland", as the Hawaiians call it.

People keep asking me what I did on vacation and the short answer is that I went to Oahu to hang out with ND, relax and get a tan.

I got in the lovely routine of going to bed around 10pm at night and waking up at 6am every day, completely on my own and without alarms. ND showed me around the island that she has called home for the past three years and I got to drink various tropical things on various coasts on the island- all harboring clear water and sand comparable to superfine sugar.

While ND was at school I would take long walks around Waikiki, grabbing my morning coffee, reading the paper, going to the beach and listening to sports-radio all day (my favorite local Dallas station, thanks to the Wunder Radio app on my iPhone).

And no, I am not to be confused with a senior-citizen.

I realize this might make for a less-than thrilling vacation story, but it's exactly what I wanted. ND was just back to Hawaii from a visit to UC Berkeley, where she will be a first-year law student this fall, so we got to celebrate her last five weeks as a teacher and we were very much on the same page as far as soaking in island life and UV rays.

I also ate a lot of great food and I got to visit Pearl Harbor, which was definitely a highlight for me (it was me and the veterans at 7:15am, but again I remind you: I'm not a senior citizen). I'll expand on both of those things later this week- you will read ALL ABOUT my culinary experience in Oahu and my trip to Pearl Harbor, which I think every American should experience if they ever possibly can.

I actually got back to Texas early Friday morning, but I slept most of that day and night and spent the rest of this weekend catching up with my friends and watching the Mavericks lose two awful play-off games against the Spurs.

I've also been avoiding my Google Reader, which is reporting that I have a foreboding "1000+" new items to read.

I might be in denial; about my basketball team, my Reader and the fact that I won't wake up tomorrow morning in a high-rise condo three blocks from the beach at sunrise to the sound of doves cooing.

Which reminds me... I need to set an alarm.

The cure for anything is salt water- sweat, tears or the sea.
-Isak Dinesen

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I subscribe to 97 blogs.

I had never taken the time to count them all, but using Google Reader and seeing things like "390 Unread Items" made me look and count the total a few weeks back.

So yes, 97 it is. It seems that the "Add a Subscription" button is quite easy to utilize.

I realize that this devotedness to other blogs means that I myself have been writing less often recently.

Don't think I've forgotten about blogging, or that my sports-related Throwing Like a Girl posts are going anywhere anytime soon (you know you like them).

The only thing I can really focus on right now is the fact that I'm going to Hawaii this week.

Hawaii. This. Week.

It's okay to be jealous.

I'm going to visit my friend ND, who has lived in Hawaii teaching high school for nearly three years, and will be leaving this summer to attend law school in California. So this was my last chance to go visit her before she leaves.

And not to mention, spend a week perfecting a tan in utter paradise.

At last the anchor was up, the sails were set, and off we glided.
-Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

You Still Don't Know

As someone who used to work for a magazine and who spent hours upon hours scouring every issue of every popular women's magazine you can possibly think of to provide comprehensive information on competing periodicals, I don't read magazines just for fun very often.

KS, however, does receive a few magazine subscriptions to design magazines, and to Real Simple, which I'll occasionally peruse. I found myself reading an article in Real Simple's "Life Lessons" section tonight, because the content piqued my interest. I'll share the following excerpt, taken from Kristin Van Ogtrop's article entitled: "Can I Call You Back In 15 Years?"

"Then you hit the age of 25 and you realize that your days are numbered, so to speak. You begin to understand that time is no longer infinitely elastic, and that while you spend hours attending to one priority, you are stealing those same hours from another. And why did nobody warn you that you would be spending 30 percent of your time on things that are really tedious or difficult, like trying to find a rental apartment you can afford and a nice boy whom you can marry and stay married to forever? This is a terrible time of life, the mid-20s, because you still don't know what real adulthood looks like. And since you probably don't have children yet, you can devote entire afternoons to questions like "Who am I? which rarely lead you down a pretty path."

I could go into more detail on how she discusses maintaining female friendships when your time is already divided into oblivion as you get older, but suffice it to say it was an insightful article and I would recommend it as a quick-read.

If you read the whole thing, you would see that I successfully cropped out the one part pertaining specifically to ladies my age. Obviously.

Fortunately there is no "tween" word-equivalent for someone my age, who has reached the both accomplished and confounding quarter-century mark but still is yet to experience major life triumvirate of marriage + children + mortgage. While being 25 is fun, part of its charm is that there is an air of transience about it. Seeing other friends grow up to play house (but with a real house and real people), you start thinking about things in the tied-down category and you have to wonder what that's like as well.

Because in all honesty, you (and by "you" I mean "I") don't know what that's like at all. Part of you wants to know and part of you is okay with the fact that your life still allows you many freedoms. It's a strange tug-of-war of wanting what you don't have while also enjoying what you do have, however temporary it may be.

Also... I love funny mom-writers. They have the best wisdom because they don't take themselves too seriously.

Definitely not a bad lesson to learn.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Throwing Like A Girl- Championship Party

I've successfully turned my friends into basketball-watching enthusiasts and trash-talkers.

I couldn't be more pleased about it, either.

Much to my delight, my Ladies-Only bracket pool leaders are neck-in-neck leading up to the final game. Husbands and boyfriends have complimented me on the idea, and another friend in Ft. Worth even copied it with some friends who live scattered throughout the country.

I myself am currently sitting at No. 17 out of 18 ladies which is pretty typical at this point. The one person I'm ahead of is MK, who threw caution to the wind like she always does and picked Xavier to win it all. I'm ashamed to face facts and admit that Xavier made it further in the tournament than my winner-pick, which was Kansas.

Let's not talk about it. MK is also primed to win the last-place participation award.

I'll be weekend-ing at my parents' home this weekend to celebrate Easter and let someone else decide how to entertain me for two days, but that will also give me time watch the Saturday night basketball games and menu plan. You might not know me at all but those are basically two of my favorite things to do: watch sports and cook for people.

My immediate thoughts turn to things that keep well and taste better after a day, like pulled pork or brisket (for sliders) and sangria wine, which sounds like something a ladies-only party would enjoy.

If you would like to brush up on your statistics for each team leading into the games this weekend, I would recommend checking out ESPN. The great thing is that the explanation of each statistic is provided at the bottom of the screen. Gordon Hayward for example, who plays for Butler, is an 82.7% free-throw shooter on average for this season. (FT% = Free Throw Percentage; .827 = 82.7%).

Hope everyone has a great weekend cheering on whichever teams you need to save face in their respective bracket pools!

And, of course, Happy Easter.

Everybody pulls for David, nobody roots for Goliath.
-Wilt Chamberlain