Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Food on the Big Island -- From Miso to DQ

I have always been blessed with kids who enjoy one trait from their father-- the interest and joy in trying new foods.

Cathryn is clearly the one I can talk into the easiest, but Will too will join the rest of us as we take a culinary journey.

So what have we found this trip:

1) Japanese Breakfast -- Hawaii is a frequent vacation spot for the Japanese. Probably a combination of the American dollar and the convenience of air travel, there are abundant Asian cultures at the hotel. To cater to these guests, the food provides some comfort. This includes rice, fermented soy beans, fresh fish, and Miso soup for breakfast. Cat has taken aggressively to this offering and for the past week has not passed up the Miso and rice for her morning staple. I hope I can make this at home for her!

2) Organic produce and meat in Waimea -- Last night we had the privilege of dining in one of the island's best restaurants. In the small village of Waimea, a town of 10,000 situated in the shadow of Mauna Kei, we stopped with for an early meal at Merriman's.

We were dressed in upscale volcano gear, but they didn't seem to mind as we were seated in the dining room inches away from the herb garden. Many people think this is the most beautiful area of the Big Island and the most desirable to live.

Located on the area of the Parker Ranch, it is lush with green as you look over the mountains in one direction and the ocean in another. This is not a beach town by any sort. It is more of a mountain village and the cool breeze at 3500 feet elevation convinces you of that.

The food was mostly local ingredients. From fresh bread with strawberry jam and goat cheese, to a salad with all local produce (beets, radishes, lettuce, and much more but Kristen didn't offer a sample), to beef and lamb that were all delightful.

Will and I especially enjoyed the locally made and smoked bacon. Bacon as an appetizer -- my kind of place that will serve a pork product as an appetizer. Wow.

3) Sushi -- We were able to find a reservation at Norio's, one of the local sushi haunts. We were all amazed. Cathryn had Miso-marinated Butterfish (see a trend here?), Will a tempura of lobster and shrimp, and Kristen and I multiple courses of raw fish. The kids enjoyed their fair share of sushi and I'm proud of both of them for learning to eat this wonderful fresh cuisine.

4) Fresh Hawaiian Bread -- Sweet by nature, this bread is at every store. One of our most refreshing meals was pre-snorkel snack of an impromptu fold over with this bread, meat and cheese.

5) The Loco Moco -- We have been blessed this week by having breakfast at the hotel every morning. This was included in our hotel stay and is a big plus. The buffet changes daily so there's really no excuse for going away hungry.

Every day it seems Will and I find our way to the omelet station. Here a one-armed man cooks omelets and eggs to order for the hundreds of guests that pass through here every day. Friendly, excited about his job, conversational, and amazing in his ability to flip skillets and make eggs with one arm, we have developed a quick relationship as we both stand in line with him every morning.

Today he talked us both into having the Hawaiian Loco Moco -- a cup of rice topped with a hamburger patty, soft egg, and turkey gravy. Initially I thought it might be island version of Candid Camera, but the dish was quite good. The egg yolk mixing with the gravy and rice made the dish. And, I mean, is anything not good if it has gravy on it?

6) Dairy Queen -- After the manta snorkel trip, we were famished (all but Kristen) so we stopped at a familiar southern eatery. I think we were surprised when we didn't find a single Hungerbuster or BeltBuster on the menu -- only hot dogs! Hawaiians love their hot dogs. That is clearly the hamburger of this culture. So when in Rome, we enjoyed them too.

7) Kona coffee and ice cream -- Kona coffee just taste better. Its not as bitter as most coffee, and it has a warm soothing effect as it goes down in the morning. Its very easy to have too much of this black elixir and stay wired for hours.

I guess that's why they invented Kona coffee ice cream.

For a bedtime treat of course.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Kona and Waimea, Big Island, Hawaii

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