Dining Outside the Home: JO2 Natural Cuisine in Kapaa, Kauai

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Dining Outside the Home: JO2 Natural Cuisine in Kapaa, Kauai!  Step across the threshold of this clean, crisp restaurant and you will find the atmosphere extraordinary. Peruse the specialized menu. There is little doubt the French chef will create anything less than a masterpiece, using nature’s freshest ingredients arranged on a plate. Your eyes will feast on the artistic presentation before a forkful of food ever touches your lips. Take it slow to appreciate every bite. Linger between Appetizer and Entrée, giving yourself time for quiet conversation over signature cocktails. Perhaps you’ll share a nibble of super sweet Baby Corn grown exclusively on the island. Or a taste of Mushroom Risotto lashed into perfection with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and sea salted French butter. Do you see where I’m going with this? Make dining at JO2 an experience to remember. After all, the colorful palette is designed especially for you. Bon Appétit!

Dining Outside the Home: House of Noodles in Kapaa, Kauai 

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Dining Outside the Home: House of Noodles in Kapaa, Kauai.  Along the main drag where tourist shoppes and specialty stores open their doors for passers-by, a corner fruit market offers a secluded hideaway for casual dining. If you didn’t pay attention, you’d overlook the town’s best kept secret hidden in plain sight. At first, it simply resembles a stop where the petite Asian woman effortlessly swings a sharp chef’s knife (or was that a machete) and cracks open the top of a large coconut before inserting a straw and handing it to a thirsty customer. Coconut milk is a popular drink on the island, you know. But beyond the rows and carts of fresh produce is an entrance to the house where homemade Asian cuisine is served piping hot in a bowl or on decorative platters. Spice things up a bit with wasabi for a Thai twist. Either way, it hits the spot and is worth a double-take. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Z

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What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Zucchini Boats! Now before you roll your eyes and take the day off, promise me you’ll be open-minded. After all, you have to take the veggies along with the cake. My husband does, and he was pleasantly surprised. (Love him!❤️)
ZUCCHINI BOATS
Ingredients:

4 mini zucchini, cut lengthwise 

1/2 pound Mexican chorizo, mild

2 tablespoons onion, chopped 

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/8 teaspoon cumin powder

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper 

Dash of sea salt

1/2 cup black beans, rinsed

1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed

1 tablespoon diced pimento

1 green onion, cut up

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 cup pepper jack or white cheddar cheese

Fresh cilantro to taste
Instructions:

Scoop out seeds and flesh from center of zucchini, leaving a shell to hold filling. Discard flesh and seeds. Absorb moisture with paper towel. Place boats in a casserole dish. Divide half the cheese into the bottom of the boats. Set aside. In a medium skillet, fry chorizo, onion, garlic, cumin, red pepper flakes and salt. Cook until done, stirring frequently. In a small bowl, combine corn, black beans, pimento, cilantro leaves, and green onion. Squeeze lime juice over all. Top cheese-filled zucchini boats with chorizo mixture. Add a teaspoon of corn/bean salsa on top of meat. Cover with remaining cheese. Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes. Serve with extra corn salsa on the side. Add more cilantro to taste. 

Dining Outside the Home: Monico’s Taqueria in Wailua, Kauai

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Dining Outside the Home: Monico’s Taqueria in Wailua, Kauai!  Word is out. The pork Carnitas Plate is unbelievable. It is so incredibly good, even the staff has no idea how Chef Monico works his magic. He begins with cubes of fresh, tender pork meat, seasoned just right, and then cooks them in a way that presents a crisp crunchy outside with a burst of moist spicy pork on the inside. It will practically have you rolling your eyes in delirium. Where’s the photo, you wonder? I forgot to take one. I got so excited when Megan brought the Carnitas Plate that I dove right in. But my husband ordered the Chicken Taquitos and said they were “Muy Bien!”

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Y

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What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Yankee Potato Salad! The new red potatoes at the market right now make the best-tasting side dish for all your casual meals. Wash them thoroughly so you can leave the skins on.  
YANKEE POTATO SALAD
Ingredients:

10 new red potatoes, small 

2 green onions 

3 ounces of hickory-smoked bacon bits

1 tablespoon fresh dill

1 cup real mayonnaise 
Instructions:

Quarter the red potatoes and put into a pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and cook for 15-20 minutes. Drain. In a large bowl, add cooled potatoes, bacon bits, cut-up green onions. Mix in mayonnaise to blend well. (For a moist salad, add more.) Finally, gently fold in the fresh cut dill. Refrigerate 1-2 hours for best flavor. 

Dining Outside the Home: Oasis on the Beach in Kapaa, Kauai

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Dining Outside the Home: Oasis on the Beach in Kapaa, Kauai!  Sea breezes embrace dancing palm trees as if hula movements come naturally to everything on the East Shore of Kauai. At the Oasis on the Beach, an open-air restaurant, the view is as jaw-dropping as the food on the plate. Experience the catch-of-the-day surrounded by fresh ingredients from local farmers. Your taste buds will be amazed at the flavor explosion in your mouth from citrus star fruit to white flower broccoli. Everything is edible. Taste and see. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter X

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What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Xia, Gan Shao which translates to Sweet and Sour Shrimp! I know I’m stretching the alphabet a bit thin with this one, but I am crazy about shrimp! I improvised a little, so I apologize in advance. Hopefully this will become one of your all time favorites. 
XIA, GAN SHAO
Ingredients:

1 pound of jumbo shrimp

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon crushed pepper flakes

1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Garlic & Herb seasoning blend

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup lime juice
Instructions:

Put shrimp in a baking dish, single layer. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over shrimp. Marinate 1 hour. Remove shrimp from marinade and place in a nonstick vegetable grilling basket. Discard marinade. Preheat outdoor grill for medium heat. Grill 2 minutes on each side, or until opaque. Do not over-cook! Serve with Asian Sesame dressing infused with Sriracha sauce. 

Invasion of the Boat People

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A couple times a week the beach is inundated with tourists when a luxury cruise ship pulls into Nawiliwili Harbor and docks for a short period of time. Hoards of beach lovers pour down the gang plank to enjoy the pebbly soft beach of Kalapaki Bay. With colorful towels, bamboo mats, swim fins, and boogie boards in tow, families stake a claim along the shoreline to gather and sunbathe. Within minutes children squeal with laughter, splashing each other and running away. A slender middle-aged European man stands with feet firmly planted squinting out to sea. As if deep in thought, he raises a cigarette to his lips and takes a long drag before flicking the ash into the wind. Loose strands of black hair fall across his wrinkled brow causing him to pivot a half turn and then back again. Over his shoulder, an energetic group of millennials mark off the sand and choose sides for a pickup game of soccer. Shouting in an unfamiliar language, they slap each other on the back before aggressively kicking, chasing, and passing the ball back and forth toward the goal. So much activity. So much joy. This is how to spend a day in paradise. After awhile, short toots from the bridge of the huge vessel signal it’s time to head back. Beach towels are rolled up, soccer games disperse, umbrellas are left vacant, and the sand is brushed away as flip flops are slid into place. The boarding process begins for passengers to depart “Fantasy Island” and return to sea until we meet again.