Dining Outside the Home: Solunto Restaurant & Bakery in San Diego, California. You may as well throw any semblance of willpower out the window when you cross the threshold into Solunto’s Ristorante in the heart of Little Italy. Especially if you’re hungry. Close your eyes for a moment. Inhale. The aromas alone of handcrafted breads, decadent pastries, napoletana pizzas, flavorful gelatos, and artisan coffees can mean only one thing. You’re going to be here awhile. But that’s okay. Solunto is all about family and friends socializing over a meal. Savor every bite; just leave room for more. The crisp Italian dessert shells, known as Cannolis, are filled with sweet, creamy filling. But don’t take my word for it. The pastry case is a feast for the eyes. Try one of everything. Solunto’s Bakery has “to-go” boxes.
“Coffee connects us in so many ways,
to each other, to our senses, and
to the earth that supports the coffee trees.”
~ Rohan Marley
Dining Outside the Home: Little Fish Coffee in Hanapepe, Kauai. Slurp on a smoothie that lives up to its name with shots of espresso, iced milk, and creamy caramel. It’s not called the “Jitterbug” for nothing. Little Fish Coffee understands what it means to be as happy as a fish. Their menu offers a variety of super-healthy açaí bowls, bagel and grilled sammies, plus delicious pastries. On a garden isle, it only makes sense to use local, Kauai-grown ingredients. The fair-trade organic coffees are great for sipping or on-the-go. Either way, prepare to be a happy little goldfish.
Dining Outside the Home: Nom Kauai in Kapaa, Kauai. When your husband wants breakfast and you’re ready for lunch, head over to Nom Kauai where you get the best of both worlds. It’s not uncommon to see other couples doing the same thing. Perhaps that’s the secret to a popular eatery with Southern roots: Keeping the peace. The burgers, like the Hella Hottie, are made with locally sourced beef, stacked a mile high with fresh ingredients, and then sandwiched between buttery toasted brioche buns. Go ahead and poke the egg. Who can resist a runny yolk? Golden Belgian waffles, served with pineapple-bourbon butter, can be ordered with buttermilk fried chicken and maple syrup. Because things are made from scratch, menu items are available until sold out. You know what that means. Come back again tomorrow.
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Espresso Obsession! You can be a master barista in the comfort of your own kitchen. Some essential items make all the difference in the results; a good coffee bean grinder and a reliable espresso machine, for instance. Always use quality ingredients. Begin with a premium blend of whole roasted coffee beans to grind yourself. A very fine ground is necessary in order to brew classic Italian roast espresso beverages. Drink it hot or turn it into an iced coffee version. Grazie!
Fresh roasted espresso beans
After the coffee beans are ground to a consistency of sugar, use 1/4 ounce per shot, an one ounce serving. (If it is too coarse, water will run straight through it leaving the coffee lacking a robust flavor.) Pack the grinds into the espresso handle and press down with a tamper, but not too hard. You’ll know when you see the cream-like foam finish. Make sure the water is not boiling. An espresso machine will keep the temperature at 90C degrees. Perfection. Serve immediately.
I choose a dollop of whipped cream on top making my signature coffee drink an “Espresso Con Panna”.
Dining Outside the Home: Art Café Hemingway in Kapaa, Kauai. Living life in true island-style comes easy as you step over the threshold into an atmosphere that is both rustic European and casual charm. Choose a cozy table for two on the edge of the room to appreciate the artistic ambience, natural light, and blend of pleasing aromas in the air. Natural ingredients, locally grown, make every dish unique. For breakfast order The Nest, for instance, served in a vintage bowl. Multigrain bread cubes fill the bottom. Then a layer of alfalfa sprouts cradle a poached egg smothered in hollandaise sauce. Appreciate its beauty before gently piercing the egg. Watch the thick yellow yolk ooze forth. Try not to drool. Now enjoy every bite. “Time is the least thing we have of,” said Ernest Hemingway long ago. Perhaps it is the secret of a good life.
Dining Outside the Home: Trilogy Coffee and Tea Bar in Kilauea, Kauai. Beyond the back door of Hunter Gatherer in a historical stone building, the aroma of coffee is practically hypnotic. It is so alluring and powerful, you may feel drawn to enter. Once inside, the temptation begins. Pastries are in rich supply under bell-shaped glass domes to keep bakery delights fresh. Choose one cloche for gluten-free edibles that will make you drool. Whether sweet and savory or crisp and crunchy, they won’t last long. Word is out that organic and vegetarian choices are popular. Match them up with international coffees or herbal teas. Trilogy is all about putting high-quality in our bodies. Join the third wave of coffee, tea, and chocolate.
Dining Outside the Home: La Spezia Restaurant in Koloa, Kauai. Here’s the rule of thumb: If you’re going to sit and relax on a Sunday morning, indulge yourself with the Special of the Day and the Bloody Mary Bar at La Spezia. It’s a match made in heaven. The cozy atmosphere and friendly staff make you feel at home, that’s for sure. The Bloody Mary Bar offers a tabletop of ingredients to build-your-own. The signature benedicts, fluffy quiche wedges, 3-egg omelettes, and applewood bacon are incredible! But you’ll have to make a return visit because the portions are generous. For a sweeter beginning, try the fluffy pancakes with real maple syrup or the fruit-stuffed French toast. Whatever you do, save a little room for their special blend of smooth Kauai and Kenyan coffee. It’s simply delish.
Down a winding stretch around Kalaheo, you’ll stumble upon a few cars parked along the side of the road against a wall of giant tangled grasses. Park there and look both ways before crossing. The metal sheet work walls of an old warehouse enclose what is known to locals as Warehouse 3540. Step inside to a world of locally handmade crafts, creative art, products made on the island, jewelry designed for casual fashion statements, and uncommon home accents. And if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a day when the Farmers Market overflows with island fruit, leafy vegetables, and exotic choices gleaned from the land. Cultural food trucks park outside, with inspiring dishes to tempt the palate. No worries. Picnic areas are conveniently placed inviting rest, conversation, and taste sensations unique to each chef’s specialty. The second Saturday night of each month, check out the live music as an added attraction. This is one creative community marketplace you won’t want to miss.