Talking Points

Social distancing can turn anyone into a creative genius by tapping into that part of us where imagination meets application. Imagination kicks into survival mode by combining thoughts, ideas, memories, and capabilities. Perhaps that is why I enjoy cooking so much. There are no set rules. Guidelines, yes. But rules? Not so much. Thankfully, I am married to a man who eagerly accepts the challenge of taste-testing new foods or simply trying our favorite foods a new way. Whenever we travel, we nose around art fairs and antique shops for interesting kitchenware. I have become a collector of “talking flatware”, which are spoons, forks, and knives with words stamped on them. I guess you could say I have a dialogue with my food, which brings me to this segment of Talking Points. Some of my posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive @DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram (gail _dorna). You can even find me on Pinterest at Gail Dorna. I’d love to connect with you there as well. I also met Chef Michelle Tribble of Hell’s Kitchen reality cooking show. Fun times. Experience different flavors and textures one bite at a time. Catch a glimpse of “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Talking Points!”. This remarkable journey of the palate is unique because it gives me a few moments with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement.

Avalon Gastropub in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Avalon Gastropub in Kapaa, Kauai! When a waiter at another restaurant tells you where he goes after a hard day, you sit up and take notice. Avalon Gastropub is a trailblazer for this genre on the island. It is a place that offers a casual, yet refined atmosphere. The top-notch food and drink selections step up the freshness and creativity of the daily menu. Crabmeat Crostini is one of those delectable special features. The chef recommended Scotch Egg features a soft boiled egg wrapped in pork belly sausage. It’s one of several tantalizing small plates, that’s for sure. Some crafted cocktails aim to tickle the palate with smoke-infused alcoholic beverages, such as the Jalapeño Smoked Margarita shown here. It actually comes to the table in a smoker box. Talk about a multi-sensory experience.

Oasis on the Beach in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Oasis on the Beach in Kapaa, Kauai! No, the rooster isn’t the host…he just thinks he is. If he could speak, he would probably recommend the catch-of-the-day and lead you to a table outside where the view is simply mesmerizing. The staff at Oasis on the Beach focuses on quality of ingredients by using local growers and fishermen for diversity in cultures as well as flavor. For example, the Pork Wonton appetizer is complemented by a spicy ginger soy sauce for dipping. Pair it with the Okinawan Sweet Potato Wrap for something new and different. The roasted peppers and charred onions enhance the creamy texture of the Hawaiian sweet potato. You can’t get flavor like this on the mainland. Choose your next meal at a place that stays true to their mission statement of sustainability.

Little Fish Coffee in Hanapepe, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Little Fish Coffee in Hanapepe, Kauai! Follow your nose in historic Hanapepe to the alluring aroma of freshly brewed coffee. Be transported to your “happy place” where the smiling fish on the sign invites you to sit awhile for an energetic caffeine fix. Little Fish Coffee’s quirky decor makes for a very social environment or oasis, so to speak. Take time to check social media, nibble on a bagelwich, and people watch. The outdoor seating in the courtyard may present a sunny spot for fresh air and sunshine until that hypnotic coffee aroma lures you back inside for a refill.

Hukilau Lanai in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Hukilau Lanai in Kapaa, Kauai! If you’ve ever wondered how hula dancers keep that slim waistline, perhaps it has something to do with healthy choices. Hukilau Lanai offers farm-to-table fruit and local vegetables as well as fresh fish and seafood. They support local farmers and fishermen who are mindful of the environmental impact. A staff of gourmet chefs continue to be inventive in serving food that is as appealing on the plate as it is on the palate. Garnishes add beauty in addition to aromatic elements. It all adds up to outstanding flavor and top-notch quality.

Cabana Bar and Grill in Koloa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: The Cabana Bar & Grill in Koloa, Kauai! Word is getting around that an open-air restaurant, with a backyard of Poipu Beach, is the place to go if you’re looking for a good time. Delicious food and tropical cocktails make this hotspot part restaurant, part beach bar. At The Cabana Bar & Grill seafood offerings and humongous burgers promise to make your mouth water as soon as the plate hits the table. No worries. There’s plenty of time to savor every bite as you sip the time away. After all, you’re in paradise and you’re not homesick. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Sam and Ethel’s Restaurant in Tipp City, Ohio

Dining Outside the Home: Sam and Ethel’s Restaurant in Tipp City, Ohio! If buildings could talk, this 1868 longtime shoe repair shop turned ice cream parlor turned breakfast diner could fill volumes. It’s always been about family service and preserving history in the community. Sam and Ethel’s serves old-fashioned comfort food at affordable prices. The cozy atmosphere provides small talk with staff members, regular customers, and first-time guests. There may be a line at the door, but be patient. Check out the decor. You’ll see hanging on the wall a framed newspaper article with a faded photo of longtime comedian and actor, Jonathan Winters. He actually dropped by for a meal at Sam and Ethel’s. See? It’s definitely worth the wait.

Nashville Underground in Nashville, Tennessee

Dining Outside the Home: Nashville Underground in Nashville, Tennessee! Multi-level rooftop bars are kind of a thing on historic Broadway in downtown Nashville. People flock like pigeons to perch overhead and watch the action. It’s contagious, that’s for sure. Live music, locally-sourced ingredients, and 29° draft beers are the draw. For the adventure-seekers, ride the mechanical bull, dance the night away, or relax on the real green grass rooftop. Nashville Underground is something to talk about. You won’t want to miss out.

BB King’s Blues Club in Nashville, Tennessee

Dining Outside the Home: BB King’s Blues Club in Nashville, Tennessee! Follow the rhythm through the double doors of BB King’s for a legendary adventure in soul music. Glance around the room. The art-filled walls create an ambiance endorsing the musical genre that originated in the Deep South. Listen to the toe-tapping chords strumming on the guitar. Is that a blend of country, jazz, blues, and classical? Better hang around a little longer for this kind of talent. Afternoon turns into evening. Libations flow easy. Southern dishes satisfy hunger pangs. And the music plays on. Maybe it’s time to get back to your roots.