Dining Outside the Home: Hualani’s Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai. Like moths to a flame, people are drawn to a restaurant with an ocean view. Perhaps the sound of the waves lapping on the shoreline is conducive to ultimate freedom and peaceful relaxation. On the horizon you might catch sight of an airliner gliding over the lighthouse. Hualani’s open-air restaurant understands the hypnotic pull of the ocean. It’s one of the reasons their menu features local fresh ingredients from land, sea, and living by the water. I suggest a Yoga Girl Cocktail and Seared Shrimp Quesadilla. Is it any wonder the name Hualani translates to “Fruit of Heaven”? Come and see.
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.
Dining Outside the Home: Hualani’s Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai. Take a magic carpet ride to a place in which a Polynesian-style resort sits on the edge of the island with a close-up view of passing cruise ships. Palm trees sway around a two-tiered infinity pool while ocean waves splash ashore. Squint hard to imagine where the pool ends and the sea begins. Relax in a wicker chair on the lanai where the martinis are straight up, and sometimes a little dirty. Farm-to-table Hawaiian dishes are taken seriously since the herbs and vegetables are grown nearby. Savor them. And always, I mean always, save a little room for the Banana Macadamia Lumpia dessert. This flaky Filipino concoction is nothing short of amazing at Hualani’s Restaurant.
Dining Outside the Home: Hukilau Lanai in Kapaa, Kauai! Every meal becomes a special occasion with a superb wait staff who is willing to satisfy your heart’s desire. Romance, you got it. Nostalgia, no worries. Impeccable food, a given. Start things off leisurely with a crafted cocktail: Ginger Martini. Sip it deliberately. Let the Hawaiian vodka seduce your taste buds with a tangy ginger liqueur finish. Mmmm. My husband chose a Ginny Hendrick’s garnished with a fresh rosemary sprig from their very own herb garden. Feeling pampered yet? Nibble on a savory appetizer of Lobster and Goat Cheese Wonton as a prelude to an incredible Lobster Curry Bisque. Can anyone have too much lobster? Wait, this is just the beginning. The entrées are first-class, the desserts divine. Surrender your will power. Every bite is worth it.
Dining Outside the Home: Kintaro Japanese Restaurant in Kapaa, Kauai! When the locals recommend a place to eat, pay attention, especially if they are making reservations for a private celebration behind shoji screens with tatami mat seating. Kintaro is that good. For others, it’s first-come, first-served whether you are seated at the exotic sushi bar, a table for two in the dining room, or family-style seating around the teppan yaki table grills. For starters a plate of complimentary crispy fried wontons were served by the friendly wait staff. They were so yummy, we ordered more. And because using chop sticks is part of the experience, the filet mignon and lobster tail combo were already cut into bite-sized cubes arranged on the plate. The rest is easy. Sit back, bask in the Asian decor, and enjoy the cuisine.
Dining Outside the Home: Pomodoro Italiano Food Truck in Lihue, Kauai! What does a retired couple do after a long and successful career as owners of an authentic Italian restaurant? They take a deep breath, get a second wind, and open a food truck under the same name. Simply because Tony and Geri are Italian to the core. They love to cook, which means sharing their heritage with others. Try the House Special featuring an unbelievable Lasagna. The layers of gooey cheese and fresh herbs are enough to make your eyes roll back. The savory marinara sauce slathered over Italian sausage on a bed of spaghetti is simply delish. Twirl your fork around that. Are you getting hungry? No worries. The menu will have you already planning a return visit to try something else. Grazie, grazie molto!
What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Simple Sensations: Kalua Pork Roast! This special blend of herbs is a tribute to warm, tropical summer nights. The term, “Kalua”, is Hawaiian for slow cooked. I have put this frozen roast in the oven and let flavors blend all day long for an exotic taste that will have your senses wondering if you’ve been transported to a private paradise. The extra meals provided are a bonus that will have others showering you with praise in the days following.
KALUA PORK ROAST
4 pound boneless pork butt roast
1 tablespoon Red Hawaiian Alaea Sea Salt*
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning
2 cups apple juice
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
1 bottle beer
Set oven to 275°. Place frozen pork roast in a covered roaster, fat side up. Pour apple juice and apple cider vinegar over roast. Next apply liquid smoke. Finish by sprinkling the Alaea sea salt and Mrs. Dash herb blend over the pork. Make sure the lid is on securely. You will begin to smell the heavenly aroma as it slowly cooks. Five hours later, check the roast, as the liquid will absorb. I discovered some roasters allow the liquid to evaporate a little sooner than I expected. I have found Le Creuset to be very reliable. If the roast needs more liquid, pour a bottle of beer over it. Keep it covered and slowly cook it at least another three hours. I have let it cook for ten hours total without a problem. It is so fork-tender you will be amazed. And the drippings can be used for gravy or barbecue sauce.
*Available through Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts. (I receive no recompense for promoting their product.)
For island-style charm, on the historic Royal Coconut Coast, the oceanfront sunrise is unbelievable. As the dawn turns from azure-blue-grey to the golden cerulean seagreen of clear Pacific waters, the pull of the ocean practically lures you over the balcony to become one with the sea. Across the only road that runs north and south, like a horseshoe, on the island just beyond the lush valley is a view of the Sleeping Giant Mountain Range. The view can literally take your breath away. Old Kapaa Town is just a stone’s throw away. Walk the uncrowded shoreline, paying attention to the kite-surfing enthusiasts, or choose the paved Kauai Path for biking and daily exercise. Whatever the whim, the East Shore fits the bill.
The white surf on the coral reef disappeared into the blue shadows along the shoreline. From the cliff house, on the East Shore of the island, the daily temperature rarely dipped below 71° and seldom peaked above 84°. Our exercise regimen included a two-mile walk along the small stretch of beach on Kalapaki Bay. Looking out beyond open waters, the azure blue of sky and sea melded together until it disappeared into a hazy horizon. The sun shown so brilliantly white, I often had to squint behind polarized sunglasses just to find shade in the leafy fronds of a towering palm tree. Evening strolls through the cultural garden past bridges, waterfalls, and statues led us on stone pathways from magnificent Poi Pond to exotic Bird of Paradise. A nightcap against the radiant sunset soothed the senses. Two tropical cocktails arrived decorated with a maraschino cherry and fresh-cut pineapple wedge skewered by pretty paper umbrellas. Well done, Kauai Marriott Beach Resort.