What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Next Step: Island Sweet Potato Salad! There is nothing wrong with your smart phone screen. The colors of Hawaiian sweet potatoes range from orange to green to purple. Notice the creamy texture. The slightly sweet taste may remind you more of a piece of fruit than a root vegetable. Sure it’s popular among the Asian markets, and it can be a little drier than its American cousin, but didn’t someone once say, “Variety is the spice of life”? Go ahead, add your version of seasonings. The results will amaze you.
ISLAND SWEET POTATO SALAD
3 sweet potatoes, Hawaiian assortment, cooked with skin on and cubed
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese, grated
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
3 strips bacon, crumbled
2 green onions, chopped
In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, parmesan cheese, black pepper, and Himalayan sea salt. Place cubed sweet potatoes in a large bowl. Coat with mayonnaise mixture. Fold in bacon crumbles and green onion. Chill for one hour. Serve.
Dining Outside the Home: Hualani’s Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai. Celebrations of life are a good reason to reserve a table at Hualani’s Restaurant, where the ocean stretches forever in a sea of aquatic blue. After all, there’s nothing quite like watching palm trees sway against a torch-lit sky as the sun slides behind the Haupu Mountain Range. Relax with a crafted cocktail. Stretch your palate to try something extraordinary from land and sea like Whole Fried Market Fish, Mashed Okinawa Potatoes with scallions, and Spiced Rum Pineapple Confit. It’s the attention to detail and presentation that embrace a dining experience that will be long remembered.
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: 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: Kalapaki Joe’s Sports Bar in Lihue, Kauai! On the edge of nowhere sits the island’s secret for fresh salad meals, ocean fish, Happy Hour specials, ginormous burgers, cold beverages, and televised sports. Stop in for one reason or another. And if you’re hungry, go for the Big Plate Entrees. The Ahi Poke Crunch Salad was an adventure in fusion food: raw Ahi, Asian slaw, crispy tortilla strips, Oriental vinaigrette, and wasabi cream. No matter your craving, Kalapaki Joe’s brings people of the East and West closer.
Dining Outside the Home: Kauai Beer Company in Lihue, Kauai! Crafted beers aren’t the only things being served up at this hip neighborhood brewpub. Every Wednesday night, at dinner time, you can treat yourself to an aged boneless sirloin prime rib roast that has been in the smoker marinating in its own juices all day long. Talk about tender! Order a large cut to share; it’s perfect for two, especially with the generous side dishes. The atmosphere is kid-friendly, even down to the family dog. Water bowls and back rubbing for furry pets comes naturally to the wait staff. So, kick back, sip on a flight of brews, and let the good times roll.
Dining Outside the Home: Café Portofino in Lihue, Kauai! Feel the romantic rhythm of northern Italy in a tropical destination overlooking the beach. This is paradise on the island of Kauai. The food is true Italian cuisine, the wine from cellars across the world. Café Portofino, a family-owned business, offers fresh seafood and locally sourced vegetables as well as classic dishes. Notice the Red Beet Salad and Grilled Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo, both celebration-worthy. Chat with the wait staff. Their friendly reception is warm and connected with deep-felt hospitality. For a memorable evening, especially bringing in the New Year, treat yourself to a taste of Italy.
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: Tortilla Republic Kitchen and Margarita Bar in Koloa, Kauai. Picture this. The sun is super-bright and tropical-warm to the point where ducking into a Mexican cantina for a salt-rimmed margarita would have been a good idea about an hour ago. Nevertheless, the shade on the outdoor patio feels 10° cooler under the turquoise blue umbrella as the breezes are beginning to stir. The house margarita goes down easy on its way to an order of Quesadilla Vegetariano. I’m sure you get the picture. Complimentary tortilla chips and spicy salsa are perfect for snacking. This is a recipe for making my day.