Back from Vacation

January 22nd, 2007

Maui

Hello all,

Just got back from a wonderful trip to Maui and the stuff paradise is made of – golden sugar-soft sands, sun-warmed waters of that perfect crystalline blue you only find in the tropics, sublimely silly palm trees waving in the wind, the fiery sun diving into the ocean every evening to the sound of conch shells being blown.

On a whale-watching trip we found ourselves almost surrounded by humpback whales, many of them mothers with newborn calves, and were delighted by the antics of a pod of spinner dolphins that followed our boat, frolicking in its wake.

We went hiking into the valleys and forests on the island, and found ourselves befriended on one trek to a waterfall by a local dog who decided to act as our guide, following us and making sure we didn’t lose the trail. Thank you, Hoku! Your owner is lucky to have such a great dog!

Food was a big standout. I don’t think we had a bad meal the entire time. Here are some of our favorite places:

Pita Paradise

1913 South Kihei Road

Kihei, HI

The owner catches his own fish daily and creates delicious specials, but their gyro with Australian lamb and feta cheese has earned a special place in my heart. Perfect fare after a morning at the beach.

Sansei Seafood and Sushi Bar

1881 South Kihei Road

Kihei, HI

Wonderfully fresh sushi and delicious Pacific Rim cuisine as well. They also offer an amazing 50% discount on virtually their entire menu on Sundays and Mondays before 6 PM; we got there at 4:45 since the restaurant opened at 5 and the line was already into the parking lot. But the hamachi nigiri and the miso butterfish were worth the wait.

Paia Fish Market

110 Hana Highway

Hana, HI

This really is a market: You can take home fresh fish, or they’ll prepare in a variety of dishes for you to enjoy there. It seems like such luxury to be able to choose from the catch of the day and have it grilled, sauteed, or turned into tacos, pasta, or sashimi, but it’s all very relaxed, unpretentious, and inexpensive here.

Mala, An Ocean Tavern

1307 Front St.

Lahaina, HI

A very chic little place just past Lahaina, with a beautiful terrace overlooking the ocean so you can peruse their organic-focused, tapas-style menu with the salt wind in your hair. Their ahi tartare was wonderful, as was a "Mexican flatbread" which was a crisp tortilla piled pizza-style with three kinds of fish, lightly spiced with curry.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention much about desserts anywhere…honestly, in the warm balmy weather and after many fresh seafood dishes, I didn’t feel much like the gooey, chocolately desserts offered at most places. I did have some delicious shave ice, as well as some green tea ice cream at Sansei. So I definitely was ready to back into dessert mode when I returned home.

I was crushed to find that I’d missed the deadline for this month’s SHF, but I’m still hankering to honor David’s theme of chocolate. There will a chocolate-oriented post later this week – I’ll have to get my tropical groove on afterwards!

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