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travel: hawaii. again.

its funny to think that i was just in honolulu 11 months ago.
but, i’ll be back shortly.
my next trip is back to good old HNL and i’ll be spending 11 days just chilling out and not doing a whole heck of a lot.

see, i have this thing over the last couple years…its the fervent belief that i should wake up on my birthday somewhere warm and beautiful.

basically this is the evolution of my insistence for the last 10+ years that i not work on my birthday.
i always booked it off and would take the day simply to sleep in, laze around and frankly, do whatever the hell i felt like.
there was often breakfast booze, pedicures and haircuts on the schedule…

but while thats been great and all… a couple years ago i booked myself to hawaii early ahead of a family vacation so that i could have all those things, just in hawaii.
last year i didn’t make it back, my trip was november instead of december, but this year; its on.

because i believe that on your birthday you should be happy.  truly happy.
and hawaii makes me happy in a way nowhere else can.

anyways.
i’ve been thinking about my upcoming trip lately because the husband and i watched an amazing 2 hour documentary on eddie aikau.
wow, what an absolutely moving story.
i’ve seen “eddie would go” stickers and signs around oahu’s north shore, but didn’t know where the saying had come from.  and what a legacy this guy has left, not just for being a surfer, but mostly for being such an exceptional human being.

anyways, i won’t readers digest such an amazing film, but i highly recommend you check it out: Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau

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so, after that doc, hawaii has been on the brain… and i can’t wait to be back.

as usual, we don’t have too much planned.
i’m going to the spa on my birthday… and then out for teppanyaki since my husband has never had it before (! crazy, right?)
i hope to get a meal in at chef morimoto’s restaurant which looks amazing and has been on my list for years…  morimoto waikiki

beyond that, it’s a jam packed schedule of sweet fuck all.
which i am more than ready for.

we’re staying in a condo for the first 7 nights and then my husband and i are moving to one of my favourite hotels, the outrigger waikiki on the beach for 4 nights.
i just find that i spend so much time infront of that hotel on the beach, in the restaurants; particularly duke’s, and so why not just buck up and stay there?
we’re in a partial ocean view room which means in the morning i can sit on the patio with my coffee in my jammies and sip while i gaze out over the gorgeous water and daydream of running away forever to the islands…
those morning moments are amoung my favourite little pieces of hawaii.

this is pretty much how i’m envisioning that view going down…
because i’m “thrifty” i only do the partial ocean view… saves about $50 a night and its not like what you get is bad…

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hawaii… come at me!
i’m ready for you.
countdown clock = 44 days.

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travel: the delights of waikiki

aloha!
once again, i must hang my head in shame and apologize for my absence. i was away for 9 days, but the rest of it has just been real life and a giant black hole of stress sucking my inspiration.  but this morning, i’ve committed myself to posting my hawaii roundup before i head off to seattle for the night.

november saw me return to waikiki for the 5th time.  but this trip wasn’t about sightseeing or anything important… it was about getting some sun and relaxing with my husband.  …and special guest appearances by my bro & his buddy and the puss & her family.  all around, it was a great time.

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we stayed at the aqua bamboo, which was new for me.  it was actually my first time not staying at a beachfront property right on waikiki beach.  for those familiar with the area, the bamboo is on kuhio, pretty much in line with the surfrider.  so it’s not far to the beach… lets say a 5 minute walk (2 blocks), but i will still stand by my preference of staying beachfront.
the hotel itself was good… cheap and cheerful as they say… nothing fancy, but absolutely fine for a week stay.  the hotel had an adorable little pool and the world’s tiniest hot tub, which was a factor in choosing the hotel, but at the end of it all we never actually made it in to either.

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i did enjoy that the bamboo had a very affordable massage place that was poolside.  my husband i both had a 50 minute massage for just under $80 including tax & tip.  a great bargain.  and boy did it ever feel good after that hike to diamond head.

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ah the diamond head hike… its turned into a must do for me.  you know… i must punish my body for so many mai tais.  somehow it makes me feel better. this trip, i literally woke my hangover up, did the 45 minute walk to diamond head, then did the hike and back and then ate a giant burger and then swam in the ocean,  then went for a massage.
overall, i’d say it was a hawaii win.  cured my hangover, thats for sure.

so, beverages will come in their own post, because in hawaii, there is no shortage of happy hour and tropical delights… but this one is all about the food.

hawaii’s food is a unique style of cuisine that defines melting pot.  it has strong influences from asia, polynesia, north america and when its mixed in with the traditional foods native to the area, you get things you can’t find anywhere else.  my husband’s favourite is loco moco.
basically loco moco is rice, a hamburger patty, 2 fried eggs done any style and smothered in gravy.  for breakfast. and its delicious.

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you know how they say; when in rome…?  well, when in hawaii, you’d best eat some loco moco.  and my husband did.  5 times.  lol.  he was on a mission to sample the local favourite at as many places as possible… and his verdict was that every place did it a little different, but at the end of the day, it was all delicious.  some places had a homemade gravy, sometimes adding mushrooms and/or onions… some places garnished with chopped green onions… some places put the gravy on top of the eggs, others eggs last.  some burger patties were clearly frozen from a box, others were hand formed and fresh.  but the base for all of them never changed… this delicious hawaiian style white rice.  i’m not too sure how they make their rice taste so good, but it sure does.  and for me, it’s one of my LOVES about hawaii, is that i can get this yummy sticky almost sushi style rice with my breakfasts.

so while my husband was eating his weight in loco moco, i was eating things like this:

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and i can’t forget the magic of this…

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ahhhh pancakes in hawaii.  another random thing to be in love with, but i never ever order pancakes at home. i just don’t care for them much. but in hawaii its a different animal.  topped with things like pineapple, coconut, macadamia nuts and other local treats… and then smothered in coconut syrup instead of maple?  oh man, put a fork in me, i am DONE.

and let us not forget the papaya that much accompany every breakfast no matter what your main of choice is:

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yup, thats the stuff.

another island favourite is “pupus” which as far as i can tell is just hawaiian for appetizer.  which makes for hilarious (warning: may only be hilarious after several mai tais) jokes about needing to “take a wicked appetizer”.  haha.
anyhoo…. we had a lot of pupus.  because happy hour is cheap!  and if you do it right, you don’t really need a proper dinner.
one of my favourite destinations for pupus in waikiki is hula grill in the outrigger waikiki on the beach.  its upstairs from duke’s and often overlooked in favour of dukes.  but here’s the thing.  the decor is just as awesome upstairs, the food is pretty much the same and the drinks are waaaaay cheaper during happy hour.  so the hula grill is where you’ll often find me at happy hour…. eating things like: kahlua pork potstickers and ceviche and crab & mac nut stuffed won tons…

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and my personal favourites: crispy pork belly bao

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and the honey chicken lollypops which were ridiculously sticky sweet goodness.

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and at the end of a several hour long happy hour… we weren’t much worse for the wear financially.

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then there’s downstairs.  duke’s.  what can you say? if you’ve gone to waikiki, you’ve gone to dukes.  you just… have to.  yes, its loud and crazy and filled to the brim with pasty tourists and there’s children… but it’s dead centre in waikiki beach and makes a wicked mai tai and has good food and live music and, well, it’s just fun.

i am particularly in love with their salad bar.  there’s not a lot of good salad in waikiki, and dukes scratches my itch for fresh crispy lettuce and tons of good toppings so that i can construct my picky girl salad of choice.
but the fish entrees should never be overlooked.  you get the list from the server of whats in season and fresh right now and you choose from one of 4 preparations that they offer and chow down.  the fish entrees are always well cooked, perfectly seasoned and just fucking delicious.

we had the following: mine is the opah with mac nut crust and butter caper sauce (i just drooled typing that)
SAUTÉED MAC NUT AND HERB CRUSTED – Lightly dusted in parmesan cheese & bread crumbs, topped with lemon and caper butter

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and my husband dinned on the ono done duke’s style…
BAKED “DUKE’S STYLE” – Baked in a garlic, lemon and sweet basil glaze

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both were giant portions of fish so fresh, it may have been swimming yesterday… and at a fair market price.  plus it includes salad bar. did i mention the salad bar?

my last category for hawaiian eats is pop ups, food carts & beach shacks.  yes, food is everywhere in waikiki.  on two occasions this last trip, my husband and i grabbed some fish tacos & pork tacos from the food hut right on waikiki beach beside the surfrider and deemed it one of the best deals around.  $19 got us 4 giant tacos and a house brewed iced tea with pineapple juice in it to share.  not too shabby.

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a few days into our trip, on the way back from the beach to the hotel, we were surprised by a pop up market of sorts… except it was all food stands.  it wasn’t selling groceries, like our markets here, but selling fresh baked delights and pad thai and poke and even empanadas and dim sum treats.  so we stocked up and went back to our balcony with some local beers and made our own happy hour.

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last, but certainly not least… once can not forget that hawaii knows its food trucks.  possibly the best one i’ve ever seen… the malasadas truck.  leonards is famous for its malasadas which are basically like a big round dounut rolled in sugar and sometimes stuffed with creme or fruit filling.  they’re DELICIOUS.  and leonards is the king.  buuuuut we didn’t quite make it to leonards proper, so we were thrilled to stumble across their food truck on the way to sandy beach one day.

so while we did this:

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we also go to eat this:

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a clear win win situation.

and off course, on our quest to enjoy this beach:

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we also got to enjoy this shrimp shack on the north shore.

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there’s a lot of shrimp options, and generally we go to giovanni’s, but this one lured us in with their option to have local shrimp, while a lot of stands have switched to the cheaper and inferior thailand shrimp.  the difference slapped you in the face.  these were almost like my beloved spot prawns.  sooooo worth the half hour wait.  (this place was BUSY – also a good sign)

and of course, i had to have my coconut… and this time i also may have had a corn on the cob at the roadside pit stop…

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mmmhmmm.  and thats how i do hawaii.
oh, but before i wrap up, i’d like to give a surprising honorable mention to buba gump’s shrimp.  yes, it is a chain theme restaurant and generally that goes against my better instincts, but my husband loves it and he actually sold me on it with this:

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thats a pound and a half of hot fresh cooked peel & eats with half caijun spice and half butter and garlic.  ya, we slayed those in a few minutes flat.  they were messy and buttery and so fucking delicious.

but then we followed it up with some shrimp tacos…

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and the calamari that they swore was the best ever and you know, it actually was like top 5 in my life and i’ve eaten a LOT of fried squid in my day.

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theirs had half squid, half rock shrimp and also deep fried red peppers and pepperoncini peppers.  well played bubba gumps, well played.

and so, i leave you with my last view of hawaii for this trip… diamondhead from my brothers suite on the 33rd floor of the sheraton.  yes, it was a grand time had in hawaii, and yes, i’ll be back as soon as i can.

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food: paleo tuna cakes

so, as you may have judged by the lack of regular posts, life has been extra real lately.
i’ve not only been busy, but i’ve been very unmotivated.
instead of getting up with the sun and being productive before work (aka – blogging and running/gym), i’ve been hitting snooze and running for my bus to no be late.  not cool.

so today is my first day of up and at’em.
and naturally that means its a blogging morning, not a running morning.  because let’s be realistic here.

that being said, vancouver has skipped spring and launched full tilt into summer.  which, is a-okay with me.
i went from rain jackets and boots to a very unneeded hoodie in a matter of a week.
and i also have fine tuned my summer goals.
there’s a trail running clinic that sounds super fun and it starts in july.  but you have to be able to run 30 minutes to join… and i used to be able to, but i’m very out of practice.  so i have about 6 weeks to get back.
note – vegas will probably not help in this matter.

anyways, i’m also back on the healthy eats.  there’s been some set backs… a lot of decadent non-paleo food has snuck in.
i actually even ate wheat at my anniversary dinner.  it was my first piece of bread in 7 months.
i realized that i had totally forgotten the texture.  also, i still love bread.
but i was determined for it to be a one night stand with the bread and haven’t touched it again since.
i think its going to make italy even more amazing if i can hold out until then because frankly eating that piece last week was like tasting it for the first time.

now, back to the task at hand…
i downloaded an awesome food app for my ipad from nomnompaleo and i’ve been totally inspired by it.
my husband asked last week what to make for dinner and i handed him the ipad and said “anything you find on this app sounds awesome” and he decided on paleo tuna cakes.

this was a fun recipe… you cook and form them in muffin tins and then bake them and before serving, you brown them in a little clarified butter.
the sweet potato in there somehow makes them taste like they have cheese in them.
they’re delicious.

the only problem was that they stuck to the muffin tins.  but i’m not sure if maybe they weren’t greased enough or what… but even in imperfect patties, they were awesome.

and then we did an un-paleo thing and put a little dollop of creme fraiche with chives on top.  because that shit is yum.

i was looking and it seems like the recipe is gone from nomnompaleo.com which i’m guessing is because its meant to drive sales of the app… which is fair enough.  so i won’t post it.
but its worth the couple bucks i paid for it.

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love letters to hawaii: a liquid post

in less than 3 weeks, i will be in hawaii.  a place, to me, of pure bliss.

i am set to spend my longest ever vacation there… 15 nights.  to be split 3 in honolulu and 12 in maui.  i’m so excited.  it’s been just over a year since i was in hawaii last, but before that it had been about 12 years.  and i’ve never been to maui.  it’s funny, because at work i sell a LOT of maui, and i’ve basically just been faking my way through it based on my knowledge from other islands.  but no more.  when i return from this trip, i will be WELL versed.

i get asked a lot about my favourite destinations and hawaii is always high up on the list.  to me, it’s perfection.  it’s easy to get to – direct flights to 3 islands from YVR, it’s safe and easy to visit on account of being in the usa, it’s cheap comparatively – sure there’s no all inclusive packages, but the booze is dirt cheap in america and almost every hotel room has a kitchenette and lastly, it’s just so fucking stunning.  the beach and the ocean are incredible, the people & culture rich and intriguing. there’s volcanoes, rainforest, beaches, hikes, waterfalls… everything you could ever want.

i love hawaii.  give me hawaii over mexico any day of the week.

if you’ve ever wanted to see my face when i’m truly happy… this is it:

beachfront in hawaii, local beer in hand, sunkissed and utterly relaxed.

i’m normally not much for the sugary drinks, but when in hawaii, well, it just seems wrong if you’re not enjoying the occasional mai tai.

pretty much every single place will make one, some places are (obviously) vastly better than others.  our hotel (outrigger reef on the beach) had a great place called the shorebird that we frequented.  the mai tais weren’t the best ever, but they were cheap (especially during happy hour) and definitely went down smooth.


now that one is a little heavy on the grenadine… but it was still tasty.  also the pic is a little coloured, but you get the idea.

i had a few other delicious beverages while i was there…

ooh look!  another mai tai!  shocking!  i actually believe this is my first one upon landing.  i’m not even sure we brought our bags to our room first, lol.

and of course, every trip starts with plane vodka
hey, don’t judge… it’s a LONG flight!  …and i get thirsty…

…and sometimes you have to have a local beer on your hotel patio while overlooking the ocean.  because life is rough, yo.

these next ones were my favourite drinks of the trip.  on the lanai at the royal hawaiian, overlooking waikiki beach.

mine is the blendy basil drink – the chi, and my mom’s is the royal mai tai, made properly.  i snapped a pic of the menu because every drink sounded like heaven.

 

…and of course there’s a beer at the airport at the kona brewing company brewpub.

*sigh*

alright hawaii, i’ll see your sexy self in 19 days.