Plenty, Hawaii style

May 26 – June 4, 2012

Talk about Plenty! We had a week + of Plenty in the form of delicious food, time with lovelies, the ocean, geckos, and snorkeling galore. Throw in a coffee tour with tastings, a spa day and luau at a local resort, and a dive to the bottom of the ocean via a submarine, and our week on the Big Island of Hawaii was truly amazing. Some of the fabulous food that we had was planned — including a special birthday dinner for my love at Merriman’s in Waimea — and some was lucky happenstance.  Some of our foodie plenty is below for your enjoyment!

We started our week with a spa day and then a luau at a local resort. The luau was such a fun experience! We tried lots of traditional Hawaiian dishes including poi ( a viscous dish made from pounded taro), salmon lomi lomi ( a fresh tomato and salmon salad), poke ( a raw fish dish that V and I *loved* and that you will definitely see re-appear in this post), ho’io (fern-shoot salad), taro rolls with fruit butter, and purple sweet potato salad, as well as some buttery kalua pork, and loads of fresh pineapple. The best part of the evening, though, was watching V learn the hula! We all enjoyed the lessons teaching us how to perform the hukilau, but the only one who remembers it!

Next up was a lovely birthday dinner at Merriman’s in Waimea. It necessitated a drive across much of the western half of the island, but oh was it delicious! My ono (a hawaiian whitefish) and B’s pork with red quinoa were both fabulous, but the standout was the appetizer (pupus! will I ever grow up enough to say that without laughing?!) platter that had some divine raw fish, amazing pork, and some other yummy goodness that I don’t even remember because we ate it so fast (and I forgot to take pictures for the same reason). The herbs and many of the vegetables (including those in the vegetable tasting that we also ordered) were grown right in the gardens on site — in fact, I chatted with one of the chef’s as she cut herbs for the dishes that night and we oohed and ahed over the red sorrel and other heirloom herbs. We ended the evening with dessert, including fresh pineapple crisp and V’s fabulous lilikoi mousse. We fell in love with lilikoi – a Hawaiian passionfruit – that we had in mousse, gelato, shave ice, and spritzer form over the course of the week.

Remember the poke from the luau? Well, it definitely reappeared in our hawaiian adventures — including as a burger! We tried to find the Aloha Theatre Cafe for brunch at the recomendation of a friend, but they closed last year, which ended up being just fine for us, as we ended up at Annie’s just up the road – a place that I had read about in my foodie research for the trip. They have all kinds of fabulous burgers and sides, and while everyone loved their burgers (including the portabello and bulgur version that A had), my poke burger was a knockout! As their menu states, it is “Panko coated patties made with our fresh sesame and shoyu-seasoned fish. Fried and complemented by sliced avocado and our special cucumber aioli. Served on a classic bun”.

The fries were also revelatory – basil and TONS of roasted garlic tossed with fresh-made french fries. Ummm, hells yes!

The other poke meal that we had was at Da Poke Shack, a tiny little storefront with no inside seating that was about a mile from our house. Our only regret is that we didn’t discover it until our last day there! They had 8+ kinds of fresh poke available, and a poke bowl that is brown rice, seaweed and sesame topping, your choice of poke, and a side ( seaweed salad, crab salad, sweet chili edamame, etc). It was amazing. I got two different type of ahi poke – shoyu/sesame and another with avocado aioli. V got the octopus, and while it was good, it was nothing compared to the melt-in-your-mouth goodness of the ahi poke — any style.

Some of the other fabulous hawaiian food that we had included fresh as can be sushi from Kenichi Pacific ( and we lucked into their 1/2 price sushi happy hour!) and a veggie version of the classic loco moco. This one was at Sam Choy’s and filled with spinach and brown rice and shitake mushroom gravy. What a great remake. Oh, Hawaii, we will definitely be back to enjoy your Plenty again soon!



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