But before we go…….

We have four weeks left here.  There’s so much that we’re trying to do before we leave.  The last few weeks have been invigorating.  K and I want to leave something behind that we can continue to contribute to even after we leave and alot of the pieces have been falling into place, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Four weeks left.  Almost 2 years behind us.  We’re returning to a place that you rarely see green, you don’t wake up looking at the sky, and mochi is not in abundant supply.  So while we were having lunch the other day I brought a notebook with me and we started our Hawaii wish list: all the things that I hope we get to do before we leave.  Some of these things we want to do together.  Some only one of us wants to do (ie skydiving (eg not me)).

1. Volcanos (Big Island)
2. Black sand beaches (Big Island)
3. Swim with dolphins in the wild (with a life vest)
4. Skydive
5. Take a surf lesson ( I don’t swim)
6. Molokai
7. Hana
8. Lanai
9. Stay on Kauai’s North Shore
10. Old Lahaina Luau
11. Merrie Monarch

These are sort of touristy things.  Hopefully more specific ideas will occur to me.
In four weeks we’re back home.  I find myself trying to take stock of all kinds of things:

what we want to do before we leave here;
what our new home might look like;
what kind of job I’ll get
…we’ll see….

wish us luck!



Last year I was in New York for Thanksgiving so K and I didn’t spend it together. This year we were invited to four people’s Thanksgivings which was so nice and unexpected.

We thought that we’d be able to go two. Though later we found that both started at the same time. We decided to go to our friend Mark’s house for a traditional “pre-Western contact” Hawaiian dinner and then to the Marine Corps Base in Kaneohe for dessert.

It would have been nice to spend more time at each place but either way it was an amazing holiday and I’m still full.

When we arrived in Manoa, the table was set so beautifully.

Mark had fish and breadfruit on the fire downstairs and I was so excited to eat. I love Hawaiian food: lau lau, haupia, and poi. Some people aren’t fans of poi because of its texture and bland-ish taste. But to me it’s like mochi pudding. I love it. I feel like I knew what it would taste like before I ever tasted it and I knew that I would like it.

We also had awa for the first time. Mark was straining it by hand for awhile before we ate. Kalei warned us that it doesn’t taste good and if she hadn’t I might have thought so. But you’re meant to drink it all down at once before a meal. It has a relaxing effect and prepares your body for the big meal ahead. Mark said that some people even use it to help them sleep. I drank it all and it wasn’t so bad…what was nice was the novocaine like effect afterwards. K wondered later ‘can you become an awa-holic?’ Mark answered ‘yes’.

The meal was so delicious but I got full so fast. I was all revved up to dig in and then all of a sudden everything on my plate was gone and I felt like I couldn’t take one more bite of food…and believe me I tried.

After dinner the sun began to set and it started to rain sideways.

Mark said that it was good luck. That if you looked at the mountain it looked like a woman’s face and the rain was like her hair flowing behind her.

It was a lovely dinner. But we were running late and had to head over to Kea’s for dessert. Before we did though, we had one more cup of awa.

When I was in college my boyfriend was in the Air Force. One Summer rather than go home to my parent’s house, I lived secretly on base with him. I have some really fond memories of that time. Life on base for an enlisted is not fancy, it can be kind of boring but there’s also alot of order and camaraderie. Which I really like. In some ways I was looking forward to revisiting a military base.

There were some construction issues so we drove around in circles for a little bit. It was interesting to see the neighborhoods–winding narrow roads lined by houses that looked very new, white and upright…like soldier houses. I was reminded by our host’s comment over the course of the night how easy it would be not to leave base at all. Everything you need is mostly there. K remarked how it felt like a city that could be anywhere–that we could have easily not been in Hawaii at all.

When we got to our friend’s house they had finished dinner hours ago and were busily cleaning up. The house was filled with young children and the TV was blaring Hotel for Dogs. There were alot of people there, mostly military families. The three men that were there had recently come back from Afghanistan and Iraq after multiple tours of being away.

At one point our friend’s husband offered to help the ladies in the kitchen with the dishes and everyone guffawed ‘the WARRIOR wants to help with the dishes!’.

Kea’s food looked fantastic. We were able to have some of her apple pie, pumpkin mousse, and home made sorbet.

She was very kind to pack up a little bit of everything she made and the next day we were able to have a whole Thanksgiving meal for lunch.

Good job with the turkey, Turkey.

Early Thanksgiving morning, we headed to Lanakila headquarters to do some extra volunteer work. We were assigned to the Tray Assembly line which meant helping to scoop hot turkey dinners for 800 meals that were going out to the neediest seniors.

We were half an hour early and yet by the time we got there the parking lot was full and there was a mass of people registering for their shift.

We got in line to wash our hands then get our hair nets and gloves. Everyone waited patiently while the the coordinators got the lines ready.

Once the food was brought out, one of the coordiantors thanked us all for being there and gave us a rousing pep talk.

We were asked to take a spot next to a ladle with a designated food label: green beans, mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey, gravy, and cranberry sauce. Everyone scrambled for a spot and waited like dogs at the starting gate.

There are no pictures of what happened next because there was such a flurry of activity and suddenly me and K were scooping, scooping, scooping. Once in awhile the Lanakila staff would yell out some encouragement, or ‘level scoops!’ or ‘hot behind you!’ or ‘more gravy on line 2!’.

Two things I felt while we were scooping our meals:
1. Assembly lines are fun.
And 2. this is making me hungry.

Before we knew it, it was all over. The entire process took less than an hour. Russell the coordinator yelled out ‘Thank you people! Now go on home and watch some football!’ and everyone clapped and dispersed within seconds.

It was really well organized and very satisfying to be a part of. Like a flash mob, flash volunteering.

Restaurant Week

K’s friend Rebecca was in town for a couple of days and she wanted to try Nobu in Waikiki for dinner. There was a special menu as it was Restauarant Week in Hawaii. We decided to go with the four course $40 menu. It was pretty good. Though I was still hungry afterwards. And I drank too much sake… but I got to recline in my car seat and drift off into that great kind of sleep that happens when it’s late, someone else is driving, and you’ve had alot to drink but not enough to make you feel dizzy when you close your eyes.

A few days later I went to Town with Ben and Martha and had their Restaurant Week menu. Three courses for $20–an amazing deal. I had the risotto but I had a taste of Martha’s gnocchi and I’m definitely going to get that next time.

In closing here’s a non-related Restaurant Week picture. Pancake special at Cinnamon’s for the month of November, Pumpkin Crunch:

Fight night

It’s pretty easy to catch a BJ Penn pay per view fight at any number of sports bars in Oahu. MMA is huge here. It seemed a no brainer that some place would feature the Pacquiao/Cotto fight. Pacquiao is a Filipino National Treasure and outside of the Philippines I’ve never lived around so many Filipinos! I called every place that people suggested I call with zero luck. No one was showing it. Our house isn’t equipped with a digital box so we couldn’t purchase it to watch at home.

At work, K asked a friend on the crew if they knew who might be showing the fight. He put it out on the walkie and K said suggestions came pouring in. As an aside, I wish this applied to all of life’s issues.

One of the suggestions was Giovanni Pastrami in Waikiki. And thank goodness! They were showing the fight and you could make reservations. Of course K and I ended up paying cover charges for four people just so that we could have a table…but it was worth it! Giovanni Pastrami is awesome. The pizza wasn’t so good but then again, it isn’t called Giovanni Pizza.

The fight was so good. And the place was filled with Pacquaio fans. We whooped and hollered and banged on the table which was so much fun. It wouldn’t have been if we were Cotto fans or if we’d had to watch it in Puerto Rico instead of HI….

A fork, a spoon, a clear night….

Food is important out here. Of course it’s important everywhere but there’s nothing as comforting or satisfying as plate lunch. Post plate lunch, it appears as if Hawaii’s foodie community is energized and ready for change.

K and I met a group of people coordinating a traveling supper club. It’s underground but very robust in its attendance. Their focus: to spark dialogue among the people that shape Hawaiian cuisine. When they asked us to host an event at our house we were happy to oblige.

It was an experience having 50+ strangers in our house for a sit down dinner. But it went surprisingly without a hitch. I remember thinking as I watched a handful of chefs scurrying around our kitchen that it hadn’t properly been used by us until then.

We invited two of our neighbors up to join the dinner. It was a great chance to get to know them. One of the things that I remember from that evening had nothing to do with food. Bethany and Chad are surf addicts. We talked about swimming, water, and my fear of both. They promised that they could teach me how to surf. Which I long to try but see no easy path to. Chad said that one of the things they could do was take me surfing in water that I could stand up in. What!?

Count me in.


It’s been eons since the Hawaii International Film Festival. Thankfully I was able to see more films than I did last year. Two films that stood out from what I saw were Tze Chun’s Children of Invention and Daniel Lee’s Precious.

Along with bringing boat loads of great videos and films HIff also brought friends from far away. My friend Suzi from way back was here with her lovely film Dear Lemon Lima. Suzi and I had fallen out of touch years ago but fell back into an easy rapport. Maybe it has to do with getting older, but I wondered a few times while we were together, how did we lose touch? It took being thousands of miles from where we met to reconnect.

Cinnamon’s in Kailua was the breakfast place of choice for me and whoever would join me during HIFF. It’s currently my favorite: crab eggs benedict and guava chiffon pancakes.

Another funny thing was that The Chinatown Film Project that Karin and I began at MOCA three years ago had it’s premiere outside of NY at HIFF. Karin couldn’t make it at the last minute so I stepped in to ‘represent’ it. It was the first time I’d seen the result of our efforts. I really didn’t know what to expect. But as we watched Wayne Wang’s contribution to the project, I found myself getting emotional. His scenes of Chinatown swept by like waves. The soundtrack and the images made me feel a longing for NYC Chinatown that I never thought I’d feel. I was really proud to be there and to have had something to do with it.

The trailer for CFP:

Grillin Grillin

At Beth’s house last week I ate a burger her brother grilled and though nicely charred on the outside it was pink pink on the inside. I ate it all anyway because I like steak tartare. This reasoning had me pretty sick for the rest of the night. We played the game Werewolf and at one point I was torn between leaving because I felt like I was going to die and playing another round of the game.

Grilling is a mystery to me. I likely wouldn’t have fared better. Measurements, temperatures, timing…generally befuddle me. The fact that I can cook anything is because I’m really good at following recipes. And I use the term ‘really good’ loosely.

My friend Seth was incredulous when I told him that I didn’t know how to use an outdoor grill. I pointed out that among the many things I didn’t know how to do here, grilling was low on the priority list. Learning how to drive without killing myself and other people basically usurps everything else.

A few days later Seth and Melissa came over and showed us how to use our grill. Or I should say they showed K how to use it and it did in fact look pretty easy. Our burgers were perfect–delicious. And they were ready alot faster than when we make them on the stove top. I think part of it is my great burger recipe. Next time I want to try steaks.


We woke up at sunrise

My Irving Rice travel mirror arrived from Bergdorf’s.

I asked K he wanted to drive to the North Shore for lunch.
He said ‘yes.’

45 minutes later, shrimp plates from Giovanni’s. I got the Lemon Butter Shrimp with a side of hot sauce.

We drove back home.

I fell asleep in the car. Ken was driving 70 mph. The sun we shining. I woke up to Boyz II Men playing on the radio. Ken said to me, ‘do you want yogurt or something?’

I danced in my seat.

I finished the yogurt before we even got home

….and it’s still only 12:30 in the afternoon.

The End.