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Thursday
Jan192012

eating my way through oahu

After a week worth of basking in the sun and eating my way through Oahu, I'm ready to share some of my most amazing dining experiences. I was so lucky to have a local pal give her best insight on where to go and what to try.  Thanks, Leslie!

Ok, let's start with Spam.  I never thought I'd use Spam and amazing in the same sentence, but I'm not joking, a good Spam musubi is just that - really good!

It looks a little like a Spam sushi roll, huh?  Well, it's simple - a bed of rice and a grilled piece of Spam wrapped in nori (seaweed).  I tried one Spam musubi (not the one pictured above) and it wasn't good. It was dry and tasted like grilled cat food.  However, I'm no quitter, so I found a little local food stall in an open air market in Honolulu and tried again.  I got it right the second time.

This version has "teri" sauce (teriyaki) and it was moist, hearty and really tasty. 

What's the best way to eat one of these tasty little treats?  Well, with you're pinky finger up of course. It's classy like that.

While the Spam musubi was great, something caught my eye in a market and it scared me.  I was terrified yet drawn to it with morbid curiousity.  Spam flavored macadamia nuts?  Yes, they exist. 

Next stop on the eating train was some that was really truly fantastic.  Probably the best thing I ate all week.  Fresh grilled Kona coast abalone from Big Island Abalone.  They have a stand Honolulu's best farmer's market near the Kapi 'Olaini Community College.  

The farmer's market is hosted every Saturday moring and it is just great.  I'm used to busy farmer's markets in the Bay Area, so the crowd didn't bother me one bit.  All of the vendors are using locally grown and harvested products from Hawaii.  It's really great.

The abalone was simple, pure and such a treat.  Something I don't eat often and really cherish the opportunity to try it.  We added a bit of lemon juice, soy sauce and a dash of Tabasco. It was meaty yet light, with a bit of chew but certainly not too much.  This is what I consider a true island treat.

I think it's safe to say that you're not really eating Hawaiian food if you haven't had any ahi.  We ate it almost every day, whether in the form of poke (a Hawaiian classic), on a salad or in a burger.

On our way to the North Shore of Oahu for a little fun in the sun, we stopped by what turned out to be one of my favorite meals, a grilled ahi burger with pieces of avocado the size of a dinner plate at Kua 'Aina in Haleiwa.  

Okay, back to the burger.  Did I mention the size of the slices of avocado?  They were HUGE!  I didn't know avocado even grew that big.  Well, on the island they do. 

One of my favorite details about this burger was the coarse Hawaiian sea salt that was sprinkled on the avocado.  It was so perfect, I could have just eaten that straight up.  

The sandwich was pretty simple really, lettuce, tomato, fresh grilled ahi steak and avocado.  This was one messy sandwich, but in a very good way!

Now it's time for another local favorite.  If you know anyone from Hawaii, I'm sure they have mentioned loco moco, and for good reason.  It's delicious.  

I'll admit I tried this island favorite a few times throughout the week (maybe not the healthiest week when I reflect on my trip).  My favorite was from a local dive called Rainbow Drive-In in Honolulu. 

Inspired by a recent episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, I had to make it to this stop. If it's a favorite with the locals, it's a favorite with me.

So, what's loco moco you ask?  It's two scoops of rice (a pretty standard starter in a lot of meals in Hawaii), hamburger patties (that's right, two haburger patties on the loco moco I tried), topped with gravy and two eggs.  Sounds good, huh?

This loco moco was fantastic.  Certainly not something I want to get into the habit of too often, but worth the calories in my humble opinion.   Oh, I forgot to mention that everything seems to be served with macaroni salad or "mac salad"  in Hawaii.  I'm not complaining. 

The trip is over and I'm back home, thinking nostalgically about my aloha time, and am I'm planning to make kalua pork this weekend, another Hawaiian favorite.  

Until my next visit, it's time to clean the sand out of my suitcase, gaze longingly at all of my fantastic salts, spices and chili water souvenirs, and pack my swimsuits away for what feels like an eternity.  Oh ya, I also need to pack my bag for the gym.

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