“Oh baby, baby, how was I supposed to know?” Ok, now I have Britney Spears and flashbacks of middle school running through my head just from starting to title this post. Oh, the joys of growing up in the nineties where the music that defined our school years were from singers like Britney and Mandy Moore. (Or how about Chumba Wumba?!) But, I digress.
Well cats out of the bag with our biggest news of the year, we’re expecting our first baby! Baby Aipa coming September 2015.
It’s June and Baby, who we’ve endearingly named “mini muffin” as an inside family joke, based on muffin related names my dad calls us, will be here in just over three months! Now that we’ve shared our news and we’re moving on to the second trimester, you can see why I’ve been so lazy on the blog (among many other things) and life is finally starting to pick up again in the productivity department.
Anyhow, with new life comes a new category of topics for Orchuterie, one that for now, we’ll just add to musings and will become a chronicle of some of the new adventures we’re bound to be in for as we get ready for this next adventure in our lives.
Island hopping. If thereʻs one thing for sure, the one benefit to living on an island is that itʻs easy to get from one island to another for a quick getaway vacation.
Donʻt get me wrong, it doesnʻt truly compare to being able to drive letʻs say three hours north from Portland to find yourself in Seattle. At least cost wise. But the variety of the landscape from each of the islands here in Hawaiʻi sure does keep things exciting when youʻre ready for a quick adventure and not willing to pay the money to get yourself all the way out to the mainland.
Since tying the knot a couple years ago, Daniel and I have decided to make celebrating our anniversaries with an annual trip to another island a thing. The year we got married, we did a mini honeymoon on Lanaʻi, last year we jetted out to Kauai and this year? Hawaiʻi island or Kona to be more exact. Let’s hope the tradition continues at least until we can make a stop in each of the islands in the next few years! Or so, that’s the plan for now.
Both Daniel and I have been to Hawaiʻi island before but not together and not since we were kids so we thought itʻd be a great time to explore. We decided to go to Kona because we heard there were more things to do on the Kohala coast. So, a trip back to the big island for a volcano experience is still on the bucket list.
This trip, we stayed at the Fairmont Orchid in the Maunalani Bay resort and found ourselves truly relaxed for the weekend. (How do I get back to that feeling again?)
Anyhow, if you find yourself planning a vacation to Hawaiʻi island or are looking for things to do, here are my top three recommendations:
1. Dinner at Napua Grill
Napua Grill is a newer restaurant in the Maunalani Bay resort area whose chefs are born and raised on Hawaiʻi. When you walk into this restaurant, you literally feel as if youʻre dining on someoneʻs lanai with a front row view of the ocean. The restaurant itself only serves dinner and has somewhere between 10 and 15 tables total, so make sure to make reservations ahead of time.
We lucked out and were able to get a reservation through our concierge, 20 minutes before we dined. They take the farm to table concept literally, bringing ingredients from farms all over the island to your dining experience. In fact, we heard that theyʻre starting their own farm to take the farm to table experience up another notch. It’s probably a good thing that we dined here on our last night on the big island otherwise you probably would’ve found us here every night of our trip.
2. Drive to Haiwi and Waimea
Unlike Oahu, on the big island you can actually get in the car and drive. (Wow, right?!) And itʻll take you a long time because of the distance, not because of the traffic. If youʻre staying on the Kona side Iʻd recommend driving to the adorable beach town of Haiwi and then in towards the valley where youʻll find the quaint cowboy town of Waimea. It makes for a great day trip and the varied landscape from place to place in the short amount of time is just breathtaking.
3. Snorkeling on the Kohala Coast
Iʻm not a big snorkeler. The whole breathe under water through a plastic tube thing doesnʻt do it for me. But, somehow, I was able to get over my underwater breathing issues and was completely blown away by the snorkeling experience on the big island. Literally steps away from where we were staying you could get in the water and swim with turtles and fish. And with the water so clear you can actually see everything youʻre swimming with– a totally different experience than snorkeling on Oahu, thatʻs for sure.
Easter weekend came and went and now it’s back to the daily grind and the gorgeous, everyday is 80 weather. (Just saying, not complaining!)
Last weekend we escaped the mundane “everyday is the same, every week blends into the next” with a quick getaway/extended Easter weekend in Portland with the Kam fam. And, lucky for me, Daniel was able to escape his crazy schedule and join me in Portland for the weekend too. The whole family, all together under one roof=total happiness for this girl.
As you may have figured out if you’ve been following my adventures for a while, Oregon has my heart, and is where my family lives so I visit frequently. And as a visitor these days I take advantage of the short time I have there and play tourist with my family as much as possible. (Check out my top recommendations for things to do in Portland.)
Living in Hawaii, I often complain that it’s hard to tell the seasons a part. With basically the same weather all year round you start to miss the changing of seasons. Having not visited Portland during the Spring in who knows how long, my family and I added a new experience to our list–the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm.
Not only does living in a place with one season make you appreciate the changing of seasons but also, flowers! Tulips! There are so many flowers I never realized you don’t see here in Hawaii that I miss. And, at the Wooden Shoe Tulips Festival we’re talking literally MILLIONS of tulips.
Talk about more flowers than you could ever imagine and a reason for an impromptu photo shoot with every color of tulip you could imagine. I seriously have more pictures of tulips on my phone and camera now than I really know what to do with.
Every once in a while there’s a food event that excites me. Ok, maybe more than every once in a while but it has been a while since I saddled up for a true enthusiasts meal and this one goes down in the books.
A couple weeks ago (I told you, I’ve been lazy!) my girlfriends and I got wind of a Natto dinner happening at Izakaya Torae Torae and knew that we wanted in.
It’s not very often that you have events that celebrate this ooey, gooey Japanese ingredient–not for the light hearted–and even less often that you have people in your life who love natto as much as you do, so when we heard it was happening, we signed up immediately.
Natto, for those of you unfamiliar, is fermented soybeans. It gets a bad rep because of its strong smell, bitter taste and stringy consistency (don’t judge as I know it may be sounding worse and worse but all those things are what I love about this sticky Japanese treat.) Most often you might see a natto enthusiast eating it with hot rice or Japanese curry (and maybe even scrambled eggs, ohhh scrambled eggs, but we won’t go there).
The dinner consisted of eight different courses, all highlighting the night’s star ingredient. From natto and truffle oil edamame to fried mochi smothered in azuki beans one dish after another celebrated what should be everyone’s favorite ingredient.
While all were delicious, these are the ones that kept me wanting more and that I will likely recreate at home on a night very soon–lucky for Daniel whose love for natto doesn’t run as deep as mine although it’s slowly growing.
Onsen Egg with Yama Imo and Natto
I’m a sucker for an onsen egg, so with soft cooked whites and ooey, savory yellows this dish was right up my alley. Swimming in Japanese dashi and covered in yama imo (mountain potato), natto and nametake mushrooms, I could’ve eaten eight servings of this dish alone.
Tempura Chiso Wrapped Natto
Of course, anything battered and fried will always be good. But this tempura just hit the spot. Natto mixed with tobiko, add a crunch from chunks of yama imo, then wrap in shiso leaves and nori and fried? What more is there to say?
And the Nebaneba don? Talk about knowing how to get a girl excited. Put all my favorite things in a bowl (natto, ikura, okra, nametake mushrooms, ahi, yama imo and a quail egg?) and call it a night. Let’s just say this dish was a combination of all the best sticky items that I could think of making it one for the books. Looking forward to the next Natto night in celebration of annual natto day in July!
Iʻd like to believe that there has been good reason for my disappearance. That life has been too busy or too full of this and that to find the time to dedicate to le good ʻol blog and write a few words. But the truth is that Iʻve just been L-A-Z-Y to the nth degree.
If youʻre like me, you have moments where everything is whirring and buzzing and right where you know it should be. Youʻre pushing yourself to your limits and committing your time to things you feel passionate about.
And then there are times like this, where youʻre just not sure and the best thing to do is shh…be quiet and wait for the buzzing and whirring to return. Does that make any sense? Even if it doesnʻt, I think thatʻs ok because sometimes itʻs ok not to make any sense.
Anywho, with all the nothingness, naps and Netflix that continue to go on here (ok letʻs be clear, my version of nothingness might be anotherʻs version of normal, but compared to my usual do everything agenda weʻll call this nothingness.) the weather has been rainy and cool, for Hawaii, underlining my motivation to curl up on the rug with my cat and stare at the ceiling. And to add to the lethargic fog draping over my head Iʻve been feeling a cold coming on.
So, whatʻs the best remedy when itʻs cold and overcast, and you have a cold and a leftover whole chicken? Make jook!
For those of you who donʻt know what jook is, itʻs a Chinese rice porridge also widely known as congee. And when you have a sore throat and need a little something comforting it sure does hit the spot. Growing up, we would mostly have jook one day of the year–the day after Thanksgiving. My dad would take it upon himself to boil the bones to make the most flavorful broth for the soup. After removing the bones and adding rice and a few other ingredients weʻd have day after Thanksgiving jook, full of the savory flavors from dinner the night before.
So while itʻs not Thanksgiving nor is my dad in town to make me soup when I have a cold, I took it upon myself to roll out of bed and make myself a bowl of something oh so good. The variations of how to make this and garnish it are endless but this is how I recommend it. The best part, is the yolky egg–talk about taking savory to the next level.
1. Add the celery, onions, ginger, and garlic to your chicken broth (can be made from scratch or from the can, although I recommend the former) and bring to a boil.
2. Once boiling, turn down to low and add the rice. I like to add only two cups of rice, as I like my jook soupy, but if youʻre going for more of a porridge consistency, you could add 1/2 cup to a cup more of rice. Cover and let the rice cook.
3. After about 15 minutes, check the consistency of the rice to make sure itʻs cooked. Remove the slices of ginger.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Serve piping hot in bowls garnished with a poached egg, diced green onion, sweet onions and sweet pickles.
What a month. Or really even a few months at that. I feel like I blinked and not only did December fly by but January as well.
And, while Iʻm usually the one in our relationship to be making plans and demanding adventures, our usual busy lives made busier by me came to a halt when December literally exhausted me and oh, I rediscovered how much I love Netflix.
So, while it hasnʻt been an excuse not to be here and writing, Iʻve been filling my down time with naps, leisurely evenings with my cats and ok, lots of Vampire Diaries. My mind and body literally came to a screeching, screaming, train wreck halt and it Iʻve been enjoying a glorious few weeks soaking up nothingness.
With Valentineʻs Day just in, I have been thinking about home and how seriously amazing my mom is at celebrating every holiday. Growing up, my mom never failed to disappoint (and still doesnʻt) with showering of gifts for every special day, including Valentineʻs Day.
So, as Valentineʻs Day approached last week (yes Iʻm a little late at to the game on posting but sorry Iʻm not sorry I was napping) I thought Iʻd brighten our week with one of my favorite Valentineʻs Day treats, my momʻs shortbread cookies.
I have fond memories of eating and decorating these cookies with my mom and sister, year after year. So pulling out the butter and flour and topping it with festive powdered sugar icing, did not disappoint.
And, Daniel enjoyed the cookies all week long. He blames me for eating four cookies a day while I just know that means he enjoyed my “Valentineʻs Week” gift. Cookies all day eʻry day.
99 bottles of beer on the wall 99 bottles of beer, take one down, pass it around, 98 bottles of beer on the wall!
I have never truly been a beer aficionado up until several years ago. I was the girl in college that started off drinking Smirnoff Ice, who would play beer pong as long as you drank my beer, and who never really understood why people insisted on drinking something that tasted like old bread.
Truth be told, I was and still am much more appreciative of my wines and a good ol’ shot of tequila with lime. I know what you’re thinking. Girl who grew up in Portland and doesn’t like beer? I know, I know.
But somewhere down the line things changed. I started appreciating an ice cold beer on a hot sweaty day and developed the taste for a deep, coffee and bourbon tasting stout.
Back in Portland again for the holidays, I was determined to experience what Portland really has to offer and enjoy me an ice cold brew.
In the end, we barely scraped the surface. Did you know that there are roughly 55 brew pubs just in the metropolitan Portland area? With a little research from one of my favorite travel sites, Travel Portland, we carefully selected four breweries to visit. Having realized from last year’s wine tour that you can only safely visit and enjoy a short list in one day I carefully selected four breweries to stop in at. In the end, we only visited two from our list with a last minute addition because we passed it on the way to our second stop!
Be that as it may, it was a successful introduction to Portland breweries. We made our way to Portland Brewing Company, Widmer Brothers and Ecliptic. Between our party of eight we must have tried over fifty beers–having tried all 24 beers at Widmer Brothers alone.
So here’s my tips on an introduction to beer tasting in Portland, for all of you doing your own brew tours:
1. Be smart. Despite the fact that there are 55 tours, there’s no way in hell you’ll be able to hit them all in a short amount of time.
2. Spread it out. We found that with all eight of us we could really taste a lot of beer. As I mentioned, at Widmer Brothers and all the other breweries, we tasted all the beers between all of us, which was just the right amount of tasting and buzz to get the afternoon going.
3. Order food. All three of the breweries had food to order with our beer flights, and we happily munched on warm soft pretzels and mustard between sips of beer.