Monday, July 23, 2018

Kapa'a | Kauai

Kapa'a is a funky little beach town on Kauai's east side. We stopped here on the drive North for a walk on Kealia Beach and the drive back for brunch at Nom Kauai and a treat at Wailua Shave Ice. 

Nom Kauai dishes local ingredients with southern roots and prides themselves on a motto to keep brunch weird. I really went for it and ordered the Cheeky Moco ($20) featuring Shoyu braised beef cheek served atop a fried coconut grit cake, smothered in house savory brown gravy + finished with a sunny egg. Bob sent it with - The Ultimate ($16) - a Belgian Waffle bun sandwiching buttermilk fried chicken, bacon + a sunny egg with pineapple bourbon butter, topped with maple syrup. These radical brunch creations are just two of many. I recommend a stop in Kapa'a just to check this place out. All menu items are available all day and they've got a well rounded coffee and cocktail list.

After brunch we explored the main street with local gift shops and cute boutiques. Kiko + Hee Fat General Store both top my list! Around noon the food trucks opened up in the center of town - Wailua Shave Ice was a must try, we had the Lava Flow (strawberry + pineapple).

We had some time to kill before our flight to Oahu and Kapa'a was the perfect place for casual exploring, checking out local boutiques and for good eats! 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

North Shore Kauai Eats

Here's some insight into our dining experiences on North Shore of Kauai. For starters, a Mai Thai at The Nui is a must!

We had a great dinner at Bar Acuda in Hanalei Town offering small plates sourced from Island Fisherman + local organic farmers. 
We ate Papas Ajo - fried marble potatoes tossed in fresh garlic with paprika aioli which were basically the local version of my favorite tapas - Patatas Bravas! There were tender Banderillas - grilled flank steak skewers rubbed with ancho chile coffee spice and a chipotle honey sauce, and a beautiful piece of Hawaiian Ono with roasted corn puree, grilled summer squash, green coriander + True Leaf farms sunflower sprouts. 
And a Lilikoi Cheese Cake with graham macadamia nut crust and lilikoi curd for dessert!

It was so nice to have the gorgeous St.Regis luxury resort just a ten minute walk from our Airbnb at condo complex Hale Mole. We fell in love with their Macadamian Old Fashioned. It was one of the best cocktails on the trip! 

On our first night we ventured in to a lively bar crowd. The whole place was dancing to a husband wife duo who played local instruments and killed it with the cover songs. We grabbed a front row table and orderd dinner. The bar menu features Japanese plates; really good sushi, sashimi, miso soup, edamame and more. We were delighted with our first experience here and knew we'd be back. 
A couple days later we dined at the glamerous Makana Terrace. The views over Hanalei Bay are incredible, but that was about all. The menu was lacking - they were out of a lot of items we wanted to order, and we weren't overly impressed with the food or service. We got the sense our waitress didn't like us - never a good feeling on your honeymoon or at an exceptionally luxe venue. 
The bad experience at Makana didn't outweigh our love for the good vibes at the bar. We came back on our last night for a final round of Macadamian Old Fashioneds at sunset. 

Tahiti Nui or the Nui is the local Hanalei dive. Live musics plays late into the evening and the Mai Thais are flowing. The food was decent. We had coconut shrimp (can't go wrong), beef poke (not my favorite) and a local fish and rice dish (average).

Piazza was a real treat and somewhat of a surprise! Serving local Italian cuisine in a polished atmosphere in the Princeville Plaza (next to Foodland) we came in on our last night in Kauai and were very impressed. We sat at the bar, where the staff was fun and attentive. To start - Ahi Tuna Carpaccio with a deconstructed tapenade, lemon confit and black lava salt was one of my favorite plates in all of Hawaii. The wine list and cocktails were on point - take my Vespa with Aperol, lychee puree and prosecco - the perfect blend of Italia meets Hawaii! My Kauai Shrimp Scampi with handmade squid ink linguine, garlic butter, tomato, lemon preserves and chili flakes was a terrific entree. 

Overall, we had some pretty great food on Kauai's North Shore, but not without a couple misses in the mix. If you've visited this part of Hawaii, where are your must eats?!

Monday, July 9, 2018

North Shore | Kauai

We spent five days in Kauai's North Shore paradise. There is a lot to do in this part of the Island when you combine the powers of laid back surf town Hanalei and the pristine resort community of Princeville.

Princeville is set on a cliff high above Hanalei Bay with bluffs reaching further out over the Pacific Ocean. We stayed in a prime location here, lucking out with another fantastic Airbnb condo. Teddy's Place was within walking distance to The St. Regis Resort, to beaches hidden below the cliffs, and to the famous lava field coast of Queen's Bath. There's not much parking located at these spots, so to be able to back up our lunch, a couple beers, our snorkels and walk - no doubt down a steep slippery mud path to the beach - was awesome! One of my biggest recommendations for Kauai: Tevas or some type of solid Velcro sandals are a must. Because it rains so much on this island (every day) we inevitably always found ourselves on a slippery trail and caked in mud.
Queens Bath is remarkable. I honestly thought it would be one ingenious rock filled cove - walk down, marvel at it for a few minutes and that's that! It's an entire coastline of lava rock baths filled with rapid fire dangerous waves to calmer tide pools were travelers can swim safely. There's one spot that appears still too dangerous but local kids back-flip in without a second thought and swim about these lava outcroppings, understanding the ways of the strong current. A couple of sea turtle even joined them, which was really cool to see. The whole place was mesmerizing and impressive. We spent a good half day taking it all in.
We stocked up at Foodland for breakfasts at the condo and lunches on the go. But one afternoon we made time for the Hanalei food trucks. From Fresh Bite we had Purple Potato Fries and an Aloha Wrap: organic chicken, Waipa Farms kale massaged with honey mustard dressing, local pineapples, basil, feta cheese, roasted macadamia and a balsamic reduction. And from my bucket list/must eat item - Wishing Well Shave Ice. It lives up to the hype! Ok, so maybe it was just my own hype, but I truly believe Hawaiian Shave Ice takes life to a new level. I had the Rainbow and Bob had the Pina Colada. 

PSA: Roosters and Chickens roam free in Kauai. A Kauai roundup would not be complete without he random chicken and baby chicks photos. You'll see them everywhere you go and especially at the food trucks. 

Our favorite beaches: PALI KE KUA and SECRET BEACH

They are both sort of secret to be honest (but easy enough to find at the same time.) Most of the beach photos in this post are Pali Ke Kua - one side is all lava tide pools and the other side is pristine sand and terrific snorkeling. Bob swam with a huge Sea Turtle here. 
Secret Beach (not pictured, but you can find it in my insta-story highlights) is outstanding and I hope you take the time to find it if you visit the North Shore. We were lucky our airbnb host shared his local knowledge. Shacka - 5 stars!

I should mention, due to the devastating April floods roads past Hanalei Bay were still local traffic only which meant famed beaches like Tunnels and Ke'e were off limits. Same goes for taking a hike on the Kalalau Trail. 

Pali Ke Kua - views from the walk down and from the shore. 

Lastly, be sure to check out KILAUEA LIGHT. It's a quick stop.