April 2, 2016

more Hawaii travel ~ part 3

As we have discovered, a week long stay wasn't enough to see everything the Big Island has to offer. What we had was just a sampler and there are many more areas to visit next time. In the meantime, here are a few more highlights from the Big Island.

tourists and cliff divers at South Point
early morning breakfast stop at Aloha Lehua Cafe
in Pahoa on the way to Lava Tree Park


Lava Tree Park in Pahoa was another off the beaten path attraction and a pleasant stop on our day drive around Puna. It was a quick and easy walk around the circular path that can be done in less than 30 minutes. The signs and posters were very informative with all the details describing how the lava trees were formed.

Lava Tree Park and signage

March 29, 2016

more Hawaii travel ~ part 2

After spending a week in Maui, we headed on to the Big Island. It was an easy 40-minute flight with Hawaiian Airlines. A glimpse of the Big Island from the plane is shown below.

the Big Island as seen from the plane and a welcome drink on
board Hawaiian Airlines, a surprising treat for a quick flight
as we approached landing, the most amazing coastline
welcomed us
this quiet strip in Hilo was our home for a week
sunrise views from the rental condo veranda
fish dinner at Seaside Aqua Farm ~ conveniently located 
just across our condo building ~ fried aholehole
(a local fish) and furikake salmon with pasta shown above 

lava cliffs at Volcanoes National Park
A most fascinating combination of snow-capped mountains, active volcanoes and lava fields on one side, cool rainforests thriving with tropical plants and flowers, waterfalls, the most amazing coastlines with black, green and red sand beaches, towering cliffs and unique micro climates. These are just a few things that best describe the Big Island of Hawaii.

the active Kilauea crater at Volcanoes National park

March 10, 2016

more Hawaii travel ~ part 1

It has been almost 2 months now since we got back but Hawaii is still in my mind :-) It was the most unforgettable two weeks in Maui and the Big Island. These pictures are proof that paradise on earth exists.

in Maui, we drove by Ho'okipa Beach everyday
from our Haiku rental place
lava on the beach along the Road to Hana
small waterfalls are a common sight along
the Road to Hana

It was hard to capture the beauty of the Bamboo Forest in pictures. It's one of those that you have to experience to truly appreciate the sounds (the bamboo made a neat percussion sound as they swayed with the breeze), the colors (monochromatic green from young to mature bamboo) and the zen moments within the tall and lush bamboo. There was a portion of the hike when the bamboo got so thick that it turned dark in their midst. The impressive Bamboo Forest can be found at the Pipiwai Trail, one of the most popular and key stops along the Road to Hana. Such a unique experience!

February 17, 2016

tropical fruits in Hawaii

Below are some of the fruits in season that we tried in Hawaii. Just for these tropical fruits alone, I would go back in a heartbeat :-) It must be the unique combination of rich volcanic soil and micro-climates that make fruit trees grow so well out there. I would rate our fruit tasting experience as almost perfect. Not a single one disappointed us.

just one of the hundreds of avocado varieties in Hawaii :-)
From the first Maui avocado (shown above) that our very acommodating host left for us at the apartment, we were quite impressed with the natural sweetness and intense flavors of all the fruits. This avocado variety was buttery and had a very smooth texture that melted in the mouth. We knew that it would be difficult to get back to regular grocery fruits again :-)


We stopped by the Ono Farms roadside stand in Hana town. It gave us a chance to unwind and buy some local Hawaiian fruits. We started our day early so it was a pleasant break from the twisty one-lane roads and bridges of the famous Hana road. Organic starfruit, banana varieties, Maui Gold pineapples, papayas and breadfruit are shown above.


Fruit and vegetable stands like this one (shown above) are a common sight along country roads in the Philippines. This cute one along the Hamakua Coast in the Big Island with its attractive pink sign (shown below) caught our attention.


February 10, 2016

food memories at Maka by Mana ~ Maui, Hawaii

Our week in Maui wouldn't have been complete without trying out the local restaurants...and we sure found many outstanding ones that made our stay more memorable.

classic acai with fresh papayas, bananas and strawberries
Maka by Mana located in the colorful town of Paia easily became our favorite. We went to this raw food place four times :-) Very fresh and amazing local fruits and vegetables were the main draw here combined and blended in a way that was surprisingly so flavorful. The cool interiors of the restaurant, shown below.



At Maka by Mana, our first introduction to the world of raw food was unforgettable. Shown above, this savory open-face breakfast sandwich with warm sesame waffle bread was served with coconut cream cheese, avocado slices and capers. The classic acai breakfast bowl was a hit with us as well as well as the matcha green tea latte that my husband ordered every time. Shown below, our light lunch with spiralized beets and carrots salad and live falafels which were served with kale and dehydrated wraps.


raw pies and kombucha tea at Maka by Mana

The busy town of Paia was along the way to our rental apartment so we passed it everyday we were in Haiku where we stayed. For us, this restaurant was one of the best reasons to keep going back to Paia despite the traffic we had to deal with there. That just goes to show how much we enjoyed this restaurant as we really don't have patience when it comes to traffic :-) Parking was challenging but we later discovered their exclusive customer parking conveniently located just across the restaurant.

January 1, 2016

welcoming the New Year 2016!

Despite the rainy weather, the occasional festive sound of fireworks still resonated from a distance as we welcomed the New Year. I was trying to recall whether this may be my first ever rainy New Year's eve :-) We spent the first day of 2016 enjoying a quiet and relaxing time at home.


Setting the table to toast the New Year was the highlight of my day and a family tradition for many years :-) Our New Year's eve food, as described below:



May 2016 bring us blessings of 
good health, peace and joy!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!

December 8, 2015

it's the time of year...

Holiday season is here again! It's that much-anticipated season of giving, sharing and joyful festivities. In Manila, Christmas comes earlier. As soon as the "ber" months (how Filipinos like to refer to them) begin, radio stations start playing Christmas carols, Christmas trees and other decorations come out of storage, malls fill up with shoppers and traffic becomes much worse :-) Aside from these common practices, the religious traditions of the Christmas season still remain and are never forgotten.


For my personal tradition, the festive season is just not complete without baking cookies :-) This year, I've been baking these spritz cookies which I find easier and less time consuming to make than cut-out sugar cookies. Aside from eliminating the rolling out process, there was also no need to refrigerate the spritz cookie dough after mixing. Just fill the cookie press with the dough then press straight onto the cookie sheet. It took some practice using the cookie press but it was a fun project.


I like the idea of recycling these Talenti gelato plastic containers. They're so handy from storing snacks to organizing small items in the house. Wrap a piece of colorful gift wrap around the container, secure with a gift label sticker and it's ready to fill with cookies, candies and other goodies. I made a sample packaging shown below.

recycled Talenti gelato plastic container

ube-flavored spritz cookies

May you enjoy the blessings and the bounty
of the holiday season!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!