Oct 142014
 

Instead of doing a bunch of posts in a journal form about our vacation I’m going to break it down into just a few categories and call it good. I do want to share some of the experiences and photos of our honeymoon with you all, though. I mean, you’ve stuck with me through all the wedding planning! Here is the reward: umbrella drinks and beach photos.

This post is specifically about some of the restaurants we went to in Maui on our honeymoon. We were staying at a condo and cooked breakfast every day and most of the lunches we packed picnic style. Dinner is where we splurged. So this post definitely looks like a food orgy, I apologize for that, but also keep in mind that we were there for 9 days. :) Enjoy!
drink

Leilani’s on the Beach

We stopped here for a snack and a drink after spending most of the day at Kapalua Bay Beach. We’d packed a lunch and had that on the beach but worked up a little bit of an appetite swimming. We got the onion rings (probably the best I’ve ever had) and the poke bowl (also fantastic, one of the better ones we had on the island).

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Fantastic drinks! They actually sold IPAs in Hawaii, shocker. Michael got one and it was great (can’t remember which one, maybe Maui Brewing Company?).

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I got the “1944” and absolutely loved it. They said it was their version of a “classic tiki cocktail” (i.e. Mai Tai) with several different rums, fresh lime juice, orange curacao and orgeat (which I later found out was a syrup made out of rose and orange water). It was so amazing. One of my favorite drinks on the trip.

Cafe O’Lei 

We went here for dinner our first night in Maui. We started with the Flatbread “pizzas” and got the Artichike, Kalamata and Feta one. I liked it. It was simple and not greasy. Michael wasn’t a fan, he thought it was rather boring.

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Then we shared the calamari. It was pretty good but not as good as some of the calamari we’ve had in Portland. I had their house salad that was absolutely fantastic. I cannot remember now what their special house-made salad dressing was but it was so good.

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Service was fast and friendly, food was pretty good but nothing all that special.

Sea House

Michael booked us a nice table here for a later dinner. We missed the sunset, which was a bummer, and because it was so dark couldn’t really see how great Napili Beach was (but I knew it was great from photos). The restaurant itself was very nice. The staff was on top of everything, really friendly.

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They brought out some kind of loaf of freshly baked bread. It reminded me of sheep herder’s bread  (my cousin makes it for family gatherings–so good!). This version had oil and herbs in it. Yum!

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Michael got the surf and turf special–steak and a lobster tail.

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I got the crab stuff jumbo prawns that came with Maui onion mashed potatoes and green beans. The food was so amazing. It was very, very rich, but one of the better meals we had in Maui.

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I didn’t have room for any more food but they brought out a complimentary dessert since it was our honeymoon! And this was the best cake I’ve ever had. It was a coconut tiramisu with whipped cream and fresh mango, pineapple and melon on top. There were toasted coconut on top of that.

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It was seriously the best dessert I’ve ever had. I LOVED it.

Star Noodle

This was a super out of the way, hard to find place that seemed to be in the middle of nowhere in Lahaina. It was on my “must try” list and several people recommended it!

Robyn's Birthday

It was family style dining and seating. The place was packed when we got there and we were sat in the middle of the room on the long table. So there we strangers on either side of us. Which was slightly weird, didn’t make for intimate conversations, but it was alright.

We started with the Steamed Pork Buns (Duroc Pressed Pork, Hoisin and Cucumber). They were small and packed with flavor. The buns were soft and airy. All of it was so tasty!

Robyn's Birthday

Then we got the Filipino “Bacon & Eggs”. It came out on a cast iron plate, sizzling like fajitas at a Mexican restaurant, with crispy pork, onions and tomatoes on it and an egg cracked on top. We were supposed to mix the egg around to cook it and mix it with everything. This was AMAZING. Wow. So good. I would go back just for this!

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Next we got the Pad Thai. It was just okay. It wasn’t anything particularly memorable but it wasn’t greasy like the usual Thai restaurants are.

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Even though we were stuffed, Michael wanted to order the Vietnamese Crepe. It was a giant, crispy crepe filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts  with Nuoc Cham and a pile of fresh greens. You put the shredded carrots and greens (mint, Thai basil, lettuce) in the crepe and then wrap the crepe with the giant lettuce leaf in order to eat it. It was messy but delicious. We did not eat all of it because we were so full.

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I’d go back here for the “bacon and eggs” and pork buns in a heart beat!!

Kono’s on the Green

We went here based on a recommendation by our condo owners. They left a list of their favorites and this was one of them. It was a nice restaurant overlooking the golf course not far from our condo. It was not on the beach but you could see the ocean in the far off distance.

First and foremost, best Mai Tai I had on the island! Amazing! AND SO STRONG. I had no idea how strong until I’d already ordered a second. I only had those 2 drinks that day and wowza did it get me! So delicious–not too sweet, made with their own recipe.

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Second, the service was fantastic. Our waitress was friendly and chatty and the food came out really fast. AND they had happy hour. We ate dinner for half the price we would have paid had we gotten their later. We started with the coconut shrimp. Then we got their pizza. Michael wasn’t a fan of the crust but I liked it a lot. It was thin and just the right amount of crispy.

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Probably the best part (other than the Mai Tais) was the live music! There were some older folks there playing salsa music and they sounded great. There were also tons of people dancing! There was this older Japanese gentlemen (I’d say 70’s?) with his beautiful wife that were out there most of the evening salsa dancing. Sometimes other people (older gentlemen) cut in but everyone was dancing and having a great time. It was so much fun to watch! Definitely an older crowd but I had a blast.

Three’s Bar and Grill

We went here for lunch our first full day there. The atmosphere was cool, we sat outside on the patio that was covered with giant palm trees and plants. There was a musician singing and playing guitar; he was singing Hawaiian music and other mainstream hits just with a Hawaiian flair to it. He was really good.

The drinks were delicious and strong. I don’t even remember what I got but it had hibiscus in it!

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The food was also excellent. We got the crab cake appetizer that I loved. We also got one sushi roll that was so spicy I could barely eat it.

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We both got the poke. We were dying for some poke after the AMAZING stuff we had in Kona. Sadly, nothing really came close to it in Maui. While this ahi poke was delicious, it wasn’t mind-blowing and we were kind of disappointed.

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While the food and drinks were good here and we enjoyed our leisurely lunch, it was probably the most expensive lunch we’ve ever eaten and that was a humongous downer. It made not really like that place and this was the last time we bought lunch I think (we packed lunches the rest of the time).

Da Kitchen

I have mixed feelings about this place. We went to the one by the airport and the one in Kihei, and while the food was fantastic, the service wasn’t great. The first time we ordered the pork wontons and the fried spam musubi. I know, I know. Spam! I’ve never had it before and was reluctant to try it but I’m glad we did. It was SO GOOD. Surprisingly.

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We also got some beef kebob things. The food was really good but the service was slow (and it wasn’t crowded). Not only that, I paid and the waitress asked if I wanted change. I said yes. I mean, she was assuming I was going to tip her 50% of the bill?!?! Then she proceeded to ignore us for a bit and not bring the change. I had to ask for it again. That pissed me off. I tip well when food and service are good, but if the service is crap I am not a happy camper.

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Then at Kihei we ordered some stuff to go and walked back to our condo. While it wasn’t that far (about a 10 minute walk), I was very frustrated to find out when we go back that they forgot to give us one of the things we ordered. Ugh! Michael kindly walked back to get it (my knees were really hurting that night and the prospect of walking back again made me want to cry). So all in all, the food was good but I wouldn’t give this place good ratings for the service.

Coconut’s Cafe

This was a little cafe in the land of strip-malls in Kihei. That was one downside of Maui — lots of places were strip-mall locations and that kind of killed the atmosphere. Not that I needed something fancy every time but mall food? No thanks.

tacos

Despite the lack of atmosphere, the food here was cheap and good. We both got the fish tacos and they were by far the best fish tacos I’ve had in a long time.

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They were messy and hard to eat and worth all the mess!

Jawz Fish Tacos

This was another place that was on my list. I’d read some great things about this food truck and wanted to give it a try. We saw it the first day we were in Maui when we left Big Beach. A few days later after exploring another beach we drove back to Makena in order to get some lunch from the food truck.

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It was pretty cheap, but a little more expensive than typical food trucks. The service was fast and friendly. We got our fish tacos and ate them sitting on the tailgate of our SUV on the side of the road, both of us wrapped in beach towels, dirty and dripping from the ocean.

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The tacos were flavorful and delicious, my only complaint was how skimpy they were on the fish! It would have been even better had there been some more pieces. I looked online later and that seems to be the common complaint by visitors. More fish! But it still tasted great.

Mama’s Fish House

Okay. I know, I know…EVERYONE told me “Go to Mama’s Fish House!” I heard it from so many people that I added it to our list. When we got to Maui and heard that reservations were sometimes difficult to get, Michael booked it and the soonest we could get was our last night in Maui at 4:45. Early bird special! Whatever. Our days were pretty short there anyways because the sun set at 6:30.

As the trip went on, I started to have second thoughts about going. I read the online menu and wasn’t all that blown away by it. We have amazing seafood options in Portland so the idea of spending THAT MUCH on it was a major turn-off. Michael was beginning to agree, especially after we had our special fancy dinner at Sea House.

I suggested on that Monday that we stop by Mama’s for a drink to check it out and then we agreed we’d cancel our reservation on the way out.

It was the day we attempted to drive up to Haleakala Highway to the volcano (more on that later). We came back down, stopped in Paia and Makawao and then went to Mama’s for a drink. It was like 3pm. Way too early for dinner anyways. We got there and the place was SUPER CUTE. So unique and just amazing. The beach area was so romantic and enchanting with the torches and palm trees. Just amazing.

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The restaurant is completely open and it’s huge. Gorgeous Hawaiian flowers were everywhere. There was no AC and it was definitely hot and stuffy but we didn’t care. We sat at the bar and ordered drinks. I got a glass of Pinot Grigio. Then they brought out a loaf of their to-die-for poppy seed bread and butter.

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In addition to that they brought out these little shot glass sized cups of soup. Who wants soup on a hot day? Doesn’t matter, the soup was an amazing touch and it was so delicious! It was a tomato, curry, coconut bisque that I need to find a recipe for!

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We ended up ordered an appetizer– the lobster guacamole with house-made chips. Oh.My.God. Best guacamole of my entire life. Best ever. Seriously.

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I also ordered a side of the wild boar (Kahlua pig). That was pretty much dinner for us, albeit early. Yep you guessed it, as we were leaving we told each other we were NOT canceling our dinner reservations for the next day!

Part Two

The next night we went to Mama’s for our reservation. It was kind of nice that it was a little early for dinner because it wasn’t as crowded and it felt very laid back and intimate. We were escorted to a primo table with a great view. There were fresh flowers and a nice card congratulating us on our honeymoon!

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I ordered The Relaxer drink – it was amazing. And beautiful:

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They brought out that amazing loaf of bread. This time the soup was some kind of creamed asparagus. It was great!

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We decided to try and save some money (yeah right) and order two appetizers and one entree and share everything. We started with the Mahi mahi rolls and ahi sashimi. The sashimi was caught that morning by someone that worked at the restaurant and you could tell. The ahi melted in your mouth like it was warm butter. So amazing.

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The shared entree we got was the “Traditional Hawaiian.” It was like a sampler plate with grilled mahimahi, wild boar wrapped in a leaf, ahi poke and some sides that I don’t remember but were really good (except for the Poi–yuck!).

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I also ordered their Maui Onion soup (French onion soup) and it was fantastic. One of the better versions I’ve had.

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We didn’t have room for dessert but our waiter was so amazing and he seriously talked us into getting one. We decided to share the chocolate pie that was sort of a cross between a cheesecake and a mousse with caramel in it and baked in a cookie crust. Talk about amazing! Here is the dessert:

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And because it was our honeymoon, the waiter brought us a complimentary serving of their amazing house-made ice cream. Talk about amazing. It’s not like vanilla ice cream is all that exciting, but this was outstanding. I don’t know what kind of magic they put into their food but everything was perfect!

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It was the perfect finale for our trip!

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Aug 262014
 

My besties planned my bachelorette party. I had no idea what they were planning. My maid of honor, Rachel, set up a private Facebook account for her and the other ladies involved to discuss and plan in secret. Even when the day finally came, I had NO idea what was planned other than it wasn’t going to be your typical party–doing shots, staying out all night, going to clubs, etc etc. I was a-okay with that. I am getting older and the idea of doing shots sounds awful and even more awful? Trying to stay awake until 2am! Gawd I’m old. I’m not a huge fan of surprises because I am such a control freak, but it was kind of nice not being involved in any of the planning and just anticipating the event. Rachel said it was going to be a “day of shit Lisa loves”.

I did a quick mini workout at the gym Saturday morning, had a small breakfast and Michael drove me downtown to meet up with friends. It was Rachel (maid of honor), the bridesmaids: Erika, Robyn and my cousin Anna, as well my friend Samantha who is doing a reading at the wedding. We all arrived and we got in the tour van for EverGreen Escapes. It was driven by Dylan, who was very fun and nice and a great tour guide! He asked if I wanted to know what the day itinerary was and I said no. It was kind of fun being surprised! We drove towards the Gorge and he told us some historical and ecological things about the area that I hadn’t known before, as well as some of the Native American legends surrounding the “origins” of landmarks. Then we came to our first stop.

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It was a view point up by Vista House that I’ver never been to. We all hopped out and he took a few pictures for us then the girls decided it was time to deck me out with my outfit for the day. :)

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Then we got back in the van and went by Vista House and then down the old highway to the Bridal Veil post office! Remember, the one I was going to mail my invitations from? It was so cute in person!

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After seeing that Dylan drove us down a hidden road and we all got out in the middle of nowhere. It was weird and then he said that Sam had brought a bottle of champagne so she opened that up and he poured glasses for all of us and there were cookies too! Little macaroons. They were so tasty.

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We hiked a little ways up a hidden path and then we were at the Bridal Veil Falls. I’m surprised Michael and I haven’t hiked this one before. It was really pretty and quiet.

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After that we stopped by another waterfall along the highway and he said the next one was usually Multnomah Falls but we all said to skip it. We’ve all been there and done that and on a weekend in the summer? It’s a nightmare with no parking and too many people. As it was we sat in traffic for a bit trying to get through it all to get past the Falls! So instead he took us to Starvation Creek. Another hike I hadn’t known about!

It was lunch time so we drove to Hood River and stopped at this restaurant/deli. I don’t remember the name of it now but we got everything to go because it was so crowded and loud and Dylan drove us up to a viewpoint in the Fruit Loop. That was a much better idea! We sat outside in the sunshine and had like a picnic lunch, complete with a bottle of Pinot Grigio. There was a gorgeous view of Mount Hood behind us.

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When we finished up lunch they asked me if I knew what were doing yet. I said it was probably wine tasting. :) I was right! Dylan drove us to the first winery, Wy’East. It’s in the “Fruit Loop” in Hood River and they have really nice wines. Michael and I have been there once before.

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It turned out we had a private tasting and were seated on the patio underneath a big umbrella and vines of wine grapes. They brought out a snack plate of gouda cheese, crackers, toasted hazelnuts and salamis. We did the wine tasting and I really enjoyed all the wines we tried, even the Chardonnay (which I’m not really a fan of normally). I ended up buying a bottle of their Pinot Gris.

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I was not a fan of the Port so I poured that into Robyn’s glass. :) We made it work sharing stuff we didn’t like. The patio was so nice and there was a cool breeze. The day was warming up but it was just wonderful drinking wine outside in the sunshine. There were even a few cute winery puppies! Here was one that apparently loved cheese and salami. :)

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After Wy’East we went over to Cathedral Ridge, one of my favorites in the Gorge. I was a little worried because the weekends in the summer time are kind of a nightmare for wine tasting. Too crowded, too busy. But we were ushered to a back patio, shaded, for a private tasting!

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There was one white wine, that I loved and almost bought a bottle of. The rest of the flight was red wines. This is what happens when you go wine tasting with my cousin Anna:

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Usually when Michael and I go wine tasting together we split tastings. It’s more affordable AND I’m a lightweight so I don’t totally sloshed by sharing a tasting. But yeah, this day? I definitely got drunk!

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After the wine tasting we had some time before we had to head back to Portland (I am glad we only went to two wineries). Some of the girls pitched in for a bottle of red and we all shared it while we sat on a couch near the gorgeous view.

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It was such a gorgeous day! The weather was perfect, the wineries were gorgeous, the food was good. I had so much fun with my ladies and it was definitely something I needed after some of the UBER STRESS I’ve been dealing with lately. There was so much drama and stress and disappointment with a wedding vendor but I was able to completely forget about all that stuff and just enjoy my day. I was grateful I had such wonderful friends to help with that.

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And I was grateful that my friends chose the PERFECT day for my bachelorette party. They know me so well. This was a memorable trip and something that I probably wouldn’t have thought of myself. It was out of the ordinary for a bachelorette party and I loved it! Our tour guide, Dylan, was also a rockstar. Great sense of humor, wasn’t freaked out about a bunch of cackling hens drinking a lot of wine. ;) He drove us back to Portland and dropped us off at Rachel’s hotel downtown and gave us each a big hug and me a congratulations. What a great tour!

Sam had to take off and the rest of us ladies went up to Rachel’s room to freshen up before dinner. We walked a few blocks to Henry’s Tavern where we had reservations. It’s funny, we ran into two other bachelorette party groups. One of them asked to take a picture with me because part of their bachelorette scavenger hunt was to get a pic with another bride to be. ;) Thank god I didn’t have to do any of that stuff!!! Hahaha!

I definitely did not need any more alcohol but I ended up getting a beer with dinner–Boneyard RPM. I saw my beloved Boneyard on the menu and just HAD to…! Thankfully we’d all been drinking a lot of water all day and I drank like 8 pints with dinner, too!

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We all shared an order of Henry’s famous onion rings and I ordered their small burger with a side of Caesar Salad. LOVED their Caesar. It was just a bunch of romaine lettuce that they grilled, drizzled Caesar dressing on and then salted. It had a wonderful salty, smoky flavor.

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Dessert was on the house! That was very nice of Henry’s Tavern. Even though I was SO STUFFED I couldn’t think about eating anything more, I ordered the chocolate brownie sundae. It had ice cream, whipped cream and salted caramel. Thankfully everyone helped me eat it!

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After that we made a quick trip to the Spartacus store and then back to the hotel. Thankfully I was home and in bed by 10:30. No 3am here! I am really glad we didn’t do something traditional. It was a very long, very wonderful day and I could not wait to go to sleep. :)

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