Culinary Adventures: I ate everything in Hawaii.

As much as I cook and bake, there’s something about going home to eat the foods you’ve grown eating up made by someone else that seems infinitely better.

Yes, I can make ahi poke at home since I’m lucky enough to live in an area where fresh seafood is available to me. But it’s not the same compared to getting it from all the great places on Oahu. It’s not the same as simply walking into the store and getting it whenever a craving hits. And of course, it’s not the same.

Yes, I can make my own li hing mui gummy bears since I have li hing mui powder at home. But it’s not the same as getting a package of it already mixed from the drug store.

Yes, I can make my own malasadas at home. But it’s not the same as eating it and laughing with family and friends as the sugar gets all over everything, especially your face.

After two years, I finally was able to make a trip back home to Hawaii. I needed to refill my heart with the Aloha Spirit by spending time with family and friends. I also needed the comforts of food from home to fill my belly. The main goal of my trip? To eat as much ahi poke as I possibly could. It started as soon as I got off the plane and before I made it back to my childhood home with a stop at Foodland.

If you don’t know what ahi poke is, it’s cubed pieces of raw ahi (tuna) that’s seasoned in a variety of ways. It’s not mixed into a salad, you don’t get a choice of toppings or mix-ins with your fish, and you certainly don’t have fruits or beets mixed into it. I have mixed feelings about the poke bowl craze that has swept the mainland US, but it’s certainly not the poke I grew up with.

In addition to an uncounted amount of poke, I got to enjoy other deliciousness. Some of the highlights were spicy ahi and grilled salmon bones from Ahi Vegetable, a three course lunch at Senia, seafood at Karai Crab with Dole Whip Dessert, Ramen-Ya noodles and gyoza, Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck, Matsumoto Shave Ice (there’s a ice cream under that mountain of ice and mochi), and delicious mochi donuts from Watanabe Bakery.

My parents, brother, and I also hopped over to the Big Island where we took in the sights, ate a bunch of food (that I didn’t get pictures of), and poked fun at each other. The highlight of the trip for me was going to see the glow of lava at Halemaʻumaʻu Crater at night. My brother and I went around midnight the night before The Geminid meteor shower. It was breathtakingly beautiful. I don’t think I’ve seen so many stars in my life before. Combined with the churning lava in the crater, it was hard to pick where to look. The best part was that it wasn’t very crowded at all. Aside from my brother and I, there were only two other people. All and all, it was a fun trip! And I was happy that the four of us were able to get together to go away.

ClayFamily

Of course, while home, I did my own cooking and baking. I had to come back to San Francisco for work during Christmas, so the family and I celebrated the holiday a week early. I made sugar cookies and a delicious dinner of orange thyme roasted chicken, a sauce from the pan drippings, twice baked potatoes, garlic green beans, and homemade bread rolls.

Another highlight of the trip was being able to meet up with my good friend Fernando, who is one of the hardest working people I know. He came over to my parents’ home and we filmed several recipes for HMSA’s health and lifestyle blog site, Well-Being Hawaii. Once the recipes and the videos are posted on their site, I’ll share them with everyone.

FernSalad

It’s always weird leaving home (Hawaii) to go back home (San Francisco). But after refilling my heart and expanding my waistband with two and a half weeks of being in the islands, I indulged in the one thing that I couldn’t get in Hawaii: In-N-Out.

InNOut

I want to thank everyone for taking a gander at my website. I really appreciate it more than I can express. Originally, it was created for me to personally keep track of my recipes, but it has grown since then to be more. Thank you for taking the time to read my posts, look at my pictures, and drool over the food. But mostly, thank you for the show of support by following along in what I’m doing.

I want to wish everyone a safe New Year’s celebration as we send off 2017 and welcome in 2018. Who knows exactly what the future will hold? But I hope it’s going to be filled with amazing things for everyone. While there are rough spots to every year no matter who you are or where you’re living, I hope that there are some fantastic and shining moments will stand out to make you smile.

Cheers to fabulous foods, friends, and more time being alive!

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