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Trip Report The island of Hawaii--half a trip report!!!

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We are half way through our annual winter trip to the island of Hawaii. (Two weeks here as of today and two weeks to go.) I decided since I’m mostly just relaxing and looking at the sapphire and turquoise waters of Kealakekua Bay these days, I’d report on the trip so far before I forget things.

The flight here was with US Airways (DEN-PHX-KOA) and, using our United miles, was first class—always nice and doesn’t happen for us very often. On our way to our lodging on the Hamakua Coast, we stopped in Waimea at Village Burger for a couple of their great beef burgers and extra crispy fries since it was late afternoon (and well past dinner time at home). http://www.villageburgerwaimea.com/

We stayed for three nights at the Waipio Wayside B & B (it was our 12th stay there) in the Birds Eye room http://www.waipiowayside.com/ The owner, Jackie, is an old friend now. She makes the most marvelous breakfasts using local organic produce—plus a different smoothie each day served in juice glasses that she commissioned from local glass artists.

One afternoon she joined us on a tour of the Hamakua Mushroom Company near Laupahoehoe – they are producer of gourmet mushrooms for the chefs and people of the Big Island. http://hamakuamushrooms.com/ Very interesting how the mushrooms are grown (indoors in plastic bottles in a growing medium composed to sawdust, corn cobs and wheat bran). Our charming tour guide also sautéed some of the mushrooms so we could have a taste—delish—and I bought a half pound for later.

We also went to Hawi for lunch at Sushi Rock one day – they have the most delicious, unusual sushi plus cooked dishes if raw is not your thing. Love their shitake poppers coconut limeade. We drove back on the coast highway and saw lot of whales as we drove.

We had dinner at Merriman’s in Waimea one night and I am so glad our experience was the opposite of Melissa’s. (I feel your frustration and disappointmen at your poor meal there, Melissa, especially at those prices !!) We had the appetizer special—the waiter says the chef referred to it as his omakase appetizer (‘little bites of whatever ingredients were good that day fixed as the chef wanted’) And what we received was 5 two-bite morsels with the most delicious sauces and garnishes—ahi tartare, ono shashimi, one perfect huge scallop cooked sous vide, a lobster cake and one perfect prawn. We split a Caesar salad and DH had the a steak and I had one of the specials (chicken breast cooked sous vide and then crisped, served with sautéed kale, potatoes, a peppery gravy, blistered cherry tomatoes and fresh pea tendrils in a buttermilk dressing (sounds weird but it worked). We finished with lilikoi mousse. http://www.merrimanshawaii.com/waimea/

After our three night stay in Honok’a, we headed to Puna with stops at the Hilo Farmer’s Market (it was Saturday) to buy fruit and vegetables, at Safeway to buy groceries for meals at the house, at Two Ladies Kitchen for their outstanding mochi and at Hilo Bay Café (at their new location on Hilo Bay!—they used to be in a strip mall by Wal Mart) for lunch—I had their crispy fries with truffle mayo and beef tartare and DH had poke and lox and bagels—an eclectic lunch, if there ever was one. http://hilobaycafe.com/

We arrived in Kapoho at Lagoon House www.lagoonhouse.com time to unpack before I made a quick dinner (pasta with some of Hamakua Mushroom company’s pioppini and ali’I shrooms sauteed in olive oil with a little garlic and Parm). Our time there was spent snorkeling in the lagoon behind the house, reading, relaxing. We did go into Pahoa for dinner at Paolo’s Bistro for our yearly meal there. (Paolo is an Italian chef from Lucca in Tuscany and makes the most wonderful classic Italian food—his restaurant is tiny and it’s BYOB and it’s really inexpensive for the quality of the food you get.)

After our four days there, traveled to south Kona around south point (where we are now) stopping at Akatsuka’s Orchids http://www.akatsukaorchid.com/ and Volcano National Park to check on Madame Pele at her home. Lunch was at the Hona Hou Restaurant in Na’alehu for local grinds http://naalehurestaurant.com/

We’ve not done much the last week but relax, read, visit with friends, enjoy the beach that is really close to the house where we’re staying. We did a Costco run when we were first here and had lunch at the Lotus Café that is very close to Costco http://www.thelotuscafe.com/ Good Thai food! And last night we went to Ke’ei Café with a couple of friends—the fresh swordfish piccata style was outstanding and DH said the rib eye was perfectly cooked-though he could not eat it all (the leftover made a delicious steak hash this morning).

So today we are going to Holualoa to see the current art exhibit at the Donkey Mill Art Center http://www.donkeymillartcenter.org/ and we’ll probably have lunch at the outdoor Holuakoa Café (another of our favorites). http://www.holualoahawaii.com/member_sites/holuakoa.html

If anything else worth reporting on happens the remainder of our stay, I’ll do an addendum to this report later.

Melissa, we’re with you as far as the island of Hawaii goes. da Big Island no ka ‘oi !! :D

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