out and about in kauai: hukilau lanai

Before I get into Thanksgiving recaps, I figured I should post the final Hawaii vacation post – only a little over a week since we’ve been back ;).  Our last night on Kauai we were trying to decide on a restaurant to go to, and we kept coming back to Hukilau Lanai because they feature an entire gluten free menu as well as a gluten free tasting menu if you’re seated between 5 and 6 pm.

We didn’t have reservations but got there around 5:15 and were seated right out on the Lanai with this gorgeous view!

Right away we asked about their gluten free menu and were brought those, the tasting menus and their gluten free bread basket.  It was so nice to be able to enjoy a bread basket again!  The bread was a herby focaccia and it was delectable.  Nice and airy, not dry and gritty.  Served with balsamic vinegar + oil.

I also started out the meal with my first Pina Colada of the trip – these are by far my favorite blended fruity drink!

Sister, my mom and I decided on the gluten free tasting.  My mom eats gluten, but she liked the sounds of this one rather than the normal tasting!  Our meal started with Candied Ahi… coffee spiced ahi, chipotle coconut sauce.

Second course was an Arugula Salad… arugula, fresh beets, corn off the cob, cherry tomatoes, basil vinaigrette.

The third course and first entree was the Fresh Catch… grilled fresh island fish, thai chili coconut sauce, white rice.

Time for another cocktail!  This time I got a Lava Flow – basically just a Pina Colada with a fruit swirl.  Yum!

Fourth course was by far Kinley’s favorite, and was incredibly delicious even though it sounds so simple!  Pork Tenderloin… Local mushroom marsala sauce, crispy polenta.  I usually don’t eat mushrooms, but these were delicious I ate every last one of them!

The next course was supposed to be the final dessert course.  But the manager thought our meals were taking longer than appropriate so sent out a pre-dessert dessert.  Starfruit sorbet.

The final, sixth course of the night was the Big Island Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee… local vanilla bean custard, caramelized sugar.  The perfect sweet ending to the best meal I have ever had.

The meal took about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish, but probably should take around 2 hours.  We were by no means in a hurry and didn’t even notice it was taking longer than it should have been.  Dad got a regular meal off the menu and they timed the courses perfectly to make sure his entree came around the time ours did.  And they even brought him a scoop of Starfruit Sorbet as well!  I didn’t think it was possible to top the Guava BBQ Ribs from Lemongrass Grill, but as an entire meal this definitely does.  And for only $28?  Are you kidding me?  I would go here each and every week if I lived here, and will definitely be returning when I am fortunate enough to make it back to Kauai!  It was sad that we visited this on our last night so we couldn’t revisit it, but it was a perfect ending to our week!  I don’t think I will ever forget this meal and am hungry just thinking about it!

maui day 10/11: traveling home

Day 10 technically lasted quite a long time since it really stretched over days 10 and 11.  After the activities we did throughout the day we still had to begin our venture home.  I had managed to adjust to the time change getting there just fine – Hawaii is 4 hours behind WIsconsin so I just had to stay up a few extra hours that first night, which ended up being surprisingly easy considering the early morning wake up call.  During the week I went to bed at decent times by Hawaii standards, between 10 and 11pm most nights, if not earlier, and I was getting up between 5 and 6.  Well, Wisconsin time that all of a sudden turns into 2am going to bed and waking up at 9… definitely not going to happen when working!

What I think messed me up the most coming home was the first plane ride, it was set to leave Maui at almost 11pm… which wouldn’t have been bad if I was a good plane sleeper but I am definitely not!  Anyways, we got to the airport over two hours before, and thank goodness we did because by the time we checked in and went through the incredibly long and ridiculous security line, we had just enough time to run to the bathroom and walk on the plane.  Something was going on that made everything slow up considerably compared to normal, so I am really glad we were able to make the flight… although who wouldn’t want to be stranded in paradise for an extra night?!  I would have been okay with it.

It was only a 6 hour flight from Maui to our layover in Denver.  I maybe slept for 4 hours of it?  I remember being absolutely freezing and waking up randomly and trying to find a comfortable way to get to sleep.  Not easy when sister is hogging the seats… We arrived in Denver around 9am Denver time, so I ate some random snacks as breakfast and grabbed an Iced Americano from Starbucks to help wake me up.  Our flight from Denver to Milwaukee was delayed an extra 10 or so minutes because our flight attendant decided not to show up.  This plane was TINY!  And we were in the front row… meaning we didn’t have floor space for carry-ons and I had to gate check my backpack.  I mostly read on this flight while sister got even more sleep…  Luckily we ended up arriving in Milwaukee 10 minutes early!

After we arrived, I had to wait for my bag that was gate checked and then go and get our checked luggage.  Dad went to go get our not-as-cool-as-jeep-or-pip vehicle and we headed on our way back to the house to meet up with the pup.  He was so happy to see us!  It’s always sad returning from vacations, but I know Crosby misses us terribly so he is definitely happy we returned!  The rest of the day was spent being incredibly unproductive.  I did get two loads of my laundry done, but nothing else!

Getting back into the swing of things at work has been easier than I thought it was going to.  I was prepared to have an absolutely stuffed inbox, but just had a little over a hundred new emails – kind of miraculous!  I have not been tired as much at nights and super tired and out of it in the mornings, but I am gradually getting used to the time change and hopefully the long Thanksgiving weekend will help get me back to normal!

maui day 10: haleakala crater + honu

I can’t believe this was the last day in Hawaii… as you can tell I definitely was putting this off as long as I could, but I had to write it now so I wouldn’t forget!  In the morning I did my 6 mile long run up the beachside road in Maui, and then we ate and went down to the beach by the condo – I wish I lived this close to the ocean so I could walk to it every day!  We spent the morning snorkeling and soaking up the last of the Hawaiian sun before our departure.  We went back at lunchtime, cleaned the sand off of us and then set off on our roadtrip to Haleakala crater.  Good thing we had Pip to get us there!

We had debated going to Haleakala for sunrise, but decided against waking up at 3am to catch the view – maybe when I am there for longer than two mornings?!  It’s an hour drive up – and 10,000 feet in elevation.  We drove through the clouds.

And behind a busload of Japanese tourists.  Thank you, driver, for pulling to the side so Pip could soar past you.

My ears were popping and my Camelbak was having a hissyfit.  Be careful bringing a Camelbak on a flight or to higher elevations – the water likes to spurt back up the straw and all over everything…

We finally reached 10,000 feet.

And walked up 23 more.

But we certainly could not miss this view.  (P.S. it was COLD!)

This is Hawaiian National Park on the island of Hawaii – see the smoke from the lava flow of the active volcano?  Visiting this park and walking to see the lava at dusk is one of my favorite memories from my last trip to Hawaii.

This looks surreal.  I can’t believe I was actually there.

The top of Haleakala has its own vegetation – including silver plants.  I wanted to bring one home.

We headed back down Haleakala and went toward Lahaina for dinner to celebrate Sister’s birthday!  We finally decided to try out Honu after seeing it listed in a dining guide that highlighted its gluten free options.

The view, both inside and outside, was gorgeous.

The food was too – we got deep fried chickpeas as a complimentary appetizer and I just had to get another Pina Colada before we left!  I think this might have been the best one I have ever had.  Ever.

There were many gluten free options, but my eyes were only for the pizza.

I ended up with the special – Lobster Curry something or other.  It was divine.  The crust was chewy just like hand tossed pizzas are supposed to taste, only sans gluten.  This might have been the best pizza I have ever had and I really need to schedule a trip back ASAP.  Well, and to Kauai as well to go back to Lemongrass Grill and the other restaurant I still need to post about – so much good food!

After dinner Kinley got a special birthday dessert, and we all shared bites!  Happy Birthday Sister!!!

The entire meal was incredible, but also sad because it was our last eaten in Hawaii.  We went back to the condo to pack up and head to the Airport…


maui day 9: kiehe beaches + america ii

I woke up with not much of a plan for the morning. I ended up going on a 4 mile walk up the road in Kiehe. Kiehe is much more walker/runner friendly than anywhere in Kauai was since there are actually sidewalks and plenty of other walker/runner/bikers out and about in the mornings.

When I got back, we made Nature Pancakes again – it was so nice and easy to just pick up a package of Gluten Free Bisquick and a few items from the bulk bins at a natural foods store up the way than getting our own ingredients together for something!  This time there was both Passion Fruit Guava syrup from Aunty Lilikoi and Coconut Syrup.  I am definitely going to miss these fruity syrups!  Also a cup of strawberry Chobani with Pina Colada Granola on top from Kauai Granola (not certified oats, but ended up being fine!).

After breakfast, there was no need to clean up from my walk since it was time for suits and beach time!  Our condo is about 1/4 mile walk (if that) from the beach so we didn’t even have to drive to find it.

It was sunny when we were out, even though it was also really overcast!  Not what I was expecting from the weather in Maui, but the ocean was nice so I couldn’t have asked for much else!

After we had our fill of beach time for the day we headed back to the condo to clean up, eat lunch and then head on our way to Lahaina again to set sail on the America II. America II was an actual America’s Cup Contender in 1987 and has now retired to taking tourists out on performance sailing rides.  None of us were ready for what we experienced.  Our original plan was to go on the sail and then to a nice restaurant in Lahaina for dinner.  We didn’t hear any warnings from the people where we bought our tickets except you might get a little wet, but when we got on the America II, the captain was saying that anything that can’t be submerged in at least 3’ of water needs to be stowed away.  WHAT?!  I had brought my nice purse, a book to read, my camera that has already had enough near death experiences for one trip…  Luckily the stowed area stayed dry but I most definitely did not. Right away I got splashed with at least a gallon of water that soaked me from head to toe – and it was NOT sunny and warm out so it was chilly. If I only would have been prepared, it would have been great – but the lack of warning definitely surprised us all!  Needless to say, we had fun but were definitely not ready to sit anywhere, especially in a nicer restaurant, when it looked like we had wet our pants/lost our pants ;).

We left for the 1/2 hour+ drive back to the condo with towels wrapped around our waists. We decided that instead of going out to a nicer place for dinner all we wanted to do was walk from our condo to Fred’s Mexican Cafe for another round of fish tacos as well as margaritas.  I decided on the Skinny Margarita.

And the fish tacos, this time without the cheese since I remembered to order it that way.  Subbed corn tortillas in for the flour.

Such a pretty setting!

And the waitress took our best family picture of the trip – and we are all lookin’ pretty tan!

I still can’t believe today was our last full day in Hawaii – it has all gone so fast even though it seems like we’ve done a lot in just a little over a week.  One more beach and sightseeing day to go and then heading back to winter :(.

maui day 8: island transfers + lahaina

Kauai time has officially passed for this vacation – so sad! I will miss the garden island and hope to return soon :). For breakfast I had a plate of fruit along with 1/2 a Sweet Marie’s blueberry muffin and some chex + chia. So fruity and delicious! We left our condo a little after 7 to catch our Hawaiian Airlines flight from Kauai to Maui. Getting to the airport was no problem – we dropped off the Jeep and got through security and just had to wait for our plane to arrive. We left on time at 9am and arrived in Maui well before 10. Dad went to pick up the new rental car – this time a nice lil’ Lincoln Towncar which I nicknamed Pipsqueak (Pip). Such a nice little island car…

We drove from the airport to a harbor that Mom and Dad had sailed out of in the past looking for a charter, as well as a fish shop they were remembering. We came out 0 for 2 and continued on our way to Kihei to find something to eat for lunch instead. We ended up at Fred’s Mexican Cafe for fish tacos. I got mine in corn tortilla shells with refried beans. Delicious. After that we checked on our condo, but it wasn’t ready yet so we headed to Lahaina to look around instead.

We started at the huge Indian Banyan Tree. It is the largest in Hawaii and spans an entire block. So many tourists! Lahaina is definitely a cruise port and caters to the individuals who go on cruises.

For an afternoon snack we stopped at Ono Gelato Company for gelato!  We saw an exciting sign for gluten free brownies!

Unfortunately there were no brownies made today, so Kinley and I decided to share a large with pistachios, macadamia nut + big island crunch (coffee, chocolate + macadamia nuts). All three were delicious!  We continued to walk around Lahaina for a bit until our 3 hour parking was up and then headed back to the condo to officially check in and head out to grab some dinner!

We ended up at Monkeypod. We shared some french fries for an appetizer with homemade ketchup and dijon mustard aiole. For my meal I got Grass Fed, Hormone Free Peppercorn Rubbed Filet Steak with Kona coffee honey butter, jasmine rice and green beans and broccoli. It was a pretty expensive meal – $31 for the steak, but it was delicious and I loved the Kona coffee honey butter on top!

kauai day 7: beach time

Today was a pretty relaxing day.  It was our last day in Kauai and we had plans to go kayaking, but the wanting to sleep in and go to the beach beat out paddling to yet another waterfall.  Plus, we’ve got to leave something for when we come back next time, right?  Well, we visited Po’ipu beach again and had some cloudy sunshine.  It was mostly cloudy, but the sun peaked out enough to give us all a little pinkish tint.  We headed back to the condo to have lunch and then sat out by the pool for the afternoon.  It seemed like it might have been rainy/more cloudy both north and south of where we were so it really wasn’t worth it to drive to a beach at that point!

Our dinner is deserving of its own post – I’ll work on writing and posting that within the next week.  It’s hard for me to say for sure, but I think it might beat the Guava BBQ ribs for my best meal ever!  I can’t believe that our time in Kauai is up.  It seems like we’ve done so much, and yet it’s already over!