Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lychee is the new Honeycrisp

*Lychee are amazing! Refreshing, sweet but not too sweet, juicy, and have an entertaining (gummi bear-esque) texture. I think there is a tree down in the fields where we work, but I have yet to find it. They just show up on the communal fruit table, which is situated right in front of the Tropical Fruits of Hawaii poster. Perfect for playing the, "What am I eating?" game.

New, Handpicked, Homemade and/or Delicious Foods:
Taro (In chip form)
Liliquoi (Passion fruit)
Purple Sweet Potatoes
*Poja berry jam
Jaboticaba (tastes like a lychee's tart cousin)

*Dear Whole Foods, please get these items from Hawaii and stock them at the Bowery Location.

Farmer's Market

Farmer's Markets are on my list of favorite places (not to far on the list from Wegmans). I like that they are a way to support local farmers, find delicious, home made food, and bring a community together. I spent Saturday am at the Farmer's Market in Waimea. It was a slow, sunny Saturday and my help wasn't really needed, so I spent the morning lazing in the grass, people watching and listening to the Saturday morning news between neighbors (common topics of convo: recent hikes, beaches, and their dogs). The people here greet everyone with hugs and kisses (even strangers, which throws me off when I go in for a handshake :) They offer to share picnic tables with one another. I like how the people of the Big Island genuinely love their community. It's infectious. New Yorkers show their love too, but here it's love without so much ego.

Super fresh spring rolls from the Vietnamese food tent, Rosemary Gorgonzola foccacia and passion fruit tea cake.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kava and the Moon

You really need a car to go on adventures around here. Friday evening, a bunch of people went into Kona to go to the Kanaka Kava bar (below) and a party, so I took the opportunity to get off the farm (in Honoka'a), threw my sleeping bag and sweatshirt in my backpack and hopped in a truck. The plan was to camp on the beach since the people we went with were not coming back until Saturday.

Hanging out at a Kava bar is an interesting experience. They don't serve alcohol and most people that I've met around here don't drink. You just drink Kava. Kava is a traditional Hawiian drink that used to be reserved for special ceremonies. The Kava man, or person serving the Kava, serves the Kava in coconut shells. Everyone being served drinks the first shell together. I forget why :) It tastes like a cold tea sort of drink that has a relaxing effect. The Kava plants that we grow here at the farm are made into the drink Kava and served at Kanaka Kava bar. So are purple sweet potatoes, which were delicious. (Thank you butter, thank you salt)

After the Kava bar closed, Zach (the owner of the farm and Kava bar) drove a few of us out to a small beach called 69s (named after it's mile marker). We grabbed our backpacks and water and quietly slipped out onto the beach to set up camp.

The beach was significantly warmer than Kona was, even though it was very close. Warm enough to stand in the water and watch the sky without getting chilled. I watched the stars, thick clouds and almost full moon for about an hour before I decided to burrow into the sand and call it a night.

I missed the sunrise in the AM, but enjoyed a morning swim in totally calm water when I did wake up.


Thursday was my first day off. I hung around the farm, did some laundry and got a little more settled. I also made Judd Wads, which was probably the best decision I've made since getting here. For those of you who don't know, Judd Wads are deliciously addictive, power packed cookies. So power packed in fact, that we Andersons eat them for breakfast. This particular batch had apricots, crasins, peanut butter chips and chocolate chips in it. Each tray was devoured within minutes of coming out of the oven. Today's lesson: food makes friends!

Next batch will be Macadamia nuts, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips and apricots. Get ready :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010


YPO. The letters really help in learning how to say this one. Weds was really hot, so went straight from work (weeding rows of Kava plants all day) to Waipio to go swimming.

Getting there was a trip in itself. We went down the steepest paved hill (ever? in the country? I'm not quite sure, but it was like nothing I've ever been down.) The road was a trial run for the Peace Corps in 1976 before they went abroad. I guess it was a success? At times, it looked like we were going to fall off the front of the mountain. When we got to the bottom, we drove along a river under a thick canopy of trees toward the water. The tree tunnel opened up between two green cliffs onto a black sand beach with dark blue water splashing up on it. AMAZING!

Whatever the temperature that you think water should be, it was. Refreshing. Playful. Exhilarating. I felt like a golden retriever at the park :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Whoa, Hawaii

1. This is what paradise looks like.
2. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

“Everyone is picking noni.” Zach (owner), 8am
I don’t even know what that means. Just like I had no idea what Kava was until some people from the farm took me to a Kava bar to drink this herbal tea thing from coconut shells. Now I know. That seems to be the theme of things around here, "Now you know," which is great because it means that I'm learning tons of new things! Turns out Noni is this white- yellow fruit that is pressed into Noni Juice, which the farm then sells to Hawaiian grandmas and Whole Foods, both of whom praise Noni for being a cure all fruit.

We (the 16 volunteers) pile into two trucks and headed down a huge hill, borderline mountain. From the hill, all you can see is bright blue water to the right, front and left and a humungous sky just a few hues lighter. There are crazy cliffs at the edge of the property that drop down to a rocky beach.

Noni , Kava and Taro are grown in areas at the bottom of the hill. We picked Noni all day on Monday(8-3:30), with breaks every hour and a half. Ants were all over the fruit, which means that they were all over my arm and all over my body. That was a feeling to get used to. Saw bumble bees the size of a half dollar. All day I flip flopped between, “It is so hot and I’m covered in dirt and bugs. I thought I was in shape, why am I so tired?” to, “This is incredible. I can hear the water crashing against cliffs and am swinging a stick at tree branches to knock down tropical fruit.”

I am totally out of my element here and I mean that in the most amazing of ways. The biggest adjustment has been slowing my east coast pace and getting rid of the need to be doing something or making the best use of my time. Today, I cut climbed in and out of huge taro plants, cutting taro leaves for 5 hours (taro leaves are steamed and eaten like spinach, but like 2-3 feet long) and was blown away by the beauty and simplicity of life here. Its like, slow down, look around and enjoy whatever you are doing.

A few other tidbits:
  • I ate a starfruit from the fields on one of our breaks.
  • Made delicious taro chips for dinner (FRIED and dusted with salt, onion and garlic powders, Lawry’s seasoning, sugar and a little Mrs. Dash)
  • My legs and feet are cut up from grass b/c we've been working barefoot. I put noni on them today (so nasty, smells like fermented poo) but they don't hurt or itch anymore!
  • I forgot a nail clipper. Can’t bite them when there is chicken shit underneath them.
  • Saw a cat pawing at a mouse that he had recently killed. Then watched it eat the mouse’s head in one bite.
  • The lava from the volcano is going to flow soon, meaning that it is going to come splashing into the ocean and you can hike out to see it.
  • Still haven't been in the ocean yet. That's the plan for the weekend.


After spending 3 days in Pittsburgh, I can officially say that da burgh has got it going on! I got a fantastic tour of the best eats, galleries and watering holes in Brendan and Elise’s new ‘hood.

I started off my visit with a trip to the Andy Warhol Museum. Very cool. I’ve seen his soup cans and portraits at MOMA in NYC, but loved reading about his early life and watching clips from The Andy Warhol Show. He also used diamond dust to make some of his paintings sparkle. I'm working on getting some diamond dust for my living room wall.

“Just a small town girl, living in a LOOONELY WOOORLD…”

I would usually roll my eyes at the thought of an entire bar full of Western Pennsylvanians singing along to Journey, but couldn’t get enough of it at Hoffbrauhaus on Friday night. As soon as we walked in, we were all smiles. People were standing on long benches, swinging their liters of beer (their $7 liters of beer!) and having a blast. We hung out on the back patio area that lined the river and ate soft pretzels (which river? No idea). B & E are recent transplants and I was so glad to be a part of this discovery ☺

Pancakes are good. Hotcakes are mind blowing. We started Saturday morning off with a trip to Pamela’s, where I indulged in strawberry stuffed chocolate chip hotcakes, topped with whipped cream. Holy food coma. These were like the sugary lovechild that came as a result from a wild, buttery night between a pancakes and crepe. They were perfectly thin and caramelized around the edges. I stopped at the ¾ mark because I was full, but Brendan and Elise kindly reminded me that I don’t have Pamela’s at home. After round 2, I all but licked the plate clean.

Since we were in the midst of full blown food comas, we went to the Dusquene Incline, where we didn’t have to do anything but move our bodies from the car to a cart that hauled us up a big hill (aka incline ;) to a gorgeous view of the city. I counted 10 bridges, many of which were painted yellow and looked very pretty.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Don't Pet the Sweaty Stuff

TSA guy: There a laptop in here? Gonna have to rescan it
Me: Oh yeah, sorry
Lady in front of me: You must not travel much, huh?

So, just because I left my laptop in my backpack instead of putting it in that tray means I don’t travel much? You think you got something on me, Lady?

Me: No, its just that I’ve been home for awhile and haven’t used it. Kind of forgot it was in there.

Wait, why am I explaining myself to this stranger? I got totally defensive (though not unpleasant, god forbid) with this lady over a pretty trivial oversight that I turned into her passing judgment on me (and who the hell is she anyway? Wide assed, paisley Capri pants wearing, Vera Bradley toting, suburban mom, to call me uncultured? Oh wait, she didn’t). Get a grip, self. Here is to a vacation from judgments ☺

That's going to be hard with such great people watching in Pittsburgh ;)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

B'lieve Hon

I spent the past week at home in B-more, getting my fill of E! (though cycling was always on in between), good food (Wegmans :) and of course, great conversation with my parents.

Some highlights of the week:
-Margaritas (and a nap in a hammock) in Annapolis, MD with Collin and
-Taking advantage of free slurpee day on 7/11
-Actually doing hot yoga (instead of just talking about how I want to try it and never getting around to it because I'm secretly scared of it)
-The delicious Pasta with Mushroom Sausage Ragu I made (adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook Sunday Ragu)

-Hiking with Maureen in Catoctin Mountain State Park

"It's so organized!" -Maureen
-Dinner at Adela in Fells Point
-Dinner and catching up with girls from SPSG at Mt. Washington Tavern, where we were the loudest table in the place (crabcake sammich holler! Though dad's are way better)

Things that sucked:
-Leaving my purse on the Bolt Bus and waiting around all day on Saturday for it to come back from NYC
-Going through all the shit from high school and college that I have squirreled away in my room for the past ten years room. Felt like I was 9 years old again and not allowed to play till my room was clean.

Pretty good ratio, I'd say.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Harriet's shit fit

Windows are closed. Appliances are unplugged. Mail is stopped. iPod is charged and I just finished writing out directions on how to work the TV for Melissa, who will be holding down the fort (good luck with the TV!) while Zach and I are gone. All pretty trivial things and nothing compared to the biggest pre trip item: dealing with Harriet (see above). Zach's dad, Augie, is taking care of Harriet for the summer (THANK YOU!), which means that all I had to do was to get her out to Greenport, Long Island. I didn't see this being a problem considering what a chubby little love bug she usually is.

The plan was to rent a Zipcar, scoot out to LI, drop the cat and hit the beach with Melissa, who accompanied me on this adventure. I knew Harriet doesn't like her cat carrier. It doesn't help that the box says ASPCA on it and probably reminds her of darker times. I also knew that she would meow for the first hour of the ride. What I didn't expect is that in her howling and salivating frenzy, she would shit herself right as we were merging onto the Williamsburg Bridge. Harriet freaked out. She wanted out of that box, and rightfully so, but we were in a rental car and I was not about to let Poo Paws roam freely. We put the windows down to air out the car, but as we were entering traffic on the BQE, Harriet jammed her wide-eyed, drool soaked head up through the cardboard handles and turned up the volume and desperation in her meowing. I was driving and Melissa isn't too fond of cats, but Harriet was choking herself, trying to escape and about to soil the upholstery. We pulled over, stuffed her back in the box and put Melissa's laptop case on top so that she couldn't get out. Harriet calmed down for about an hour, but made another run for it. This time, she shoved the laptop case off the cat carrier and got half of her body out of the box before we could pull over. After a desperate call to mom about how to handle a crazed cat (Mom said, "Duct Tape!"), Melissa spend the rest of the trip sitting next to Harriet, with one hand on the box.

As if she wasn't traumatized enough, I gave Harriet a bath at her new summer home. (First impressions are very important and she was not about to make a very good one!) I should have taken a picture, but at that point it just felt cruel ;) We left Harriet curled up under the bed and hit the tasting room at Duck Walk Vineyard (Blueberry Port anyone? Yes please!)

What I Want

Today marks the beginning of my 6 week multi city whirlwind extravaganza. I'm starting with a week in Baltimore, then to Pittsburgh for a weekend, off to the Big Island in Hawaii to camp and work on a farm for a month, then wrapping it up with a few days in San Fransisco as Zach finishes his ride. During a recent phone call, a friend of mine said, "I hope you get whatever it is you want to get out of your trip." At first, I was caught off gaurd and thought, "What does she mean by that?" but quickly realized that I wasn't exactly sure what I want to get out of this trip. So, from this trip, I want to:

1. Get outside
2. Spend time with old friends
3. Make some new ones
4. Go on adventures (zip lining, hiking, surfing, eating!)
5. Learn something new (in the kitchen? about living outdoors? not even sure yet what I'm going to learn, so bring it on life :)

I am also looking forward to getting unplugged, out of my routine, and into the sun!

First stop: B'more. Ambassador Hotel for slammin' Indian food and "a damn good Manhattan" with Mom and Dad.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Cape

My fourth was a fabulous Cape Cod weekend sandwiched between two insane days of traffic up and down I-95. I went with my 'Cuse girls plus Diana, a Cali grown addition to our clan, and stayed at Melissa's parent's house. We spent the days (80s and sunny) at Sandy Neck Beach and relished the best of the best in hospitality in the mornings and evenings. Martha, Melissa's mom used us as guinea pigs for a few new recipes, but with her skills in the kitchen, there was very little room for error.

A few mealtime highlights were: delicious chopped salad w/ bacon, avacado and corn, homemade pulled pork, portobello mushrooms stuffed with spinach, cheese and cherry tomatos, and baked cheesy artichoke dip. Our send off brunch on Monday morning was so picture perfect, I couldn't resist snapping a pic to preserve it forever. (Egg Nests!)

(Mealtime low: Tuna sandwich from Friendly's on the way home. Shame on me. I should have known better.)

We were welcomed to the Cape by Melissa's friends at a house party on Friday night, where we played some pretty cut throat games of Cornhole (aka that bean bag game) and Beer Pong. After a 7 hour car ride, we needed some back yard fun. Saturday morning, we got to the beach at 9:30 to secure a parking spot, which turned out to be no problem at all. 9:30-4 sun, sand, bud light, waves, hot dogs, boat rides from strangers, naps and lots of sunscreen. Doesn't get much better than that. Since our spot was about a mile out, we hitched rides there and back. In the am, Melissa's friend Mahoney came and picked us up (thank you!), but we were not so lucky on the way back. We hitched a ride in a pick up truck, only to be pulled over and slammed with a ticket for riding on the rails of the truck. Buzz kill, Ranger Rick. $50 later, we were in the parking lot, dusting off sand and ready for showers. And by showers, I mean refreshing cocktails and delicious appetizers waiting for us at home.

Sunday was highlighted by a visit from our friend Diozzi. Prior to Diozzi's arrival, we were not getting out on to Sandy Neck Beach. The lot was full and the chickadee with the walkie talkie was not going to let us through. We found ourselves hanging out in a parking lot, frustrated by the thought of traffic and other full lots along the island, researching other beach options via iPhone. And then Diozzi arrived. Like a breath of fresh air, he picked up our moods, led us back to Sandy Neck, sweet talked through the parking lot attendants like it was nothing at all, and just like that, we were in. We thanked him by letting him carry the cooler for a mile. Thanks DOZ!

Sunday pm was our annual BBQ at the Kenney's. Joey whipped up a marvelous peach, goat cheese, tomato salad and Lynch debuted his new and improved blue cheese burgers (little blue cheese pockets inside, mmm!) All in all, a phenomenal weekend of sun, food and libations, but now it's time to dry out and shake out the sand.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Urban Hiking

I got a sweet pair of hiking boots in preparation for my trip to Hawaii (T-17 days). My plan was to take some day trips upstate to break them in before I left. Turns out, a round trip ticket on Metro North is like $30 to most day hiking destinations. Instead of taking multiple trips upstate, I have revamped the plan. Today is day 1 of breaking in the boots, which begins with a hike to the DMV from the Lower East Side.

I also just impulse bought tickets to see Ra Ra Riot at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in September, which sucked up my allotted funds for today, oops!