Friday, December 28, 2012

TRIP: Hawaii 2012 Day 6

Day 6 of our adventure. Today's big thing was the coffee plantation tour at Mountain Thunder located in Kailua-Kona south of where we were staying. Before that we had a bit of time to burn. So we started with breakfast.

Here's our view from breakfast. We stopped by Island Lava Java Cafe. Nice breakfast joint that features 100% Kona coffee (as opposed to the places that serve "blended" Kona) The view was spectacular and they had a guy singing up front part time ukulele Hawaiian music and part time Christmas melodies.

Breakfast was pretty straight forward the only thing unique about my breakfast was that it was served with some Portuguese sausage, it's slightly sweet and red from the paprika (not spicy at all). My wife ordered the "Oatmeal Brulée" (pictured above). Plain oatmeal topped with vanilla yogurt and bananas dusted with brown sugar and sugar burned by a torch. It certainly a unique presentation and very tasty.

We went and shopped around and eventually made our way back to the Kona International Market to go by and check out Jim's recommendation on the Poké at Rolls with It. They have a list of "sauces" you can order with the poké and I asked for the two most popular which were: Sweet Soy Sauce and furikake (a dry japanese rice seasoning). It was topped with fried onions. Wow, delicious! Probably the best poke I've had here so far. Once again our friend Jim from Day 1 has not steered us wrong. If you make it over here definitely give it a shot. The place is pretty small and tucked into the food court of the Kona International Market (an open air arts/crafts/grocery market) next door was a place called Trina's Cafe which had some really good looking hawaiian mexican fusion stuff going on. (we were too full to try)


Finally! Our tour at Mountain Thunder! Turns out the tour was pretty lengthy and we learned a whole lot. Since I managed to tweak out my back and we're taking a rest day tomorrow. I'll write a more detailed post on the coffee trip. Above is our roast master instructor Tomoko, she took us thru roasting our five pounds of fancy/extra fancy Kona beans. We went thru the regular "free" tour which was extremely informative and actually gave us a good head start at understanding what each part of the roasting process was all about.

Needless to say we walked out of there with our five pounds of coffee and another $150 in products. What's a duck doing on the coffee plantation? Actually there's a really good reason for that and I'll explain it tomorrow.

As we closed our day we tried to make it to Roy's Hawaiian Fusion restaurant but it was booked solid until late (and again the next day). So again we followed Jim's advice and dined at Merriman's Market Cafe. It's a delightful place that sat us down quickly. We started with the Southern Italian Broccoli, which was a very tender broccoli that was sautéed in garlic and red chili. Such a simple dish and probably our favorite dish there.

We followed it with the truffle fries. I think all the truffle oil somehow sunk to the bottom as I only started to taste the truffle towards the end. The fries are very thin and a good balance between crispy and soft inner potato. It was served with a mustard seed aioli.

My wife got the Mahi Mahi burger sans bun, so it was more like a burger "deconstructed". The Mahi Mahi was quite good and well seasoned it needed no help from the accompanying spicy aioli. The currant slaw (currant is what I think it was) was a favorite for my wife. (I'm not big on sweet on my slaw). She opted for the fish to come with the Ali'i mushrooms. Apparently the Ali'i mushroom is a king oyster mushroom variety coming from Hamakua Mushrooms (yes the same place that produced the shitake's we ate from Day 1 and throughout our trip)

I got the beef short rib served with Tagliatelle and swiss chard. The short rib was very tender and sparingly seasoned and in this case less is definitely perfect/more. The beef juices were used to flavor the tagliatelle pasta and made them perfect. A lot of places would have drowned out the pasta with some marinara or something, but just tossed with the au jus was great.

Service was great despite being packed, you should go check this place out it's in the King's Marketplace off Waikaloa beach.

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