This is an annual getaway that we look forward to since this time of the year always seems so busy for us–this year in particular. We’re grateful for the lazy days we’ve had for soon enough, summer will be behind us and we’ll have only memories of this visit to tide us over until the next one.
I intended to update this blog much sooner than this but it was difficult to sit in front of the computer when this is what I woke up to each morning…
…then spending the day here…
We have been making an effort to start each day with exercise, you know, to justify all the eating that would follow. The resort has a well-equipped fitness room; after a short workout on the machines my husband would continue with the first swim of the day while I ran on the beach.
Overall, we’ve had one fun day after another and the visits to Hawaii each year over the last several years have been even more special since we’ve timed them during our wedding anniversary–this year marking our 5th.
The only disappointments have been from two bad dining experiences during the week. We’ve enjoyed some fine meals but even one of our favorite restaurants (Merriman’s in Kapalua) which sits literally a few yards from our doorstep has not met our expectations. The Caesar salad (served with butter lettuce and not romaine) had polenta-crusted fried green tomato croutons. It sounded good but was not. My lamb was prepared well but the sauce drizzled over it was too overpowering for the already strong-flavored meat. In this case, simpler would have definitely been better.
On this note, we decided to have some good local food the following evening. Upon the recommendation of two locals, we set out for a new noodle establishment near Lahaina. It has also garnered decent reviews (online) for its ramen dishes, something I was already craving anyway. Sadly, while the food looked appetizing sitting from the bar, we never tasted it. We were grudgingly allowed a lone stool at the bar with our wine as we waited for a table and were pointedly advised that we would have to relinquish our stool if another patron wished to dine at the bar. What? My husband wanted to leave at this point but I wanted to give them another chance.
To make this experience worse, there were four spaces (two tables) available when we arrived. Soon after, three more tables for four opened up and still we were not seated. The hostess said that they were waiting for a party of 12. Well, how about the tables that were already free? We lasted about forty minutes, just long enough for me to finish my wine (and to observe that still more tables became available but were never offered to us) until we gave up. I did tell the owner how disappointed I was by the poor management of the tables (not rudely), all the while hoping that the unfortunate episode was just a function of their inexperience, but…wow! Oh, well.
But I won’t let this post end on a sour note, not at all. The disappointment of that evening inspired me to use the kitchen I had at my disposal and you’ll never guess the other inspiration: Hawaiian chili peppers. And no, we didn’t pick them up at the market.
My husband and I decided to challenge each other in a putting match one afternoon (he won, of course, but I scored a lucky hole-in-one!). Sometime into the match, my husband started using some green objects (as golf ball markers) that were scattered along the putting green. When I picked one up, I realized that they were peppers! Tiny ones!
After a couple minutes of sleuthing, we discovered that the peppers were coming from this bougainvillea plant. Hubby tasted one and boy were they hot! We were later told that a chili pepper plant started growing alongside the bougainvillea shrub and over the years it’s become difficult to separate them.
So around these tiny Hawaiian chili peppers that pack a punch, I created a pasta dish using fresh shrimp, garlic and clams. I couldn’t find fresh clams but the fresh shrimp worked out nicely. I used canned clams to create a stronger seafood base for the sauce along with some white wine, lemon, garlic and butter. The shrimp lent a fresh, from-the-sea flavor to the sauce, the wine a little complexity and the chili peppers a gentle kick–altogether a very satisfying, delicious meal.
Maui-Inspired Seafood Pasta
- 1 lb Spaghetti
- 1 lb fresh shrimp (I used head-on for more flavor)
- 2-3 cans minced clams (don’t discard the clam juice)
- 5 cloves chopped fresh garlic
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup white wine
- Juice of half a lemon
- Chopped chives (no fresh parsley available)
- 4 Hawaiian chili peppers, chopped (or use dried red chili flakes)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente.
In a separate pan, cook the garlic in the butter on medium heat. Add the chopped peppers or chili flakes. After a 3-4 minutes, add the canned clams with the clam juice, as well as the wine. Allow to simmer for about 3 minutes or until the alcohol has evaporated. Taste for seasonings and salt and pepper if you wish. I added the juice of half a lemon to add a fresher flavor to the canned clams.
Next, add the shrimp to the pan and allow to cook just until they turn pink. There should be enough juice from the clams (I used about 18 oz of minced clams/juice) to cook the shrimp, the latter imparting even more fresh seafood flavor to the broth/sauce. Toss the cooked pasta in the sauce, garnish with parsley or chives and additional lemon slices.