Since it’s almost Friday and much of the country is stuck in Polar Vortex 2, it seems like an appropriate time to profess my love for Monkeypod Kitchen on Maui. Oh, how I wish there was a Monkeypod Kitchen just down the street. And that it was 78 and sunny with a light tropical breeze.
Peter Merriman is one Hawaii’s most recognized, celebrated and well-known restaurateurs. Credited for developing the locavore concept in food, his work to elevate the farm to table concept is a big contribution to Hawaiian cuisine–and to locally grown, harvested and simply prepared foods all over the world.
After a tip from a server at Merriman’s in Kapalua, we made a beeline to Monkeypod Kitchen to burn off that awkward time when you have to check out of your hotel (weeping) and it’s much too early to sit at the airport in Hawaii when it’s so incredibly gorgeous everywhere you look.
So, off to Monkeypod Kitchen for happy hour we went. Wow. This place puts the happy into happy hour.
For starters, there is the Monkeypod Mai Tai. Old Lahaina light rum, Maui dark rum, lime, orgeat, orange curacao, honey-lilikoi foam. Did I mention honey-lilikoi foam? Unbelievable. Luckily, I wasn’t driving to the airport. The handcrafted culinary cocktails are imaginative, reflective of the Hawaiian setting and yummy. What’s not to like?
The wood fired pizzas were hand tossed and with a variety to choose from such as Hamakua wild mushroom & truffle, roasted butternut squash, bourgeois with Big Island lobster, mushrooms, white sauce, parmesan, thyme. To top it off, they had live Hawaiian music and a beer list featuring high-quality brews from top breweries and microbreweries from around the world. Although I am not a beer expert or a beer drinker, I know quality and selection when I see it.
Bananas don’t grow on trees. They actually grow on the world’s largest herbaceous flowering plant and what appears to be the trunk is actually called a corm. So, it is actually a large perennial herb. This was news to me. This was a banana plant we admired in Maui last month.
My favorite bananas are the apple bananas, which are often found in the farmers’ markets in Hawaii. They are tiny, sweet and the perfect snack. We learned that the Big Island is actually the largest domestic producer of bananas in the United States.
Here’s a sample of what we might find at a visit to one of the wonderful farmers’ markets on the Big Island, including the candy-like apple bananas.
Earlier this year, I wrote about what is perhaps the best use of bananas I have ever witnessed: A bananarama smoothie from What’s Shakin’ on the Hilo side of the Big Island.
Some things are just meant to be together–the perfect combination. Like Sundays and a tropical brunch. Why not start it out with a glass of passionfruit, orange and guava juice, or POG as it’s called in Maui where the combination was created in the 1970s?
Usually two different types of rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, orange Curacao and definitely an umbrella with a slice of island pineapple. The truth is, I’m not much of a cocktail fan at all. I much prefer a glass of wine with dinner.
When in Hawaii, however, it’s irresistible. The ocean, a light breeze, a schedule on Hawaiian time. No hurry whatsoever. Pull up a chair, order one up and stay a while. While you’re at it, watch the sunset and hope for the ever-elusive green flash.
Here’s the mai tai at the classic Don’s Mai Tai Bar in the Royal Kona Resort in Kailua-Kona. An oceanfront, open-air spot in Kailua Bay offering up Don’s Original Mai Tai and other Hawaiian cocktail options.
It’s five o’clock somewhere, right?