Monkeypod Kitchen – Wailea, Maui

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.

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So, off to Monkeypod Kitchen for happy hour we went. Wow. This place puts the happy into happy hour.

IMG_1204For 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?

Then, there are the appetizers and salads. The pumpkin patch ravioli was delicious and more than enough to share.IMG_1208

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.

Gotta go! Time to search for some flights to Hawaii.IMG_1211

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Hawaiian-style brunch and Sundays

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?

POGFollowed by another perfect combination of Kona coffee and malasadas.

malasadaOr, perhaps refreshing papaya and lime juice?

papayaTopped off with one of the best tropical combinations ever: a pancake with macadamia nuts, bananas and coconut syrup.

pancakeThen, it might be time to hit the hiking trails. Or, since it’s Sunday another perfect combination might be calling you? A hammock between two palm trees with an ocean view.

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Sunday salsa secret ingredient

One of my favorite things to do when returning from Hawaii is to bring a taste of the islands home with us. Whether it’s macadamia nuts, special Hawaiian spices, coconut syrups, Kona coffee, decadent Maui Caramacs (yum!) and more. The options are endless. We love to give away a taste of Hawaii to friends and family, but we also like to keep a secret stash in the home pantry.

Today, my husband is making fresh salsa. We stopped by our local farmers’ market for the tomatoes, peppers, onions and cilantro.

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Then, we couldn’t believe our good fortune when we remembered the special Ono Hawaiian seasoning we had purchased last March. We use this for all kinds of recipes instead of regular or kosher salt, so why not give it a try with a tiny pinch thrown in each batch. Who would have thought that homemade salsa could taste even better with a touch of aloha?

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Delicious.