Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Cooling Off With Shaved Ice and Tradewinds

HONOLULU
Whenever I first arrive in Honolulu, I have to get adjusted to the hot weather. Despite that I grew up with this, I think the years of living in the San Francisco Bay Area have spoiled me to the temperate weather my body is used to now.

So one of the things that helps me cool off in the hot weather here is the favorite childhood treat--shaved ice. When I grew up, every neighborhood store had a shaved ice machine that the kids would gather after school and totally get sticky from the cool mixture of shaved ice particles and syrup.

Similar to a snow cone, shaved ice is far superior because when done right it's like little fluffy wisps of coldness. A big block of ice is placed into a shaving machine (originally from Japan I think) and then it's thinly shaved until you get a pile of shavings that you place into a cone. You can get a variety of flavored syrup placed onto the ice, just like Italian syrup. The classic in Hawaii is called "Rainbow" and it's made from a combination of three flavors: blue (vanilla), red (strawberry) and yellow (coconut). The blending of the colors create the other three colors--purple, orange and green--to create the rainbow look. I got the classic rainbow yesterday the day I arrived into town.

Now the best shaved ice in town is in the North Shore of Oahu in the town of Haleiwa. At an old-time store called Matsumoto's, people stand in line snaking out the door for a cone of shaved ice. Matsumoto has taken shaved ice to the next level by adding other treats like a scoop of vanilla ice cream in the bottom or, reflecting the Japanese influence, bits of azuki beans (or red beans).

I'm not heading out to North Shore this time around, so I had to just settle for this shaved ice that I got at the Ala Moana Shopping Center in town at this new kiosk that I never noticed in my previous trips. It's called Zagu and they also sell those pearl shakes made with the little tapioca pearls (but they make theirs from mochi). The shaved ice was pretty good. But then again, anything tastes great when it's hot outside.

To be honest, the weather actually isn't super hot. It's actually quite beautiful. We're experiencing a mix of sun and clouds right now in Honolulu and the temperature during the days are in the mid-70s, which feels great with the tradewinds blowing. I believe the tradewinds are the gift from the gods, because without it Hawaii feels hot and sticky. So I'm always grateful for this island breeze.

Here was my view this morning when I was laying under the palm trees at Ala Moana Beach Park. I was plotting which restaurants I was going to go tomorrow. I'm excited because I actually have reservations to Nobu, the Hawaii outpost of this famous L.A.-N.Y. chef. BTW, what do you think those clouds look like?

Here are my feet getting wet for the first time at the beach in more than two years. People often ask me what I miss about Hawaii and I always say my nephews and nieces and the beach, in that order. Gosh, you can see my feet really need a tan.

I like to go to Ala Moana Beach because it's central and across the street from the shopping center. But I go to the section of the beach called Magic Island. It's a man-made lagoon where a lot of kids go to play because the waves are blocked by a wall. Since I'm not a good swimmer, this is my hangout. And on a weekday, there are no kids because they're all in school, so I pretty much have the beach to myself as you can see from above.

What Would Jasmine Do?

This is Jasmine, my sister's Golden Retriever. I'm staying with my sister and Jasmine is my model for how I'm going to spend my trip ... just laying out in the sun and just enjoying the day. So whenever I get too busy or hectic running around trying to accomplish too much on my vacation, I'm going to think of Jasmine and say, WWJD?

4 comments:

KirkK said...

Hey Ben - At least your feet looks right...you get da' space between da' big toe amd da' next one.....just right for slippa's, huh?

Chef Ben said...

Yep, that's right. It probably has da space because I grew up wearin' slippas. :)

agent713 said...

LOL WWJD. I love it.

Sounds like you're having an awesome trip.

We have a "mix of sun and clouds" here in BC today but there ain't now "tradewinds" so it's just cold out :( I'll live vicariously through you though :)

foodhoe said...

oh am I jealous of you lounging around on that empty beach! the shaved ice looks good, I didn't grow up with it but I love it with the red beans and ice cream... looks like an awesome time