babymoon adventures pt III

Even though I am a creature of habit, I had to try out some new restaurants on our trip to Hawai’i. Luckily, Chef Morimoto opened an absolutely stunning restaurant in Waikiki last fall inside the new Waikiki Edition hotel so that made our decision easy.


morimoto sign.jpg

The actual restaurant was everything you imagine it to be. Understated, clean, but gorgeous. Think white everything with splashes of purple and light green.  If you are stylish and not almost 8 months pregnant, this is definitely the place to have drinks and hang out on a Friday night. I had water. And lots of really good food.


IMG_6393.JPG

Did you know Morimoto brews his own beer? I had no idea! Obviously I can’t drink alcohol so you will have to take my husband’s word for it but he absolutely loved this particular brew.


BaconGyoza.jpg

To start, we ordered the pork gyoza which sat on a fresh tomato sauce and was enclosed in a bacon foam. The doughy gyoza was complimented nicely by the bright flavor of the tomato sauce. The bacon foam added the perfect hint of smokiness.


lamb morimoto.jpg

For my meal, I ordered the lamb rack with a yuzu glaze, ratatouille, and spam onigiri–which was a fun take on spam musubi. The lamb was cooked to perfection and not the least bit gamey. The ratatouille was quite light in texture but the bold flavors stood up to the rich meat and complimented the dish perfectly.

loco moto.jpg

Reg “pulled a Jenna” and read the menu ahead of time and already knew what he wanted to order. I was so proud. He picked the loco moto which is Morimoto’s take on the local classic loco moco. Chef certainly elevated this dish by using Wagyu beef and the result was absolutely delicious and certainly honored the inspiration.


morimoto dessert.jpg

For dessert, we ordered something new and off menu–a sea salt chocolate, caramel tart. This was served with vanilla bean ice cream, chocolate crumbles (their words, not mine), and crushed vanilla meringues. This was incredibly rich but that did not stop us from cleaning our plate. I loved the salty and sweet combination.

This was our last night in Hawai’i and I am so glad we ended our trip with such a great meal. I will never forget this trip. It was truly like a second honeymoon. I know this will sound cliche but I love my husband more today than the day I married him. He is such an incredible partner and I know he is going to be the best father.



IMG_6392.JPG

xo

babymoon adventures pt II

I could not come back from a vacation and not talk about the food. Truthfully, I plan out not only all of the restaurants I am going to visit but also what I am going to order (but keep an open mind if there are specials). Everyone does this right? 😉

So when we made this last trip we only had about 5 days and we wanted to make sure we visited some of our favorite spots and tried out a couple new spots as well.

Old Favorites

Our absolute favorite place to get breakfast in Waikiki has to be Eggs ‘N Things. The wait can be extremely long—even at 8 am so the earlier you get there, the better. We were on California time so I needed breakfast around the time they opened so we were just fine. No long waits. No pregnancy hunger meltdowns. Good times.


IMG_6372.JPG


IMG_6373.JPG

Can you find me?

IMG_6376.JPG

Homemade Guava Juice

IMG_6380.JPG

Spinach Bacon & Cheese Omelette with a side of their homemade salsa <——so good!

IMG_6377.JPG

And a side of their Macadamia Nut Pancakes. Folks, these are the stuff dreams are made of. Seriously, I dreamt about these babies after having them the first time and that is why I ordered them again. So fluffy with just a little crunch from the macadamia nuts. And you must top them with the homemade coconut syrup. You must. I happily shared these with Reg.

IMG_6378.JPG

Speaking of Reg, he ordered his favorite breakfast of all time: Eggs, Portuguese Sausage, and Rice. Before I met him I would never have thought of eating rice for breakfast but now I love it! The sausage was crispy and flavorful without being overly greasy.


IMG_1033.JPG

Another old favorite is also a local favorite: Rainbow’s Drive Inn. My husband grew up going to Rainbow’s every time he was on the Islands so it was the first place he took me years ago on our first trip. Rumor has it that President Obama loves Rainbow’s as well.

Most of the food served at Rainbow’s is considered plate lunch. The exact history behind plate lunch is often disputed. However, the general consensus is that plate lunch began in the 1880’s when plantation workers were in high demand for sugar and fruit companies in Hawai’i. Laborers came from all over the world including China, Japan, Portugal, and the Phillipines and would share various proteins (think canned meat, teriyaki, cold meat) and rice for lunch. So the plate lunches themselves are a mix of food from different cultures. Eventually, the macaroni salad and gravy was added into the mix.

I am a total creature of habit and I usually order hamburger steak (thin hamburger patties smothered in gravy) or loco moco (same as hamburger steak topped with two eggs) plate lunch every time I go. This time I decided to try something new.

IMG_1034.JPG

Boneless chicken with (the best) gravy! Served with macaroni salad and two scoops of rice.

IMG_1036.JPG

Reg is like me when it comes to Rainbow’s and usually orders the same thing. Instead, he branched out a bit and ordered the Rainbow Royale burger. The special sauce that comes on the burger is very similar to deviled egg filling but thinned out. Delicious!

We both enjoyed trying something new but we missed our “usual” order and made sure we ordered it on our last day when we visited Rainbow’s again. If you are ever on Oahu, this place is a must try!

Next up: some new finds, including Morimoto’s new Waikiki restaurant!

xo

babymoon adventures

Reg and I both love to travel. Since we wouldn’t be traveling for a while–you know, given that we will have a newborn in around two months, we wanted to take one final big vacation before our son arrives. And since I have gained over 20 lbs (so far), all I wanted to do was float in the ocean on a beach in Hawai’i.

You see, Hawai’i has a special place in both our hearts. My husband is Native Hawaiian and despite the fact that his dad was in the Army and that moved his family around a lot, he still managed to make it home to the islands as often as could. After meeting his family and learning more about the culture, I became enthralled with Hawai’i as well. In fact, most of my research in graduate school covered the Hawaiian Sovereignty Movement. So Hawai’i seemed like the perfect place to take one last vacation before our life changes. Plus, we both loved the thought of him going to our beloved islands before he is even born.

This time around we decided to stay in Waikiki. Usually when we visit Oahu, we stay on the North Shore because there are far less tourists and that part of the island is usually more quiet. Waikiki made a bit more sense for us this trip because we didn’t want to rent a car and preferred to walk everywhere, which is something you really can’t do on the North Shore. We really lucked out too. For Waikiki in April, the crowds were not bad at all and the whole trip felt really peaceful and relaxing. Staying at this beautiful place didn’t hurt either…


Sheraton Moana Surfrider


IMG_6357.JPG

Built in 1901 and full of charm

IMG_6359.JPG

Loved sitting in those rocking chairs during the evening, feeling the cool breeze.
Plus people watching was ah-mazing.


IMG_6360.JPG


IMG_6352.JPG

Gorgeous Banyan tree
This tree was originally planted in 1904 when it was only 7 feet tall.
Now it over 75 feet tall and spans the 150 ft. courtyard.


IMG_6368.JPG


IMG_6343.JPG

Private beach with crystal clear water.
Fun fact about me: I was so scared of swimming as a kid that I would scream if you came next to me in the pool. I didn’t swim in the ocean until I was 16. Now, at almost 27, you can’t get me out of the ocean. Seriously, I could swim all day. I didn’t even freak out when a baby sea turtle swam up next to me.


IMG_6366.JPG

Clear view of Diamond Head


IMG_1059.JPG

With delicious fruity (non-alcoholic) beverages


IMG_6338.JPG

And a handsome husband


IMG_1058.JPG

Followed by the face most people made when they realized I was pregnant…in a bikini. The reaction made me laugh but I owned it.

Part II coming up tomorrow…

xo

just what i needed


IMG_6180.JPG

Having Melissa and her boyfriend Nate visit this past weekend was truly just what I needed. We spent the weekend shopping, eating, exploring San Francisco, celebrating Melissa’s birthday and laughing. So. much. laughing. In fact I woke up after our first night with a sore throat from laughing so much. I loved every minute of it.

Truth is, I haven’t made that many friends while living up here. Since I found out I was pregnant almost immediately after moving here, making friends was not very easy. I am not partaking in the bar scene like most people my age and I am not working. On one hand, I couldn’t be happier that I get to just relax and focus on my pregnancy but, on the other hand, not having close friends up here can be lonely. I LOVE hanging out with my husband but I think having balance in life is healthy. So having Melissa here was perfect timing!

Just as planned, I took her to Pizzeria Delfina, Tartine, and Fremont Diner. We also enjoyed playing tourist and watching the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, strolling around Union Square, and taking copious pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. The whole experience made me really appreciate my time here in Northern California but also look forward to moving closer to my friends and family in October.


IMG_6097.JPG   

  IMG_6098.JPG


IMG_6099.JPG

IMG_6105.JPG

IMG_6107.JPG


IMG_6109.JPG


IMG_6111.JPG

IMG_6118.JPG

IMG_6163.JPG


IMG_6148.JPG


IMG_6156.JPG

IMG_6157.JPG

IMG_6168.JPG  


IMG_6171.JPG


IMG_6172.JPG


IMG_6181.JPG


IMG_6189.JPG


IMG_6191.JPG

IMG_6203.JPG


IMG_6206.JPG


IMG_6209.JPG

IMG_6211.JPG
IMG_6216.JPG

How was your weekend?

xo

Bit(es) of my Weekend

This past weekend my parents and youngest sister Molli came to visit for her spring break. Though their visit was short, we managed to pack in a lot of fun activities and, naturally, a lot of eating. I know I said we normally try somewhere new each Friday but we simply could not resist taking them to Pizzeria Delfina on Friday afternoon. Everything was just as amazing as the last time. We even tried a few new dishes and I can honestly say that I highly recommend trying them all if you visit. Here are some of the dishes we sampled this time around:

IMG_5999.JPG

Homemade Burrata Cheese


IMG_6004.JPG

Butter Bean, Pancetta, & Escarole Soup


IMG_6006.JPG

The Best Meatballs


IMG_6009.JPG

Funghi Pizza


IMG_6013.JPG

Margherita Pizza

Our next stop was the fabulous Tartine Bakery. I am sure Delfina has great desserts but given that Tartine is two doors down and my family was only in town for the weekend, I could not pass up on the opportunity to take them there. Everything was perfect. I don’t really think you can go wrong with anything there and we really couldn’t make up our minds so we ended up ordering…a lot. Don’t worry though, nothing was wasted. You don’t waste Tartine. You just don’t.


IMG_6021.JPG

IMG_6023.JPG

My lovely sister, Molli


IMG_6015.JPG

Morning Bun (with an addicting orange sugar topping)


IMG_6014.JPG

Lemon Meringue Cake


IMG_6018.JPG

Dulce de Leche Cake

IMG_6026.JPG

My Parents!

The next day we woke up bright and early and headed to Sonoma for our favorite breakfast place–Fremont Diner. We took our time enjoying our breakfast, sipping coffee and talking about life. I cherish those moments so much. I am really lucky because my parents raised me to have an opinion and really listen to what I have to say, even if it completely differs from theirs. I hope that I can instill this same sense of independent thinking in my own child. In addition to our usual breakfast banter, the usual suspects were there:

IMG_6032.JPG

{Almost Famous} Biscuits & Gravy

IMG_6034.JPG

Breakfast Sandwich

IMG_6035.JPG

The Kitchen Sink (Biscuits, Smoked Ham, Fried Chicken, Sausage Gravy, & a Fried Egg)

We then made our way back to San Francisco and headed to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the famous Ferry Building for a little sightseeing.

IMG_6039.JPG


IMG_6041.JPG

IMG_6043.JPG


IMG_6054.JPG

IMG_6055.JPG


IMG_6057.JPG

IMG_6058.JPG


IMG_6059.JPG

IMG_6066.JPG


IMG_6067.JPG

It truly was the perfect weekend with my family. We ate really great food and saw some of my favorite parts of the city. Mostly, it was great to spend time with my parents and sister, talking and catching up on each other’s lives. I love my family so much and I can’t wait for the day when we all live close to each other again.

xo

Old Friends, New Places

IMG_4173.JPG

This past Sunday Reggie and I visited The Getty Center in Los Angeles for the first time. I have to say–after going there I am almost embarrassed that I have lived here for about 5 years and only just went for the first time.

What made the visit even better was the appearance of two of my good friends from New Hampshire, Emily and Brian. We were talking about this that day, but Emily and I had not seen each other for 5 years!! I had a great time catching up with her, hearing about her world travels and updating her on what has been going on in my life. She is an amazing, caring person and I am so glad that I was able to see her on her vacation. Brian has lived out here for several years and I am lucky that we get to see each other much more often. In fact, visiting the Getty was Brian’s idea. So smart that one! 🙂


IMG_4175.JPG

We started the afternoon sitting on the beautiful green lawns, eating lunch and drinking wine. Brian’s girlfriend,Talia, brought an amazing spread of food. We all had so much fun people watching on the lawn and catching up. After lunch and a couple bottles of wine, we decided to explore the property a bit more.

IMG_4183.JPG


IMG_4228.JPG


IMG_4230.JPG

I would have showed you more pictures of the food exhibition but that lovely gentleman in the above picture scolded me for doing so. Oops! 🙂


IMG_4237.JPG


IMG_4274.JPG


IMG_4273.JPG

Beautiful day with beautiful people.

The Getty is open to the public and the admission is always free–truly a must see when you are visiting LA. 🙂


xo,


Jenna

Off to the Market

IMG_4035_2.JPG

I have been trying to visit Market in St. Helena since my last trip to Napa. I love swanky restaurants with creative meals but at the end of the day I really love simple, fresh food cooked spectacularly. Plus, supporting any restaurant that uses local ingredients makes me smile. Market does all of these things. 🙂


IMG_4004.JPG

We started with some cocktails. Mine was the fizzy gin drink in front. Perfectly refreshing for a warm summer night in wine country.


IMG_4000.JPG


We started with some laughs and some appetizers.

IMG_4005.JPG

Farmer’s Market Chopped Salad. Alfie, our server, told me this was the most popular salad on the menu. For this salad, the Chef picks whatever is best at the morning Farmer’s Market so the ingredients change every day. This one had broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, bacon, blue cheese, and lettuce. The veggies were cooked just slightly which some people may prefer, but I would have rather them be chopped more and left raw because cooking them only intensified the dressing, which I was not a huge fan of. Also, there could have been more cheese. This little hiccup was okay though because the other dishes we ordered were spectacular.


IMG_4007_2.JPG

This is one of the best Crab Cakes I have ever had. This baby was huge and stuffed with quality Dungeness crab meat. Paired with the coriander lime sauce and what had to be the most fresh grilled corn of all time, this dish was epic! I could have ate this as my meal. Only downside was that the cake itself was deep fried. I really think it would have been just perfect if it was less crispy on the outside.


IMG_4010_2.JPG

Fresh Cream of Corn Soup. Again, the corn had to be one of the best veggies at the Farmer’s Market because this soup was perfectly sweet only needed a hint of cream and a splash of chili oil. We were all really pleased with this soup and jealous of Reggie who had been smart enough to order it. 🙂


IMG_4014.JPG

I ordered the Organic Fried Chicken for my entree. I LOVE fried chicken. This one was perfectly seasoned and crispy. The whipped mashed potatoes were so fluffy and buttery.

What stood out for me was the portion size. Sometimes you order Fried Chicken for your entree and you literally receive an entire chicken. Yea, if I order that just for me there is no way I am finishing the dish. I was pleasantly surprised when only two pieces were served with my dish. Perfect amount for me to devour. 😉


IMG_4018.JPG

Macaroni & Cheese with Aged Fiscalini Cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Bacon and Fine Herbs. I am only going to say this once because I pride myself on having the best homemade macaroni & cheese but this is better than my version. My sisters both ordered the M&C and they are not what you would call “plate finishers” but this was done. Between the six of us at the table, we could not stop “oooohing” and “ahhhing” over this dish. Well played Market, well played.


IMG_4020.JPG

My father ordered Zinfandel Braised Lamb. I managed to steal a bit–for the blog, I argue– and wowza, this meat was tender. The jus served with the meat was light and had the perfect essence of zinfandel. My father is not one to rave about food like me (unless it is dessert) but he had a hard time keeping quiet about this one. He said this was the best lamb he has ever had. Period.


IMG_4026_2.JPG

The Filet Mignon came from a local farm and was truly spectacular. Served with homemade au gratin potatoes, haricot verts and a porcini butter, this whole dish was cooked and seasoned to perfection.


IMG_4027.JPG

Post-dinner cappuccino for me.


IMG_4031_2.JPG

Butterscotch Pot du Creme for the table. Very rich and creamy. If you are a fan of butterscotch, you will love this. But is this definitely a dessert to share because a few bites is just enough.


We loved visiting Market. The food was incredible and the service was fantastic. Our server, Alfie, was knowledgable about the dishes, having tried everything. Above all, he loves to eat and he is passionate about local, sustainable food. At the same time, he did not bombard us at the table. He allowed us space to talk about enjoy our meals, offering any assistance when necessary.

He told us that he used to live in Southern California and then recently moved up to St. Helena with his wife and their 4 children. Now, they have a larger place on more land and my dream…chickens! I actually let out a little cheer when he told us this (I am such a nerd…) because my dream is to have an old farmhouse with chickens in the back yard and maybe a cow….okay, maybe a goat too. A girl can dream, right? Mostly, Alfie told us he is living the dream up there and you could see it on his face through his beaming smile.

I walked out of this place with a full belly and a full heart.

xo,
Jenna