Based on my last post you probably think I'm the douche who complains about Maui. After all, it's an idyllic tropical paradise, and even if the majority of the food we ate there was kind of "meh," we were still surrounded my miles of gorgeous beaches and beautiful greenery. So here's the post to counter the last one and tell you that yes, Maui is an amazing place, filled with beauty and some pretty good food in unexpected places!
On our first full day there, we just hopped in the car and headed north on a stretch of road that ran parallel to the deep, blue ocean. We made a few stops to gawk at the turquoise water and take photos, then continued on the road to somewhere- we figure we'd just let it lead us to wherever it, um, lead. Little did we know that the two lane highway would turn into a single, narrow road with a thousand-feet drop on the driver's side (ok, maybe it wasn't a thousand but I am really bad at this stuff and it was really far down!) which J masterfully navigated, although we both wondered what would happen if a car came from the other direction. We were among three cars that puttered along this death trap (ok, again probably embellishing a bit but it was scary!) and when a car finally did come from the other direction, it was thankfully driven by a local who simply drove it so it almost teetered on the cliff while we all drove around it on the "safe" side. Phew.
Risking our lives, however, was not in vain as this treacherous road of doom (alright, I'll stop but I tell you- it was frightening!) lead to the Best Banana Bread On The Planet. I'm not making it up- it said so on the sign so of course we couldn't help but pull over.
See? The sign SAYS it's the best!
I had actually JUST read about this place on another blog so I shouted excitedly to J that we had to try some, so we got out of the car and approached the small green shack that held The Best Banana Bread On The Planet.
We were greeted warmly by the proprietor, Julia, who had samples of the bread, some coconut candy, macadamia nuts and other goodies. It was hard to tell if it was the best banana bread I'd ever had based on the small piece I ate, but I bought a loaf to take back to the hotel and Julia handed me one that was still warm and smelled divine. After making our way back alive (oops) we cut several slices and made some coffee to have with it. The verdict? It really is the Best Banana Bread On The Planet………but since I haven't had every banana bread on the planet I can just assure you that it's the best one in MY planet. It was sweet but not cloyingly so, and had a pronounced banana flavor but one that was deep, dark and caramelized. I really liked that it had no bells and whistles- no nuts or visible fruit- and was as tender and rich while being light at the same time. Definitely worth risking life and limb for, that's certain (last reference)! We kept slicing off chunks and nibbling on it for the next couple of days until it was all gone.
Another culinary highlight was the pineapple that we had on several occasions- Maui pineapple really is a different animal and every chunk we had throughout the entire trip was sweet and almost syrupy with natural sugars. I'm afraid I'll never be able to eat a pedestrian pineapple again.
Not an actual Maui pineapple but a stand that sells them!
Ok, now here's one that will throw you……….another surprise was how pretty damn good my Spam musubi was. I don't know if I have even ever had Spam, although having eaten a few school cafeteria meals in my day I would only have to assume that I have. I bought it in Paia at a gas station before we headed down the Road to Hana and ate it a couple of hours later. I didn't really know what to expect, but it was good. I mean really good. The Spam was seared so all of the fat from all of the unknown parts contained within a slice of Spam oozed out onto the rice of which there was a perfect proportion to cut the saltiness in the meat (product). It was everything a processed pig product should taste like, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Hey- when in Rome…………
Speaking of the Road To Hana, it's what we tackled on Day Two of our trip. We started out with a breakfast at Café Kapalua - J had the huevos rancheros which were excellent, and I had a less-successful omelet but it was really my fault. No, I wasn't the cook but I have a tendency to "edit" breakfast dishes which I did again by asking for egg whites only, easy on the cheese and extra tomatoes. I should have just had it as the cook intended and it probably would have been better. Ah well, live and learn.
So after breakfast and the Spam pick-up, we headed down the long Road to Hana. The beauty of the hills, ocean, flowers, waterfalls and other presents the Road To Hana held won't be justified by words, so here's a few photos for you:
This reminds me of Japan.......Hokkaido, oddly....
We reached Hana just in time for the skies to open up and start pouring, but we trekked along a path that lead to a black sand beach and black lava rock cliffs overlooking a pounding surf. It looked very dramatic and we just stood there and peered out at the ocean, but threw in the towel earlier than we wanted to due to the rain.
So we were once again back on the road, this time away from Hana. Unfortunately, even the Road To Hana needs repairs now and then, which we found out via some orange cones and a "Do Not Enter" sign:
I walked up to the snoozing road worker who on cone duty and asked how long it would be, and he said "we'll open it back up at 3:30." Not bad, right? Oh wait, it's only 1:00 PM which means we had TWO-AND-A-HALF-HOURS to kill smack dab in the middle of Hana and our destination in Kapalua. The only bright side was that we hadn't reached the road barricade at 11:30 AM which is when they closed the road- could you imagine being told you have FOUR hours to wait? I think I would have lost it. With no real options we drove about 45 minutes back down the road to the one food stand we saw and had some Maui-style tacos (what's with putting black beans and shredded cabbage on everything? They don't belong in tacos!) then drove back 45 minutes to the barricade and sat in our car, along with all of the other people stranded on the Lone Road To Hana.
We were pretty exhausted by the time we finally made our way to the other side of the island, but look what we saw right before we reached our hotel:
…..some Maui magic!