As if sitting on some sun-warmed Hawaiian beach, Mai Tai or Piña Colada in hand, weren’t reason enough to feel happy, there’s good cause to keep the vibe alive on through dinner and long past another tropical sunset. Hawaii isn’t just another pretty face - this island state can lay cultural claim to a respectable list of culinary offerings that when coupled with a slice of fresh pineapple or sweet mango is sure to send even hardened hedonists swooning heavenward. Keep in mind that Hawaii has seen over the centuries quite the influx of immigrants from the world over, so expect to find incorporated into popular dishes flavors from Japan, Korea, Tongo, Puerto Rico, China - even Vietnam and Cambodia.
While multi-cultural dining is easily done around Hawaii’s tourist centers, it’s ridiculously easy to sample local delicacies and produce whether you chose to go hands on at a farmers market or sign up for an all in evening at a Luau. Most travelers vote at least one night for the latter, a celebratory buffet-style event that often includes on the menu the likes of Kalua Pig, Huli-Huli chicken, chicken lu’au, mahi mahi, poi (a purple paste made of mashed taro), taro dinner rolls, ahi poke, Lomi salmon, haupia (coconut pudding) and well, you get the picture. Plenty of food served with plenty of colorful cocktails and aromatic Kona coffee as needed. There are usually fire-eaters and hula dancers for entertainment, too. It’s win-win, any way you look at it.
Having enjoyed a well-rounded introduction to Hawaiian fare, seek out your favorite dishes again in smaller cafes and more local restaurants around the island, or grab a “quick plate” lunch - a mixed dish of rice, macaroni salad and en route to the beach. Of course, no Hawaiian interlude would be complete without indulging in a handful of chocolate covered macadamia nuts, made from both Hawaiian chocolate and Hawaiian macadamia nuts. Looking for some other edible souvenir to take home? Consider guava jam, coconut syrup, tropical tea, wasabi lime salad dressing or some of Cook Kwee’s Maui cookies. Yes, you’re luggage may be over the limit but you’ll be glad to have that taste of the tropics come mid-February.