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Work & Play in Hawaii

IMG_3213Last weekend, my husband and I found ourselves in Honolulu for the American Association of Endodontists Annual Session.  The staff of my husband’s office was also there with their spouses or partners, so I tagged along for some much needed vitamin D.

His office staff booked everyone’s accommodations.  We all stayed at the Waikiki Shore Condominiums in Waikiki and the annual meeting was down the street at the Convention Center.

Our condos were the only beach front condos in Waikiki.  The location was great and Michael and I were lucky enough to score a fifth floor, three bedroom (all to our selves) condo with an amazing ocean view.  The view was stunning from nearly all the windows and wrap around deck.  However, the unit itself could have used some major sprucing up to the inside.  The decor and interior were a bit dated & old.  The unit had an odd layout, cheap linens and a slight creepy feeling, but it was comfortable enough and the air conditioner worked.  I was also disappointed to find out that even though the building is right on the beach, they have no private beach space, no pool, nor do they have lounge chairs for the guests.  Beach towels come from the front desk and just outside on the beach you can rent a lounge chair and even an umbrella, from a business not affiliated with the condos.  So it’s pretty clear, in this case, I think a hotel would have been better.  Oh well, with a spectacular ocean view, what are you going to do?

As far as the food scene, we struck out our first day with a mediocre sushi lunch and an even more mediocre dinner.  We seem to take a day to get our food mojo going.  If you ever find yourself in Waikiki, don’t go to Tropics Bar & Grill, on the beach front walk.  They don’t know how to make a proper Mojito and it will probably be the worst $60-70 you’ll ever spend for two cocktails, two lame appetizers and a flavorless Margarita pizza.  It truly baffles me when food looks like it will be good and then is not.  I figure that would be way harder, to make something so unimpressive and tasteless rather than simply flavorful.  You really have to be bad to screw up: crust, tomato sauce, mozzarella, sliced tomatoes and chiffonade basil.  Five ingredients!  Luckily, a Starbucks is right next door, so breakfast was easy.  And if push came to shove (and it did) there was a Subway downstairs.  I’m down with Subway every now and again, at least I know what I’m getting and am not side slapped by impostor pizza.

A rule I’m learning to take as gospel – if you can make it better yourself at home, then don’t order it out because chances are it will be disappointing.  There are occasions where this is not always the case.   For example: I make a mean pasta carbonara, but Mario Batali’s Otto in Las Vegas makes one of the best I’ve ever had.  Same goes for Mojitos.

IMG_0591Our second night we made reservations at BLT Steak, located at the Trump Hotel – across the street from our condo.  After ordering drinks, (finally a properly made Mojito) the kitchen sent us an amuse-bouche of pâté and toast along with lovely warm popovers with gruyere cheese inside, sprinkled with sea salt.  We started with the Lobster Cobb Salad on the recommendation of our waiter.  Lovely chunks of lobster with bib lettuce, raddicchio and other mixed greens mixed with avocado, cheddar cheese and a creamy buttermilk dressing.  While Michael opted for a filet, I got the hamburger.  We also split a side of spicy BBQ Kahuku corn with bacon, with fresh sweet white corn and a bite of spiciness.

Friday I took a two hour private (Michael was at the convention) paddle boarding lesson.  They took me to a public beach with a nice inlet of protected water, sheltered (somewhat) from the wind by the mountains & tall buildings.  This was a perfect place to learn, as there were no waves, not even little baby ones.  I have to say, I took to it rather quickly.  Within two hours I advanced through three different boards, going from a beginners – big board (12.6 x 33) to an intermediate – smaller board, (10 x 31).

I enjoyed the experience so much that Michael and I rented some boards outside our condo the next day.  The waters outside our condo, however were an entirely different story.  Coming straight in from the ocean, there were waves to deal with.  Not big, but when you go from no waves at all to even a little motion in the ocean, it seems like a big deal.  I coached Michael as my instructor did me and quickly realized standing up was going to be a bit harder than I had experienced the day before.  We both fell in a few times and then slowly got the hang of it.  I actually fancied sitting on the board with legs straight out (like in a kayak) and paddling that way – not to mention, it felt safer when bigger waves came in from farther out in the ocean.  I’m rather bummed that I took so well to a warm weather, warm water sport.  There is paddle boarding and even paddle yoga in Washington state, one just needs to wear a wet suit instead of a bikini.  I guess cold water is a great incentive to stay dry.

Friday night we ate at Nobu.  I have been dreaming of eating at Nobu for many, many years and when I found out we’d be close to one while in Waikiki, I made us reservations.  To my delight, Michael was game for the Omakase or Chef’s Choice Tasting Menu.  Michael and I both have favorites when it comes to sushi and usually order the same things.  Chef’s Choice is a great way of having a new experience, expanding your perception of food as well as putting your palate in the hands of the chef.  Nobu’s beginning level Omakase is $100 pp and the levels increase from there.  We opted for the starter level, with a Sapporo for Michael and a Lychee martini for me.

IMG_0600This meal ranks in the top five dinning experiences for me.  The entire experience was simply stunning: a gorgeous restaurant, informative & professional staff, gourmet drinks, and exceptional food.  Eight courses of insanely fresh fish, visually artistic and immaculately prepared dishes.  Usually I refer back to an on-line menu or take a photo of the menu so I can remember what we ate and what was in it.   Since the chef’s are preparing your dishes on the fly, I have no reference for much of what we ate.  I remember the amazing tempura rock shrimp and also some lovely Black Cod served in a Banana leaf.  The sashimi style sushi was swimming earlier in the day – it was that fresh.  Dessert was a Bento Box with flourless chocolate cake & green tea ice cream.  If you enjoy sushi and fine dinning, Nobu is certainly worth a visit.

It was nice to have a little slice of paradise in the middle of April.  I came home with a serious interest in paddle boarding, wonderful memories of Nobu and a bit of a tan.  It’s always a fun time with Michael’s office staff.  I shall look forward to our next adventure.

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