Tag: restaurants

Hula Cookies

Have you ever been to Hula Cookies? Their store is located at the Harbor Shops in Maalaea Harbor.

Friends used to own a small jewelry store next door, so we would stop in at Hula Cookies from time to time. After yesterday’s Maui Ocean Center visit, my youngest and I stopped at Hula Cookies for one of their gourmet icecream sandwiches. While we got there before their shop opened, we got lucky! They have an icecream sandwich vending machine just outside the store! Perfect! We still got our treats and got to support this awesome small business.

As the name implies they have a number of different gourmet cookies that they bake and sell. They also serve Roselani icecream. You can build your own icecream sandwich with your choice of cookies and icecream. How sweet is that! My son chose chocolate chip cookies and mint chip icecream (of course). But I had my eye set on the Hula’s Delight cookies These have dried mango, dried pineapple, coconut and mac nuts. We ran the credit card and got my son’s icecream sandwich out of the vending machine ($7), then ran it again for mine. In my haste it appears I punched in the wrong number, instead of an icecream sandwich I got a baggie of 4 Hula’s Delight for $5. In my opinion, a total win.

Icecream – I can take it or leave it, but give me something I can sink my teeth into (like four hula cookies), and I’m a happy girl! Now, keep in mind, the vending machine is a freezer, so they were all frozen (since the icecream needs to be kept frozen). The cookies softened up quickly enough. It worked for us, but I think next time we’ll try to time our visit better so we can have soft cookies with the icecream. Yum.

Roselani Icecream

Roselani Icecream is Maui’s very own icecream. Maui Soda Works started manufacturing it in 1932, since then it is sold at all grocery stores in Hawaii. We recently tried the Kona Mud Pie. Oh it’s delicious.

Maui Harbor Shops

Have you stopped at the Harbor Shops in Maalaea? You may recognize their two main tenants – the Maui Ocean Center and the Pacific Whale Foundation. Do take a moment to check out the other shops and restaurants – did you know there are two levels? Tante’s has a gorgeous harbor view, Beach Bums is popular and runs regular radio ads. There are a few gift shops, a tattoo parlor, and Maui’s newest live entertainment venue, Da Playground.

Comment »

Cara’s Maui favorites

I am regularly asked for recommendations, what my Maui favorites are. Of course, with Covid many things have changed, so this list is in flux. Also, for restaurants – call and make reservations! Some take reservations on Open Table, others do not.

Cara’s breakfast Maui favorites

  • Beach Street (Former S&Q Shave Ice stand)
  • Cafe @ La Plague
  • Maui Bread Co (we like to walk to this bakery – go early, it’s small and they sell out)
  • Kihei Caffe This place is hugely popular for their big portions. Honestly, I wouldn’t stand in those crazy lines (mainly in full sun) for breakfast. But if there is no line, I’d go! Note: they have finally opened their Lahaina location for those staying on the West side!

Cara’s favorite restaurants

  • Gannons – my absolute favorite, recently reopened for happy hour and dinner. Having said that, my favorite is lunch/happy hour. The view and ambiance is amazing
  • 5 Palms on Keawakapu beach – any time of day, but perfect for oceanfront sunset dining
  • Maui Brewing Company – for lunch and dinner. They also offer tours of their award-winning facility
  • Nalus – they have finally reopened after a long closure during Covid. I dream of their ahi club
  • Cafe o Lei on South Kihei Road – one of the most reasonable lunch menus
  • Ami Ami (at the Maui Coast Hotel) for breakfast/dinner. They also serve food poolside – no, non-hotel guests may not use the pool, but they often have live music and it’s an easy casual atmosphere with younger kids
  • Cuatro Restaurant – we haven’t been for a few years. Small restaurant, their ahi nachos are so good
  • Eskimo Candy – they have the best poke bowl on island (disclaimer, that is all I eat here)
  • Pint & Cork – when we went a few weeks ago, they were not taking reservations, just first come first serve
  • while not a restaurant, Island Market @ Shops at Wailea has a very nice take-out/deli section for picnics

non Kihei special mentions

  • Tin Roof (pre-order your take-out on their website). The mochiko chicken is amazing
  • Cafe o Lei at the Mill House (this is at the Maui Tropical Plantation, former Mill House restaurant site)

best grocery stores

  • Safeway (use your Safeway card, or the one in the condo. If you can’t find it, use my phone number for the Safeway deals 808-281-7934)
  • Hawaiian Moons – natural/organic grocery store with a take-out section
  • Foodland – best poke selection, hands-down

Cara’s Maui favorites – these are the ones that really count

I’ve mentioned I love dessert and treats, right?

  • Ululani’s – hands down best shave ice on island
  • Maui Gelato – have you tried their local flavors like lilikoi (passion fruit) or mango
  • Fabianis – love their desert display case. The lilikoi meringue is a definite favorite
  • Hula Cookies – they make icecream sandwiches with your choice of their cookies and Roselani icecream. So good.
  • Komodas – home made malasadas, donuts etc. Arrive early (like between 7-8am) for best selection, or pre-order for later pick-up.
Maui favorites

Comment »

Maui strawberries and lilikoi tarts

Maui has been warming up. This is of course hardly a surprise, it is officially summer. My problem is, I just don’t like the heat (I know, I live in the wrong part of the world). So last week I drove upcountry for a cool-er walk, some strawberries and lilikoi tarts.

It was closing in on 80F when I left Kihei around 7:30am and by the time I arrived at my favorite Thompson Road pull-out an hour later, it was a wonderful 68F. I had tried rather unsuccessfully to convince a few friends to go walking, so I was doing this solo. I grabbed my mask (just in case), sunglasses and phone and headed out on my 3 mile (roundtrip) walk. This is a narrow road with bicoastal views, lava rock walls, horses and just beautiful scenery. There isn’t much traffic, but as long as you stay to the side of the road, everyone is friendly and waves.

La Provence

Sig told me to be sure to check out the French bakery while upcountry. One of the tennis moms had been telling him how amazing it was. I have a bit of a reputation for having a sweet tooth, so of course I had to stop. Turns out La Provence was a little more difficult to find than I thought it would be. It’s on a road that runs parallel (just above) Kula Hwy. However, I forgot that that parallel road is not continuous due to all the gorges on Haleakala. On the fourth attempt I got it right. La Provence is a sit-down restaurant (I’ve never done that), but also has a little hole in the wall bakery section. The lilikoi meringue tart and fruit tart were calling my name. Who am I to resist? FYI, they only take cash/checks.

Along the way I saw Kula Country Farms had a BOGO (buy one get one free) on their locally grown strawberries. Lucky me! They actually also have a u-pick, but were watering/fertilizing, so the u-pick was closed. If you are upcountry, do stop at their farm stand. The lady who runs it is the sweetest and they have great produce.

What did I do with my four packs of strawberries? Welll….. I was inspired by La Provence’s fruit tart to make an Austrian Obstboden for Father’s Day. As you may know, I grew up in Austria and have a rather particular taste for dessert. An Obstboden is a fruit flan. However, where I grew up, you didn’t fill it with pudding/custard, but instead a layer of matching fruit jam (as a moisture barrier) and then topped it with a gelatin glaze. Here’s my Father’s day cake. We ate it for breakfast. It’s basically a fruit salad!

Comment »

Reopening of the Maui Tropical Plantation

We were so sad to see the Maui Tropical Plantation close and unfortunately lay off most of its employees last June (2020) due to Covid. It has been wonderful to see the restart/rebirth of this wonderful facility this spring.

Kumu Farms, a farm stand selling their own produce did stay open for the duration of the shut-down. Cafe o Lei took over the Mill House restaurant and opened their fourth location on island (the others are Cafe o Lei in Kihei, Ami Ami in Kihei, and Cafe o Lei at the Dunes golf course in Kahului). I have yet to eat at their Mill House location, but judging from the food at their other locations, I’m sure it’s fantastic. It definitely scores high for atmosphere!

Kumu Farms had an exciting announcement recently – together with Maui ‘Oma Coffee Company they took over the closed Maui Tropical Plantation gift shop and transformed it into a farm market (vs the higher end ‘ABC-type store’ it had become pre-pandemic). I’m supposed to check it out with my neighbor on the weekend, but I couldn’t resist and stopped in this morning. Oh my.

Once again we can stroll around the beautiful property, enjoying the beautiful landscaping, duck pond and funky sugar plantation factory ‘lawn ornaments’. Love this place.

The zipline has reopened, and, yes, you can once again book and go on tram tours, learning about Hawaii’s fruits, vegetables and plants.

Unfortunately the other little shops in the courtyard next to the pond have not reopened at this time.

Maui ‘Oma Coffee

You learn something new every day. I have always loved the name Maui ‘Oma Coffee. Oma in German means grandma. But today I learned that ‘Oma (don’t forget the ‘okina’ at the before the O) means ‘to roast’ in Hawaiian. They supply some of Maui’s restaurants with custom roasted coffee – such as Merriman’s, Mamas Fish House, Duke’s etc.

What is an ‘okina, you ask?

An ‘okina is considered a formal consonant in the Hawaiian language. It is a glotol stop, like when you say uh-oh. For example, you write and say Hawai’i (not Hawaii – be sure pronounce the extra I).I will not pretend to know much about ‘okinas, but my friend Google has much more information.

Comment »

Cancellation of the post-arrival testing

Early May Mayor Victorino put new post-arrival testing in place for all arriving on Maui. To many it seemed over the top, as most arriving also do a pre-travel test 72 hours prior to arrival. However, the mayor was under some pressure from many residents to prove that reopening tourism was safe. There are many residents who were insisting that travelers were bringing in new Covid variants (they have to come from somewhere, so there is some truth to this). As of tomorrow (June 4, 2021), this post-arrival testing is being cancelled. Please note, you still have to do the pre-travel test (Safe Travels program).

What were the results of the post-arrival testing

Between May 4-31 nearly 93,000 people received a rapid test upon arriving in Kahului airport and 26-29 travelers tested positive. The positives were then given a PCR test to confirm, and of those 5 tested positive – 3 visitors and 2 residents.

The news article does not state if the positive residents had done the pre-arrival testing. While most of those arriving in Hawaii are taking the pre-travel test to avoid the mandatory quarantine, there are some residents who choose to do the 10 day quarantine rather than deal with the testing. Additionally, the article does not address if those who have exemptions from the pre-travel testing (flight crew, essential workers etc.) were being tested.

Not all arriving on Maui were subject to the post-travel test. Travelers were exempt if they showed valid proof of full vaccination (plus 14 days). Also I’m told the post-arrival test station was closed when some arrived.

Safe Travels program (pre-travel testing)

Hawaii does still have the pre-travel testing requirement to bypass the mandatory 10 day quarantine. Unfortunately at this time there is no exemption for those who have proof of vaccination. Please make sure you are checking the official State website for your information. There are a few scam ones out there. Note, there is no charge or fee for the Safe Travels program, with exception that you do have to pay for your Covid tests (directly to the provider).

The official websites are:

  1. https://hawaiicovid19.com/travel/
  2. https://travel.hawaii.gov/

Is Maui tourism back to normal?

Maui’s daily arrival numbers are back to near ‘normal’. A recent news article showed that we are actually right around 2018 visitor numbers, 5% down from the previous high of 2019. However, it is a bit of a different experience.

  • The State recently dropped the outdoor mask mandate, but we do still wear masks indoors and when close to others.
  • Rental cars continue to be in short supply. I am told 40% short. Book yours now. Please show respect and do not book Uhauls and the likes (it certainly complicates things for residents).
  • You will need advance reservations to get into many restaurants – Restaurants and stores are still operating at reduced capacity. Or just get take-out.
  • As with elsewhere in the service industry, employers are having a difficult time hiring employees, such as waitstaff and cleaners.

Yes, Maui is here and it is beautiful. Please be patient while we work to get back to normal.

Comment »

Did you know Wailea has a farmer’s market?

Wailea Village, the new upscale shopping area by Manolis Pizza Company and the Wailea Blue Course, opened just as Covid was beginning. They’ve had a rough start of it, with half the store fronts still empty. Management decided to help its shops out this past January by starting a Tuesday farmer’s market.

Every Tuesday from 8 to 11:30 vendors set up their tents and food trucks in the Wailea Village plaza. Today was my first time going, and let’s just say – it was a great way to start my day!

They had live music, flowers, two vegetable stands, two bakery stands (including my favorite Maui Artisan Breads), a variety of stalls selling juices, jams, cookies, breakie bowls, balsamic vinegars etc. It kept true to Wailea-standards, from what I could tell, good quality products.

Sabado Art Studio

My first stop actually was the Sabado Art Studio, one of the shops at the mall. I’ve been meaning to go in here for a while to get matching cushions for the Philip Sabado art rug we have at our Palms at Wailea condo. They helped me select some (reasonably priced) cushions right there. The artist’s son, who I have met several times, was there running the store. Do go in and have a look – they have some beautiful items for sale.

Farmer’s Market vendors

My favorite local bakery had a stand, but I had my heart set on trying the other sourdough bakery – Momo. I picked up a braided foccacia loaf and also an artisanal fig loaf. Both are excellent.

I looked at these protea bouquets, but realized we still have flowers in the kitchen and passed. But aren’t they beautiful?

The Maui Cookie Lab was calling my name and I picked up a few of their cookies.

Should you be looking for something to do on a Tuesday morning, do check out the Wailea Farmer’s Market!

Other shops at Wailea Village

While here, check out my favorite local card store Paper Garden. In addition to cards and gift wrap and such they host arts and craft workshops. Check out their website or follow them on Instagram for more information.

Love your coffee but looking to support local over say Starbucks, check out Akamai Coffee next to Paper Garden. They also have a store in Central Kihei across from Times Supermarket and a coffee stand in the Home Depot parking lot.

Comment »

Maui’s own German Bakery!

Some of you may know that I (Cara) grew up in Austria. It’s been a while, but one of the things I really miss is a good grainy loaf of bread. While Costco has a decent loaf in their bakery section, it doesn’t come close to the Austrian/German Bakery of my childhood.

I remember my dad going for walks twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) to the bakery in our town and picking up fresh buns for breakfast. I’m not sure if it was because he loves fresh bread or because he wanted an early morning walk, but Tuesdays and Thursdays were my favorite breakfast days – fresh buns with homemade jam. Wow that brings back memories.

A few years ago the Maui Bread Company opened in Dolphin Plaza along South Kihei Road. It is a cute little bakery with great baking, but not the Austrian/German breads and buns I love. This week my neighbors told me the Maui Bread Company had reopened and…. that they were baking German bread. Had I checked it out and was it authentic?

Well….. yesterday (in the interest of research) Sig and I went for a walk down to Dolphin Plaza to the Maui Bread Company. The bakery still looks quite like it always did. Of course, it has the obligatory Covid plastic protective panels now and a sign at the door allowing only 4 people at a time…. but there they were – fresh buns, fresh loafs of German bread and even pretzels. A lady approached me to offer assistance and I detected a slight German accent. Next thing we knew, Christine and I were chatting in German, getting acquainted and hearing all about their journey in buying this little bakery.

Christine and her husband bought the Maui Bread Company in January 2020, then closed due to Covid in March. They’ve recently reopened and Christine’s husband, a master baker from Germany, just started baking German breads early December. It’s sourdough breads, all natural (possibly organic) ingredients, and some gluten-free.

Honestly – this German bakery made my week! The buns were amazing, the spelt bread fantastic. I do believe we will resurrect my dad’s tradition of walking to the bakery for fresh buns and bread. Once you’ve had it, you just can’t beat it!

By the way, yes, they are continuing to bake many of the goodies the former owners baked, including gluten free and vegan options.

What else can be found in Dolphin Plaza

Dolphin Plaza is a two storey stripmall that sits perpendicular to South Kihei Road, across the street from Kamaole I beach. My favorite stores there are….

  • Maui Gelato (get the lilikoi gelato if they have it)
  • a gift shop
  • the Maui Bread Co
  • Cafe @ la Plage – my friend Beth Cooper painted/decorated Cafe @ la Plage this summer (check it out!)
  • Koiso Sushi – Maui’s best (and most exclusive) tiny sushi restaurant (you need reservations weeks in advance).
  • a fish and chips place
  • a number of other restaurants, a nail place and of course Pizza Hut!

Please note, due to Covid and the severe drop in customers (due to the contraction of tourism), many businesses have scaled back their hours of operation. Do check to avoid disappointment.

Comment »

Lahaina in late November

Last weekend we headed up to Lahaina for a family outing. The given excuse was to buy soccer cleats at Adidas, but really, we just needed to get out and do something as a family. We hadn’t been to Lahaina since July. At that time only a quarter of shops had been open and frankly it was depressing.

Here we are 1 1/2 months into Hawaii having reopened for tourism with the pre-travel test option, and I am happy to report that places are reopening. Yes, there are still many empty shops and boarded up windows, but many businesses are trying to make a go of it. Our tourism numbers aren’t nearly where they used to be, but we are thankful for those who have returned.

Just how many visitors are arriving?

I’ve spent my early morning looking at some of the online statistics. It’s really quite fascinating. Did you know, at this time Maui is getting roughly the same number of daily arriving visitors as Oahu? Interesting since typically Oahu (particularly Waikiki) is the most well-known Hawaiian island.

Here is the arrivals table from December 3, 2020 which gives you a snapshot of that day’s arrivals. (Hawaii Tourism Authority for more daily stats). By contrast, in 2019 Maui was averaging 7000 visitor arrivals/day (so we are approximately at 25% right now compared to last year).

Hawaii arrivals statistics for December 3, 2020

You will note Lihue (Kauai) has next to no arrivals. As of December 2, 2020 that County is taking a temporary break from the pre-travel test program. All arrivals will need to do a mandatory 14 day quarantine no matter what their test result. Not surprisingly this has brought their arrivals to a screeching halt from average arrivals of 500-700/day in November.

Did you know?

A number of years ago a friend told me the cost of rents on Front Street. At the time had several family members who owned jewelry businesses on front street. He said typical rent for a Front Street store was $30,000/month. It blew my mind. Just now I found a listing for the former Na Hoku store at 924 sq ft on Front Street for $26/sq ft. That’s $24,024 plus tax/month (never mind your other costs). How many customers do you need to bring in to make those numbers work? No wonder some of these businesses are slow to reopen or permanently gone.

lahaina
my Volcano Burger at Teddy’s Bigger Burgers was delicious

Teddy’s Bigger Burgers

We tried a new place for dinner. In our soccer cleats quest, we ended up at the Lahaina Gateway Center which used to have a shoe store (no more). There we did find Teddy’s Bigger Burgers. I’d heard about their amazing burgers, so we gave them a try. My volcano burger was great!

Comment »

Changes at Ocean Vodka

The other day I went for a drive to Ocean Vodka (Hawaii Sea Spirits – Organic Farm and Distillery) to see what’s new. Truthfully I’ve been wanting a bottle of their Fy gin which we discovered a year ago. I haven’t seen it at any of my usual liquor shopping places (Safeway, Longs, Costco). From what I could tell online, they were open, so I headed on up.

Note, many stores and restaurants are on limited hours these days – if they are open at all. So don’t rely on what used to be but rather sleuth for up-to-date opening hours and times.

What a difference a year makes – the first thing I noticed was that they have relocated the parking lot. The former gift shop has been repurposed. Instead they have built a brand new cluster of buildings on the far end of the new parking lot overlooking the beautiful lawn and bicoastal views.

The gift shop has its own building (the two friendly employees got me situated with my Fy gin). Excitingly there is a new restaurant/bar building with a large lanai for outdoor dining. It didn’t look quite open yet, but I think what a wonderful addition to the property! I know they’ve hosted events on their lawn before, this gives them more options.

Curious about Hawaii Sea Spirits?

This is a local company that started out a few years ago with Ocean Vodka which comes in a very distinctive blue round bottle. Since then they’ve branched out to three varieties of organic Kula Rum – clear, dark and toasted coconut. About a year ago we discovered their latest product, Fy Gin. For much more information, do take one of their informative tours. All their drinks are produced from local organic sugar cane. You know – organic. So it must be good for you, right? 🙂

Comment »

Lunch at Ami Ami

Prior to Covid our family frequently ate out for lunch or dinner to celebrate special occasions. Covid has changed that, but this past week we had cause for celebration and I insisted. After much deliberation, we agreed to try ‘Ami Ami’ for lunch.

Ami Ami is located along South Kihei Road and is part of the Maui Coast Hotel complex. It is part of the Cafe o Lei family of restaurants (Cafe o Lei in Kihei, The Dunes at Maui Lani in Kahului and Ami Ami in Kihei). I’ve always admired the dining room from the road while walking or driving past, but they didn’t used to be open for lunch. On Maui the cost of dinner is almost always more than the cost of a similar meal for lunch. We have though frequently had dinner at the Kamaole Poolside Cafe behind Ami Ami, pre-Covid that is. The two locations share a kitchen, and the poolside cafe has live music in the evening (and cats).

Our lunch was fantastic. The menu has some similarities to that of Cafe o Lei. The boys enjoyed the burgers, Sig had the fish special and I found a poke bowl on the menu! Yum!

Sig’s lunch special – panko crusted ono
my tuna poke bowl with sriracha – delicious

Of course there are Covid rules. There very few tables and chairs set up, all appropriately spaced out. Hand sanitizer both at the host desk and bar. The wait staff all wore masks, and yes, you wear a mask at any time NOT seated at a table. They also took my name and phone number for contact tracing purposes.

What other restaurants were we considering?

In an ideal world, we would have gone to Gannons. However, Gannons is still closed. We hope one day soon that will change.

Mulligans on the Blue was a serious contender for an early dinner to enjoy sunset. And I was favoring the Maui Brewing Company for happy hour. Both solid choices.

Comment »
1 2 3 7