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Archive for the ‘Cocktails’ Category

“Like stones rolling down a hill, fair ideas reach their objective despite all obstacles and barriers. It may be possible to speed or hinder them, but impossible to stop them.”

– Jose Marti, Statesman, Poet, Visionary and Cuban Revolutionary

We have been talking about trying Soul De Cuba Cafe since a dinner down the street at JJ Dolan’s way back in January….and after many failed attempts, I finally found myself there, sitting at a cozy corner table with Justin, Tori, my roommate Carol, and a large pitcher of soul healing mojito goodness.  After a less than stellar day, it was exactly what I needed.

Pollo Soul de Cuba - this lightly breaded chicken was the most moist, juicy and flavorful chicken I think I've ever had. Paired with the home made salsa of mango, guava, black beans pineapple and rum it was nothing short of amazing.

In a place where Korean BBQ, Japanese, Chinese and Pacific Rim restaurants reign king, and Cuban is rarer than rare, despite this places good reviews I feared that I would find myself in a situation similar to that of the Mexican food dilemma in Hawaii – there are few options to choose from and most of them miss the mark…by a mile.  However, with one dip of my spoon into the black bean chili Justin had ordered and I knew I was in for a spectacular meal.

The Eggplant Milanesa tatsted like a more fresh, healthy version of eggplant parmesan.

We started with an appetizer sampler and an order of the empanadas as recommended by our server.  Delicious.  After some deliberation about whether or not ox tail would make an appearance at our table that evening (I was vehemently opposed to eating it and so it was a no-go), we decided to share the Eggplant Milanesa, Pollo Soul de Cuba, and the Picadillo.  One word. Wow.  From the super moist, juicy chicken & homemade mango salsa, to the just barely still-crisp slices of tomato sauce smothered eggplant, to the slight and very welcome tang of the Spanish olives in the Picadillo, right down to the black beans, rice and the plantain garnish – not one bite was a disappointment.  We closed with a delectably moist, dense brownie capped with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce, and, of course, flan with fresh strawberries, whipped cream and caramelized plantain.  Oh my.

Tori especially wanted to try the Picadillo because she said she makes it at home...I thought it was delish, but forgot to ask her how it stacks up to her own. Tori?

As usual, even better than the food proved to be the company.  At one point conversation turned from the current hapennings of our days to my new-found obsession with an under-ground, invite-only supper club here in Honolulu called Spork.  Tori told us all about their friend’s supper club on the east coast and a plan to form our own was born.  Still in it’s fledgling stage, I think it will take at least a pizza night or two for us to really flush out the details 🙂

It is always a good time for a fudgy brownie and vanilla ice cream. Always.

It is evident in everything from the atmosphere of the restaurant to the stories about the founders on the website, and especially in the food prepared from the home style recipes of their families, that there is indeed a soulfulness about this place.  All in all, Soul De Cuba Cafe has officially earned a place in my top 15 favorites here on Oahu…which is a pretty serious statement considering how much I love to eat.  Go, try it for yourself – I am positive you won’t regret it.  Don’t live on Oahu?  Drop in to their New Haven, CT location and let us know how it is!

Flan topped with fresh strawberries, caramelized plantains and whipped cream was super yummy....not gonna lie, I think the flan I make is better 🙂

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Soooo yum!

Last night when my girlfriend and fellow foodie Tori suggested that we do a theme night for dinner, I couldn’t have been more on board.  She had some arborio rice and a recipe for “almost no stir” risotto so, although a bit skeptical, we decided to give it a go and Italian night it was.  We headed to Whole Foods where we loaded up on cheeses, crackers, salami, arugula, prosecco, Italian red table wine (which was exquisite, I have to remember to ask Tori what it was), spicy Italian sausage and gelatto, of course.

A bit of a late start, we snacked on salami, crackers and cheese and sipped on prosecco while we cooked the risotto.  Amazingly, the recipe held true (I swear we stirred for less than 5 minutes) and about a half hour later we did indeed have amazingly delicious sausage risotto, arugula/almond/feta salad, and of course, more wine.  Paired with wonderful company, it was quite a wonderful evening.  Hopefully there will be many more theme nights in the future of our friendship 🙂

Click HERE for the risotto recipe…enjoy!

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The other day my cousin Natalie posted this recipe (from the paper in CO) for what looks like quite the tasty cocktail (perfection on a hot summer day I bet) and I wanted to share it.  I love, love, love lychee martinis (vodka and the syrup from the lychee cans shaken over ice and topped with a few lychee fruits) and can’t wait to try this one.  Thanks Nat!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can lychees, 3/4 cup of the syrup reserved
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups sparkling wine, plus more for serving
  • 4 whole fresh or canned lychee fruits, optional

Combine lychees, reserved syrup and lemon juice in a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Strain mixture into a bowl and add sparkling wine; stir to combine.  Pour mixture into a baking dish, stir once and freeze overnight.  The next morning, scrape the granita from the dish using the back of a fork.  Pile into chilled martini glasses and top with more sparkling wine and a whole lychee fruit, if desired.

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Here is this month’s featured content from the American Dietetic Association, right in time for the holidays, during which there are many events and parties which all involve food and drinks! This is definitely a must-read to keep your diet on track during the holidays!

Healthful Tips for Holiday Eating

As the holidays approach, parties become numerous, and with each party comes the challenge of keeping your commitment to healthful eating.

If you are hosting a gathering this holiday season you can reduce fat and calories without sacrificing taste by swapping out a few ingredients in your favorite recipes.

  • Using two egg whites in place of one egg can reduce the cholesterol and produce the same tasty result.
  • Use low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth in your mashed potatoes to add flavor and lighten holiday fat content.
  • Substitute applesauce for oil, margarine or butter in muffins and quick breads like banana bread.  Try substituting a small amount at first, as the more you substitute the more the texture of the finished product changes.
  • For dips, sauces and pie toppings, use non-fat yogurt, sour cream and whipped topping.
  • Sliced almonds make a delicious, crunchy topping in place of fried onion rings.
  • Choose reduced-fat or non-fat cheeses for salads and casseroles.

Pack your shopping cart with plenty of fresh vegetables like sweet potatoes, winter squash, broccoli, carrots and green beans. Apples, cranberries and pears combine easily for a tasty salad, fruit crisp or topping for the turkey.

If you are a guest at a dinner party or other gathering, consider these tips to keep your night healthy, happy and safe:

  • If you plan on treating yourself later, start your day with a small meal that includes whole grains, fruit, dairy foods and protein like eggs, ham or peanut butter.
  • Don’t starve yourself beforehand. Rather, eat a small, lower-calorie meal or snack such as fruit or a bagel so you aren’t tempted to overdo your calorie intake for the day.
  • Select carefully between foods you definitely will eat, those you will sample and those you will skip.
  • Don’t rush to eat. Socialize and settle into the festivities before you eat.
  • Move your socializing away from the buffet or appetizer trays. This will minimize the unconscious nibbling.
  • When it comes to drinking alcohol, start with a calorie-free, nonalcoholic beverage. Satisfy your thirst before having an alcoholic drink. It is recommended that women have only one to two drinks per day and two to three drinks per day for men.

Keep in mind, even a single drink will affect your reflexes for several hours. If you plan to drink, keep your holidays merry for everyone by designating a driver who won’t be drinking.

The holidays are a great time for celebrating with friends and family over food and drinks. But with just a little preparation, you can keep off the extra holiday pounds and still enjoy all that the season has to offer.

Source: The American Dietetic Association

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Everyday I find little nuggets of wonderfully interesting and valuable information in my inbox, courtesy of Lei Chic.  The topics cover all of the fantastic places, people and things found here in Hawaii (if you live here and you haven’t registered for their e-mails you’re missing out!) and have been the source of great ideas and wonderful finds more times than not.

Case and point, the most recent message I received contained the following recipe for a Pumpkin Patch cocktail created by the talented team at Downtown’s thirtyninehotel (love this place).  This thing looks decadent to say the least (hello! cream cheese frosting on the rim of the glass!) but it’s an interesting take on pumpkin-yummness that I thought I would share.  Plus, what could be better than a marriage of pumpkin pie and a delish martini?!?  I’m thinking this could be a fantastic addition to Thanksgiving as well.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes…

Ingredients:

pumpkincocktailnl

Photo Credit: LeiChic.com


¾ oz Vanilla Vodka
¾ oz Sailor Jerry spiced rum (or another brand of spiced rum)
½ oz carrot juice
2 tbsp. canned pumpkin
½ oz heavy cream
Cream cheese frosting
Graham cracker crumbs
Grated nutmeg

Directions:

Roll a martini glass rim in cream cheese frosting, and then in graham cracker crumbs. Add all other ingredients to a mixing glass, and shake with ice. Strain the drink into the glass. Finish with some fresh grated nutmeg on top.

Not in the mood to make it yourself?  Head down to thirtyninehotel, 39 Hotel Street, Chinatown where they will be serving them up this weekend!

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Ledward Kaapana

Ledward Kaapana

Here in Hawaii music is a huge part of the culture.  Growing up it seemed like every event or gathering we went to, there was at least one person who had a guitar or an ukulele and was entertaining the crowd.  These performances are usually spontaneous and very casual, and it’s no surprise when someone from the crowd joins in to sing, play or dance the hula.  Last night after watching Slumdog Millionaire (one word…amazing), we wandered over to the Kona Brewing Company in Hawaii Kai for an afternoon drink.  As in many restaurants and bars around the islands, a band was setting up to play an evening set and so we decided to stay a bit to enjoy the music.

Auntie (who danced around the entire bar earlier) couldn't contain herself and got up on a chair to dance hula to one of her favorite songs!

Auntie (who danced around the entire bar earlier) couldn't contain herself and got up on a chair to dance hula to one of her favorite songs!

So this Hawaiian man in his 60’s (wearing red cowboy boots I might add) got up and began playing with nothing but his guitar and another man accompanying him on a bass.  He started singing and playing the most beautiful slack key guitar and we realize that he is Ledward Kaapana – a twice grammy nominated, VERY talented and accomplished musician here in Hawaii.  He played and played and played, pulling one of the Aunties that was with his group of friends watching up to dance, and joking with the crowd.  He even had a few musician friends with him that took turns getting up and playing with him.  One of his friends informed us that he has been playing the guitar since he was three, taught by his mother, and that he cannot read music but learned to play based on the feel and sound of the music.  He reminded me of one of my favorite uncles, Danny Moke, who told me once that he learned to play slack key guitar from the vibrations of his father playing against the wall of their house.  When we asked if he played every Sunday his friend said yes, he is scheduled to play from 6-8 p.m. but he gets there around 4:30 most times with his entourage of friends and family, and if he feels like starting early he does, and if he feels like playing late he does… basically every Sunday is one big local style party at the Kona Brewing Company 🙂  We had so much fun it looks like you will be able to find us cruising at Kona Brewing company every Sunday evening we get the chance.  Come join us!

Needless to say it was the perfect end to the weekend, and as we sat there, with good friends, looking over the marina and enjoying the show, we couldn’t help but appreciate how lucky we really are to live in such an amazing place.

Check out Led’s website, it’s pretty cool… http://www.ledkaapana.com/

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