Awesome Food on Hawaii’s Big Island (or in Your Kitchen): A Bird in the Hand…

Bird in HandAccording to Huffington Post‘s pronouncement last week, the best sandwich in the U.S. today is made right here where I live, Grand Rapids, MI at Kitchen 67.

Menu at Kitchen 67, GR The “Bird in Hand” is made from beer-braised chicken, hand breaded using house-made Founder’s beer batter, real mayo, crisp lettuce ribbons, & served on a buttery, caramelized bun that’s been branded with a “67” on the top.Bird in Hand at Kitchen 67Alan and I tried their Bird in Hand just two nights ago, and it definitely has class, so I want you to know as I launch into a post on great places to eat in Hawaii’s Big Island that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush…i.e., as I describe the great food we ate, please consider that if you’re not in Hawaii, you can use these creative ideas to make very similar dishes in your own kitchen just by experimenting (and possibly consulting with allrecipes.com).

Punalu'u Bakery. Jim H.For breakfast, the Punalu’u Bakery on the Hilo (eastern) side is famous not only for being America’s “southernmost bakery,” but also for their pastries.Punalu'u Bakery. Jim H Great malasadas  In Hawaii, “malasadas” (Portugese-heritage doughnuts…I think the best are custard-filled) are to-die-for (not really) delicious!Punalu'u Bakery. Jim H InsideThe closest thing I can think of in Michigan are the Polish “paczkis.”
(Fat Tuesday is coming up next week…you can get some of the best at Sandy’s Donuts or Marge’s Donut Den…or make your own!) MalasadaIn Waimea (west coast), we discovered that for $1.29 you can get one of the world’s best malasadas (warm at 7 am) at the Island Gourmet Market! Breakfast in HawaiiIf you want a big (huge) breakfast, everybody agrees that the Hawaiian Style Cafe is best, but they close at noon on Sunday, so don’t try to go after church!  😦 Fish TacosMerriman’s is rated as #2. in Waimea, and their fish tacos are awesome.
(I am still trying to work out a recipe…cold slaw, parsley, and Tahitian lime…) Argula Salad with Lobster and GuacamoleMy argula and onion salad adorned by tomatoes topped with guacamole and lobster with a light, sweet vinaigrette dressing was also something I’ll work on! Kahlua Pig and Curly FriesIf you’re looking for fast and fun, the Queen’s Market food court has some pretty classic fun stuff, like Hawaii’s famous “Kahlua Pig” (pulled pork) Ippy's Maui Burgers and Ippy’s Maui burgers (dripping with cheese).  Volcanoes National ParkOur helicopter pilot (20+ year resident) said his favorite place to eat is the Tommy Bahama restaurant in Waimea,Dinner at the 4-Seasons Restaurantand my cousin Jim, who’s wintered in Hawaii for years with his wife,
listed the Four Seasons (Hualalai), Sam Choy’s near Kailua-Kona,
and the Bamboo at Hawi as personal favorites. Local DishOne of the most unique (but also wonderful) meals Alan and I had
was at the Local Dish in Hawi. Mahi Mahi with Papaya salad and goat cheeseI will definitely try to reproduce their grilled mahi mahi atop a salad garnished liberally with papaya and macadamia-nut encrusted goat cheese. Chocloate Expresso PieWell, I could go on and on, but I’d better wrap this up! Tossed Salad onionsWe have a Macaroni Grill in GR (which we like),
but we didn’t particularly want to visit in Hawaii so we could try more new items.Lobster Ravioli However, their lobster ravioli is great both places, Spaghetti and Meatballstheir spaghetti good, and their prices excellent (relative to Hawaiian prices, which are unfortunately very high). Sometimes tried and true is a good thing. The Volcano House, Big Island HawaiiOne place that I didn’t find in the guides for “best restaurants” is the Volcano House, but I want to especially highlight this classic 170-year-old restaurant.Alan waiting for dinner. Volcano House Those who know go, although you have to make reservations ahead. View of setting sun from the Volcano HouseThe dining room has a view of Kilauea Volcano’s smoldering caldera,Kilauea Volcano's smoldering caldera which becomes a glowing inferno when night falls. Steak and Lobster TailWe considered that dinner our 43rd anniversary celebration.  Volcano House RestaurantThe atmosphere was casual classic, but the fire-light setting
was absolutely unforgettable…if not a bit eerie. Ribeye SteakI was very glad that I had reservations at the hotel
and was not out wandering along “Desolation Trail” in the dark,
or worse yet, trying to escape the heat of a volcanic surface. Kilauea Volcano's smoldering caldera 4Frankly, it made me think of hell, and the fact that the world’s guidebooks don’t really tell us about how to get to heaven. Those in the know go, but only by reservation. Have you made your reservation yet?

Kilauea Volcano's smoldering caldera 2“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:9-10)

(The 3 pictures of Punalu’u Bakery and the photo from the Four Seasons’ Restaurant belong to my cousin, Jim H., and are used by his permission. Thanks!)

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