Thursday, April 4, 2013

LAX, Laulau and a New Lanai

A few weeks ago, Robin and I took a trip back to the Mainland. Among other things, we spent a few days in Santa Cruz, and attended her brother’s wedding up in Seattle. After the wedding, Robin returned to Hilo and I headed south to my folks’ house in Santa Monica, so I could come back—with them—to Hilo.

My mom and dad are co-owners of our Hilo home, and try to spend at least a month here each year. Traveling is no longer easy for them, however, so I’ve started accompanying them on their outward bound trips to Hawai‘i (unlike the trip home through the tiny Hilo airport, navigating security at LAX can be a nightmare).

Since they now fly first class, and since the remaining coach seats on this particular flight were almost the same price as first class, I got to sit with them and take my first first-class airplane trip. 

Huzzah! Good time fun!

getting our hot towels before dinner

Now, I must say that the dinner on this United Airlines flight was not anything to boast about; I’ve had better in coach on Air France and Luftansa. But the other aspects of flying first class were pretty darn good: incredibly attentive and friendly flight attendants; delicious hot fudge sundaes for dessert:

 Mom’s sundae is on the way

 And best of all, all the cocktails you want—served in a real glass, with hot nuts!

check out that white “tablecloth” on my tray table

The guy in the seat next to me was a photographer who grew up in Harlem, and he regaled me with stories of famous musicians he’s known, such as Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Then when he found out I was interested in photography, he pulled this photo out of his briefcase to show to me.

Can you tell what it is? Looks like a carving of a torso, right? In fact, it’s a shot of some cooled lava rock, taken down in Kalapana on the Big Island. (Not his photo, and he unfortunately couldn’t remember the name of the photographer.) Pretty darn amazing, if you ask me.

Back in Hilo, Robin’s and my first order of business was setting up our new lanai, which Robin had completed right before our trip. Here it is, all decorated and ready for relaxation (I’m sitting there as I write this):

The second order of business was for me to make some kalua pork for my mom’s 84th birthday party. (You can find the recipe and more photos on my previous blog, here.)

wrapped in ti leaves, ready to bake

There’s another Hawaiian food similar to kalua pig, called laulau (rhymes with “cow-cow”). This smaller, single-serving dish can be made with pork, chicken, fish, or a combination thereof. Besides its smaller size, its main difference from kalua pork is that the meat is first wrapped in taro (called kalo in Hawaiian) leaves, and then in ti leaves. Unlike the ti, which is discarded after cooking, the taro leaves—similar in flavor to spinach—are eaten as part of the dish.

laulau packages ready to steam

The day before Robin and I had left for the Mainland, our neighbor’s dog kennel collapsed, knocking down part of a heliconia plant in our yard. The neighbor, Kevin, was very apologetic, and gave me some homemade laulau (pictured above) as a peace offering. We had it for dinner last night with Mom and Dad.

I’m sure the individual laulaus were intended for one person—Hawaiians can pack in their food—but a half each was plenty for us. We had it with steamed brown rice, roasted long beans, and my mom’s papaya chutney (recipe here.)

the half laulau is made of pork, wrapped in taro leaves

It was ono; gotta make me some soon!

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