Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hawaii and Japan, 2014 - 10/17 - Day 2 - The Road to Hana...kind of....and Mama's Fish House

We woke up at 6:30 again, this time on purpose, as we wanted to get an early start driving up the picturesque highway the winds east along the northern shore of Maui to the town of Hana. The drive is about 52 miles and takes two and half hours to do in one shot, which, as everyone will tell you, you shouldn't do, because getting to Hana isn't the point of the "Road to Hana". 
The Road To Hana - Eat your heart out, Conrad
No, the point of the "Road to Hana" is apparently to embark on a terrifying allegorical journey of survival - a dark, clutching odyssey shared with all the other shivering, slack-faced tourists as you each clutch with white knuckles the unforgiving mountain-side, deflecting death's fancies in the forms of one lane bridges and blind turns, amid torrents of rain and road-debris, while the looming immensity of nature claws at you from every direction in all its raw horror.
Ok, ok. It wasn't that dramatic. It did rain - a lot - the scenery was gorgeous and somewhat forbidding and the road was occasionally treacherous, due in no small part to the large trucks that share the road and the quite possibly insane locals, who don't care how sharp and how blind that next turn is, they've gone around it at 35 miles per hour for their whole lives and they'll continue to do it that way, damn it.
Various Nibbles at "Halfway to Hana"
We did, on a few occasions, brave the rains and stop for a few nature walks with varying degrees success. We also stopped at the "Halfway to Hana" food cart and had some warm banana bread, some chunks of coconut, and a few bites of a sadly rancid macadamia nut toffee bar thing. We also used the convenient port-o-potties there. They were a Kafkaesque nightmare all their own that we have both sworn never to speak of again, for fear of stirring the ancient sleeping horrors that dwelled within them.
Having survived "halfway to Hana", we set out again on the eponymous road, and about 30 minutes later saw some signs warning us to "expect delays, road work ahead." No big deal, right? We all experience road work at home; they cause snags or slowdowns that hinder traffic flow for a few minutes. Oh no, my readers. This was not that type of road work. As I said before, the Hana Highway is often times one lane...and it seems that we had chosen exactly the time that the island of Maui also chose to *completely close off the road*. Expect delays, indeed. We were not just delayed, we were stuck. Deadlocked. There was no going around. We waited for an hour, hoping that the delay would clear up just as the skies had done. No such luck. We didn't even have cellular service to try to get more information. After many fruitless scannings of the radio stations in the hope of something more than "oldies" from the 1980's (sigh) and AM radio static, we had made zero progress forward and it didn't look like it was going to get any better, any time soon.
Alas. Defeat. We tucked our tails, made a 30 point turn on the narrow road, and returned down the half of the Road to Hana we had already explored, back to the main highway.
However, all was not lost as we did run across a restaurant we very much wanted to try. Since we were already headed in that direction and it *was* lunch time, we took it upon ourselves to stop at Mama's Fish House, rated among the best seafood restaurants on Maui. Mama's prides itself on its local sourcing, to the point that it puts the name of the fisherman who caught each dish's featured fish right on the menu.
I got into the spirit of the islands and had a mai tai that featured a rose-orange-almond orgeat. It was fan-freakin'-tastic - not even in the same universe as the syrupy sweet monstrosity we had on the airplane on the way into Maui. I'm not even sure how they can call them the same drink.
Hawaiian Combination at Mama's Fish House
For an appetizer we had a ceviche of mahi mahi, made with star fruit and kefir lime, with Maui chili peppers and cilantro, served with purple sweet potato chips which was top notch - super fresh, light and flavourful.
For entrees, Sean got a fish called Monchang, which is very sparingly fished here, so was a special treat, with Hamakua Ali'i mushrooms in a garlic butter sauce. I opted for a traditional mix of Hawaiian specialities -- grilled mahi mahi, octopus luau (which was sweet and had a thai curry-like flavor to it), wild boar lau-lau, ahi poke, Molokai sweet potato, rainforest banana and poi.
The ahi poke was the star of the meal. It was profoundly fresh and clean tasting. The Molokai sweet potato was actually another surprise, as it had a very floral flavor to it.
And then there was the poi. Ah, the poi. How to describe the poi. Poi, poi, poi. Poi is best described as...gray. It's a gray paste. It smells gray, it tastes gray. It's smooth and gummy and as Sean put it, *almost* tastes like black bean paste, but then sort of gives up on it. It's made from taro root, is the Polynesian staple, and while I can respect the role it plays historically and culturally, is so amazingly non-descript in every way that just thinking about it makes my mind slide into a sort of half-paying-attention state...
...Where was I...
The Black Pearl at Mama's Fish House
Ah right, anyway I think I must have eaten the poi, though I remember little of the experience. We finished the meal with a french press of some very good Kipahulu coffee grown around the Hana area, and also partook of Mama's signature dessert, "The Black Pearl" which is a very photogenic chocolate cake filled with mousse and passionfruit creme, enrobe in a thin ganache and escalloped in a clam-like butter cookie shell. It was good, but it wasn't as amazing as it looked. I should probably have guessed when the waiter described it as "our most photographed dessert" that it was more a showpiece than it was a show-stopper.
At this point it was 3:30, and I needed to go buy a highly over-priced replacement battery and charger for my camera before the wedding dinner tonight, so we settled our insane bill and returned to Kehei. On returning to the condo, we discovered that some crumbs we had left on the countertop had attracted a host of little ants into the kitchen, so we set about eradicating the little bastards and eliminating any temptation for them to return, then rested a bit before the evening's wedding-related festivities.
We ended the evening in the company of good friends, and drank far too many mai tais. A good finish.

No comments:

Post a Comment