Hawaii is an exotic landscape full of tropical flavors and we tried as many of them as we could during our time on Oahu. The food is as diverse as the people which means there is very little agreement about what constitutes local cuisine.
The native fruits and vegetables, however, are undeniably the cornerstone of both traditional and fusion dishes. Kona coffee, Lehua honey, luscious pineapple, sweet onions, abundant fresh coconuts, ice cream bananas and of course all fruits of the sea were just a few of our family favorites. We dashed from Kahuku Market for poke bowls to Haleiwa for guava shave ice because we knew as soon as we boarded the plane for New Zealand many new flavors awaited us.
Although many of the flavors are distinctly tropical in the Hawaiian Islands, it is also All-American and home to some of the best burgers we have ever eaten. The kids proposed a last supper of sorts prior to our departure and they wanted a great American hamburger. There is something about the USA that just makes a good hamburger taste even better. We tried hamburgers all over Europe, even in Hamburg, the alleged birthplace of the modern hamburger, but it never tasted quite like home.
On Oahu, the place to go is Seven Brothers on the North Shore. The Hannemann Family owns this quirky little, delicious spot and they have seven sons. They use locally sourced ingredients served in a casual way. The homemade booths, vintage surfing videos, and sun-bleached photos give the establishment high marks in creating a cool North Shore vibe that doesn’t seem forced or overworked.
As we sunk our teeth into fried onion rings, dripping with house-made barbecue sauce on top of a grass-fed, all-beef patty, we knew this was the bite we would carry with us as our little taste of home.
We don’t eat out much so we used this special night to talk about the journey ahead. What will it feel like to cross the International Date Line? If there is no Big Dipper in the Southern Hemisphere, what constellations will anchor us? What is the New Zealand Dollar conversion rate? What are the rules in the game of rugby? What does the Tasman Sea feel like? Dad, are you sure you are ready to drive on the other side of the road?
As we feasted on the familiar flavors of our home country, we bolstered our courage to go where we have never gone, once again.