As much as I love going out to eat in a nice restaurant (and you know I really, really love it), I actually prefer not doing that every single night when I’m on vacation. Sometimes I just like to have something smaller and more simple in the comfort of my hotel room … or a lounge chair out by the beach, as the case may be.
Making that happen typically requires a trip to the grocery store, which, believe it or not, is something I seriously enjoy doing. Am I the only one who thinks looking at the local foods offered in different parts of the country (or the world!) is just about as fun as it gets?
It’s just so cool to see what types of products are offered that are completely different than what you have in your local supermarket … and to compare prices, especially when you’re somewhere like Hawaii where certain foods are really plentiful and others, not so much.
And that leads us to my tale of living on* pineapple and poke for about a week in Maui.
Here’s the thing: the pineapple that you find on Maui is the best thing you’ll ever taste. Seriously. You can go ahead and taste all the things — I’ll wait — but none of them will be better than a fresh pineapple that you hack open in your hotel room and eat with your fingers. It’s sweet, juicy and positively bursting with flavor. I think we bought about four of them.
And, it’s worth noting that, although produce in general is seriously pricey in Hawaii — like I was going to pick up a little bag of sugar snap peas but placed them back verrrry quickly when I saw that they were $7 — pineapple isn’t too much more expensive than it is on the mainland. In fact, it might be the same price or cheaper if you always buy a whole pineapple! So, really, I was just being frugal by shoving my face full of pineapple at every meal.
The bigger surprise to me was in the seafood section. Here in Florida, when you go to the seafood counter, you’ll find lots of shrimp, some oysters and an array of fish. In Hawaii, there’s an entire section devoted to poke. Ahi poke, salmon poke, octopus poke, spicy tuna poke, California roll poke, and my very favorite, shoyu poke. It’s all so amazingly fresh, so delicious, and, everywhere I shopped, it came in around $11/pound — not a bad price anywhere for seafood of this caliber, so I felt like I was getting one hell of a deal there on the island.
I know there’s something to be said for plating your food and making a really gorgeous presentation, but some of the best meals I ate in Maui involved bringing my container of poke, a bowl of pineapple, maybe a few crackers and a glass of wine down to the beach while watching the waves alongside my husband.
*Oh, of course I ate lots of other things. There was a very memorable malasada (which, okay, fine, I ate alongside some fresh pineapple), and I had a really good fish taco. Oh! And I drank a Cliff Diver after jumping off Black Rock! So don’t you worry — my nutrition didn’t go completely off track. It just became a little bit laid back. When in Hawaii, right?
Are there any foods you equate with a specific vacation? The bad thing is, I’m now so spoiled that any poke or pineapple I’ve eaten since getting home is just … not good enough. All the more reason to head back to Maui on the double! Although I am thinking about trying to make a little poke at home before that happens. —Kristen