As exotic as the name "Maui, Hawaii" may sound to most, for those of us who actually grew up in a small town in Hawaii it can sometimes feel just like that: A small town. But this week's Guest Blogger Michelle Bolosan, who was born and raised on the island of Maui, Hawaii, helps us to see that in-depth cultural experiences and international cuisine can be found in some of the most unlikely places, even in your own hometown.
Many people love to travel. I am one of those people. I've been blessed to have the opportunity to travel to various places. I've learned that when traveling to a foreign place, along with exploring the culture and the sights, experiencing the FOOD is a must! But what if you don't have the financial means and circumstances to explore the food beyond your own backyard BBQ and kitchen stove?
Some of my friends wish they could get out from the grips of their full-time secular jobs and travel to exotic places, some have family responsibilities that don't allow them to travel, and others have debilitating health problems that prevent them from leaving home for an extended period of time.
Well, if you are one of these, DO NOT FEAR, 4-course pre-fixe menu options are here! Wait, what is that? What do you mean. Let me explain.
A Culinary Experience ... At Community College!?
Today, I was able to have a delicious, international gourmet dining experience at an affordable price! And what's even more fantastic is that it's practically in my own "backyard". Well, I had to drive 25 minutes to get there, but you get the idea! No expensive plane ticket necessary, I promise.
The place? Maui Community College's “Class Act Restaurant” in the heart of the island of Maui, Hawaii.
"What's so cool about eating at a community college?" you may ask
The time? You choose. You can pick a seating anytime between 11:00-12:30. But because this place is slowly getting on the radar, I highly recommend that reservations be made at your earliest convenience.
Make sure you set aside a nice sized portion of your afternoon, as a 4-course meal can take a good chunk of time, from your first glass of tropical iced tea poured, to the last dessert morsel devoured.
"So, what should I pick?" my Aunty* curiously asked me.
"Whatever peeks your interest!" I happily said!
Here is a sampling of our latest 4-course pre-fixe dining experience to whet your appetite.
*In Hawai'i, when speaking of a woman your senior, it is customary and
polite to refer to her as "my Aunty" whether or not she is a relative.
First Course: Ahi Carpaccio with Olive Relish and Roasted Garlic Aioli
Thin slices of fresh ahi (yellow fin tuna) with a drizzle of a yellow aioli (provençal traditional sauce made of garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and egg yolks) with Olive Relish, and 3 pieces of crostini ("mini toasts" in Italian). We were told that the chef recommended mixing the ahi, aioli, and olive relish together and placing this concoction on the crostini's and then placing them in our mouth. Good suggestion? Yes! Pure success!
Second Course: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Butter
"This soup is so creamy! I love it!," stated my Aunty with a big grin. And yes, it certainly was. Think of a creamy soup made of well-blended squash, served with a dollop of sage butter in the middle, and topped off with a toasted sage leaf. Sage can have a powerful distinct taste, but pair it with foods considered heavy, rich, and creamy, and you got a match made in soup heaven!
Third Course: Pine Nut Crusted Opah with Tomato Caper Butter Sauce
"What's Opah?", my Aunty asked. "I'm pretty sure it's moonfish," I guessed, and to my surprise, I was correct! Pine nuts, finely crushed, coated the delicate and moist moon fish filet , which was then baked to perfection. Served with slices of grilled eggplant, yellow zucchini, and red pepper and accompanied with a Tomato Caper Butter Sauce- it was impossible NOT to finish this entree completely. I think I saw my reflection in the plate after I wiped it clean.
Fourth Course: Gingerbread Souffle Cake with Pumpkin Gelato
Pass on Dessert? NEVER. The very question gives me chills. This delectable dessert was a perfect ending to a wonderful Italian meal, not too light, not too heavy. I devoured and licked the plate of this freshly baked right-out-of-the-oven gingerbread souffle cake! It was topped with a scoop of pumpkin gelato and a chocolate pastry shell adorned with a decorative design in gold. Eating the chocolate shell seemed forbidden. It was too pretty to eat. But the satisfaction of my stomach after completing this Italian voyage left me speechless, so I'm willing to throw "pretty" out the door after nibbling on chocolate-anything!
"Think Closer to Home"
So, the next time you think it's to impossible experience a 4-course meal of elegant international culinary standards because you can't travel far away, be a "traveler at heart" and think CLOSER to home! You never know what food discovery is lurking in the backyard of your own hometown. You may just find yourself checking another box off of your long list of culinary things to do!
For more information on culinary experiences, read these books:
Contributing Blogger: Michelle Bolosan
I'm JR. I come from a long line of adventurers, some were nomadic explorers of the sea and others wandering cultivators of the earth. Ultimately, this legacy of drifters has deeply affected my view of travel. Read more...