James Beard Foundation’s “Taste America” stops in Phoenix

Phoenix is on the map of the James Beard Foundation hot off the recent win by FnB’s Charleen Badman’s for “Best Chef: Southwest”. It’s also on the map for the foundations “Taste America” tour scheduled for September 19th- 21st. Phoenix is one of 20 cities chosen to host the event.

Tickets went on sale this week for the three day event for the cross country culinary experience.

Photos courtesy of Rose Moser Ally PR

Taste America events

The weekend kicks off on Thursday September 19th with the “Raising the Bar” walk around reception at Seventh and Union. Guests will meet rising star chefs and mixologists while sipping on cocktails and tasting culinary creations. Kyla Dahl of Pigtails Cocktail bar and Matt Steward of Undertow are just a couple of the mixologists in attendance.

Dom Ruggerio of Hush Public House and Tamara Stanger of Cotton & Copper along with others will show off their culinary talents.

Friday night is the “Gala Benefit Dinner” at The Royal Palms Resort & Spa. The cocktail and tasting reception starts at 7 p.m. with tastes created by local chefs Stephen Jones of The Larder & Delta, Cat Bunnag of Glai Ban and others. Guests will then be treated to a three- course dinner menu created by visiting chef Tiffany Derry of Plano’s Roots Chicken Shack, local all-star Danielle Leoni of The Breadfruit & Rum Bar and host chef Alexander Robinson.

A dessert reception with Danielle O’Day of Sweet Dee’s Bakeshop and Hollie Layman-Sanders of The Royal Palms ends the night.

A silent and live auction will be held during the evening. A portion of the proceeds from dinner and auctions will go to the foundations scholarship programs.

Saturday will bring a cooking demonstrations by one of the all star chefs. Details are still being worked for this event.

Be sure to Like the Facebook page and on Instagram and Twitter.

Celebration of Summer at Four Seasons Resort at Troon North

Whether you want to enjoy a cocktail and light bites or a sit down dinner the Four Seasons Resort at Troon North have something to offer. My last post about Talavera Restaurant dining experiences offers an epicurean adventure to Spain and Latin America. The resorts other restaurants Proof, An American Canteen, Onyx Bar and Lounge as well as Talavera, offer culinary treats created in time for summer.

I had the pleasure of tasting all of the dishes and drinks below. All cocktails below are created by the resorts beverage director in conjunction with the chefs of each establishment. The dishes are light and offer seasonal ingredients and the drinks were refreshing and unique.

Onyx Bar & Lounge at Four Seasons Resort at Troon North

Just of the lobby with a beautiful view to the south you can enjoy these specially created bites and cocktails. Talavera Restaurant Sous Chef Samantha Sanz and her culinary team created the these three dishes.

Salmon Belly Tartare
Chistorra and Peppers Flatbread with charred chistorra, pipperada, caramelized onion and mustard sauce, cotija cheese.
Cheesy Arepa Bite
Salmon Belly Tartare
Illegal Anejo Mezcal Old Fashioned
Negroni Spritz
Ultimate Honeydew

Proof, An American Canteen

Everything served in this roadhouse styled restaurant is from the good ol’ U.S.A. Take a road trip around the country in June, July and August with the specially created dishes and drinks.

Prepared by chefs Dell Morris, Joey Cavaretta and Conrad Butler “Proof Across America”  along with Smokehouse Fridays where entrees are cooked low n slow in their outdoor smoker.

Four seasons Resort at Troon North
Texas BBQ Platter

June- Stone Crab Cake with sea urchin and Key lime remoulade

July– Texas BBQ Plate with beef brisket, smoky beer cheese sausage and house made BBQ sauce. Watermelon Panzanella Salad with Crow’s Dairy goat feta and mint. I love BBQ!

August- Crispy cactus fries with cotija cheese and avocado ranch.

Havasu Heat (with Ixa Tequila, pineapple and charred jalapeño)

Huss Arizona Light Lager

Le Cumbre Elevated IPA

Talavera Restaurant

The Spanish steakhouse serves tapas styled small plates, desserts and cocktails unique to the Spanish culture. More from sous chef Sanz and dessert by Pastry Chef Lance Whipple.

Four Seasons Resort at Troon North
Brazilian Carrot Cake

Pan con Tomate – Noble bread, roasted garlic, heirloom tomato and Spanish olive oil

Queen Creek Olives

Summer Corn and Tomato Tapa with summer corn, heirloom tomato with tomato butter cilantro and charred lime

Charred Tuna with grilled peach and salted marcona almonds

Summer Corn Paella with chorizo Bilbao, prawn, peas, mussels and clams, and chermoula verde

Brazilian Carrot Cake with chocolate brigadeiro icing, and summer carrot purée. This was a personal favorite, like no carrot cake you’ve had before.

Leche Frita with cajeta goat milk caramel and sherry blackberries

Rose Sangria with watermelon, tangerine and strawberry

Tarragon Gin Tonic- Did you see my Instagram video of Beverage Director Laura creating this cocktail?

The Four Seasons Resort at Troon North is at 10600 Crescent Moon Dr. 85262

Chef + Farmers Market series returns to Hotel Valley Ho

Don’t let this weeks cooler than normal temperatures fool you, the triple digits are coming. When the heat returns many of the Phoenix area farmers markets take the summer off but not at Hotel Valley Ho. Summer is when their Chef + Farmers Market returns indoors at their Sands indoor venue.

Saturday’s from June 22nd – July 13th from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. guests can enjoy tastes from local chefs, purchase fresh produce and more goodies from local purveyors. While shopping and tasting enjoy live music and sip on Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s or taste wine and spirits. Valley Ho’s chef Russell Lacasce will provide the tasty bites along with Matt Taylor of Mora Italian and Rene Andrade of Ghost Ranch.

Save room to taste the milkshakes made by contestants of the Battle Freak Shake contest to see who makes the best “Show Stopper” Shake.  The winning shake  will be featured in Augustin Zuzu. All attendees will receive a voucher for 25% off a summer visit to Zuzu.

Each weeks Chef + Farmers Market will have a theme from food to music, here is the schedule.

June 22nd- South of the Border

June 29th- Bada Boom

July 6th- Grillin ‘n’ Chillin

July 13th – Sweet Treats

Hotel Valley Ho is at 6850 E. Main St. Scottsdale 85251.

Arizona Tiki Oasis brings tiki culture to Hotel Valley Ho

For one weekend in April tiki culture takes over Scottsdale’s Hotel Valley Ho when Arizona Tiki Oasis comes to town. The three-day Polynesian lifestyle event offers seminars, live music, art, cocktails and food April 12-14th. Tiki Oasis started in Palm Springs as a fund-raiser in 2000 before moving to San Diego.

“We are thrilled to introduce Tiki Oasis’ rich and varied history to Scottsdale travelers and locals. Hotel Valley Ho is the ideal location for the largest and longest-running Tiki festival in the world, as the property perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the 1950s that we celebrate through classic Tiki culture.” – Tiki Oasis / AZTO organizers Otto and Baby Doe Stroheim.

Arizona Tiki Oasis events

The Tiki-Tiki-Ho-Ho Luau will kick off the weekend around the OH pool with a traditional pig roast and poke bar. Over 60 international tiki artists will take part in a pop-up art show at the marketplace including Japan’s Mookie Sato and LA’s Josh Angle a.k.a Shag. A pool side fashion show from  Fashion by Robert Black is also scheduled.

Over 20 seminars are planned with topics such as History of Tiki Culture in the Southwest and Tropical Drink Mixology.  Authors Sven Kirsten, Beachbum Berry and Shannon Mustipher will also make appearances.

At night tiki torches will light up roof top parties and cocktail lounge styled dinners. In between seminars Tikiphiles can lounge around the pool sipping on fruity colorful drinks. Spa treatments will be available at the VH Spa and guests can explore the city with the hotel’s new Insider Mid-Century Tour of Scottsdale.

Tickets are sold a la carte with seminars starting at $10 to an evening hotel pass for $80. Limited tickets for the opening nights luau are $99 until April 12th.

Part of the proceeds from the weekend will go to the Arizona Preservation Foundation. For more information and to purchase tickets head to the website.

 

Little Rituals opens and it’s not your traditional hotel bar

When Little Rituals opened last week in downtown Phoenix it raised the bar for other hotel bars. Located on the 4th floor of the Courtyard by Marriott/Residence Inn the cocktail bar is the mastermind of mixologists Aaron Defeo and Ross Simon. DeFeo is no stranger to hotel bars as he was property mixologist at Tucson’s Casino del Sol Resort. Simon is the owner of downtown’s Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour.

Little rituals owners Aaron DeFeo & Ross Simon. All photos courtesy of Little Rituals

The bar joins Broken Shaker ( Miami, L.A., Chicago & NYC) and Death Co. (NYC & Denver)  to offer guests and locals a unique hotel bar experience. Open daily from 4 p.m. – 2 a.m. guests can expect 30 custom cocktails along with beer, wine and gourmet bites from consulting chef Bob Tam. Interesting touches at the independently owned bar include hand stamped ice, espresso martinis on tap and a pairing menu.

Preparation and education is key

What you don’t see is as important as what you see and sip on. DeFeo and Simon have created a culture of extensive staff training and drink preparation. Cocktails are made with house-made foams, infusions, garnishes, syrups and more. The menu focuses on the use of aromatic vermouth’s and sherry’s.

The cocktails are in 6 categories with 5 cocktails each.

  • Daily Rituals (Boilermakers, Siroco Spritz and a precisely-chilled, grapefruit-finished Session Martini)
  • Delicious Rituals (exciting flavor combinations such as the honey, citrus and curry-spiced Daiqurry)
  • Cooling Rituals (heat-busting combos such as the frothy Amalfi Frappe or the cucumber-y Touch of Evil)
  • Stirred & Silky Rituals (elegant twists on classics such as the sherry-spiked Cask of Amontillado)
  • Indulgent Rituals (complex flavors such as the Cartographer with overproof rum, cardamom and creole bitters)
  • Shared Rituals (ever-changing selection of punches, pitchers and the aforementioned Bubbles & Fries)

Apertivo hour is from 4-6 p.m. daily and offers discounted prices on a rotating list of cocktails, beer, wine and bites.

The bar bites menu offers 10 dishes including Beet Carpacio, Millionaire’s Bacon Board and Carbonara Lo Mein from the Hong Kong born chef Tam. Make sure you save room for the High Spirited Desserts.

The hotel is at 132 S. Central Ave. Phoenix 85004. 602-603-2050. Visit the website and their Facebook page for more information.

Step up to the plate! Spring Training food & drink deals around Phoenix

It still feels like winter around the country but the boys of summer have arrived in Phoenix for spring training. The 2019 season shouldn’t disappoint nor will the food and drink deals Phoenix restaurants are offering fans. Don’t trash those Cactus League game ticket stubs too quickly because they will score you a food and drink deals at your favorite restaurant.

Here’s my line-up for this years food and drink deals.

Original Breakfast HouseStart your day loading up on 5 new breakfast meals for just for spring training. Chile en Nogada Omelette, Steak and Portabella Mushroom Hash, Shrimp and Grits, Cajun Andouille Sausage and Gouda Scramble  and Tres Leches Pancakes. No ticket stub needed. Original Breakfast House is at 13623 N. 32nd St. Phoenix 85032.

Arcadia TavernSame day game day ticket stub from any team will score you a draft beer for a penny! 4801 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix 85018.

Cider CorpsCubs and A’s fans take your game day ticket stub from one of the Mesa stadiums for $1 off  a pint of cider. On March 14th all pint are $3.14 for National Pi Day(ticket deal not available this day).  Cider Corps is at 31 S. Robson Mesa 85210.

Photo courtesy of Cider Corps

DorianFirst select glass of wine, bottle of beer or well cocktail for $3 with same day game ticket. 7419 E. Indian Plaza Drive, Suite B Scottsdale 85251.

FOUND:RE Phoenix HotelNeed a place to stay when in town, check in with the Play Ball Package and receive 10% off standard room rate, a bucket of beers and peanuts & Cracker Jacks. Reservations good from Fed. 22nd – March 28th. FOUND:RE Phoenix Hotel is at 1100 N. Central Ave. Phoenix 85003.

Urban MargaritaFree steak, chicken or carnitas taco with same day game ticket from any game. Urban Margarita is at 6685 W. Beardsley Rd., #180, Glendale 85308.

Urban Margarita.

Starlite BBQAll day happy hour pricing with same day ticket stub starting Thurs. Feb. 21st. for 1 drink or food item outside normal happy hour times. Starlite BBQ is at 7620 E Indian School Rd #101, Scottsdale 85251.

Thai Chili 2 Go- All 6 Phoenix area location will trade you your same day ticket stub for a FREE drink or order of Thai Dumplings. See website for a location near you.

Thai Chili 2 Go dumplings

Fired Pie- Score 10% off all pizzas when you dine-in after the game with same day game ticket. Find one of their 19 locations near you at http://firedpie.com/

Macayo’s Mexican Restaurants- Show your ticket stub and get a FREE Famous Cheese Crisp. Over 20 Happy Hour food and drink deals are priced $3-$8. Steal 2nd and take 3rd with that deal. Available at all 8 locations around Phoenix. http://www.macayo.com/

 

 

The Phoenician Tavern to attract resort guests and locals when it opens

What was once Relish Burger Bistro at The Phoenician Resort transforms into The Phoenician Tavern this spring. The new restaurant and bar will offer guests a relaxed atmosphere and a stunning view of the resorts golf course. When The Phoenician Tavern opens it will be part of  the final phase of the properties three-year multi-million dollar re-model.

The new restaurant and bar will be attractive to resort guests and locals with its comfortable and contemporary design.

“It’s a friendly, traditional, tavern-style ambiance, where you can catch the game or enjoy a beer with your neighbors, but it also happens to have some of the most stunning views around,” said The Phoenician’s Director of Food & Beverage Lisa Mercer.

The Phoenican Tavern
All photos courtesy of Awe Collective

The Phoenician Tavern menu

Chef de Cuisine Michael Press has created a menu of “pub grub” favorites with ingredients of the highest quality at the AAA Five Diamond resort. Gourmet burgers, fish & chips, appetizers and more will be available for lunch, happy hour and dinner.

12 regional craft beers will be on tap along with almost 50 canned and bottled beers. Signature cocktails including The Blueberry Manhattan, Blood Orange Martini and more will also be available.

Win Happy Hour for a year

Before the tavern opens 100 locals will be picked to win a custom key for happy hour pricing for a year. A Sunday Funday prize pack will also be up grabs. Included will be a round of golf for 2, happy and dinner and an overnight stay at the resort. To enter both giveaways and more information head to https://www.thephoeniciantavern.com/

The Phoenician Resort is at 6000 E. Camelback Rd. Scottsdale 85251.

 

 

 

 

Stargazing & champagne at Mountain Shadows Resort

Looking for a unique experience during the holiday’s and into 2019 then head to Mountain Shadows Resort. Whether you prefer to sip champagne or look in to space the Paradise Valley resort offers both in the month of December.

Astrological Stargazing

The “Cocktails Under the Cosmos” will give star-gazers the chance to look through a telescope for Sagittarius, December’s astrological sign. An expert astronomer will guide you through the galaxy on Tuesday. December 11th from the resorts Camelback Overlook rooftop deck.  Enjoy themed cocktails or sparkling wine and passed hors d’oeuvres as you search the night’s sky. The resort is perfect for stargazing as Paradise Valley has low light pollution and a scenic back round.

Tuesday January 8th 2019 ring in the new year with a viewing of Capricorn and Tuesday February 11th is the search for Aquarius. All astrological signs are welcome.

December’s viewing is from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. January & February’s viewing is from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

The cost is $45 per person and includes 2 cocktails or glasses of wine and hors’ d’ouvres. You may purchase tickets at https://www.mountainshadows.com/resort/events/cocktails-cosmos

Battle Champagne

December’s Sunday Supper Club at Hearth ’61  is paired with champagne and sparkling wine. The December 16th dinner offers guests four courses with Tattinger Champagne from France and California’s Domaine Carneros.

Executive chef Charles Wiley and his culinary team will prepare warm duck confit, an organic beet salad with proscuitto, prime ribeye with maitake mushrooms and pear ricotta souffle cake with a huckleberry sauce. Dinner comes served in full view of the exhibition kitchen in their comfortable dining room.

The dinner starts at 6 p.m. and is $94 ++ per person. Which do you prefer and who will win the battle? Find out by reserving your seat by calling 480-624-5400.

Mountain Shadows is 5445 E. Lincoln Dr. Paradise Valley 85253.

 

Good bye Hawaii, it’s been fun. Until we meet again.

My last two days on Kauai were low-key and relaxing trying to take it all in of my first visit to Hawaii.

Laying low my next to last day.

I stopped for a donut at Daylight Donuts on my way to breakfast at Daddy O’s, a recommendation from locals the night before. I went with early bird special for $6.95. 2 eggs, Portuguese sausage and hash browns. One thing I realized is breakfasts are not exactly man-sized meals(except Da Big Moco at Roland’s Mix Plate) in Lihue. After a blog post I made a lunch run to Historic Kapaa town from the popular Tacos Al Pastor food truck. Bored of fish tacos I went with….al pastor tacos.

I found myself chatting with a California transplant to Hawaii who owns Java Kai coffee shop that I visited a few days earlier. I didn’t get her name but she seemed to adjust well to the culture shock after living on Kauai for 10 years. With 3 business’s and 3 kids she hasn’t slowed down. After lunch I strolled the main drag looking for that special souvenir t-shirt. Pictures and memories only go so far. Found the right t-shirt and what I thought would be my last shaved ice at Ono Ono Shave Ice.

On my way back to Kauai Palms Hotel I stopped into the Koloa Rum Company Store & Tasting Room. The tasting room is at Kilohana, a 104 acre plantation for visitors to explore with a train ride, restaurants, garden and galleries. A great way to get a feel for old Hawaii.

Kale was behind the bar and told me about the rum, distillery and the history of the Kauai sugar industry. I looked for the distillery in Koloa only to find out it’s in the next town over and isn’t open to the public yet.

After a brief nap I made my way to Rob’s Good Time Grill for dinner and couple of tropical drinks. Rob’s is a sports bar serving bar food and was the busiest place in town with most games on TV. Getting there for happy hour and $2 off drinks Ola made good Mai Tai’s using Koala white and dark rums. The pastrami burger was really good and uses locally sourced Kauai beef. The refreshing Mai Tai’s did their thing I and I was done for the night. See you tomorrow.

Good night the party’s over

With a full day ahead of me before my red-eye flight to Phoenix I tried to keep busy. Check out is at 11 a.m., rental car back by 3 p.m. what to do. Hoping to sleep in I didn’t and found my way back to Daylight Donuts before breakfast. With nothing but time on my hands I walked back to Roland’s Mix Plate for breakfast. Roland’s serves the best breakfast in Lihue in my opinion. Back to hotel to relax some more and pack up checking out just before 11.

I decided to swing into the Kauai Marriott Resort to see what it’s about. Glad I did as the beachfront resort is bigger than I thought and offers great views across Nawiliwili Bay.

I strolled the resort to a touristy shopping area and grabbed a lunch from a Kikukchi’s food truck. A local recommended the Ginger Fried Chicken Bao or Hawaiian Club sandwich with Ginger Fried Chicken. I went with Hawaiian Chicken Club sushi roll. A good recommendation. I saw a Shave Ice shack and couldn’t resist, Coconut Cream shave ice was on. Plenty of dining options for resort guests and NCL cruise ship passengers that drops anchor every Thursday. Time to take the car back and wait out the rest of the day at the airport watching football while planes land and take off.

A few things to know about Kauai and Hawaii

  1. It’s often cloudy and humid on the island. Rain in the morning but clears up. Blue sky is shared with clouds almost always over the mountain. Don’t forget sunscreen though. Temps at during my visit were between 83-92 F during the day.
  2. Getting around is pretty easy as Highway 50/56 is the only road that gets around the island from Kekaha to Hanalei. Traffic flows pretty good but slows down to a crawl through Kappa and Wailua most times of the day. You could probably do end to end in less than 2 hours.
  3. Most beaches are public and easily accessible.
  4. If you go to Waimea Canyon, locals suggest early in the day as cloud hamper visibility later in the morning.
  5. Lihue Airport is small and easy to maneuver with 1 terminal only 5 minutes from Lihue center and highways 50/56.
  6. Hotels are not everywhere, most are in the southeastern part of the island between Poipu and Kappa.
  7. Shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops are the norm. The evenings stayed warm in the 70s overnight.
  8. Prices are higher in Hawaii…I noticed gas about $4-$4.08/gallon. Most breakfasts are $9 and up even for a simple breakfast 2 egg breakfast.

I’ll be back to Kauai but first I need to explore Maui, Oahu and The Big Island. Mahoalo!

*** For photos and videos see Facebook & Twitter @SandyWasserman and Instagram @SandyWass*** Feel free to comment and subscribe to my blog and social media.

 

 

 

Waimea Canyon then back to the east end of Kauai

After my day at sea I continued west toward Waimea for the night so I could drive through Waimea Canyon and where else the road would take me. I pulled into Waimea Plantation Cottages for the night to refresh and enjoy the beachfront accommodations.

A bit higher than I wanted to pay for less than 24 hours I ponied up the cash for the studio($184) and enjoyed the surroundings. Since this was the western most part of the island I was staying on I hoped to see a sunset from the beach but the clouds put a damper on those plans.

A bit disappointed with the amount of insects in the room my $25 resort fee was refunded. That’s what you get with arid temperatures near the ocean.

Up to Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park

I woke up energized and made my way up Waimea Canyon Dr. (550) towards Waimea Canyon State Park taking in the views of Waimea area and the Pacific.

Winding roads climb in elevation as this area is where hunters, hikers and campers head to enjoy the outdoors. Many pull-offs to stop to take pictures I make it into the park and view steep green and brown cliffs and waterfalls.

In the distance you hear but barely see the helicopters taking tourists even closer.(See below). After several pictures and “oohs” and “aahs” I exit the park and continue toward Koke’e State Park.

I pass military outposts that take advantage of the farthest west part of the U.S. and high elevations to protect our country. Koke’e State Park offers views of Napali Coast from Kalalau Valley Lookout and  Pu’u O Kila Lookout. There are breathtaking views from high above of steep rock formations spiking upwards. Hiking trails lead to beaches through the green lined cliffs. Shorter hikes can be done and you should always prepare accordingly.

Down the road and heading back east

After two hours taking in breathtaking views I head down to sea level and cruise back through Waimea towards Lihue making stops along the way. First stop was Kauai Coffee Company to taste the locally grown coffee and take a self guide tour. Much what you’d expect of coffee samples, gift shop, a coffee museum, local plants and rows of coffee trees. Free tours are available and so is a small sandwich shop. Definitely worth  a stop to take in the local culture and surroundings.

I was hungry so I made my way to Koloa and grabbed fish tacos from a food truck before I strolled the village. Old Koloa Town is a plantation village with shops, restaurants and rich in sugar plantation history….and filled with chickens roaming and singing. I love the trees in the area as their canopy offers shade and seem very nicely manicured.

I headed back through the resort town of Poipu past small local beaches and condos towards the Spouting Horn geyser. Taking a few minutes to watch the surf erupt through the lava holes forming spouting geyser. A nice stop to view the surf crashing and let mother nature do her thing.

I made my way to Kapaa to Bubba Burger on a recommendation from a friend for dinner. Using local Kauai beef Bubba Burger is tasty and easy on the wallet. Sit above the street and watch people and traffic go by along the beach road. After my burger I U turned it back to Hilue for my night at The Tip Top Motel.

Hiking Hanalei and helicopters

The Tip Top Motel, Cafe & Bakery made for an ok stay as accommodations were fine(as were other places I stayed) but the breakfast wasn’t the 4 stars I saw on Yelp!. An average breakfast and no complimentary coffee other places I stayed have offered. At $120 a night(taxes & fees incl) for basic accommodations a couple of cups of coffee would’ve been nice. They say it’s the little things that matter the most.

Checking out during the morning rain I continued my way east towards Hanalei hoping the rain would end so I could hike that I previously mentioned. As I drove I saw blue sky peeking trough the clouds giving me optimism my hike would happen.

In no hurry I turned off Kuhio Highway often to drive along the beach and hills to see the sights. Not being able to see a sunrise or sunset due to clouds or my location on the island I was glad to see a rainbow over the mountain.

A quick left over the single lane bridge into Hanelai is the road that leads into the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge and the Okolehao Trail. The only car in the parking lot I was skeptical but determined to head up the steep and muddy trail. Grabbing a walking stick I made my way up through the forest trying to keep my balance.

After 25 minutes I made my way to a great vantage point for viewing Hanalei Bay and the farms below. I continued 200 yards through thicker forest, with rain clouds in the distance I figured I’d seen enough and headed down.

On my way down I met a hikers on their way up who mentioned I made it to the best point to see the view. The trail goes higher and steeper I was told that captures a view of the whole island. With the clouds I doubt I would’ve seen it all, perhaps on my next visit.

Pulling into Hanalei village I walked to the beach to fill a container with sand for a friend who collects sand(???). I then made my way to Tropical Taco for Ahi tacos for a#TacoTuesday lunch.

Leisurely I headed back to Lihue pulling off Kuhio Highway to see the sights on the northern side of the island. I stopped at Island Helicopters to book a flight and found myself on a flight 90 minutes later. Island Helicopters is the only helicopter company to land at Jurassic Falls. I didn’t take that tour but did take the Grand Deluxe tour ($180 cash/ $187 cc) which lasted 50-60 minutes. I did my research and Island Helicopters offers the best price for helicopter tours on the island.

With a front row view we lifted off from the Lihue Airport heliport and had amazing views of Kauai. Mountains, waterfalls, farms, over the ocean, Napali Coast, Waimea Canyon you see everything and many only visible by air.

Our pilot Joseph is a Kauai native and knew about everything we flew over from who owned what land, what it used to be used for, what movies we’re filmed where on the island(The Descendants, Seven Days & Six Nights and Jurassic Park, etc) and so on. An amazing adventure that I almost talked myself out of.

After the hour in the air I walked to Smiley’s Local Grinds for dinner. A small restaurant in a Lihue strip mall filled with locals and people taking out dinner. Good Hawaiian food ( I had Smiley’s Chicken in Garlic Chili sauce ($11.85) at good prices. Nothing fancy just good food and a smiley face whether you’re on a budget or a big spender. Go where the locals go.

The last two days of my trip will be relaxing though I will be out to see and eat more. See ya soon!

***Check out my Facebook & Twitter @SandyWasserman Instagram @SandyWass #SandyTakesKauai for photos and video.***