On the waters on and around the Garden Island of Kauai

This is the second part of my journey on the island of Kauai where I did a couple of adventures. This post is about two adventures on the waters in and around the island.

Inland waters of Wailua river

I woke up early in Kapp’a as I had a 8 a.m. call to go kayaking up the Wailua River then hike to the secret falls. My day started at Java Kai for coffee, a breakfast burrito and catching up on the internet. I heard about Java Kai on a Youtube video and it sounded worth my visit. A good crowd followed me in at 6 a.m. as it was one of the earlier places to open around town.

Kai & Blake our kayak guides

I made my way to Ali’i Kayaks just of Kuhio Highway near where the Wailua River meets the Pacific. I met up with our local guides Kai & Blake and the other 11 kayakers going up river. After a brief kayaking lesson we headed up river two to a kayak avoiding a speed boat with a wakeboarder  in tow and other kayak groups. As we made our way up the river Kai & Blake pointed out interesting bits of information of the area and history.

We learned that as we passed several spots on the river many Hollywood films were made there including Outbreak and the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy is running to the plane being chased by natives. Cool to learn about on of my favorite movies.

Secret Falls

As we made our way up river over a mile we found our landing spot to pull off and start our hike to Uluwahi Falls (Secret Falls) which is only accessible by foot. We learned about native birds, flowers and plants along the way as we walked through a sometimes muddy trail. Crossing creeks as we passed other hikers making their way to and from the trail that was about 1.5 miles from our kayaks. Shortly before we reached the falls we came across a smaller waterfall called King Eoutu’s Bathtub, the king who kept Kauai’s independence from King Kamehameha’s Hawaii.

King Eoutu’s Bathtub

Arriving at the falls we spent about 45 minutes cooling of in the watering hole and taking pictures. We made our way back down the trail to our kayaks where we casually made our way down river to our meeting point. After loading up the kayaks on trailers we made our way across the river to the office where we met and went our separate ways. The $65 cost seemed pretty reasonable for our 5 hour adventure.

Off to Port Allen

After I left Ali’i Kayaks feeling sore in the upper body I drove about 45 minutes to the southside of the island to Port Allen where I was getting ready for my next days adventure. Not much going on in Port Allen I drove a few miles back to Po’ipu which is a resort community with condos and hotels.

I found the famous Puka Dog for dinner, a sausage in fully enclosed bun with a variety of fruit salsa and hot sauces injected for a spicy sweet flavor. After dinner and checking out Po’ipu I went back to Port Allen for the night but not before stopping in for a couple of local beers at Kauai Island Brewery and Grill.

Kauai Island was filled with local fishermen and those that work on the nearby Army base and is considered the World’s Westernmost Brewery. A couple of beers and chatting with locals and catching up on the day’s college football games I called it a night for my early wake up for my next day’s adventure.

Heading to the Napali Coast

6:00 a.m came pretty quickly and loud with the rooster waking up the town as we met at Holo Holo Charters at 6:30 for our day trip. After meeting Captain Drew and his crew we launched for a 7 hour trip out across the channel towards the Forbidden Island of Niihau and snorkeling off nearby Lehua Crater. Snorkeling in beautiful blue waters with fish and a lone seal made the snorkeling cool to see. Not cool was the choppy surf making it a little challenging. After an hour of snorkeling we pulled up anchor and circled the crater to see the full view of the now bird sanctuary.

Lehua Crater bird sanctuary

The choppy waters made for an exciting and wet return across the channel as we head toward the 16 mile Napli Coast. If there is a roller coaster on water this would be it. Hold on everybody! The 4 person crew was good at keeping us informed on the trip pointing out local birds, fish and the occasional dolphins.

We made it to the Napali Coast after an hour which is full of steep cliffs up 4,000 feet high. The lush green comes from all the rain this side of the island gets. Isolated beaches and caves are seen and many are only accessible from the water. Certain areas can be hiked to from Waimea Canyon.

We got a close up look cruising our catamaran close enough you could touch the rocks and get wet from a small waterfall dropping to the sea. A long day but well worth seeing the beauty of the sea and rugged coastline.

We sped back to port in calmer waters after an amazing adventure at sea and said our good byes. I look forward to seeing the rugged mountains from my visit to Waimea Canyon in coming days. Stay tuned.

***Breakfast, lunch, beer and wine(beer & wine after snorkeling) were provided and all snorkel equipment was supplied for the trip.***

Follow me on Instagram @SandyWass for pictures and see my post about my first couple of days exploring the island http://pullingcorksandforks.com/sandy-takes-kauai/

 

 

 

 

Sandy Takes on Kauai

I made my way for my first visit to the Hawaiian islands and chose The Garden Island of Kauai. Follow my escapades as I hope to include more travel posts to Pulling Corks and Forks.

Kauai Day 1

I tend to travel solo and on a budget so I found a great direct flight from Phoenix to Lihue for under $500. Lihue is a quiet town that’s used like the other towns on Kauai as people pass through to get around the island. The island isn’t very big so you can drive it in a couple of hours.

Kauai
Hanalei Bay

Landed about 3 p.m. island time and was starving after an 6 plus hour flight so I made my way to Kauai Beer Company for fish tacos and a cold Lihue Lager. Good food and the place was filed with locals for a lazy Thursday afternoon. After a quick bite I had time to kill before I could check in to my hotel so I went exploring in rented car. Just a couple of miles from town is Kilua Falls and spectacular view from above. A selfie and few other pictures and I continued to drive to get the lay of the land so my next day would be easier.

I decided to chill out at my hotel after exploring as I was still 3 hours ahead and getting sleepy. Not very fancy places to stay nearby so I wound up at a budget friendly hotel my first night. No bells and whistles, decent wi-fi and coffee in the morning. Good night and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Kauai Day 2

Kiluea Lighthouse
Kiluea Lighthouse

Still on Arizona time I woke up before the roosters who by the way rule the island, they’re in neighborhoods, beaches and on the mountain roads. No need to set the alarm as you’ll start to hear them about 4 a.m.

Walked Lihue waiting for a place to open for breakfast at 6:30, made it to Roland’s Mix Plate for Da Big Loco. Moco Loco is local breakfast bowl of beef patty with eggs your way and gravy over rice. Roland’s serves with crispy pork belly on top. Much needed fuel for the day exploring the island with left over rice and mushroom gravy.

Roosters rule Kauai

I left the hotel about 7:45 and made my way up towards Oloekao Falls and up the mountain road through neighborhoods to see what was a top the mountain. I pulled into the Scared Forest home to Rudraksha trees a.ka. Blue Marble Tree and shrine of Ganesha. Holy in the Hindu world. Continued my way up the mountain til the roads got a bit rough for my rental car.

Down at the bottom of the mountain I made plans to go kayaking and hiking the next day before I proceeded up the Kuhio Highway through the small towns including Kappa’a where I post this adventure. Stopping along the way to check out the surf I take pictures before I get to Kiluea National Monument and the lighthouse and continued past Jurassic Kahili Ranch where several scenes in Jurassic Park were filmed. Open fields, trees and mountains, if you’ve seen the films you should recognize the area.

I continued up the windy road through the hills pulling off at several Scenic Lookouts to view and photograph the mountains and the sea.

The road ends in Hanalei a small village situated between mountains and the Hanalei Bay. I had lunch at L & L BBQ, a Hawaiian chain serving good Hawaiian BBQ. Plenty of food trucks and other food offerings are available on the strip of less than a mile long. After lunch I went to JoJo’s Shaved Ice as shaved ice is big in Hawaii and I was told about JoJo’s from a friend in Phoenix. Hanalei is slightly touristy but nothing compared to the bigger islands and worth the drive and a visit.

Sacred Forest and Ganesha Shrine

I was told of the Okolehao hiking trail(about 1.5 miles) outside of town by a couple of locals and I went to check it out as it would lead up the mountain with a beautiful views. After hiking a 100 or so yards I realized with a muddy trail and no water I wasn’t ready so I put the hike on hold til I came back prepared. The highway used to continued on to Ha’ena until earlier this year for about 6 miles but is now closed from landslides and flooding in April.

I took a leisurely ride back the way I came and pulled off a Kapa’a and hung out for the night. This is where you’ll find most of the activity on the island along with neighboring Wailua. Hotel, resorts, beaches, shopping and restaurants in this 3 mile stretch that hugs the beach at times. I visited some of the resorts to check them out and most were filled with families vacationing. Kapa’a and Wailua also has a good mix of local transplants and natives here for the surf and laid back lifestyle.

So as you can see a busy first couple of days getting my way about the island. Days ahead will have activities I’ve scheduled so check back to see if I survived them. Follow me on Instagram @SandyWass for up to date food finds and scenery from each day.

Arizona wines get all the attention at 9th Annual Grand Wine Festival

Arizona’s largest Arizona wine only event grows even larger this year as the Arizona Wine Growers Association’s Grand Wine Festival spills on to 6th Street from the Heritage Square festival. This, the 9th year of showcasing Arizona wines takes place on Saturday & Sunday January 27th and 28th and grows by 15,000 square feet when 6th Street is closed off this year.

Arizona wines poured

Over 30 Arizona wineries will travel to downtown Phoenix from Elgin, Sonoita and the southern part of our state along with wineries up I-17 in Jerome, Page Springs and the Verde Valley. Dos Cabezas, LDV Winery and Burning Tree Cellars are just a few of the wineries pouring their wines at the 2 day festival while.

Winners of the AZ Central Arizona Wine Competition will be announced at the Grand Wine Gala on Friday evening which is already sold out.

In addition to tasting wine at the festival, attendees will have live music to  enjoy as well as food trucks and other local vendors to visit with.

“We already have a record number of both wineries in attendance and wines being poured at this year’s festival, but now having the extra space will allow for record-breaking attendance numbers as well,” said Brian Predmore, president of the Arizona Wine Growers Association.

Arizona wines
Kurt Dunham owner/winemaker of LDV Winery

Purchase tickets

The festival will start both days at 11 a.m. and run until 7 p.m. on Saturday and until 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $15 for 6 tasting samples or $20 for 10 samples can be purchased at their website.

 

 

Roastery of Cave Creek celebrates 20 years with expansion plans.

The Roastery of Cave Creek (ROC2) has roasted a lot of coffee for Arizona restaurants, resorts and their customers in there 20 years of business. Celebrating their 20th anniversary in late 2017 owners David & Alison Anderson entered 2018 expanding the roastery by 40% of their estate grown and organic coffee.

As Arizona’s premier coffee roaster that supplies local restaurants Rancho Pinot Grill, Tarbell’s,  Richardson’s and Lon’s at The Hermosa Inn with their one of their 20 proprietary blends David reflects on the last 20 years.

Coffee Whisperer David Anderson of Roastery of Cave Creek

“It’s a milestone to be at 20 years and among the leading Arizona coffee producers,” said Anderson. “We’re honored to be working with some of the best chefs and establishments in the ever-expanding Arizona culinary scene, and we have some exciting plans ahead as we continue to grow.”  

Expansion plans

The Anderson’s are all in with their well-rounded business that also consults with cafes & restaurants to help with their coffee programs, menu design and more.

In November Roastery of Cave Creek acquired one of only 5 Kirsch & Mauser 25-kilo UG Retro coffer roaster in the country. The German-made roaster will allow them to roast up to 40% more coffee as they expand their footprint around Arizona.

When David and his staff aren’t in Cave Creek roasting there coffee or getting it to their customers their traveling to countries around the world to source their beans with direct relationships with plantation owners.

“I take great pride in the product we’re putting out there,” said Anderson. “My trips to origin over the last 10+ years inspired me to send my entire staff to see first-hand the people, processes and procedures to take coffee from seed to cup. It gives our team a greater level of appreciation for coffee and a real passion for their work.” 

“The Box” at the Roastery of Cave Creek

With only Whole Foods selling their beans to the public, ROC2 keeps a steel cabinet outside the roastery stocked with bags of coffee beans where people can stop by “The Box”, pick up a bag and leave money in the slot on the honor system. Staring at you from above the “The Box” is a “Karma” sign if you’re thinking of pulling a fast one.

Locals love it and people travel from all over the valley up to Cave Creek to get their beans and bring out of towners by.

ROC2 is at 7003 E. Cave Creek Rd. Cave Creek 85331. Visit https://roc2.coffee/

 

 

 

 

J’s Kaiyo Sushi and Bar brings together a culinary dream team

Housed in a former Arby’s restaurant just east of downtown Scottsdale J’s Kaiyo Sushi and Bar opened without fanfare as most restaurants do nowadays especially when you consider who’s creating the menu and making sure it’s executed the way it should be.

J’s Kaiyo owner Peji Malihi brought in chef Jason McGrath and sushi chef Todd Register to serve not only sushi but sharable dishes with a Mediterranean and Eastern influenced dishes.  Think Moroccan spiced lamb and crab stuffed and fire charred avocado rolled in exotic Asian spices and seeds.

J's Kaiyo
chef Jason McGrath. Photos courtesy of Chanelle Sinclair

J’s Kaiyo Sushi

All three are committed to the freshest ingredients including seafood for the sushi bar. So much so that the sushi bar is closed on Sunday’s because they can’t get their daily delivery of fresh seafood. Chef Register knows his sushi too as he comes to J’s Kaiyo from Roka Akor and RA Sushi and plans to use all fresh fish daily to maximize freshness and flavor.

“The focus is always on keeping the dishes fresh, clean, and simple,” McGrath says. “The only thing you’ll find in our freezers is our mochi ice cream.” As Malihi likes to say, “the roll speaks for itself,” there is no need for heavy sauces, creams, or batters to give their sushi mouthwatering flavor. “It’s all about sharing creative, quality food with the community,” McGrath says.

Family friendly and Izakaya

J’s Kaiyo is a family friendly restaurant named after Malihi’s son and McGraths nephew Jayden that includes a kid’s menu. McGrath practically grew up in the kitchen as his father Robert is an award-winning chef known for his work at The Roaring Fork and other local establishments and food festivals.

Adults will love the Japanese sake menu at J’s Kaiyo along with a full complement of craft cocktails, wines and beers. Communal drinking and sharing of sake known as “Izakaya” in Japan is encouraged as sake has a unique flavor profiles.

J’s Kaiyo Sushi and Bar is open Monday Friday for lunch & dinner starting at 11:30 a.m. and Saturday’s for dinner.

The restaurant is at 4412 N. Miller Rd.Scottsdale 85251 480-427-2526. For more info visit their website.

 

Experience more experiences in 2017

I’m not of fan of “year in review’s” (do we really to review of 2016 again) and “best of” lists but thinking how to end the year with a post I find it would be valuable to review some of my journey of 2016 and give myself a clearer path for 2017’s journey.

The year that was 2016

The year of 2016 was a year of transition taking on new challenges in my real estate career but you don’t want to hear about that do you (if you do check my real estate blog http://www.SandySellsRealEsateAZ.com) . Leisure wise my blog and influence has found structure with regular posts on restaurants events and news, wine, beer and more for Phoenix, Arizona and beyond. My burger reviews came to a screeching stop with the Examiner as they shuttered in early July. As you can imagine my burger consumption feels as if it’s slowed and I will make up for that in 2017 I’m sure. 2016 was pretty much a fun year personally and an interesting year to be on planet earth.

2016 was the 1st year in  long while in which I did not set foot on an airplane as the only travel was out-of-state heading to Laguna Beach for a weekend in February to play poker at uncle Bob’s house. In 2017 I will definitely return to the friendly skies for travel with travel planned for Florida and beyond as the year goes on.

Visits to restaurants and meals with friends this year included returning to favorites of the past such as Zuzu, Zinburger, Caffe Boa, RnR among many more and made 1st visits and bites from restaurants such as Drexyl, Char Kitchen + Bar, Ahi Poke, Worth Takeaway along with a long list of others.

Despite the running around I missed out on one of my favorites sandwiches all year…The Il Purista at Defalco’s Italian Deli in Scottsdale. A monthly visit for me, this pile of prosciutto and hand pulled mozz is a reward I will grant myself in the 1st couple of days of 2017. Other foods I’ve denied myself(not many) will find a home in my belly again in 2017.

Experience more experiences in 2017

I’m not much of a goal setter or resolution maker at year’s end but I want to experience more experiences in 2017. Simple and frivolous such as learning to like and enjoy Caesar salads or starting a new exercise regimen or months ahead a plan to do and see more via short and long-range travel in this my bounce back year. Listening to classical music is a genre I would like to enjoy more of and have already started as Kalinnikov’s “Symphony #2 In A  Major” is playing as I post these words for you. Soothing and sometimes mellow classical music can be relaxing during life’s hectic pace.

Continuing to break bread and raise a glass with my Friday lunch crew & with fellow bloggers, foodies and friends, new & old,  always remain high on my list.

For Pulling Corks and Forks I hope to resume and grow these words and forge new relationships & partnerships while continuing to share my experiences and provide insight & inspiration so every body can experience more experiences through senses of sight, taste, smell and hearing. Plans continue to grow my social media presence and share what I know will be high on my list.

To follow my 2017 journey of food, wine, friends and other worldly experiences please subscribe to this blog or follow me on Twitter @SandyWasserman Instagram @SandyWass or Like on Facebook www.facebook.com/pullingcorksandforks

See you in 2017!

 

Saturday is Jerry Day at SanTan Brewing Company

Jerry Day at SanTan 2016-01The lazy hazy days of summer return when Grateful Dead fans come out to celebrate the birthday of the bands late singer, guitarist, songwriter Jerry Garcias’s birthday at SanTan Brewing Company in downtown Chandler.

With the bands music playing and tie die shirts brightening up the day, SanTan will be tapping “Standing on the Moon” Nitrogenated Moonjuice IPA and Grateful Dead cover band, Monkey & The Engineer will be jamming from 2- 5pm.

There is no cost to celebrate the big day so invite your friends through SanTan’s Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1108684355863145. SanTan Brewing Company is located in Downtown Chandler at 8 S. San Marcos Place.

Burger Review: The Farm Fresh burger at Burger Theory

Photo credit: Burger Theory
Photo credit: Burger Theory
As mentioned in a recent post I have decided to include my burger reviews on this blog after the site where I was reviewing burgers decided to cease operations, after 293 burger reviews this is my 1st review on this blog. By reviewing burgers on this blog I will have the freedom to express my thoughts without the restrictions of a corporate entity and will be a work in progress while I explore the right format I want to take it in. If you’ve read my burger reviews on the other site you will see a resemblance but I hope to mix it up and expand on it a bit without losing the burger review aspect of it. I often dine out with friends but will review only the burger I ate but our dining experience and opinions may be included.

The recently opened Burger Theory connected to the Holiday Inn & Suites on McDowell Rd. at 44th St seemed like an out of the way place for a sit down burger restaurant despite the heavily trafficked intersection. As my dining companions arrived we weren’t sure if this was an independently owned restaurant renting space from the hotel or part of the hotel, many indications led us to believe it’s part of the hotel’s corporate structure. Regardless of who owns and runs it we were there for burgers and with 6 1/3 lb. burgers of Angus chuck, brisket and short rib blended beef and another 4,300+ ways to Build Your Own Burger we dove into the menu to see which burger each of us would go for.

Although all of the burgers sounded delicious I opted for the Farm Fresh burger with a single patty for $10 (a double patty is $14) and comes topped with a Portobello mushrooms, grilled onions, diced roasted red peppers, iceberg lettuce (on the bottom half), goat cheese and roasted garlic mayo in between a toasted potato bun that looked and tasted like you ordinary hamburger bun. All came served in a plastic basket lined with Burger Theory wax paper.
Burger theory
Although satisfying I felt there was a heavy hand when it came to the Goat Cheese and that’s not easy to admit as I love Goat cheese but the strong flavor took away from the flavors of the vegetables and made the roasted garlic mayo un-necessary. The burger which is cooked to order was cooked pretty much the way I like it and had drops of juices dripping after the first few bites. Sides are not included in the price and a side of fries will set you back another $3.50.

I was somewhat happy with the Farm Fresh burger but felt a bit let down with a 1/3 lb burger for $10 with sides being extra. There are better burgers around town for your burger dollar. I decided to include a picture from the Burger Theory website and a photo of my actual burger. Had I been served the burger from there website this could’ve been a better burger.

Burger Theory is at 4401 E. McDowell Rd. Phoenix, Arizona 85008 602-358-0924 and is open for lunch and dinner from Mon-Thu. 11am-11pm, Fri-Sat. 11am-12am and Sunday 11am-11pm www.burgertheoryphx.com

A message from Sandy

binkleys burger

Good morning friends, foodies, burger enthusiasts and strangers,
Thanks you for returning to this site on a consistent basis. As many of you know I have written burger reviews for the Examiner.com in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale and surrounding areas for the last 6 years. Those days will soon be behind me as the Examiner.com will no longer exist after on or about July 10th, 2016. As for now you have until then to check any of my 293 reviews and articles until the links disappear. http://www.examiner.com/burger-in-scottsdale/sandy-wasserman and http://www.examiner.com/burger-in-phoenix/sandy-wasserman

Going forward my plan is to incorporate burger reviews into this blog as a new feature and am spending the weekend brainstorming as how to best pull it off.

Serious feedback is welcome and I look forward to your continued support on this food journey.

Have safe and Happy July 4th weekend,

Sandy

Arizona Foodie Pop Up Dinners now Eatable plus a permanent home

Diana Brandt headshot1[6]
If you’re a foodie in Phoenix and like intimate dinners with rotating guest chefs then you should know the name Arizona Foodie Pop Up Dinners, well forget that name as it’s now called Eatable and has found a permanent location at 1514 W. Lynwood St. in Phoenix. The new name was changed to help show all that founder Diana Brandt had in mind when she started the dinners, “I really envision this space and concept helping to create an even brighter food scene for Phoenix and opening up opportunity for those with a passion. I hope for more collaborations, more creativity and more out of the box cooking, all while breaking bread with new friends and old.”

Pop up dinners will still be on the menu that can host up to 20 guests who can socialize with other guests while dining on courses prepared by Phoenix areas most respected and popular chefs. Cooking demonstrations will also be available for those attending the dinners. Local chefs who have prepared dinners for Eatables pop ups and who will be in the future include Chef Aaron Chamberlain, Chef Stephen Jones, Chef Gio Osso, Chef Mel Mecinas, Chef Cory Oppold and Chef Juan Zamora, Jacob Cutino from Homeboy’s Hot Sauces, Chef Greg Wiener and Chef Doug Robson.

The dinners also provide up and coming chefs the opportunity to showcase their cooking while building a following as there careers continue to rise.

In addition to pop up dinners Eatable event space is available for private parties, new product launches and more according to Diana “I have people ask all the time for a place where they can have a special meal for a birthday or anniversary. This space can be used to connect a Chef with these people to create a memorable celebration.

Dinners sell out quick and are $65 and guests dine on passed hors d’oeuvres, 3 courses or more and beverages. For more information about pop up dinner and Eatable visit www.azfoodieblog.com