My first malasada at Leonard’s Bakery [Hawaii]

In December, I was in Hawaii for a friend’s wedding. I decided to use the opportunity to extend my stay a few days and make it a vacation. I’ll be posting some of my Oahu highlights in the coming weeks. But right now, while I’m at home recovering from my sprained ankle I can’t help but have cravings for food I can’t have because I’m not mobile.

I blogged about Hawaiian shave ice last week and right now as I’m laid up on my sofa, I’m craving malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery. Leonard’s is a neighborhood treasure to Honolulu locals and also a place tourists flock to. They have everything from cookies to Hawaiian sweetbread. But it’s the malasada I crave.

Malasadas are actually Portuguese and are deep-friend dough and covered in granulated sugar. Sounds simple, right? Like a donut? But what’s special about this is the dough – the soft and fully dough that melts in your mouth. It actually has relation to beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans.

My friend and I got to Leonard’s right after the morning rush and before the noontime crowd. When I was in line, I met someone who lives close by and she said I made a good decision to stop by for malasadas. I ordered the regular malasada and the woman taking my order recommended I also get the custard filled on – how could I not! First, I tried the regular malasada.

You can get the malasadas rolled in sugar, cinnamon, or li hing mui sugar – I went the original route and got the sugar. My malasada was fresh out of the frier. I had to weight a few minutes to cool down so I can eat it – it was the hardest few minutes! When I took my first bite, my teeth smoothly sank into the sugar fried exerior into the doughy bread. It was heaven.

Here’s a short video where I take a bite of a custard filled malasada. Sorry for the bad quality of video but it was on my old camera that was not HD. Still trying to see if video works with my blog so please be kind. 🙂

Leonard’s Bakery
933 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816

Daytripping: Sights from Salton Sea

Here are some pictures I took when I went to film at the Salton Sea last year. It’s a couple hours outside of Los Angeles and a decent detour if you’re in Palm Springs.

The Salton Sea is idyllic from afar. The water is still and seems to stretch as far as the eye can see. The mountains cradle the body of water. But as you get closer and turn all your senses on, you realize that something is off.

Even though the word “sea” is in the name, it’s actually more like a lake. Salton Sea is known for their yearly fish die offs in the summer. However, I were there in March and saw some dead fish near Salton Sea City. And yes, there are residential property along parts of the lake. I do wonder how they get used to the stench of the rotting fish.

When you walk along the shore of the lake, you think you’re walking on sand but when you crouch down and look more closely, it’s actually fish bits and bones that have collected over the years. Most of the fish that you see in these photos are Tilapia. You’re probably wondering why there are so many dead fish. This is a natural lake, actually the largest lake in California, but in 1902 man disrupted the path of the Colorado. The story goes that the Salton Sea used to be known as the “California Rivera” but now with the high salinity and farm run-offs and pollution, it’s far from the Rivera.

But not all of Salton Sea looks like this. When you drive to the other side, it’s a completely different look and feel.

When we drove to Bombay Beach, it’s how I imagined a post-Apocalyptic world. There were some residents living in mobile homes and small houses and lots of open lots but when you walk closer to the water, it’s desolate. Silent.

There were more people inhabiting this area but in the 70s there it was flooded twice. This is what’s left.

Photographers love the Salton Sea – at each turn there is something to capture. I also recommend the Salton Sea to sound designers because there are thousands of birds and the sounds they make during the golden hour is pretty amazing if you have some high frequency mics – the flapping of the weeks, the bird calls, the flitting in the water – it’s an audiophile and photographers oasis.

Pizza Farm Tuesday in Stockholm, Wisconsin!

A couple years ago when I was living in Minneapolis, my friend Sanden invited me to his birthday party at the Pizza Farm. The first image that popped into my head was a field of pizzas sprouting from the earth. I was snapped into reality when he said the farm was a couple hours away in the town of Stockholm, Wisconsin and the pizzas were made in a brick oven with ingredients from the farm. Brilliant, right?

When you drive to the Pizza Farm, you have to appreciate the scenery. The landscape from Minneapolis to Stockholm changed dramatically in the hour and a half drive. We went from flat plains to rolling hills and plentiful fields of produce.

Be forewarned that the Pizza Farm is open only on Tuesdays from 5 to 9. I recommend you get there early because there will be a line and it will take some time for the pizzas to bake. They aren’t open  yearlong – they close up shop when fall sets in and open again in late spring.

After you park your car on the dirt road, you begin to hear the voices behind the trees and you come upon this…

Get in line and don’t waste time – order your pizza immediately! Take your number and then walk around – pizza is priority.

After we ordered our pizza, we walked around the grounds to kill some time. Here are some of the sights from the farm.

But after the walk, we needed to check on our pizza. Here’s the brick oven that the Pizza Farm is known for…

We waited almost two hours for our pizza but it was well worth it. We ordered a vegetarian pizza and also one with the homemade sausage. Both were served on a thin crust and I could taste each ingredient because it was THAT fresh. I admit, the most memorable thing about that Tuesday summer night was the adventure of getting to the Pizza Farm and waiting around for the food. This was one of those nights when the experience was on par with the food that we consumed. Thanks, Sanden, for having a birthday at the Pizza Farm!

Quick Tips:

  1. Bring your own napkins, plates, utensils, and beverages (water, sodas, wine… etc). They ONLY sell pizza and some granola (if there are any left!). Most importantly, clean up after yourself and don’t leave a mess.
  2. Bring a blanket or a foldable chair while you eat because it is just you and the open land. Some people even bring their own foldable poker tables!
  3. Bring board games. You can walk around the farm but if you get bored, it might be fun to bust out some Bananagrams to pass the time until you get your pizza.
  4. (Optional) If you end up getting there late, bring a flashlight. Our group got there an hour before sunset and by the time we got our pizza, it was pitch black. Fortunately we did have our cell phones but it would have been nice to have a flashlight.
Pizza Farm is located at:
N2956 Anker Lane
Stockholm, Wisconsin 54769
Phone: 715-448-4802 

Scenes from Joshua Tree: The Integratron

My friends and I decided to drive two hours east to Joshua Tree a couple months ago. Here’s the first post on what we did during our 36 hours in the land associated with Gram Parsons, hippie artists, and Joshua Trees.

One of the reasons I wanted to go out to the desert was to get away from the city and relax. From LA, you can travel 1-2 hours and be in a setting completely different from where you left from. After you past the suburbs (takes about an hour) then another 45 minutes past the outlet and the wind turbine farms, you end up in Joshua Tree. Our trip to Joshua Tree centered around the Integratron. No, it’s not a ride, it’s more of an experience. The place is about 30 minutes from Joshua Tree’s city center.

Since 1953, meditation sessions have been happening here. Musicians often find their way to the Integratron because of the awesome acoustics inside the dome. It’s common for musicians to rent this place to record. To find out the history of the Integratron and it’s claims to communicate with UFOs, go here.

I’m not sure about all the alien and UFO stuff, but we went to take a sound bath to relax. I had no idea what I’d be in for but from others, I heard it was a relaxing and memorable experience so I was open. When you walk in, you see that the dome is actually two floors. The first floor is cozy and has articles and tidbits of what the Integratron is about a well as instruments.

Above is one of the operators of the Integratron telling us about the construction and background of the building.

We had to walk up the ladder to the second floor without our shoes for our private sound bath. You can also go to a public session in the afternoon for a lesser cost. When I reached the top of the steps, I turned around to see this…

The massive dome gave way to some amazing acoustics. When you went to the center of the room and spoke, you could hear the sound bounce back and you were in stereo sound. I tried to get a recording but it’s something I couldn’t replicate – it’s something to experience yourself. Below, Joanne is setting up the sound bath. During the session, she places these quartz bowls that each make a different sound. It’s very soothing. By the end of the session, I felt like my brain got a massage through the vibrations.

Outside, you can see that there’s not much out there so it’s easy for the stress of daily life to melt away out here. In the evening, you can see endless stars twinkling in the sky because there’s no light pollution. If you want to check out this place and make a reservation to go, here’s the info: The Integratron.

(Night photo by Vahan Baladouni)

Island of Lanai: Dis ‘N Dat Store + Video

I was on Lanai for work but after we finished getting our last interview and footage for our sustainability series, my colleague and I wandered into the Dis ‘N Dat store to look for some souvenirs. It’s a cute little shop with a car in front – it’s hard to miss.

Just steps before you even get into the shop, you hear the wind chimes coaxing you inside. You look up and to the side, and every inch of this place is covered with stuff. I admit it was a bit overwhelming to sift through the selections of souvenirs from jewelry, wood carvings, and wind chimes but it felt magical. For a second, I thought the Mad Hatter would walk through the door because there was definitely whimsy in this place.

I asked where the owners were but they weren’t in. I figured owners of a place like this must have a good story. When I read about them online, looks like they are from Florida and bought this little shop. You can find out more here.

You’ve now seen what the place looks like. Here’s a video so you can hear the chimes and my take on it. My apologies for the poor video quality – I think it may be time to upgrade my camera. Regardless, I hope you enjoy the sounds and my clumsy ways in this video. 🙂

Special thanks to Adriene Hill for filming this for me.

On the road…

Checked-out of Seoul on Sunday morning and took the train south to Daegu and a bus to Gyeongju – the old capital of Korea during the Silla dynasty. A lot of the traditional architecture is still around here which I’m loving. When I was in Seoul, I was surprised by the amount of modern steel, cement, and glass structures.

I have to get going and be on my way to Busan so I’m going to keep this post short.

Here are some Gyeongju highlights – Buddhist temples, Silla grave site (the mounds!)! I admit though that I’m having a hard time with my photography – I don’t feel like I’m capturing the right shot. I’ve been getting a bit frustrated. But I’m going to keep on trying.

Until next time…

I’m so stuffed but I want more!

It’s been getting cold in Seoul. Yesterday night I was freezing – I think it was about 30 degrees. And it looks like the chill has decided to stay another day because it’s equally cold right now.

Yesterday, I had my final meal with my aunt and cousin before I left to embark on the rest of my adventure in Korea. We had some traditional Korean food at this restaurant – seafood jigae, steamed egg, lots of sidedishes.

Afterwards, my aunt wanted to stop by the Paris Baguette bakery (they have one in LA too) to pick up some stuff. I don’t know why but I thought there were more selections in the Seoul location. FYI, there’s a Paris Baguette every few blocks – makes me want to eat cake every time I see this place. The bread is soft, light, and moist. The frosting is light and fluffy – nothing like typical heavy butter-cream frosting back in the States.

As we were driving, I yelped when I saw the Seoul Cartoon Museum and Animation Center. My cousin took a sharp u-turn so I could check it out. I think the museum was closed but we went in anyway — no one said anything so we walked around. Saw these guys setting up a new installation.

In the evening, I met up with new friends. By the way, I’m so grateful for friends and friends of friends who have been great at connecting me with some locals. We went to the Hongdae area to eat… eat… and eat!

Along the walk we saw a lot of the food tents. I love food tents. I think it’s because of the Korea dramas my mom watched while I was growing up. I’d always see scenes that took place in a tent or right outside of it. Often the scene would depict people who were drunk and something unexpected would happen… awkward glances, someone professing their love, rage… but some sort of truthful moment seemed to show itself at the food tent (mixed with some soju). Anyhow, didn’t see anything like that when I was walking around but I still got excited seeing these tents.

What would Korea be without the noraebangs (karaoke). Raina, I know if you were here you’d make me go in and sing. Alas, since you’re not here… I didn’t. But I did snap this shot for you.

And finally, to end the night we went out for some tea and hot chocolate. Here’s my chrysanthemum tea. So pretty!

Well, that’s my day so far.

From here on out my posts will be more spread out since my program starts this evening when I check into the hotel. Right now, I’m going to take a walk in Itaewon.