Archive for September, 2014

Where to Eat in Monterey County: The Choke Coach in Castroville, California

Famed Castroville Artichokes

No Central California road trip would be complete without stopping at a local joint for some of it’s famed produce. Head to Gilroy for all things garlic (garlic wine, anyone?), but if it’s artichokes you’re after be sure to stop in Castroville, aka “the Artichoke Capital of the World.”

Artichoke Pesto and other specialties at Pezzini Farms

I recently stopped at The Choke Coach, which features farm to food truck seasonal fare. Located in the parking lot at Pezzini Farms, The Choke Coach serves the local specialty, artichokes, prepared several different ways.

Who wants an artichoke Po’ Boy?

The French Fried artichokes ($6) are always a crowd pleaser, but there are some more unique artichoke offerings on the menu as well. There’s an Artichoke Po’ Boy sandwich for $5.50, a fried artichoke wrap sandwich ($6), and a shockingly good bratwurst.

Monterey County artichokes at Pezzini Farms

My favorite preparation was the grilled artichoke served with garlic dijon and lemon dill dipping sauce. It took a while for the friendly folks at the Choke Coach to prepare, but arrived at my table with a nice char on it. The house made dipping sauces– including Garlic Dijon and Lemon Dill aioli, were flavorful.

The grilled artichoke from the Choke Coach had a nice smokiness to it

Heirloom Green Globe Artichokes at Pezzini Farms

While waiting for my food, I strolled inside Pezzini Farms to find lots of gorgeous local produce, including bargain artichokes and the dipping sauces available for purchase. There was other seasonal produce as well… including a ton of pumpkins.

Pumpkins are party of the bounty of produce at Pezzini Farms

Should you find yourself looking for a casual place to taste some of the local fare, The Choke Coach at Pezzini farms is definitely worth a stop.

The Choke Coach is located at:

Pezzini Farms

460 Nashua Road (Just off HWY 1),

Castroville, CA  95012

Phone:(831) 757-7434

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A Stay at the Andaz Maui at Wailea

The adults-only pool at the Andaz Maui lit up at night

I recently visited the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort in Hawaii for the first time. The Andaz definitely caters to a younger/hipper crowd than some of the other high end hotels in the area. If you’re looking for in-your-face Hawaiiana, look elsewhere. The Andaz Maui has warm, zen minimalist vibe.

The Modern Facade of the Andaz Maui

My husband and I arrived before check in time, and our room (we booked a suite) was not yet ready. The Andaz host suggested we head the Bumbye Beach Bar to wait until she came to escort us to the room. The bar had wifi access (no password required), great views of the lagoon pool and Mokapu Beach, and particularly delicious Mai Tais. After two rounds, our host showed us to our suite, room 640.

The resort’s open and airy entry

The staff at the Andaz was friendly and top notch. I was particularly impressed with the concierge. She remembered my food allergies and made sure they were passed on to restaurants, even when we changed restaurant picks or re-scheduled reservations.

The seating area in living room of suite 640

Suite 640 was spacious, well laid out, and technology friendly– great for a modern day couple who both work remotely. 

Left: the work desk in room 640 Right: The dining room table in 640

There were several pools, including an adult/no kids one and several cabanas for hire, which was nice. Loved the wifi access (even at the beach) and I always appreciate the no password required. Every hotel should be this tech friendly.

The welcome amenity and lei

If I had to nitpick, I thought the ukelele player in the Lehua Lounge could have bothered to wear an aloha shirt. I also noticed a few room service trays lingered in the hallways a bit longer than the should have. Minor complaints for an otherwise fabulous stay.

The patio was filled with modern furniture and comfortable

One of the Andaz’s most amazing features is Morimoto Maui restaurant, which is FANTASTIC. My husband and I almost always get tired of every hotel’s restaurants after three days. Not so with Morimoto. We dined there four times during our stay and I’ve been missing it since I got back. Even if you choose to stay somewhere else in Wailea, don’t miss heading to the Andaz Maui for dinner at Morimoto Maui.

Left: the window seat in room 640 Right: a reading nook in the bedroom

The room’s king sized bed has sliding doors that can open to the shower windows

The walk-thru shower and soaker tub in Suite 640

My husband thought the furniture in our suite could have been more comfortable, however I had no issues with it. I LOVED the bathroom’s huge shower and soaker tub. The room was quiet and I slept well in the king bed.

The hanging chair on the patio was a great place to watch the Wailea sunset

The Lagoon Pool at the Andaz Maui

How fun is this indoor sandbox in the reception area of the Andaz Maui?

Yogurt with granola on the breakfast buffet at Ka’ana Kitchen

The breakfast spread served at Ka’ana Kitchen was amazing. Since my husband is a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond Member member, our breakfast was included. The staff went out of there way to clarify which menu items were not included so there were no surprises on the bill. (Note: The Breakfast Amenity for Diamond Gold Passport members was recently downgraded.) The mimosa made with passionfruit and guava is not to be missed.

Delicious Mai Tai served at Lehua Lounge

The view from Bumbye Beach Bar

Obligatory selfie in sunglasses of the Andaz Beach Crew

The Andaz Beach Crew was very helpful and also has a great instagram account @andazbeachcrew.

Gorgeous sunset as seen from room 640 at Andaz Maui

Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort

3550 Wailea Alanui Drive

Wailea, Hawaii, USA, 96753

Tel: +1 808 573 1234

Rates start at $423.00

Andaz Maui on Twitter

Andaz Maui on Instagram

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Where to Eat on Maui: Mama’s Fish House

Mama’s Fish House Exterior

If you’re looking for a place to eat on Maui for a special meal and want to go for Hawaiian cuisine, don’t miss Mama’s Fish House in the surfer town of Paia. Located on the North Shore of Maui, Mama’s Fish House snagged the #2 spot on Opentable Diners Choice Awards list of the Best Restaurants in America in 2013. Mama’s was also named a  TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice™ 2013 Winner.

Mama’s Fish House Mai Tai

Mama’s Fish House has been set in the same stunning beach side coconut grove location since the restaurant opened in 1973. The decor is Aloha kitschy to the extreme, with the servers wearing fab vintage Hawaiian prints.

A tropical side dish at Mama’s

Mama’s is serious about fresh local seafood. The Mama’s Fish House menu lists the name of the fisherman who caught the day’s catch (and where they caught it)  along with chef Mama Christenson. The menu changes daily.

Left: a fresh salad at Mama’s Right: the blue prawns with Taha’a island vanilla

The food at Mama’s is delicious. I had the Blue Prawns served with Taha’a island vanilla ($36) as my main and they were light, tropical and perfectly prepared. The tastiest dish (and best bargain) on the menu was the $8 side of the Kalua island boar– a typical luau dish. It was satisfying and flavorful and far more memorable than the $40 crispy duck with mango glaze.

Coconut prawns at Mama’s

The service at Mama’s was great. I wasn’t blown away by their cocktails (which seemed to be stuck in the 70s), but there were pretty. It’s also work checking out the vintage Hawaiiana on the walls and as well as the old local newspapers hanging near the restrooms.

Mama’s Menu

Mama’s also has an award winning hotel on the beachfront property– the Inn at Mama’s Fish House. I didn’t see any of the rooms, but I can assure you the location is stunning.

Valet parking comes with this view at Mama’s Fish House

Left: Giant tiki statue  Right: palm trees and tiki torches

Mama’s Fish House was about a 35 minute drive from Wailea.

Mama’s Fish House Restaurant

799 Poho Pl, Paia, HI 96779, United States

Phone:(808) 579-8488


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Where to Watch the Sunset on Maui: Keawakapu Beach

Palm trees and prime real estate: Keawakapu Beach

There’s just something about tropical Hawaiian sunsets that makes you want to kick back and enjoy them while sipping a cocktail served in a coconut. Maui’s Keawakapu Beach, located on the Kihei shore, some of most stunning views.

Lava rocks in the sand make sunsets moody and interesting

It’s a bit of a drive from the stretch of high end resorts in Wailea, but that means it is has a low tourist-to-sandy beach ration, and the beach is open to the public.

The sunsets at Keawakapu beach inspire you to break out your camera

The Mana Kai Hotel has the best stretch of waterfront sand and views, making the restaurant on it’s ground floor, the 5 Palms Kihei, a popular spot to enjoy the sunset.

Great spot for sunset couples selfie

The 5 Palms Kihei serves half price pupus and sushi during it’s oceanfront happy hour from 3:00pm – 7:00pm daily.

Outrigger canoes paddle by at during sunset

I shot this panorama of Keawakapu Beach and the Mana Kai hotel on my iPhone 5s

Sunset waves GIF

If you’re in Wailea, I’d highly suggest heading to Keawakapu Beach around sunset to get your Aloha on.

5 Palms Kihei

2960 S Kihei Rd

Kihei Maui, HI 96753

(808) 879-2607

Oceanfront Happy Hour – Half Price Sushi & Pupus
3:00 pm – 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm – 11:00 pm Daily

Keawakapu Beach

S Kihei Rd,

Kihei, HI 96753



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Where to Eat in Wailea: Morimoto Maui

Hamachi tacos at Morimoto Maui

If you’re looking for a great restaurant in Wailea, I highly recommend checking out Morimoto Maui located at the Andaz Maui Resort. This Hawaiian outpost of Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s eponymous restaurant is great for advanced foodies and sushi novices alike.

Left: Ishi Yaka Buri Bop Right: Ramen soup (Morimoto chicken soup)

Morimoto Maui’s menu had so many dishes that I wanted to try, that I ate at this restaurant four times during my recent trip. I also craved it as soon as I left.

Sushi and pickled ginger at Morimoto Maui

The menu focuses on a mix of Western and Japanese dishes, using the freshest local Hawaiian ingredients. The whole vibe is upscale yet casual, and the setting is modern, laid back and Aloha chic.

Patio at Morimoto Maui

The restaurant is has a small outdoor bar, a covered outdoor patio, sushi bar, and indoor seating options.

Tempura calamari salad served with quinoa and white miso dressing ($19)

Morimoto Maui is a great choice for foodies and beach bums alike– the vibe is mellow and you can totally cruise in for lunch in your cover-up and flip flops.

Ishi yaki buri bop: yellowtail on rice bowl prepared table side in a hot stone bowl ($30)

Open for both lunch and dinner, Morimoto Maui has innovative and classic dishes. I loved the hamachi tacos made with yellowtail, avocado, and creamy nuoc cham ($16) so much I ordered them every visit. Despite the hot and humid tropical environment, the ramen soup with chicken ($16) is also a standout and big enough to share. I noticed it on a lot of tables.

The yellowtail on rice after being prepared tableside

Sushi and sashimi is top notch. The Ishi Yaki Buri Bop ($39)– a rice bowl made with yellowtail cooked at your table in a hot stone bowl was inspired, delicious and satisfying. It’s also fun to order.

Sunset Yuzu Drop ($15) cocktail at Morimoto Maui

The restaurant has an inspired and witty cocktail list (Mai Chai or Sibiscus Hazerac, anyone?) as well as an extensive list of sakes and wines.

Morimoto Maui’s Aloha Chic Bar

The service is as impressive as the food. I’d suggest making a reservation if you’re planning on coming for dinner, particularly if you have a seating preference. Reservations can be booked through the restaurant or via Opentable.

Morimoto Maui

3550 Wailea Alanui Drive

Wailea, Hawaii 96753

808 573 1234


Lunch: 11:30 AM – 2:00 PM, daily

Dinner: 5:30 PM – 9:30 PM


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