It is a cold and grey winter’s day in Vancouver. Snow is falling outside the window. A stark contrast to the warm and vibrant images filling my computer screen and my head. This was our second adventure to Kauai and it was equally magical to the first.
This trip had days of solid rain, high tropical winds and a flash flood warning. It also had days of beautiful warm sunshine. I certainly felt a strong connection to the natural environment and the power of Mother Nature on this little island. It was a clear reminder that we are part of a world much bigger than ourselves. At times all we can do is surrender to those greater forces and eat lots of tropical fruit.
We stayed in a lovely guesthouse on a larger property right on Hanalei Bay. Our hosts were very generous and kind. Shoes were certainly optional most days.
The commute to the beach took us through the yard, past the scent of the citrus trees, the beauty of the orchids, all the little lizards scurrying about the yard and along the sand dollar paving stone path.
There were many citrus trees in the yard including a Meyer lemon, a couple types of oranges and a lime that when picked left your hands coated in their richly perfumed oils. The view from the shower was of the neighbour’s orange tree. Little orange gems dancing among the dark green foliage.
It is no secret that I have always enjoyed Valentine’s Day. Even before I ever fell in love, I always thought it was a fun day. For me Valentine’s Day hasn’t been so much about romantic love but a day to spread a little extra love and joy to friends and family. Handmade cards and sweets have always played a part. Romance is certainly good too.
I think the fact that I love to bake and have a sweet tooth might also have something to do with it. A day that celebrates all things sweet? Count me in!
My mom and I have baked all manner of heart shaped sweets together over the years. I particularly remember baking and decorating heart sugar cookies and white cupcakes with chopped maraschino cherries folded in with a hint of almond extract. I am happy to report that our tastes have been refined over the years to prefer such combinations as strawberries and rosewater. But those cupcakes did have their own charm.
A dear friend of mine, Michelle Fattore is a fantastic chef and very talented pastry chef. The two of us share a love of food and photography and have been wanting to work on something together for a while. It so happens that Michelle is a bit of a romantic too and when I mentioned Valentine’s Day and the possibility of ice cream sandwiches she was on board.
Her brain started spinning and she came back to me with a beautiful flavour combination that involved saffron, cardamom and white chocolate cookies and a strawberry rosewater ice cream. I love all of these flavours so it was a big yes from me. It is every bit as magical as it sounds. The stuff that rosy dreams are made of.
Michelle was very kind to share the ice cream recipe with me for the blog. While the cookies were outstanding, they were a little heavy on the saffron and Michelle felt they could use a little more perfecting in the kitchen. Perhaps we will revisit that recipe down the road but the ice cream is something special for sure. It is perfect all on its own or you could sandwich it between the cookie of your choice. The strawberry flavour is prominent and the rose water is subtle, coming through just at the end.
Eeek! How is it that we are nearing the end of January already? I ended off last year with a cold and started this year off with a root canal. I figure it can only get better from there, right?
I am not one for resolutions nor am I generally inspired to make changes in the dead of winter. This year was different and while I didn’t make any resolutions per say I felt ready for a new beginning when January rolled around. A clean slate, new possibilities, new connections and the promise of renewed inspiration.
I am continually amazed at food’s ability to bring people together, to build community and connections. Rewind to December when I attended a beautiful tea party on a Sunday afternoon. A good friend of mine Michelle, who is an incredible chef and the sweetest person you will ever meet, hosted a tea party to bring all the amazing and talented women in her life together and spoil us with delicious food.
It was that day that I met her friend Issha of Flattened to Fit Paper who also happens to love food and is a talented artist, food photographer and graphic designer. Of course I was curious to meet her and learn what she is up to with food and photography. We decided to collaborate on a project and settled on juicing. Something bright and fresh for the dark days of winter. We spent a good part of a day in her kitchen making juice, taking photos, drinking juice and chatting. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a day.
It is always inspiring to get out from behind these four walls and create in someone else’s kitchen and workspace. Different light, a new perspective and the sharing of ideas. You can see the other half of the creative process and Issha’s beautiful post over on her blog. I love to see this day captured through her lens and creative mind.
We tried four different juices. The run away winner was a combination Issha created inspired by far sunnier climates. It was fresh pineapple, apple, mint, Thai basil, calamansi (the cutest little limes from the Philippines that taste like lime and tangerine), and a healthy amount of ginger. So tasty I was still thinking about it this morning at breakfast.
The runner up was a pretty pink juice of pink grapefruit, pear and ginger. If it was up to me I think I would put ginger in every juice and we nearly did. We also did a blood orange, carrot and ginger and a cucumber, mint, lime and apple. All of which were delicious.
I don’t own a juicer so it was a real treat to indulge in so much fresh juice. I can see how people become addicted. Perhaps one day if I have an orchard and big garden I will invest in a juicer! Until then I will rely on the kindness of others.
This was a fun first post and collaboration for the new year. A big thank you to Issha for juicing 101 and a fun afternoon in the kitchen. I look forward to more collaborations and creative projects in the months to come.
I feel all prepped and ready for a trip to Kauai early next month where I plan to indulge in plenty more citrus and pineapples.
Wishing you an inspired and tasty 2014!