When I think of luxury, my mind immediately takes me back to Hawaii, stirring up memories of me sipping on mai tais and oozing aloha attitude through and through. A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to have a special somebody in my life call this island his home. While the island's azure waters and bountiful fresh produce & seafood left me happy as can be, what I truly miss about our time in Hawaii was what some refer to as the "aloha spirit" (thanks, Liren) or in my case, the "aloha attitude" where smiles are shared liberally, luring you to pause and smell the plumerias. We had the lifestyles of beach nuts, but the lavish taste buds of passionate epicureans.
I miss walking into a fine dining establishment with sand between my toes, sporting my flip flops after having just stepped foot off the beach and being greeted with a warm, friendly smile--those days made me understand right then and there that great food didn't have to come with all the fuss.
LUXURY sans the FUSS:
And quite honestly, I am not a fan of places that adhere to a strict dress code--it really takes the fun out of eating in my world. Tell me this: How am I supposed to enjoy a meal when the lovely dress I picked out for my date also means that I can only nibble on my dinner b/c I'm too self-conscious that my zipper might pop? Or if I'm worried that my hubby is going to strangle himself because his tie is making him feel stuffy and uptight? Yes, I repeat: strict dress codes TOTALLY detract from having Spicy Green Mango enjoy her meal. Of course, this doesn't mean I'll show up to your dinners in cut-offs and a stained T-shirt. Hey, I try to keep it classy, too, you know.
I kindly asked the rest of my guests to come as they were--as comfy as can be. My dear friend, Jenny (also co-founder of a sustainable vintage shop--Retrofit Republic) even came dressed in her vintage pants with elastic waistbands---the woman is serious about her dinners :)
Having access to the freshest fruits, vegetables and fish on the island was undoubtedly the BEST part of living in the land of aloha. As I reminisce about my moments on the island, how could I possibly pass up an opportunity to bring the flavors of the island back to the Mainland? Not a chance!
One of our favorite places in Hawaii was the Ocean House Restaurant at the Outrigger---the setting is quite possibly one of the most picturesque and romantic spots along Waikiki. Situated just steps from the beach, on any given evening, you can listen to locals crooning live music from the nearby bar, while the ambient flames from tiki torches can be seen swaying in the coconut-scented island breeze. The menu is both inspired by this special place and our recent vacation in Thailand--a co-mingling of two of our favorite beach destinations to date.
Whatever dinner menu you decide to craft, remember that the best ones will have a story behind them. It's not only a great topic of conversation, but it layers on a personal touch to your party. When our guests arrived, they instantly knew what inspired our dinner menu and they were more than happy to partake in helping us relive those days of fine dining.
SWEET ESCAPE: ASK for HELP to MAKE it SWEETER