Posts Tagged ‘Maui’

Another one bites the dust

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea, Some Menu Changes

August 1st, 2012

Vanessa Wolf is a former head chef, previously working in Portland, Oregon. She offers her blunt assessments in the interests of honesty and improving Maui’s culinary scene.

By Vanessa Wolf

kale salad-monkeypod

The Kale and Macadamia Nuts salad from Monkeypod Kitchen. Photo by Vanessa Wolf.

Peter Merriman’s Monkeypod Kitchen in Wailea offers a broad menu “dedicated to handcrafted food, drink, and merrymaking.”

Eager to partake in the culinary party, the first item on board was the Crispy Rock Shrimp and Calamari ($13.95). This is an enjoyable appetizer that, until recently, was exactly what one would expect.

However, they just changed the menu, and those who don’t tend to read the fine print might be surprised to find that what they expected to be a piece of seafood is actually a battered and deep fried chunk of pineapple. Points for creativity, but it was both unexpected and not particularly appetizing (and there was a lot of it). The buttermilk aioli, however, was…

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I also updated my freelancing website: vanessa wolf

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Revel in the beauty

Monday, December 12th, 2011

My god, this is a beautiful place.

My father has never been here – to any of the Hawaiian islands actually – and in my attempt to lure him over, I was selling it hard: “You can hike the moon-like crater of an extinct volcano at 9000 feet and then in a few hours be at the beach.” I mentioned the jungles, and the waterfalls and the bamboo forests and the lava outcroppings and the giant-sized plants you usually only see in a small pot on the mainland. I may not have even remembered to get into the bay that fills with Humpback whales in the winter. I think I forgot all about the exotic flowers (“bad ass nature” as my friend put it) and the rainbows.

Regardless, after listening, he commented, “Wow. It’s like something Disney built.” And it is. Maui is like nature’s Epcot Center. It’s a phenomenon that blows me away on a daily basis. I hope I never stop being in awe of this magical island. It’s truly humbling what God/Goddess/Nature/the Universe/Whatever You Believe is capable of.

So, in that spirit, enjoy a few pictures from my little afternoon jaunt last week. I meant to put them up a long time ago, but kind of straight up forgot. Also, allow me to add that all this splendor is a literal five minute drive from Whole Foods (WHERE I FOUND MY SARDINES FOR LESS THAN YOU CAN BUY THEM FOR IN SEATTLE!!!!!!)

I’m not much of one for the whole organized worship thing, but can I get an Amen?


I like moss.


And I like the bark on these trees. I’m not sure what they are, but they had them in Bermuda too.


Moss is pretty!


The Iao Needle





The view from the Whole Foods Parking lot.


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Be in Awe

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

I know I’ve mentioned that during these last few tough weeks, a new teacher has stepped forward to be very present in my life. She has guided and loved me through some tough hours, and given me a remarkable perspective those times I’ve needed it most. What a gift her presence has been. I wouldn’t necessarily want to repeat this time in my life, but I would if it were the only way I could arrive at the insight I have now. I have learned and grown a tremendous amount, and I almost wonder if such a setback weren’t necessary: one step back and three steps up, as it were.

Meanwhile, in addition to helping me stay strong and notice the difference between the true, original me and the little girl self who tends to panic and look for signs of abandonment – a self-awareness that is critical and profound – my friend and teacher also regularly reminds me to “remember to continually return to joy… to awe.”

I work diligently at this, and sometimes it’s easier than others. In my favor, I am surrounded a truly spectacular landscape and wonderful weather and that certainly helps. However, yesterday afternoon joy and awe hit me like a wave to the face, as if to say, “REMEMBER US!!!!”

To set the scene: I was at the beach struggling through my daily allotment of MOBY DICK (although happily, yesterday’s passage was a little less painful than it’s been) when I heard a male voice screaming for “help!” This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered a kite boarder in bad shape (where they put in is dangerous and there are no lifeguards, not to mention kite boarding itself is a risky endeavor), nor is it the first time in the last couple months I’ve found myself the only idiot running toward the sound of that word.

Blakes Beach Maui

All of this took place in the far right side of this photo, taken about a half an hour beforehand. Where the reef ends, the ocean is suddenly about ten feet deep.

There were other people on the beach – tourists searching for shells who apparently had gone spontaneously deaf and other kite boarders – but it was clear no one else was going to acknowledge the guy, let alone help. Although I had not planned to get into the water, and wasn’t exactly wearing a angry surf-ready bikini, I went for it. Blame it on the youthful lifeguard still in me or the crushing sense of, “If I don’t help…who will?”

The sea has been whipping up to full winter fury here on the north shore, and yesterday was no exception. As I ran out onto the VERY slippery algae-covered coral, I heard a sharp warning in my head to be careful. I remembered some guidance from when I was a lifeguard: the very real danger that someone drowning might drown you in their panic. I considered that I didn’t have a torpedo or even a buoy or any proper tool with which to help him, and wondered if I was being impossibly stupid.

Nonetheless, I persisted. I took a couple nasty falls on the slippery green growth and caught my foot in a deep hole in the coral, but finally got beyond the reef and to the open ocean. I was just about to the guy’s board (I had decided to grab only it or the kite – not him), when a MAJOR wave crashed over my head and knocked me back about ten feet…taking my glasses (and by my glasses I mean my prescription eyeglasses I use to see…not sunglasses) with it.

Blakes Beach Maui

Another shot - a little over to the west of where I was by about 30 feet - I took yesterday before I went out to try to help that guy.

I pawed around hopelessly and came up empty. Looking down, there was nothing but angry white froth and maybe eight feet of water below me. Since I was closer to the kite boarder than the shore and had now REALLY committed myself (whether I liked it or not), I went ahead and swam out, grabbed the kite, and helped him onto the slippery reef and eventually to shore.

“I lost my glasses!” I told him once we got to the beach.

He was suitably disinterested, and didn’t even really thank me all that much for my stupid but well-intentioned David Hasselhoff moment.

Now the reality of what I had done was settling in. I HAD LOST MY GLASSES. For those of you that don’t know, without my glasses I’m hurting. According to something I just found online, if the ideal vision is 20/20, I’m seeing at 20/650. I don’t know what that means, actually, but sufficed to say I REALLY CANNOT SEE TO FUNCTION WITHOUT MY GLASSES.

It was quickly apparent that I couldn’t see well enough to find them – they could have been two feet away and I wouldn’t have been able to tell – so I gathered up my stuff and walked home blind.

As I trudged back, the sky opened up and unloaded about 5000 gallons of rain on me, and I replayed what I already knew during something of a self-reciminatory lament: one of the few boxes that never made it here via USPS contains my spare glasses and some prescription sunglasses as well. I had no back up options.

Thus, I did the only thing I could do: I talked myself down.

It will be fine.

I went without a phone for two weeks. I can do without glasses for the same. I’ll wear my contacts as much as I can stand. And if I have to go a few hours each day blind, well, it will be fine.

And I’ll go back to the beach and look. Maybe I’ll find them? Stranger things have happened… Sure, it’s a million to one, but whatever. It has to happen to somebody.

In that spirit, I got home, put some dry clothes over my wet bathing suit, put in my contacts, and walked back.

I headed out onto the reef where I had rescued the man. I could see the drop down over the edge and figured if they were down there, I wouldn’t be finding them. In unfortunate deja vu, another huge wave came in and knocked me over (I have a serious bruise developing on my thigh and a number of cuts on my hands and feet from all this), and I struggled to stay upright on the slippery algae. I looked for half an hour or so, ultimately deciding to give up and head home.

I figured I could come back in the mornings for the rest of the week and see if they washed up overnight. I wasn’t sure what shape they’d be in if that happened, but I’d stay hopeful. I was about halfway back to the shore, when the water settled enough that I could see through it again. I happened to glance down and there in a hole in the coral about three feet deep and two feet wide were my glasses just laying on the bottom in the water.

They’re perfectly fine.

I’m wearing them right now.

And the odds of this truly blows my mind.


I fished them out and shouted “Thank you!!!” up at the heavens and ran back to the beach where I danced a jig of gratitude and, well, awe. It was one of those moments where you can’t help but feel like higher forces are looking over you and even giving you a hand.

Hopefully I’ll be able to hang onto this moment – this sense of joy and awe – for a good long while. One can never have enough reminders of what a truly amazing experience this whole life thing is, especially when it also has a tendency to get so damn rough.

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I’m going to have to bone up on sperm whales

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

No pun intended.

I am reading MOBY DICK.

Sort of.

MOBY DICK is reading me.

Or schooling me anyway.

I have a – vague…okay, very vague – book idea relating to MOBY DICK and despite the fact that Ishmael is more or less torturing my ass and plans to do so for 657 incredibly dense and seemingly endless pages, I have been plugging along. In fact I am, in this very moment, watching a 2010 movie version of MOBY DICK…sort of. It’s not very good  (total shit) and confusing (crap), and as a result I’m mouthing off about my non-commital sperm whale attitude to those around me, and to you.

sperm whale

Moby Dick was one of these. Kinda cute...

So without committing or not, let me come back around full-circle and say I’m undecided, and I’m going to have to bone up on sperm whales…no pun intended.





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Do you love it!?

Sunday, December 4th, 2011

Or are you afraid of it?

Well, chances are I got it on Craigslist…or at Ross.

Although I have come to think of my home as “the house that Craigslist built,” I must admit I draw the line on certain things – dishes, pillows, towels, sheets – and that’s where Ross comes in.

Let’s get real: Ross in a lowbrow store.

It’s somewhere between a rummage sale and Goodwill and the lamest stuff on clearance at Pier One…and yet somehow here in Maui it’s kind of an awesome store. Maybe it’s the desperate nature of retail here in general. Everything comes on a boat, so if you need it, want it, or just plain like it, you’d better buy it now…because God only knows when or if it will ever be stocked again. This rule applies for Wal-mart, Costco, you name it; but it is especially pertinent at Ross.

Add to the desperation the typical randomness found at any Ross, and throw a healthy dash of really dreadful inventory (whether someone is specifically to blame or if the Ross headquarters figures they’ll just ship the “unsellables” to Maui knowing damn well we have no other good options is an unknown) and I freaking love the place. It’s like a museum of WTF…and I for one, cannot get enough WTF in my life.

Consider the following:


These horrible pillows. All I can say is ‘wow.’

No one should own – let alone pay good money – for such atrocities, and yet somehow the store is carrying at least 20 of the polka dotted ones. That takes balls. Or sheer madness.


Looking in the “electronics” area, I was not terribly surprised to find a dozen mitted ice scrapers. It’s December. It’s Maui. It’s 82 here every day. We need ice scrapers like we need a hole in the head. But maybe insanity is contagious because once again, I find myself charmed.


This I actually plan to buy, if only for the typo. The recipient of such splendor has already been identified…I’m just hoping the catastrophe goes on clearance, as $9.99 is too rich for my blood.


Of course, Santa needs to take care of herself. No more boring Kool Aid out of a pitcher for me!


Lastly, keep your opinions of this treasure to yourself. Whether it’s some kind of subliminal messaging or an early symptom of Island Fever, I bought this baby. All five feet of her can currently be found hanging over my bed.

What can I say?

I blame it on Ross.



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