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Sunday
Apr222012

Mai Tai & Hawaii

palm trees sandy beach Honolulu

It's always strange coming home after a long vacation. It's the simple things that throw me off guard, making me aware of just how long I've been gone. Opening the door to the house and recognizing the scent of my home, a smell so familiar to me that I fail to notice it in my day to day happenings. It's in the act of opening the refrigerator, with no faint reminder of what lies within.

The mundane and ordinary life of mine becomes surreal to my jet-lagged mind. For a moment, I feel like I don't belong in my home. Not yet. Not while my heart is still across the sea, not ready to give up the holiday and return to reality.

surfboards and vintage cars aoki's shaved ice

I spent the last week and half in Hawaii, vacationing on Oahu's north shore. There was sand and sun, water and waves, and a tropical breeze that refused to relent as it whirled my hair around my face. It was a vacation I didn't know I needed until I waded into the cool waters of the Pacific. There were historic towns, long drives up and down the length of the island, and endless miles of beach.

My boyfriend's family invited me to come with them to his sister's destination wedding and I simply couldn't refuse.

a wedding cake and a blushing bride wedding flowers

The wedding was gorgeous. Tropical flowers, bright and blooming, and loose white linens blowing in the wind lined the arch under which the bride and groom stood. The wedding overlooked the ocean and the waves crashing over rocks became the backdrop for the scene unfolding. There were leis, tears, tender smiles, and blissful expressions that couldn't be removed from the bride and groom's faces.

I couldn't help but grab a photograph of the wedding cake. I also couldn't stop myself from eating two pieces.

lighthouse sailboat shark attack surf's up abandoned boat

I climbed a few hills, overlooking the city of Honolulu and the wide never-ending ocean. I wandered the touristy beach of Waikiki, walking hundreds of feet out into the shallow waters, trying to jump over the waves before they swept me back to shore. I went on a shark tour and was carried a few miles out to sea to jump into a shark cage, Discovery Channel style.

Never one to shy from risk and adventure, I climbed into the cage and found the metal bars were the only barrier between me and half a dozen full-grown Galapagos sharks. One came near enough to touch, as it swam only a foot beneath the cage. Did you know Galapagos sharks have brilliant yellow cat eyes? Neither did I.

coral and waves rainbow sail surfer girl koi pond

I also tried my hand at surfing one particularly windy morning. Though I had never been near a surfboard before, standing up was easier than I ever expected. I caught my first wave, feeling the swell of the ocean beneath me, and held onto it as long as I dared. It was paddling back out to sea that was the hardest; more than once the surfing instructor took pity and carried me and my surfboard out when he swam back out to sea.

After swallowing a mouthful of water fighting against the waves and crashing into sharp rocks beneath the surface after falling off my board, I had enough. For those of you who surf, you have my utmost respect. It's hard.

sunset at the seaflowers sunset

As the sun set on the Hawaiian beaches, my thoughts always went to the food. The fish was so fresh, the pineapple so juicy, the shrimp so spicy, the shaved ice so refreshing, that it was devoured before a second thought could be given to my camera. On vacations, I think that's the way it should be. Living in the present, reveling in the small moments of the sand between your toes, the scent of the salty sea, and the feel of a cold cocktail in your hand.

There are many more stories to tell, of wild adventures and vacation mishaps, but I'll let those tales rest for now. I'll bring them out on a rainy day, when I can only dream of taking tropical vacations and leaving reality for just a moment to swim with the sea turtles.

Mai Tai Mai Tai

There is quite a bit of controversy surrounding what defines an "authentic" Mai Tai, most of it revolving around orgeat syrup and the presence of fruit juices. I'll start by saying that this particular Mai Tai is nowhere near authentic, but it is reminiscent of the ones I had in Hawaii, lying under beach umbrellas and listening to the roar of the sea (and, most importantly, it can be made with ingredients lying around the house). Light and dark rum booze up pineapple and lime juice, with a hint of orange liquor to round out the sweetness.

If you find it too strong (and you may), add more pineapple juice until it suits your taste.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Nests, Roasted Pineapple, and Lemon Thins

Mai Tai

Yields 2 servings

3 ounces light rum
6 ounces dark rum, divided
1 ounce orange liquor (grand marnier, orange curacao, triple sec... whatever you have on hand)
4 ounces pineapple juice (fresh if possible)
4 ounces (about 1-2 limes) lime juice, freshly squeezed
Limes, pineapple chunks, maraschino cherries (for garnish)

Fill 2 glasses with ice cubes. Pour 1 1/2 ounces (1 standard-sized shot) light rum and dark rum, 1/2 ounce orange liquor, 2 ounces pineapple and lime juice into each glass. Garnish with pineapples, lime slices, or maraschino cherries, if desired. Just before serving, top each glass with a remaining 1 1/2 ounces dark rum.

Drink up!

Reader Comments (14)

Because of the chilly and wet climate, the Dutch often jokingly refer to the Netherlands as "kikkerland" - the land of frogs. Your pictures make me want to leave the land of frogs for the land of sharks. Though I would probably prefer drinking Mai Tai's under an umbrella to diving with sharks. Very brave of you!
04.22.2012 | Unregistered Commentervera@growntocook
Wow, such gorgeous photos. Thanks for sharing them! WIth it being overcast and rather chilly here in central Ohio today, these were just perfect. I definitely need to add "visit Hawaii" to my bucket list! Your mai tai recipe looks fresh and delicious, which is the way cocktails were meant to be.

Have a great rest of your weekend!
04.22.2012 | Unregistered CommenterJess
Your pictures re simply breathtaking! You are an amazing photographer. Everypicture is stunning and leaves no words in my mouth.

And it sounds like you had a really wonderful trip. Hawaii looks like a beautiful place.
Gorgeous photos- they make me wish to return to Hawaii asap. I particularly loved the photo of the sunset. And the wedding flower arrangement is beautiful- love the orange flowers juxtaposed with a turquoise vase.
04.22.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
Gorgeous. I live in South Florida and am lucky to have the ocean just minutes from my doorstep, but that doesn't make it any less inviting. There is something about that tropical vibe that calls to me, and your pictures definitely make me want to venture to Hawaii's exotic shores. Until then, I will just have to sip on one of these fantastic looking Mai Tais to hold me over... cheers!
How fun! These photos are beautiful, and I'm extremely jealous that you were able to go to Hawaii for a destination wedding. Glad you got to try surfing though. It looks incredibly hard so I'm impressed that you were able to stand up at all!
I almost feel like I've had a holiday looking at your gorgeous photos! What an absolutely incredible place. Love that it inspired you to make this beautiful, elegant cocktail too :-)
04.23.2012 | Unregistered Commenterthelittleloaf
Sounds like an awesome trip! Great pics! And I LOVE Mai Tais! Thanks!
04.23.2012 | Unregistered CommenterSara
These photos make me yearn for the Pacific. Beautiful.
04.23.2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhoe
Your photos are beautiful! We went to Oahu a few years ago and went on the shark tour on the north shore also. It was unforgettable.. It's the perfect place for a vacation. Thanks for taking me away from my work and back there for a little while.
04.23.2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaren
Thanks for the Ma tai recipe! What better than surfboards, a wedding, Hawaii and a wedding!
04.23.2012 | Unregistered CommenterRobert London
Thanks! for the one of the best Ma tai recipes around for wedding, What about having brite wedding in Hawaii..
Always! -Tim
Oh my. That's all. Actually, there's more. I went to Hawaii a few years ago with my family and I still dream of it EXACTLY the way you photographed it. Reading this post was like going back to that amazing vacation on Oahu. There's just something about Hawaii, isn't there? I never wanted to leave!! And I don't say that in the typical "oh it's so pretty -- eternal vacation!" way.. like I literally could adopt the culture, scenery, food, weather.. for life. Anyway, thanks for this beautiful post Those drinks look delicious. I'll be making them as soon as the weather around here heats up enough for our first spring picnic! :)

p.s. did you drive through the Dole pineapple plantation? That's still one of my favorite memories... :)
wow! very elegant concept and choices of wedding designs and ceremony.. Im for the both of you guys,, keep on loving...thank you.
01.13.2014 | Unregistered Commenteralfie

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