day 5 :

friday, 8 february

For breakfast today, we tried our first pomelo ever. It looks like a huge grapefruit, with a much thicker skin. We ate the segments supremed, and they were delicious. Dawn already loves grapefruit, but a pomelo is even better because it's like a grapefruit without any of the sour/bitter flavors - it's all sweetness.

We were out the door right after breakfast and headed about a 40 minutes' drive to the "baby beach" near Paia. This is a great spot for kids when the wind is calmer in the morning because it's somewhat protected from the waves by a rock barrier, and the water here is shallow for quite a distance. The sand on this beach is the consistency of cornmeal, not the silky soft sand we had gotten used to from Kihei beaches. Because of the shallow water, it was a beautiful aqua color.

The parking area here looked like the Martian surface. It was all red rock and dirt, and even the puddles were filled with reddish orange water. We'd seen this red dirt elsewhere on the island, but none as intense as this location. There are even "red dirt" t-shirt stores on the island, where you can buy shirts colored by this dirt (they advise washing separately).

On our way to lunch, we passed through Paia, a cute little town with fun shopping. We only stopped in at Mana Foods, arguably the best grocery store in Hawaii. For those in Seattle, this place is like PCC on steroids - shelves jam-packed with organic, natural, and gourmet foods, and a produce section filled with unusual and local fruits and vegetables. And the prices are the most reasonable you'll find for groceries on the island. Definitely worth a stop if you're in need of groceries, or just looking for some interesting local foods to try.

Next stop was lunch at Mama's Fish House. We didn’t realize what an experience we were in for! As we pulled up, a valet in a Hawaiian shirt took our car, and we entered under the majestic arch of Banyan trees to find ourselves walking down a winding pathway amongst the coconut palms, overlooking a tiny brilliant blue beach cove. Nearly every table in the restaurant has a view of this setting (assuming you're dining here during the daylight - it looked like tiki torches would be your nighttime view). The restaurant has the feeling of old Polynesia inside, with rich mango wood, Tahitian blue tablecloths, and servers wearing sun dresses and flowers in their hair, or Hawaiian print shirts.

Service is elegant, the feeling is relaxed, and prices are breathtaking. The children's menu alone was $19. Ian had coconut shrimp served on a plate shaped like a fish, with a pineapple butter dipping sauce and rice, vegetables, and pineapple. We started with a trio of sashimi with paired toppings and Hawaiian salts. Our favorite entrée was the panang curry with coconut milk and ahi, spearfish, and mahimahi. It came with optional add-ins of macadamia nuts for crunch, apple bananas and a mango chutney for sweetness, and a red chili sauce for added heat. We also loved the macadamia crusted mahimahi stuffed with lobster and crab. This is a dish that has been on the menu since the restaurant opened 40 years ago, and the one that people come back for again and again.

Drinks were outstanding, as well. Dawn loves passion fruit, so she chose the lilikoʻi colada. Perfect. Eric opted for the classic Scorpion, and was quite happy with his choice. We shared perfect mai tai, as well. All drinks, including Ian's milk, came with a paper umbrella and a cherry. They treated Ian just as any other guest, with an amuse of soup (which he declined), and an intermezzo of coconut mango sorbet (which he regarded as dessert). Perhaps Ian is ready for Michelin star dining? We can hope, right?

If you're looking for a splurge-worthy restaurant in Maui, Mama's is definitely it. We loved it so much, that we immediately made plans to return one more time, in a few days.

We spent late afternoon on the beach, with Ian burying mommy's feet, and Eric and Dawn taking turns boogie boarding.

For dinner, we made one of our regular dinners that we make at home, but which is well-suited to Maui: tuna rice bowls from The Herbal Kitchen, by Jerry Traunfeld. The bowls take advantage of the beautiful local avocadoes, and you can make them with whatever fish you find on the island. Ian prefers cooked fish in his bowl, so we got him some mahimahi that we picked up from Eskimo Candy. While Eric was there, he noticed that they sell by the pound the dressed ahi that they serve in their poke bowls, so he got two kinds of raw ahi for our bowls. We added some pickled green mango from Yee's. Delicious! We ended our meal with a newly cut pineapple, which is the best kind of island dessert.

Ian got to watch his first sunset into the ocean. It's an amazing experience to watch it set quickly from a full sun into a tiny sliver, and then a dot on the horizon that disappears before  your eyes in mere minutes.


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