Friday, July 01, 2005

Brightly colored lures

Modulo the passionfruit mochi, Maui was not expected to be a food destination. Particularly not the trip to Hana. But our guidebooks told us about a fairly fancy place near the start of the Hana Highway called Mama's Fish House, so we decided to stop for lunch. What I didn't expect was how breathtaking the decor would be (or the prices). It was treading a 3-way line between Chez Panisse hypertasteful neo-deco, tropical tacky, and truly wacky and creative. The sidewalk going up to it is done in concrete in the Escher lizard tiling. Then you walk through a living arcade of vines. The interior had all kinds of canework and beautiful polished wood and batik tablecloths in royal and aqua blue, the exact colors of the Pacific out the open window. Sparrows flew through the restaurant, and one sat on the chair opposite the single diner at the table next to us.

The menu took ingredient specificity to an all time high. If Alice can tell you where the beets were grown, why can't Mama tell you who caught the fish? Yes, each fish entree described who caught the fish -- in one case, they gave the name of the ship instead of the fisherman: "Caught from the 'Sea Prince' trolling brightly colored lures." The coffees (although we didn't have any) also bore the names of the (local) farmers, and would have been brewed at our table.

Those who know me may believe it or not, but it was my mother, not I, who got the fish entree smothered in sauteed fruit salad (apples and bananas-sorry-Rich). We both had a delicious ginger consomee with a little mahi fishcake in the middle of it to start, and my father had a seafood gazpacho (which is very close to a cocktail, and even came in a martini glass). For the main dish, my father and I had "opah" (a very tasty fish, I don't know if I've had it before) with (only slightly) caramelized onions, diced tomatoes, and a chili/soy glaze. It came with a very light napa-cabbage coleslaw and a cute side of jasmine rice in a banana-leaf cone (although there wasn't any sauce for it to soak up). For dessert, my mother had a mango cheesecake and my father and I had the "black pearl" (picture coming soon), a round chocolate mousse in an "oyster shell" of cookie shells. It had a little lilikoi (passionfruit) cream in the middle that, like my mochi, was too faint in flavor. There was a drizzle of nicely sharp, concentrated passionfruit coulis around the edge though. The dessert was only really striking when you managed to get some of the mousse and coulis in the same bite. Which proves

  The worst lilikoi-nviction, while the best
  Are full of passionfruit intensity.
  [Wrong blog?]

My mother bought one of the tablecloths to take home. It was about the price of an entree.

We picked up a couple of fresh lilikoi (yummy) at a roadside stand run on the honor system, just like The Grocer's Daughter described. It also had bags of macadamias in their shells from Jim Nabors' nearby farm (every wonder what happened to him?) We also bought a bag of those but rapidly returned them to the stand when ants came out of the bag and launched an assault on my mother.

The chichi dango (coconut mochi) are cooling. Some of you may even get to try them.


At 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have seen produce stands run on the honor system in Storrs.

A long time Storrs resident


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