Tag Archives: Maui

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

As a food writer I get the opportunity to taste a lot of amazing dishes.  But over the past few months, I haven’t really been “wowed” by food.  I loved our wedding dinner from Grappolo and enjoyed the steak at Vitaly, but aside from that, everything else was just ok.  Then I traveled to Maui and had my first bite of kalua pork and it was a game changer.  I hadn’t eaten anything quite that good in quite some time.  My taste buds were so excited in fact, that I immediately had to make slow cooker kalua pork upon returning home from the islands.

Koa's Seaside Grill Kalua PorkOne of the great things about that pork was it not only made for two fabulous meals, but it also rekindled my love for cooking and recipe development.  I felt inspired after biting into that perfectly salted and tender meat, and suddenly I wanted to cook all of the things again.  And I know it may sound weird to wax poetic about pork, but eating that kalua pork reminded me why I write about food all the time.

When I decided to make the slow cooker kalua pork I wanted to prepare it the same way the Hawaiians do – just seasoned with red Hawaiian sea salt.  That’s it.  No sauces, marinades, spices.  Just Hawaiian sea salt.  I wanted to respect the simplicity of the dish and really let the pork shine, rather than cover it in condiments.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork BowlThis is the world’s easiest recipe and yields a bunch of delicious, tasty pork.  I made this for a World Cup party and sent all of our guests home with leftovers.

If you are looking for a last-minute 4th of July recipe, I highly recommend this Slow Cooker Kalua Pork!

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork

Ingredients:

1 5lb pork butt

1-  1 1/2 tbsp Hawaiian Sea Salt

Directions:

If you are planning to enjoy your pork the same day you prepare it, set your slow cooker setting to HIGH for 7 hrs.  Place pork and sea salt in the slow cooker and let it cook until the meat is juicy and tender.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork SaltThis dish can also be prepared the night before, just switch your slow cooker setting to LOW and set for 12-13 hours.

Remove your pork from the slow cooker and then shred your meat.  The meat should fall apart easily from the bone and be nice and tender.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork PlateWe’ve used this pork in a variety of meals including a savory pie and a stir fry dish – both yielding wonderful results.  Since there are no additional spices or sauces added to the meat it can be used in a wide variety of dishes which is awesome.  It also freezes very well.

Slow Cooker Kalua Pork PlateThank you Hawaii for reigniting my passion in the kitchen!  I can’t wait to develop more delicious dishes.

Breakfast at the Sheraton Maui

Another Maui post!  Hopefully you aren’t sick of these yet but we had so much good food that I feel I must share.  And don’t worry, I have plenty of non-Maui related posts coming up like my first time trying out Blue Apron Meals and making pulled pork.  But for now, let’s talk about breakfast at the Sheraton Maui (and its stunning ocean views!).

breakfast at the sheraton maui oceanWhen the Englishman and I first booked our honeymoon, we decided to stay at the Sheraton Maui at Black Rock, largely for its central location in Kaanapali and because the resort looked gorgeous.  Breakfast was included in our room rate, but like with most resorts, we weren’t expecting much.  After our first breakfast at the Sheraton Maui, we proceeded to have breakfast there every morning with the exception of the one day we ate at Koa’s Seaside Grill.  It was that good!

The breakfast that was offered was a buffet.  And as someone who has eaten at many a breakfast buffet in their time (Vegas anyone?) I was fully expecting to walk in underwhelmed since it was a “room rate” breakfast.  But boy I was I wrong.

Breakfast at the Sheraton Maui EggsThe buffet that was offered included fresh eggs, bacon and potatoes each morning along with mini waffles or pancakes (one day had cheese blintzes) along with steel-cut oatmeal, fresh fish, rice and miso soup.

Breakfast at the Sheraton Maui cold buffetIn addition to the hot items, there was a cold breakfast buffet bar that offered cereal, milk, assorted pastries and toast.

braekfast at the sheraton maui fruitThere was also fruit as far as the eye can see – papaya, pineapple, strawberries and bananas to name a few and it was good.  You could also get some fresh cheeses or salads to enjoy with your meal.

Last but not least there was an omelet station which I never visited since there was so much other good stuff to eat at the buffet.

breakfast at the sheraton maui spreadEvery morning we ate on the patio overlooking the pool and I enjoyed iced tea with fresh pineapple in it.  I loved the fresh pineapple in the tea so much that I even tweeted about it one morning.

If you ever find yourself in Hawaii you should definitely check out breakfast at the Sheraton Maui even if you aren’t staying at the resort!  They know how to do breakfast right and it’s the perfect way to kick off another day in paradise.

Best buffet breakfast you ever had….and go!  I will say the other fabulous buffet I’ve enjoyed was the Rio World Buffet in Las Vegas.

The Old Lahaina Luau

One of the quintessential things do to when you visit Hawaii is attending a luau.  You feast on roast pig cooked in an underground oven, drink mai tais until your heart’s content and watch hula dancers perform.  Many of the resorts on Maui offer their own variation of luaus, but if you want the real deal, the Old Lahaina Luau is by far the most authentic luau Maui has to offer.

I have attended a few luaus during previous trips to Maui, and while they were always fun and provided great entertainment (ie: fire dancers), there was something special about the Old Lahaina Luau that sets it apart from the rest.

The Old Lahaina Luau is tucked away off Front Street in Lahaina and when you enter, it’s like walking into an old Hawaiian village.  You are greeted with a lei and a mai tai, then escorted to your table for the evening.  The luau offers either traditional table seating, or you can sit Indian-style on cushions around a table right next to the stage.  The Englishman and I opted for the front row seating, which was awesome because we got to eat at the buffet first and got an unobstructed view of all of the performances.

The Old Lahaina Luau DancersWhile you wait for the luau to start, you can wander around and learn how to hula, watch wood-carvers create mini tikis and other souvenirs, and of course watch the roast pig being unearthed from the ground.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a good shot of the pig but it smelled delicious.

The Old Lahaina Luau PigAs the sun begins to set you are called for dinner, which is a buffet with a variety of traditional Hawaiian dishes such as kalua pork, roasted sweet potatoes, pork in ti leaves, poi and fresh fish.

The Old Lahaina Luau SunsetThis is where the Old Lahaina Luau gets extra stars in my book.  Before we started to plate our food, one of the waiters asked if anyone had food allergies.  I immediately raised my hand and was given a detailed spreadsheet of the ingredients of every single dish at the buffet, including drinks.  That way I was able to navigate the buffet without any problem.

The Old Lahaina Luau BuffetWhile there were a few dishes I could not enjoy, I was able to load my plate with kalua pork, sweet potatoes, vegetables, salad, fruit and homemade banana bread.  And for being a mass-produced buffet that serves hundreds of people each night, the food was pretty good.  And since I already was in the middle of a love affair with the kalua pork, I made sure to get plenty of that.

The Old Lahaina Luau Pork PlateAfter our feast, we were presented with traditional Hawaiian desserts such as haupia, guava cake and some slightly spicy chocolate brownies.

The Old Lahaina Luau dessertAfter enjoying some dessert it was time for the show.  The Old Lahaina Luau focuses on the myth of the fire goddess Pele, who was known for her power, passion and jealousy.  The story is told through the traditional art of hula, and the performers were top-notch.

The Old Lahaina Luau DancersI liked how the show focused more on Hawaiian mythology and legends and told an actual story.  Many of the luaus I had been to in the past were just focused on entertaining dances without any real meaning behind it.

The Englishman and I agreed that the Old Lahaina Luau was definitely one of the highlights of our trip and would do it again if we return to Maui.  It is a little on the pricier end, but you get an entire meal, unlimited drinks and a show that you are sure to remember for years to come.

Have you been to a luau?  What’s the best dinner show you have attended?

Koa’s Seaside Grill

When people first heard that the Englishman and I were going to Maui, one of the first things that many of them told us was “you have to get the macadamia nut pancakes at Gazebo in Napili.”  Of course, the average wait for Gazebo at any given time is one hour, so when I found out that the owners of Gazebo opened a restaurant in Lahaina called Koa’s Seaside Grill that served the same famous pancakes, I was sold.

The Englishman and I loved Koa’s Seaside Grill so much that we actually went twice: once for the famous pancakes and once for a delicious dinner that I’m still dreaming about.  The restaurant is located on Front Street in Lahaina and literally sits along the waterfront which makes for some beautiful Maui sunsets while you eat your dinner.

Since we had dinner at Koa’s Seaside Grill I’ll start there first.  We were both looking for some delicious, authentic Hawaiian cuisine and Koa’s definitely fit the bill.  We started our meal with a bottle of wine and a lovely arugula, tomato and burrata salad.

Koa's Seaside Grill BurrataThe salad was a nice light starter to the meal.  Every time I have burrata cheese I am reminded that I need to have more of it at home.

We also got some sweet potato fries and regular fries to share, because sweet potato!  And the fact that fries are delicious.

Koa's Seaside Grill FriesFor my main dish, I got the Kalua Pork and Cabbage which was out of this world.

Koa's Seaside Grill Kalua PorkI’m a huge fan of slow cooker pork, but this Kalua pork took it to the next level.  The meat was so juicy and tender and had the right amount of salt and literally melted in your mouth.  The cabbage paired beautifully with the pork and I practically licked the plate clean.  My dish also came with rice and green beans, but the true star of the evening was the Kalua pork.

Koa's Seaside Grill Korean Short RibsThe Englishman got Korean Short Ribs with Beer Battered Shrimp and had nothing but rave reviews for his dish as well.  He also got an order of mashed potatoes on the side and enjoyed every last bite.

I will say it’s been quite some time since I’ve had a meal that was THAT good, and Koa’s Seaside Grill gets nothing but gold stars in my book.  Like I said, I’m still dreaming about that pork.

While Koa’s dinner was amazing, their breakfast (and macadamia nut pancakes) was also top-notch.  After spending a morning at crossfit and then stand up paddle boarding, the Englishman and I were eager to return to Koa’s Seaside Grill for a delicious breakfast.

Koa's Seaside Grill Macadamia Nut PancakesThe Englishman decided to go for the macadamia nut pancakes (which he so generously shared with me) along with a side of eggs and bacon.

I now see what all the hype was about.  These pancakes are goooooood.  They are light and fluffy and topped with chopped macadamias and whipped cream.  They will definitely leave you stuffed!

Koa's Seaside Grill OmeletteI also got a giant omelet that I was barely able to make a dent in.  It was stuffed with avocado, cheese, tomatoes and mushrooms and was delicious.

If you ever find yourself in the Lahaina area, do yourself a favor and go to Koa’s Seaside Grill.  I rarely ever visit the same place twice when I travel and Koa’s was so good that I knew I wanted to eat there again.

Now who can tell me how to recreate Kalua pork at home?