Tuesday, May 29, 2012

mango love on oahu

That is a pineapple that I found growing in a field. At sunset. I ask you: how fun is that?

In retrospect, I should have known it would be a very good day when, as we were driving up to the North Shore in the morning, I heard these lyrics on the radio:

My heart does the tango
I love you like a mango

I am serious. I did not make that up. I mean, how could I make up a lyric that good?

We had just eaten a lovely breakfast of yogurt panna cotta and toast with macadamia Nutella sitting outside in the courtyard at the even lovelier Café Julia in Honolulu.

Now, we were cutting up the middle of the island of Oahu to reach the Haleiwa farmers' market on the north shore (and, um, buy mangoes!). This is how my husband demonstrates his love for me: he finds farmers' markets.

We pulled into the dirt parking lot and I was ready to bolt out of the car, cloth bag in hand, excited grin firmly plastered on face.

I headed into the fray of stalls selling flowering ginger, shrimp tacos, lilikoi popsicles, taro, apple bananas, sea asparagus, honey soap, coffee beans, and local chocolate. Scott, on the other hand, found a shaded table and settled in with a book. (After five years of marriage, we know how to navigate these things.)

Occasionally, in between chats with vendors, I brought him things: an iced coffee, a shrimp taco. Once, I called him over to see some beautiful local jewellery (good thing, too, since he then bought me a necklace with a rose petal pendant for our anniversary!).

The farmers' market was heaven. We stayed until it shut down in the early afternoon.

After that, we drove along the north shore and explored in the rain. Once it stopped – as we knew it would because it was that kind of day – we drove back to Waimea Bay for our afternoon swim. (On Oahu, I just didn't feel like my day was complete without an afternoon swim. In fact, the most work I did every day was packing our bag for the beach. Ah, the good life.)

At the farmers' market, I had asked the woman who sold me a very, very good shrimp taco for lunch where we should go for dinner. She thought about it for a moment and said, "Opal's Thai" because her friend worked there and it was very good. But, she said, we needed to get there early because it would be busy on a Sunday night.

I kept that in mind in the afternoon, but somehow – miraculously! – my triple-type-A personality didn't get stuck on it, and we lazed around on the beach as the sun dipped lower over the water.

And maybe it was a vacation lesson for me. Maybe we were just lucky. We walked in to Opal's around 6 and got a table right away. We looked at the menu happily and made our choices as the tables filled up all around us. Then Opal came. He asked us all kinds of questions: where were we from, had we eaten Thai food before, what were we planning to order. He made a few notes, nodded and said, "I'll take care of you."

I asked about wine – after a full and perfect day, wine was necessary to cap it off – and he said we could buy some at the drugstore next door and bring it back.

We could buy some wine at the drugstore (!). Notice the italics! In socialist Canada, we can only buy alcohol in government-approved liquor stores. So that in itself was an adventure. But I walked right over like I did it every day, found a bar of soap (to replace the badly-scented soap back at the condo) and picked a very nice Sauvignon Blanc from California off the shelf.

When I got back to Opal's, he whisked out a bucket of ice and plopped my drugstore wine in. Our lettuce wraps, with salty tofu and carrots and other goodies, had just arrived and we dug in. The whole meal was like that. We finished one thing, another surprise arrived, we drank more (now chilled) wine and dug in like kids at a birthday party. Sigh.

The sun was just setting as we started back down the island and I do believe my heart did the tango.

One year ago: Oregon hazelnut salad
Two years ago: Behold the small white bean in ripe bean soup

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