We finally made it to the Big Island of Hawaii (and back)! This was the first time on Hawaii for both of us, and the trip had one primary purpose: to see the volcano. Food was sort of secondary, for a change, but we still hunted out some good eats. We spent the first two nights in Volcano Village, then the rest of the week in Kailua Kona.
Of course, on a trip involving airplanes, the first food you’re likely to see isn’t necessarily the most inspiring. Hawaiian Airlines might be one of the last companies to actually feed you, but that doesn’t mean you need to be happy about it. We actually prepared with that in mind, and fixed ourselves bags of nuts, dried fruit and wasabi peas, but then it turned out that someone on our flight was horribly allergic to tree nuts and we couldn’t even open our bag. Thank goodness for wasabi peas. The beef enchiladas weren’t quite as bad as they looked, either (of course, that ain’t saying much).
The flight from Honolulu to Kona was thankfully short. The flight attendants barely had time to throw little sealed containers of guava-passionfruit juice at the customers before we landed. I hate guava and passionfruit about equally, so I drank water from the drinking fountain in the Honolulu airport. Yum.
We arrived in Kona (hot, muggy and thick with a lovely mixture of clouds and volcanic fumes), picked up our rental car and immediately headed around the south end of the island up to Volcano Village. Somewhere near Captain Cook we passed a tent set up next to the highway that had chicken grilling on skewers – it smelled fabulous, and I’m still sorry we didn’t stop. We made it safely to our cabin without starving to death, though, and went back into Volcano to look for solid food.
Volcano’s a small place, so options are limited. I didn’t feel like going to Kilauea Lodge (on the fancy side), and the Lava Rock Cafe didn’t sound very exciting. We decided to try the Kiawe Kitchen, and were glad we did. It’s basically an Italian bistro sort of place, with pizzas, pastas, salads and a decent-ish wine list. The service was more amusing than anything else.
We shared a salad to start – soft greens, basic balsamic dressing, and covered in (I assume) edible orchids just to remind you that you’re actually in Hawai’i.
I got the pizza romana, pretty much just cheese and anchovies. It was good, with a nice almost-burnt crust. J got shrimp diavolo with linguine, and was pleased enough. The shrimp didn’t have much flavor, but the sauce was nice and zippy. We got a bottle of St. Francis Red, which was fine.
Feeling somewhat recovered, we headed back to our cabin and experienced the joy that is an outdoor Japanese soaking tub. I loved this tub. A lot. Every day involving airplanes should have one of these at the end of it.
Tomorrow: the volcano!