Shave Ice

All over Kauai, restaurants, storefronts, and free-standing carts offer “Shave Ice” – a large domed cup of finely shaved ice, with your choice of flavored syrups and optionally served over a scoop of ice cream. With the exception of the ice cream, I know this sounds like a snow cone, but the guidebooks all insist that’s an unfair comparison (snow cones are “crushed ice” and shave ice is “an infinitely fine powder”).

As it was a treat “everyone should try” (and we were craving a ice cold snack as a respite from the heat), we put aside our skepticism and picked up a shave ice in Hanalei this afternoon. Wishing Well, the top-recommended truck for shave ice, was closed, so we journeyed across the street to Shave Ice Paradise, another highly-rated stand.

Lauren ordering a shave ice

Our guidebook author swears by rainbow shave ice over macadamia nut ice cream, and we went with a small variation using one of Shave Ice Paradise’s recipies: Bali Hai Sunset (mango, liliko’i, li hing mui) over macadamia nut ice cream. The verdict: indeed, the shave ice is fluffier than your typical snow cone (no real “crunch” to be had). However, the syrups were still sickly sweet, and next time I will just opt for the scoop of macadamia nut ice cream!

Bali Hai Sunset
Hawaiians take their shave ice designs as seriously as Seattlites do their latte leaves


P.S. For those that are curious, it looks like each liter of syrup contains about 1.25 pounds of sugar; who knows how that actually translates into shave ice servings though!


During my first trip to Paris I fell in love with a confection called a macaron. They look like little flying saucers, and are made by sandwiching two almond meringue cookies around a buttercream or jam filling. Since then I’ve had some good macarons in the US, but none of them have quite lived up to my memories of Paris. I decided that it was imperative as part our current detour to see if I had faulty memories, or if the Parisian macarons were indeed that good.

This morning we stopped by a small patisserie down the street from our hotel and picked up a six-pack of macarons (along with our requisite croissant and pain au chocolat). While the macarons here do not look markedly different from those at home, that is where the similarity ends. These macarons were soft but not chewy, with an amazingly thin shell and enough body to hold a moist texture in the cookies. Between the cookies, the buttercream and jams were top-notch. These were flying saucers from a different plane of deliciousness. We savored them all over Paris, from a café macaron at the Catacombs to a pistache one at Musee Rodin, and ending with a chocolat macaron atop the Eiffel Tower. I couldn’t be happier.

six-pack of macarons
Clockwise from bottom-right: framboise, pistache, vanille, café, chocolat, citron

Eating a coffee macaron
Starting off the day with a café macaron while waiting for Les Catacombes to open

near Centre Pompidou
Staving off pre-lunch hunger with a vanille macaron near Centre Pompidou

In Paris, you can even get your fix at McDo

Pressure Cooker Pumpkin Puree

As Kenny mentioned, our culinary experiments in India have often led us to source many of the constituent ingredients of our recipes the old-fashioned way. The dishes we prepared for Thanksgiving were no exception, and I was determined that the absence of canned pumpkin puree at our local grocery store was not going to prevent us from eating delicious pumpkin waffles for dessert (we don’t have an oven, so no pies for us, but we did discover Archana’s waffle iron a few days ago). We acquired a beautiful pumpkin from the local produce market in Malleshwaram and resolved to make the puree ourselves.

Of course most pumpkin puree recipes on the interwebs (including this one, which I used for inspiration) involve the use of an oven, which we don’t have. But my time in India has firmly convinced me that there’s pretty much no culinary problem that a pressure cooker can’t solve. Conveniently enough, Sean and Kenny had just purchased a 12L pressure cooker for the turkey, which was just perfect for the pumpkin.

First I cut it in half and removed the stringy stuff and the seeds (which I put aside for delicious toasted garam masala pumpkin seeds later). Then I hacked it up into smaller pieces, and into the pressure cooker it went, with about 3 cups of water. About 20 minutes later I had the “meltingly soft” pumpkin that every recipe demands. After it cooled, it went into the food processor, and then we mixed up the waffle batter. The end result was delicious, and further cemented my belief in the magical powers of the pressure cooker.

Bisected pumpkin

All cleaned up and ready for the pressure cooker

In it goes!

Delicious pumpkin waffles, garnished with ice cream, cinnamon, and red Kerala bananas (my favorite!)

Garam masala pumpkin seeds

Chocolate Room!

Last night we had a very entertaining Dalvi outing. After a fabulous home cooked dinner, we headed to The Chocolate Room for dessert. The Chocolate Room has 20 pages of desserts, from waffles to sundaes and cakes. Their house-made chocolate sauce is tasty, but what really made this excursion memorable was Tanvi and Vihan. Vivek casually mentioned “this new dessert place”, and all of a sudden Vihan jumped up and declared “CHOCOLATE ROOM!” This exclamation was then repeated every few minutes (I wish I had an audio recording, as text doesn’t describe how amusing this was). On the 20 minute drive over, Tanvi and Vihan were excitedly talking over each other with stories interrupted with the occasional “CHOCOLATE ROOM!” All of this at 10PM before the sugar rush. Surprisingly enough, they were more sedate after gorging on chocolate cake!

Vihan showing off some of his dessert

Tanvi enjoying her chocolate cake

Chocolate pancake with chocolate ice cream topped with chocolate sauce (aka “Death by Chocolate”)