weekend trips

Cosa mangiare alle Hawaii: guida all’italiana sui 10 piatti tipici assolutamente da non perdere

Spiagge da sogno, acqua cristallina e una cultura culinaria fuori dal comune. Mettiamo duqnue da parte “Hamburgers and French Fries” tipiche della cucina dei suoi colonizzatori e prepariamoci ad un viaggio alla scoperta di un paese dove tradizione, storia ed influenze di culture divere si sono mescolate insieme fino a creare quella che chiamiamo oggi cucina hawaiiana.

  1. AÇAI BOWL

Prima di arrivare ad Oahu non avevo mai sentito parlare di “Açai”. Di cosa si tratta dunque? È un frutto tropicale che assomiglia per forma e gusto ai norstri mirtilli. Pur non essendo originario dalla tradizione hawaiiana bensì di quella braziliana, “l’Açai Bowl è diventata un piatto tipico della colazione hawaiiana. Questa “Bowl” (ciotola) è composta a strati: alla base troviamo un frullato cremoso ai frutti d’açai guarnito da uno strato di avena o muesli, seguito dalla vostra scelta di frutta fresca e da una spolverata di frutta secca . E come cigliegina sulla torta, un filo di miele ricopre il tutto creando quasi un’opera d’arte, coloratissima e profumatissima.

22447581_10214466366642613_1365470378_n
Açai Bowl

Dove trovarla: Lanikai Juice.

2. Haupia Donuts

I donuts, compagni inseparabili dei turni notturni dei poliziotti americani, sono ciambelle con il buco che, a volte, si trovano anche nella variante ripiena. Quelle tipiche hawaiiane sono ovviamente ripiene di “Haupia”, crema al cocco. Personalmente, non mi reputo un un’amante dei “Donuts” semplicemente perchè troppo dolci per i miei gusti. Tuttavia, dopo aver provato quelli di Honu Bakery, mi sono dovuta ricredere.

22471533_10214466399603437_472596902_n
Haupia Donut

Dove trovarli: Honu Bakery.

3. HAUPIA PUDDING

Le Hawaii sono la destinazione perfetta non soltanto per gli amanti delle spiaggie da sogno, ma anche per tutti quelli che al cocco, d’estate, non ci rinunciano. Dopo i “Dounts” alla crema di cocco, anche “l’Haupia Pudding” merita di essere provato. Si tratta di un budino a base di latte di cocco dal sapore molto delicato. Inoltre, essendo privo di farine e latticini, questo dessert è ottimo per chi soffe di intolleranze alimentari.

haupia
Haupia Pudding

Dove trovarlo: Helena’s Hawaiian Food.

4. Macadamia Ice Cream

Come “l’Açai”, anche la “Macadamia” era per me qualcosa di sconosciuto. Dopo una veloce occhiata online, ho soperto che si tratta di una pianta tropicale originaria dell’Australia e poi trapiantata anche nelle isole Hawaii. Simili per forma alle nostre nocciole, i frutti di questa pianta presentano però un gusto molto più delicato. La cosa più buona che ho mangiato che contenesse macadamia? Il gelato ovviamente. Il gelato alle noci di macadamia tostate. Una vera delizia!

22386398_10214453744967079_1855803971_n
Toasted Macadamia Nuts Ice Cream.

Dove trovarlo: Dave’s Hawaiian Ice Cream

5. MALASADAS

Si tratta di una pasta dolce fritta che segue la ricetta delle famose “pettole o pittule” del Sud Italia, con eccezione della presenza, nella ricetta hawaiiana, di uova nell’impasto. A quanto pare queste paste dolci sono originarie del Portogallo. Ma come sono arrivate alle Hawaii? Ebbene, durante il IXX secolo le isole Hawaii necessitavano di lavoratori nel campo della produzione di zucchero. L’ondata migratoria maggiore ebbe origine dai terrirori del Pacifico. Tuttavia, il governo hawaiiano riservò particolare riguardo alla manodopera proveniente dalle Azzorre, vista la secolare presenza di canna da zucchero sui propri territori, nell’Atlantico. E così che questa gente, insieme al loro talento, ha portato con sè anche alcune ricette tipiche della propria patria – le “Malasadas” appunto.

MALASADAS

Dove trovarle: Leonard’s Bakery.

6. LOMI LOMI SALMON

Se dovessi scegliere il piatto che più mi è piaciuto durante il mio soggiorno ad Oahu, senza dubbio il “Lomi Salmon” sarebbe al primo posto. Si tratta di salmone saltato in padella e servito in un’insalata di pomodori cigliegini e cipolla. È un piatto molto fresco, ottimo come contorno o come piatto unico.

lomi salmon
Lomi Lomi Salmon

Dove trovarlo: Helena’s Hawaiian Food.

7. POKE

Dopo il Lomi Salmon, questo piatto si aggiudica il secondo posto nella lista dei miei piatti hawaiiani preferiti. Il “Poke” è fatto di cubetti di pesce crudo conditi e macerati con ingredienti vari, di solito salsa di soia, olio di sesamo, sale marino e cipolla dolce. Sebbene siano oggi diffuse diverse varianti, il “Poke” per eccellenza è “l’Ahi Poke” – dove “Ahi” sta per tonno. Un consiglio? La maggior parte dei ristoranti che servono cibo hawaiiano presentano un menù scritto interamente in lingua originaria – meglio dunque andare preparati piuttosto che cercare ogni singola parola online.

22447136_10214466285880594_928884279_n
Ahi Poke con contorno di riso

Dove trovarlo: Fresh Catch.

8. GIOVANNI’S GARLIC SHRIMP

Finalmente dopo più di un anno negli Stati Uniti sono riuscita a riassaporare il gusto vero dei gamberi, quelli freschi che sanno di acqua salata e non quelli “ready to go” a portata di freezer. Eppure i gamberi sono gamberi, che cosa avranno questi di tanto speciale? In due parole: marinatura e condimento. I gamberi di “Giovanni’s Truck” sono fatti marinare in olio d’oliva, aglio, burro e succo di limone, scottati in padella e serviti con del riso ed una salsina molto particolare, i cui ingredienti principali sono succo di limone ed aglio caramellato. Il risultato? Da leccarsi i baffi!

22446721_10214461417518888_215528990_n
Garlic Shrimps by Giovanni’s Truck

Dove trovarli: Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck

9. KALUA PIG

La materia prima di questo piatto è una porzione di sfilacci di maiale. Quello che ne rende il gusto davvero straordiario è la modalità di cottura. Il povero maialino viene fatto cucinare lentamente in un forno sotteraneo in pietra. La carne che ne viene fuori è tenerissima e dal gusto affumicato. Si scioglie in bocca che è una delizia!

kalua pig
Kalua Pig

Dove trovarlo: Helena’s Hawaiian Food.

10. SPAM MASUBI

Questo tipico piatto della cucina hawaiiana trova le sue radici storiche nel periodo della seconda guerra mondiale. Ai quei tempi le Hawaii erano diventate un presidio militare, primo fronte nel caso di un eventuale attacco giapponese da ovest. Essendo in stato di guerra, le isole erano state colpite dal razionamento di cibo. In questa difficile situazione, lo “Spam” era l’unica cosa economica ed a lunga conservazione di cui ci si poteva nutrire nel caso in cui i rifornimenti di cibo mancassero o tardassero ad arrivare. Per darvi un’idea di che cosa si tratta, provate a pensare ad un tipico “Nigiri” giapponese legato insieme per mezzo di una striscia d’alga chiamata “Nora”. Unica differenza, il “Nigiri” hawaiiano presenta, invece del pesce,  una fetta di “Spam” – carne in scatola marinata in una salsa agrodolce e poi fritta. E’ uno snack pratico e gustoso da portare in spiaggia. Provare per credere!

SPAM MASUBI
Spam Masubi (in basso) e Spam Egg Masubi (in alto)

Dove trovarlo: Ma’ona Musubi.

P.S. Nella mia ricerca di cibo locale autentio, ho trovato molto utili due siti sulla cucina Hawaiiana: Food network e Travel Channel. Date un’occhiata!

 

weekend trips

TORONTO CITY AND THE NIAGARA FALLS

You know those TV quiz shows? Well, up to the age of 10 years old, I was raised on bread, Nutella and ‘L’Ereditá’ – a famous Italian TV quiz show. My fantasies about the Niagara Falls come from there. Up until I left for the United States, I was totally sure those waterfalls were located somewhere else – in Africa to be exact. My mind was so sure about it that I have never felt the necessity of any further confirmation.

19142001_10213361201534176_1335295982_n

I am 24 years old now and I can tell you the famous Niagara Falls are located instead between Canada and United State. Just 80 miles outside of Toronto, the Falls site is a perfect destination for a quick spring getaway. My travel buddy and I chose Toronto as our ‘home-base’ so that we killed two birds with one stone. Despite the 25 miles covered in little more than two days and a half – blisters on our feet included – I can say that I spent and amazing weekend between the breathtaking spectacle of the Cascade and the modernity of a metropolis such as Toronto.

TIPS BEFORE YOU GO

  • Put aside all the ideas you have about the ‘White Country’ and get ready to make up your mind – for better or worse.
  • Get comfy shoes. I usually alternate two pairs of shoes in order to give my feet rest after wearing the same pair for a long time.
  • The temperature between April and May are pretty warm. However, it can happen to catch a couple of rainy hours. It is better taking along a packable rain jacket easy to fold and keep in your purse or backpack.
  • Buy online the tickets for the Niagara Falls – it will be far less expensive.
  • If you decide to take the Niagara Falls cruise, you are going to get totally wet, trust me. Get a waterproof case cover bag for your phone – it will avoid making you miss important shots when you will be just in front of the Falls.
  • For the same reason above, during the cruise wear your sunglasses – they will help you to see through all the water splashes reaching your face.

TORONTO

As far as Toronto, the must visit place are in downtown or nearby. Toronto is a big city, as much as Chicago. For this reason, it would be a huge mistake trying to go around with a car. You would be stuck in the traffic at each corner you would turn. Moreover, if you really want to have a full immersion in the city life and stop looking around for parking spots, I strongly suggest to take up comfy shoes and get ready for a long walk along the city streets.

DAY #1 

DISTILLERY DISTRICT

From the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, we covered part of the City Waterfront to get to our accommodation in downtown. After dropping our backpacks and taking the room’s keys, we decided to head for the Distillery District. Once upon a time site of Whisky and Rum production, ‘The District’ was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1988 for containing the largest and best-preserved collection of Victorian-era industrial architecture in North America.

19073774_10213328953527996_1849846886_n

Walking down the street, I was attracted by the small art museums and the little boutiques selling very particular pieces and handcrafted jams and cheese. It is really the perfect spot to hang out in the late afternoon and then having dinner or just a happy hour – that is what we had. Several lanterns hanged in the air caught our attention and led us towards ‘El Catrin’. The patio, the blue-decorated windows and the great mix of modern furniture with a Mexican feel create a unique atmosphere. The cocktails then are extraordinary and really well-presented. Average prices for tourists but a little out of budget for Au pairs. Sometimes you must satisfy your own whim, tough!

 

 

CN TOWER

The plan for this very afternoon included also renting bikes and visiting the Toronto Islands. However, The Islands have been closed to visitors just that week because of a flood. Therefore, we decided to move the CN Tower visit on Saturday in order to have more free time on Monday. Symbol of Canada, the Cn Tower is the third tallest tower in the world and remains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere. The tower presents three observation levels which you can have access to at different prices. The general admission costs $36 for adults. It allows you the access to the Glass Floor at 342m (1,122 ft.) and to the LookOut Level at 346 m (1,136 ft.). We went for a $48 for adults ticket including the General Admission plus SkyPod –  the third and highest observation level. The view from up there was something unique – especially when the sun was going down. At that moment, the ocean and the Toronto Islands got surrounded by a very special light. The view from the LookOut Level is totally worthy. Contrarily, I got pretty disappointed by the SkyPod deck. It is all enclosed by two rows of fences and that makes really difficult having a full view of the skyline and enjoying the sight. The CN Tower attracts thousands of visitors daily. Personally, we waited about one hour and a half to get to the first observation deck.  I suggest getting there a couple of hours before the sun sets down if you want to be there in time to enjoy the sunset.

19047640_10213338848255358_1194797182_n (1)

DAY # 2

NIAGARA FALLS 

The second day of our Canadian trip was all devoted to the Niagara Falls. We booked the bus tickets through this website. Booking tickets online in advance is far less expensive than buying them at the ticket office. We did not know how much time we were going to spend at the Falls so we decided to book just a one-way ticket for only $15. Huge mistake on our part, since we paid the return ticket to Toronto  $27 each. Once the coach dropped us off at the bus stop, we decided to walk to the Falls. It is not too far away – just 30 minutes by walking. For the laziest, a bus will take you straight to the Falls site for a few bucks. Approximatively, we spent about 5 hours in pictures, cruise, and a quick lunch. Also, the Falls are part of a State Park – the perfect place where to have a picnic and relax. As far as the Niagara cruise,  it takes you straight up to the horseshoe fall. It might sound a touristy thing to do but actually, from down there the view is amazing and it will give you the chance to experience the power of the Falls from up close. $25.95 and it was worthy.

19047871_10213339453150480_538532755_n

After the amazing morning, it was time to head back to Toronto. Our feet were pretty destroyed after all that walking. Unluckily, the buses towards downtown accept just tickets – $7 for a one-day pass. Since we lost our ride, we got back up there by walking and we made to catch the coach to Toronto.

KENSINGTON MARKET

Back to the city, we spent the rest of the afternoon at the Kensington Market. Here, the Asian, Caribbean and Jewish influences blended together to form a very particular mosaic. Proclaimed National Historic Site of Canada as well, today the neighborhood retains its charm and wonderful diversity through its eclectic mix of vintage clothing stores, grocers, restaurants, and cafes. Generally, the Market is open 7 days a week excluding Christmas and New Years. The best time for optimal shopping is between 11:00 am and 7:00 pm. However, I recommend to visit it the last Sunday of the month and experience the real life of the neighborhood. The “Pedestrian Sundays” in Kensington Market allows visitors on foot to enjoy the sights and sounds of the eclectic neighborhood, without the worries of traffic and parking. Musicians, artists, and performers will also provide extra entertainments on the streets in the area.

19113062_10213340691621441_1061713428_n19075417_10213340691501438_1874937426_n

On our way home we went through Chinatown and stopped by a souvenir store. Here, you will find the same postcards and the same little objects you would find somewhere else with the only difference that the prices will be far less expensive. Dinner time then. The place where we had dinner the last night was pretty cool. It was a pub at two minutes walking from our place – Fionn MacCool’s Restaurant and Irish Pub. Really good food and prices – perfect for our budgets.

DAY #3  

NATHAN PHILLIPS SQUARE AND GRAFFITI ALLEY

Since our plane was expected to leave in the late afternoon, we left our room later than the day before, had a brunch and spent the rest of the morning visiting what was left on our list. First stop Cora Breakfast and Lunch – huge portions, small prices and lots to choose from – gluten free options included.

19075234_10213351652415454_778357102_n

After grabbing the backpack we made our way to our second stop – the Nathan Phillips Square. It is where the ‘Toronto’ sign in located. During the winter months, the reflecting pool is converted into an ice rink for ice skating.

19198277_10213351665055770_1995353_n

Third stop Graffiti Alley. It is a colorful stretch of an alley that displays works by local and world-renowned wall art painters. It spans about seven blocks and it runs south of Queen Street West from Spadina Avenue to Portland Street. Many people say Graffiti isn’t art, it’s vandalism. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. It can be, not here tough. It was so colorful and the art was so stunning that I could not help but keep staring at that.

19075438_10213351667535832_553436281_n