Thursday, September 08, 2011


Sometimes you’re not at home.

Sometimes you’re on vacation. Not often enough, really. But still. You’re in a rental condo. The kitchen is equipped in “third-world” manner, which reminds you of many years ago, in your actual youth, when you were cooking at your Dad’s house. (“Dad, cooking in your kitchen is like what I imagine cooking in the Third World to be like.”) Because you are a spoiled brat whose Mom owned a first generation Cuisinart.

On this vacation, you’re with wonderful friends. Friends who you just adore traveling with. Friends who don’t get annoyed at you for wanting to cease hiking after you’ve essentially climbed up a stony, muddy, ant-infested mountain for two miles – making good use of your “walking stick” a.k.a. tiki torch without the torch part – only to be thrown into a state of crankiness verging on misery after ineffective fording of a “river” that put you face down, scraped and bruised, on some slimy rocks with tropical waters rushing over you. Friends who say things like “Guys, I am really getting concerned. We are rapidly approaching happy hour and we have no wine.” Good, dear friends.

Unfortunately, vacation grocery shopping frequently isn’t inline with the expectations of a person who lives in the salad bowl that is Northern California. And thus, sacrifices must be made. Jarred salsa must be purchased.

I know. It hurts me, too. On the inside.

Fear not, my friends! Even you can rescue jarred salsa. Here’s how.

1. Get yourself some fresh cilantro. I don’t care where you are, there’s a grocery store with cilantro. If you’re on vacation anywhere warm, this cilantro probably costs an entire dollar. Buy a bunch.

2. Chop some of it up, and add it to your salsa. There are no quantities here. Maybe like a fistful? I don’t know. How much do you like cilantro? Yes, the knives in the vacation rental will not be sharp. Do not worry. It’s ok if you bruise the cilantro.

3. OPTIONAL: If you happen to be lucky – so lucky as we were, with someone GIVING AWAY fresh avocados from their tree on the lanai – (What? I love Kaua’i! Why I am I flying home?!?!) chop up half an avocado or so and toss that in.

4. Relish in the magic you’ve created: cooked salsa that tastes totally fresh and fantastic. (P.S. This trick also works great in the winter – Super Bowl party, anyone? – when tomatoes suck and you’re just really craving some chips and salsa.)

On a separate note – some food (and other) highlights from Kaua’i:

Have you ever seen this? The Princeville, Kaua’I FoodLand was selling variegated lemons. Crazy tropical zebra lemons!

Why yes, that is a chicken crossing the road.

I think he wanted to take a ride in a helicopter without doors. Sorry, Chicken!

These were my “crispy poached eggs” at the Kaua’i Grill at the St. Regis. Ridiculously delicious. In honesty, I need to work on my adjectives because I have no words – no words – to describe these.

And here’s the Black Pepper Octopus. Per Mom’s advice, these were indeed incredible. As was everything we ate at dinner.

Butterfish sashimi. Oh, how I worship you.

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