Well it’s official! Yesterday Kate and I went in for one more meeting with our surgeon and the team of interns who will be cutting me open and straight piping my esophagus to my intestines. My surgery is officially scheduled for this coming Thursday, March 6th at 12 PM! We didn’t really receive much more instruction other than don’t eat after midnight the night before, which means that up until 11:59:59, I’m going to be eating something delicious! Will it be coffee? Or ice cream? I don’t know but I’m sure that it will be delicious. With that final meeting our Farewell Stomach Tour is starting to come to it’s delicious conclusion.
First things first, though, I need to wrap up our last couple stops in Maui. Our friend Dale new a few people who worked at Mama’s Fish House. First of all, this restaurant is situated right on the beach and coming to eat here is literally like eating in a screensaver. I took this picture with my iPhone camera right before we sat down to have dinner… it really is that amazing. After getting a table with an incredible view, the house manager Kevin and our server Germaine came up to introduce themselves and made us feel like we were part of the family. Their families both go to the church that Dale pastored for a number of years in Maui so it was fun hearing stories about their families and their lives in between courses. Germaine did a great job of directing us to the “best of” on the menu telling us to try everything! The first thing that you have to know about Mama’s is with each fish on the menu, it literally tells you which captain caught the fish and how it was caught… sounds fresh to me.
Literally everything that we had was delicious. In fact, I felt like it was wrong for me to capture pictures of this meal with my iPhone, so we busted out the Nikon DSLR for this meal. I have to warn you that you might want to cover up your keyboard because you might be drooling a little bit as we walk you through our meal.
I promised Kate who tried octopus for the first time at the Luau and didn’t like it that good octopus is amazing. So, because it was Germaine’s recommendation, and because the honor of my taste buds was on the line, we decided to go with an octopus appetizer which was caught free diving by some fisherman that day. The octopus was grilled to perfection and served on a citrus tasting sauce on top of some daikon. I kid you not, Kate said that it was her favorite dish of the night. I probably could have eaten this as a meal. The chef gave us a tasting to get us started, a lobster bisque teeming with whole chunks of lobster.
Why choose one appetizer when you can have three? So after some convincing on behalf of Germain, we decided to try a crab curry and a crab cake. This soup was creamy, rich, and was literally one of the best curries I’ve ever had with whole chunks of crab and real coconut milk nicely seasoned with curry without being too spicy served with a crispy taro chip. The crab cake, as far as crab cakes go, was awesome. Not greasy, well seasoned, but not so much so that it covers up the true taste of crab. Served with a lemon wedge and freshly made mango salsa, that crab cake was Kate’s second favorite dish of the night. With our shirts already starting to fit a little bit more snug we went with a three fish sashimi: Ono with Haiku orange, olive oil and Molokai pink sea salt. Ahi with ponzu, baby red shiso and Big Island citrus pearls. Opakapaka with lilikoi, Hawaiian chili pepper and “Hawaii Kai” brand black sea salt.
Like every great infomercial, there is more! We haven’t gotten to our actual meals yet. Every year on our anniversary dinner Kate and I always take time to reflect on the past year talking about: what we did well as a couple, where we can personally improve in being a better spouse, and personal goals for each of us within the context of our family. Since our anniversary will be in the middle of our recovery we decided that we were going to take this meal to reflect. In between each course we talk about our yearly reflections and the questions we ask every year. I know right now you are thinking TPS reports and Key Result Areas, but that’s not what this time is about at all. This time is about us sharing memories, laughter, and moving towards the horizon together. It’s our favorite meal and our favorite time together every year, so I recommend it!
Now, back to the meal. Kate decided that she was going to go with ‘Opakapaka sautéed with Hamakua mushrooms, garlic butter, white wine and capers – Caught by Jayce Hanada in deep reefs near Lana’i.’ The mushrooms and garlic sauce in this dish was rich, savory and killer.
I decided to go with the signature dish at Mama’s: ‘Mahimahi stuffed with lobster and crab, baked in a macadamia nut crust – Caught by Matt Higa in the Alenuihaha Channel.’ Wow! As far as dishes go for a restaurant, this is Mama’s pièce de résistance (grandiloquent, I know… it’s an inside joke, see below for explanation)
We were looking up places to eat using yelp, and one of the reviewers online literally used, “pièce de résistance” to describe of all places… a noodle house? Right. Now our joke, is your joke. “Inclusion” is my middle name.
We’re not finished… how can you leave before we have dessert? We decided to get a french pressed local coffee for two to go along with a Banana Macadamia Nut Crisp – Served warm with homemade Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream.
End of Act 1.
Dale had another connection with a guy who has a bunch of shaved ice stands all around Maui. What’s so good about shaved ice, syrup and ice cream at the bottom? I can’t explain it to you, but it’s magical. We literally went to Ululani’s Hawaiin Shaved Ice everyday. Pick any combination of syrups you’d like as long as it includes a scoop of ice cream at the bottom. We tried different flavors everyday, but concluded this was the winning combination: Tiger’s Blood, Lychee, Mango with Vanilla Ice Cream at the bottom, it is like paradise on your taste buds.
With delicious food in our bellies and an extra 7 pounds on us we were headed home to our baby girl. Waiting for us at home was a box of pistachio cookies that my brother-in-law Chris brought home with him from Boston from Mike’s Pastry. We were introduced to this cookie at our friends Steve and Rana’s wedding, and we’ve been craving it ever since, so Chris was nice enough to bring it home for us. Why is it so delicious? I don’t know, you’ll just need to try one when you are in Boston and you’ll understand.
Those of you who know us, know that we work with high school students and as a way for the students to participate in the farewell stomach tour, I took all the boys to my favorite wing place in the entire world. Smokeeaters in Cupertino. Smokeeaters is known for their hellfire challenge featured on Man vs. Food with Adam Richman, but it’s not all about deep burning and ring of fire here, it also has some pretty tasty wings. What’s so good about this wing place? Everything. First off, when you get chicken strips, get only 3 because it will literally be the size of a deep friend pterodactyl, it’s huge. When you order tenders or wings you can choose up to 7 levels of heat. I’m a fan of the “atomic” which is the perfect combination of sweet and heat. Their chicken is tender, juicy and well-seasoned without being over-cooked. But why bus all these young boys to a wing restaurant if you’re not going to have some kind of challenge? So we picked five guys to do our version of the challenge in which the students will have to eat two wings of each heat up to the top level “inferno” (Hellfire is like 7 levels higher than inferno and tastes like death). In between levels students had to lick their fingers clean without drinking water. This was perhaps the most entertaining and funny 30 minutes I’ve ever had at youth group.
As our Farewell Stomach Tour reaches it’s conclusion, our friends Marc and Chelsea took us out to their special place known for it’s prime rib, Sundance Steakhouse in Palo Alto. A lounge-like ambiance with accompanying quirky servers makes this place easy to love… not to mention the food! We started the night off with warm sourdough bread which they also use to make delicious croutons on our house salad. If you place is known for it’s prime rib, why would you get anything else? The prime rib here is well portioned, although you can choose 8-10-12-14 ounce cuts. The meat arrives lean and rare (the way I like my steak) and served with an au jus sauce and creamy horseradish as well as your choice of potato or creamed spinach, we went with the spinach.
Kate decided to go with a rich prawn linguini which we ate before I remembered to take a picture… sorry. But we did cap the night off with an oreo mud pie made with crushed oreos and a coffee ice cream topped with whipped cream and fudge. Let’s put it this way, as our server placed the dish on our table he called it, “a plate of pure evil”, so wrong, but so delicious all at the same time.
While the Farewell Stomach Tour is wrapping up, we actually have one last stop the night before we go to surgery which will be at Nola in Palo Alto. Nola is a special place for Kate and I with it’s fun New Orleans style atmosphere and artwork complimenting it’s creole style food. Part of the restaurant is open air which makes it a perfect date night in the summer when it’s warm. I probably won’t do a write up, but here’s what you have to get if you go: Mr. T’s famous Skirt Steak served on mashed sweet potato, Fried Chicken (which is my favorite fried poultry), and their oysters on a half-shell. We wanted Nola to be our last stop before surgery, so that tells you everything you need to know! Maybe I’ll write a “best of” post while I’m recovering.
Kate and I wanted to give all of our friends and family a huge thank you for coming along with us on our journey! It’s been an amazing few months and we couldn’t have done it without you! Your generosity and love has blessed us more than we can ever express. As we enter the next stage of our lives we know that you’ll be walking right next to us, and for that, we count ourselves as blessed. We are so thankful for your prayers, encouragement, generosity, and love! Thank you to our church family who have been so amazing in taking care of us throughout. Thank you to all my fellow bloggers and CDH1 patients who have encouraged us with their stories I know I’ll have tons of questions on the other side of surgery and your experiences give me the confidence to face the unknowns.