Pursuing the Local Dish.

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Locally caught wild Ahi Tuna Sandwich at Local Dish in Hawi Town, Hawaii

Korean Chicken at CSC Cafe

Korean Chicken at CSC Cafe

I know this may come as kind of a shock, dear Foodies, but my husband and I like to eat. Like really love to eat. Try new recipes at home. Grow new kinds of vegetables. And when we can, select and savor new restaurants…and visit beloved old ones. But with two kids 4 yrs of age and under? We’ve not had much opportunity for the latter. Luckily my Mom popped over this week to play with us and help us eat out with the wee ones in tow.

When traveling, Dean and I scout for gatherings of local cars around off-the-path cafes, diners, and restaurants. Dean is SO good at it. Since so much of Yelp and restaurant reviews can be sadly purchased nowadays (just like wine reviews) Locals don’t lie. And where locals spend their money? That’s where I want to eat.  Not just because the food more likely tastes good but in our experiences prices are lower, our money goes straight into local pockets, and? As parents, eating as close to the source is a valuable lesson to keep teaching our Littles.

First up today? CSC Cafe down the road. You might miss it buried behind the middle school as you blaze down the road at a blistering 30 mph but the telling gaggle of dusty trucks caught our attention. We parked to the rather curious, but not unfriendly stares, from local men drinking coffee (or beer) in front of a large patio TV. An odd contrast considering the Cafe is painted a girly Pepto Pink.  Inside the bowed, creaking screen doors stood a lovely Mama named Jamie. She took our nutty order as you can order lunch even at 9 in the morning — which was good because I really wanted something Asian. Not eggs. Kids had me up too early and even though I should want eggs, my belly was growling LUNCH.  Jamie suggested the Korean Chicken. The Owner’s family recipe and a “locals favorite.” Sold. I only wish I’d ordered a full plate instead of a “mini”. Three wings was not enough.  I wanted SIX pieces of island bird perfectly fried, elegantly seasoned with sesame, hints of fresh ginger and muted garlic. Fried up decadently in what I am sure to be some kind of lard rendered from magical baby unicorns.

We didn’t intend to really eat a lunch later and thought we’d only browse galleries BUT after parking, our collective noses inhaled lovely aromas wafting from cafe Local Dish here in Hawi. More of an upscale cafe featuring local produce, salads, wild fish and meat and wine and beer, Local Dish is the brainchild of Matt VanderNoot, an accomplished restauranteur from the mainland who cut ties with his hectic yet acclaimed foodie life in Sun Valley and Bay Area for the glacial pace of bohemian, food-centric Hawi.  For the very same reasons which we vacation here every year. Only we didn’t know all of this yet. We only knew baby Coltrane erupted into a colloidal meltdown JUST as we sat down.  Thankfully, to all patrons, Dean took our little son home and let Anni, Mom and I stay to lunch in iced-tea peace. The nice, tall man who took our order was kind enough during the row and we chatted away to learn he was the owner. Open since August, tourists and locals have flocked to Local Dish to eat his sandwiches, salads, local guacamole, and banana breads. Brightly dressed and lovely, you’ll find Matt behind the cash register or serving. We feasted on Island Chicken Salad tucked into fresh Croissants, garden green salads, wild caught Ahi Tuna Sandwiches with tomato and sprouts, and a slice of Banana Bread with macadamia nuts. Lunch was SO great, we actually stayed on to order a glass of Grenache Blanc each (a luscious Rhône varietal) AND to try Matt’s Banh Mi signature sandwich: pulled pork (slow roasted 20 hours), jerk chicken, and island sauce. Yum yum yum.

Today was a GREAT day for food! Now to find room for dinner… It’s Date Night! Luckily my dress is rather roomy.

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