We begin today’s “Grindz of the Day” back at one of my favorite places to do grocery shopping, the Kaheka Don Quijote. I don’t know what’s going on there, but I swear over the last few years, that place has become ALWAYS EXCESSIVELY PACKED. Bonkers! So much so, I sometimes can’t even find parking in the overflow lot across the street, let alone street parking! And talk about long lines at the checkouts. Oi-yoi-yoi. But hey, that’s a good thing for them.
Featured first are the fish mounts DQ has on display on a wall behind the poke counter in their seafood department. These were done years ago by an incredibly talented artist named Layne Luna, from Hilo, Hawaii. Layne has a Hawaii game fish mounting business, however has he’s since given that up and now works as an art instructor at a school on the Big Island. He now also pursues and has won titles in competition bodybuilding, and he looks AMAZING! We’re talking Muscle and Fitness magazine worthy size and definition.
For the game fish mounts, I don’t know the exact technique he uses, but he’d pull an actual mold off the caught fish, and recreate it using a plastilina clay sculpting method, then take a “negative” of that with plaster. Then inside that plaster “negative” mold, the fiberglass “shell” of the recreated fish is made. From that, after the delicate details of the fins and eyes are carefully recreated using similar techniques, the fine art of spraying the finishing paint to recreate the natural colors and markings of the fish are applied. Truly amazing!
Using the highly skilled techniques from his game fish mounting abilities, When Kikaida, the 1970’s Japanese “tokusatsu” (live action) superhero made a comeback to Hawaii, Layne was the person who created the costumes for JN Productions. Those costumes would eventually be used to promote the remastered Kikaida, Kamen Rider and Inazuman DVDs, shirts and posters JN was promoting at venues such as Shirokiya and the Japanese Cultural Center. He created studio quality reproductions of Kikaida, Kikaida-01, Hakaida, Waruda, Bijinda, Inazuman, Kamen Rider’s 1, 2 and V3, plus a few more. You can find photos of Layne’s costumes in the GenerationKikaida.com galleries here.
You can see more of Layne’s incredible Hawaii game fish mount art here on this taxidermy forum.
While we’re in Don Quijote’s seafood department, we can’t leave without grabbing some fresh Shoyu Ahi Poke, to note not the injected previously frozen stuff.
Lately I’ve been on this Spicy Ahi Poke kick. So what I do is, instead of buying the one the store makes, I make my own starting with the store-bought Shoyu Ahi Poke. From there, when I get home, I make a mixture of Best Foods mayonnaise, Sriracha sauce, Shoyu and Sesame Oil. Mix that to taste, where it has just the right amount of heat and nuttiness. Then delicately fold that in with the Shoyu Ahi Poke. Some people also like it with Tobiko (fish roe), but nah, for me, no need. If you’re a Spicy Ahi fan, try making it yourself that way. Winnahz!
I must also note, unlike say Safeway and Foodland, you’re almost guaranteed to find more “unusual” locally-caught fish for sale at Don Quijote, such as whole Uhu, Akule and Opelu.
Finally from Don Quijote, between the seafood and meat department is their plate lunch hot foods station. I’ve raved about the food here before, and I’ll say it again, it’s ONO! I never got his name, but the cook is a middle-aged Filipino gentleman who KNOWS his stuff! Everything I’ve had there is EXCELLENT.
Above is their menu for Wednesday, which as it implies, each day the dishes are rotated. Some are regulars, while some are changed out, especially the Filipino dishes. And those Filipino dishes are masarap sarap (very delicious)! I swear, this place gives ANY hard core Filipino restaurant a run for the money. At least on the more “mainstream” dishes such as Pork Adobo, Pork Guisantes, Pinakbet and Pancit.
Following are some of those entrees I got from Don Quijote’s Plate Lunch counter recently:
I tell you, every single dish above is excellent, excellent, excellent… just like grandma’s home cookin’!
Back to the bakery in my other favorite place to go grocery shopping over at the Kapahulu Safeway, we have these festive Easter Bunny Cakes. You may remember not long ago a post here on Safeway Cakes featured a wide assortment of incredibly creative and skillfully decorated cakes they offer here. That said, I’m surprised they used a plastic decoration for the bunny’s face, when the talented cake decorator here could have done it from scratch using frosting. Speaking of bunny’s face, I always feel guilty if I’m the one to bite or break the head and/or ears off the chocolate Easter bunny. Especially if it’s one of those genuine looking, large, almost life-sized hallow ones. Makes me feel “cruel”. “Pulling an Ozzy”. lol
Winding up this “Grindz of the Day”, we’re in my kitchen, where I’ve been cookin’ up a storm lately, being mom’s back living with me, and she really enjoys my cooking. Above was a batch of Beef Mechado prepared recenlty, which you can find the complete recipe for here. While I love “Hawaiian style” Beef Stew, you have not had beef stew until you try the Filipino version of it in the form of Beef Mechado. The infusion of red bell peppers in the oil, tomato sauce and soy sauce, along with the fried potatoes really makes this one unique and outstanding. For the win!
Next we have what is mom’s absolute favorite dish, local Chinese style Sweet & Sour Spareribs. This, from a recipe by her good airline friend, Aunty EJ.
Oh, it must be noted both the Beef Mechado and Sweet & Sour Spareribs were both prepared in my trusty pressure cooker. I LOVE THAT THING. What normally takes stews such as these hours to cook until tender takes just MINUTES in the pressure cooker. And the flavors are so much more infused.
Another go-to fave is Cream of Mushroom Pork Chops. Easy recipe: In pan, saute sliced onions, remove. Saute bone-in pork chops until browned, then add back in the sauteed onions, 1 can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup and equal part of chicken stock (from Knorr’s bouillon). Cover pan and let simmer on very low until pork chops are tender and gravy is well infused with pork chops’ flavor (that’s why it should be bone-in). Serve with hot rice (gravy all ovah) and salad.
Finally, one of my favorite comfort foods that I can go for any time of day, a “Fully Loaded” Hash Brown. Basically same concept as a fully loaded baked potato, on a hash brown. The hash browns I used here are that processed high sodium dry stuff that comes in a tiny milk style carton where you add hot water to reconstitute it. What can I say? It’s high in salt, that’s why it tastes good!
The “fully loaded” part of the equation being a generous topping of sour cream, chopped green onions and bacon bits, where in this “hacked” version, I used chopped-up microwaved turkey bacon for my bacon bits. Hey, she go! Ghetto-fab! lol
P.S. In Hawaii, we have this unspoken “code of conduct” in the surf community, where when you hit the waves, surfers who otherwise don’t know each other leave their rubbah slippahz (flip-flops) all in the same spot, unguarded by anyone (everyone’s out surfing!). And you respect each others’ rubbah slippahz, especially the premium ones such as Scott Hawaii or Quiksilver, not taking the pair that isn’t yours when you stay pau and you leave. Above is a shining example of that!