HFWF19 – Keiki in the Kitchen

An event specifically for the children/keiki during the Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival is called Keiki in the Kitchen. It is a free event with a celebrity chef at Whaler’s Village in Ka’anapali. Parents must register their children if they would like to participate in the activity. Last year, they had Rosanna Pansino and I showed her the dog cookies I made my late Bevo. This year, they had Duff Goldman of the Food Networks’ ‘Ace of Cakes.’

After Duff instructed the keiki on what to do for their creations, he took photos with fans. While waiting, I saw Chef Alan Wong and Chef Lyndon Honda, the Executive Chef of Sheraton Maui. Lyndon remembers me every year and that’s always nice to know. I had to grab some selfies with them.

Next, chefs for the La Pasta Vista dinner were signing autographs. Little had Chef Michael Chiarello know, he would be doing something special for all three of my party later night. Check out the link, but first, another selfie.

And for some fun, the girls and I had to do the photo booth. Yes, I love Spam. I was raised on it and especially love my aunt’s fried rice for it and I usually have it with rice and chopped tomatoes and onions with patis, a fish sauce. So good, but so salty.

Follow on social media

HFWF19 – Pasta La Vista

What more can you ask for than an evening with wonderful friends, a table under the stars near the ocean at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa and six courses of delicious dishes using local ingredients and wine pairings? I was lucky enough to have attended a similar dinner for the Hawai’i Food & Wine Festival there on Maui two years before. It was quite memorable. This year, the dishes are Italian themed. Perfecto! As my other favorite place in the world, besides Maui, is Italy.

My guests that evening included my roommate, Kim, and what has been nicknamed my #Instafriend, Julia. Kim is well aware that I blog and lets me take photos of her food before she dives in. Her friend, Becci, asks if she “Bernadette It” yet before she dives into her meal. Amazing right? I believe they were in Amsterdam when that phrase came about. My tendencies cross oceans! Julia is also a lover of food and whiskey like I am, but she is also President of Le Donne women’s Italian club in San Francisco. I thought this event was perfect for her to attend with me. Both ladies have already committed to attending the HFWF in 2020. If you can join us, please let me know so we can sit at the same table.

While at the pool, we could see the chefs in gray jackets posing for photos on the circular balcony above and near the lawn where the dinner would take place. After some time at the pool, the three ladies dressed for a wonderful evening ahead. I wore a dress by Hot Miami Styles and high heels by Jessica Simpson. For those ladies wondering what to wear, your stilettos may get stuck in the lawn so walk lightly. The walkways of the Hyatt are not smooth for fancy heels. Be safe and wear wedges if you wish to add some height to your ensemble. It will also aid in walking back to your hotel room after the nice pours of wine throughout the evening.

Check-in was easy and you were given a wristband. I introduced myself to my media contacts and thanked them for the opportunity. We were sat at a table with other media folks and it was nice to meet people with similar passions. I was sat across from the owner of the ‘foodiswhyimbroke‘ Instagram account. Yen Kim Phan is also from the San Francisco Bay Area but she has a whopping 63.6K followers. Congratulations! Also at my table were ladies from Kaanapali Resort.

The festivities began and Chef Robert Irvine was the MC. I had the pleasure of meeting him last year at the Spiked! event. He is quite the character. He had a beer chugging competition with the event’s Sommelier. Guess who won?

The first course was the most memorable. It was definitely unique and creative. The pasta was mozzarella. Kim has a tomato allergy. We waited for her plate to arrive and it was hand delivered by Chef Chiarello. How special! Then he kissed her on both cheeks. Julia and I asked “What about us?!” We got our wish.

Pasta Pomodoro
Mozzarella and Cavaero Farms zucchini, spaghettini over tomato carpacio and rooftop tomato conserva, balsamic caviar and picolo fino basil, crispy calabrian chili flake gremolata
Wine: Ferrari Brut Rose, Trentodoc, NV
Chef Michael Chiarello – Bottega Napa Valley, Yountville, CA

The second course was bright, with structure and height and a medley of textures. Some diners do not like the head on the prawns but it didn’t bother this Pinay.

“From the Mountain to the Sea”
Malokai purple potato gnocchi, sauce of kabocha and grilled Kaua’i prawn
Wine: Capichera Lintori Vermentino di Sardegna 2017
Chef Gregory Grohowski – Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa

The third course was by far my favorite dish of the evening. Since my last trip to Italy in 2016, I have been on the search for the best carbonara in the United States. This dish was heavenly and what I have been searching for for years! You had me at truffles.

Tagliatelle alla Carbonara
Deconstructed carbonara with specialty sun noodle, waimana TKG poached egg, local guanciale, imported parmigiano-reggiano, cream, truffle butter and truffles
Wine: Champagne delamotte brut blanc de blancs, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, N.V.
Chef Daisuke Hamamoto – Arancino at The Kahala, Honolulu, HI

The fourth course had another prawn from Kauai’i but it was our first fish of the evening. The squid ink gnocchi was different. I have had other squid ink pasta in Italy and at my favorite restaurant in San Francisco called Seven Hills.

Cacciucco with Gnocchetti Sardi al Nero
Tuscan seafood stew with squid ink sardinian gnocchi, Kaua’i prawns, Hawaiian snapper and clams
Wine: Marisa Cuomo, Cosa d’Amalfi Rosato 2017
Chef Marco Canora – Hearth Restaurant, New York, NY

And then there was meat! The fifth course was simple and full of flavor. The salsa verde was my choice for pairing the meat with every bite. Fantastic.

Makaweli Dry-Aged Prime Ribeye
Sicilian caponata, salda verde, black garlic
Wine: COS, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Sicily 2014
Chef Celestino Drago – Drago Centro, Los Angeles, CA

And lastly, it was time for dessert. Layered with different textures and flavors from bitter to sweet, it was an interesting dessert and not too heavy after five courses.

A play on the Italian tiramisu using Manoa chocolate, coffee, coconut and Mauna Loa macadamia nuts.
Wine: Banfi, Rosa Regale Brachetto D’Acquio, Piedmont 2018
Chef Johnny Iuzzini – Chocolate by Johnny Iuzzini, New York, NY

Until next year! Save the date for October 2 – 25, 2020!

Follow on Social Media

Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa

The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa has beautiful grounds in addition to being beach-side in the Kaanapali, Hawaii area. Find swans, including black ones, plus ducks, flamingos and penguins. Consider dining at Son’z Steakhouse that is seen in the background. Quite the serene view, right? There are multiple pools, the grotto bar and spa. Getting a massage on the beach with the sound of the waves is highly recommended!

My friends and I were in town for the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. There was a deal for a one-night stay at the hotel and two tickets for the 6-course dinner on the lawn. I have been to a dinner for this event in the past and it is fantastic! Our room was spacious with two beds, a step-in closet, bathroom with tub, a large vanity, had plenty of mirrors for three ladies and a balcony. We slept very well, especially with our bellies full of delicious creations.

The pools were busy and there were multiple bodies of water to choose from. The largest of the pools led you towards the grotto bar but you’d have to swim under or squeeze by the waterfall to get to it. Other pools were more shallow with reclining chairs in the water and levels to break up the areas. Pool service is available for snacks and rum-filled cocktails.

Before you catch your flight home, book a massage on the beach. I guarantee you that the sounds of the waves is more relaxing than any soothing music playing over the speakers. With your massage treatment, you also have access to the spa facilities. Place your items in your locker, wrap yourself in a luxurious, white robe, enjoy the lounge area with some cucumber water or tea, or take a dip in the spa with powerful jets or the sauna or steam room.

Let me help you book your next Maui and Hawaiian vacation!

Follow me on social media

Self-Inflicted Tiresome

Before I left for this three-week long trip to help launch my day job’s product in the Mid-West, I already knew I over extended myself. With trying to be a good friend and employee, and knowing no one else will be able to do what is required, I volunteered. I like traveling. I don’t have a boyfriend or dog that needs my attention and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to travel. Besides the main tasks I needed to assist in, I added more to it.

Eight days in and five more until a day off, I am feeling it. Before I left, I was home for one week from two weeks straight of traveling. Yes, that two weeks included time on Maui, but it was still work. I had my laptop and I was paying bills and responding to emails and reporting on the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival. I flew home via Hawaiian Airlines on a Tuesday and was on a United plane out to Cincinnati the following day. Last night, I started to feel drained. Why am I working so hard? Was this giving me joy?

Am I doing it for the praise? The love? The appreciation? The money? The experience? All are accurate results to achieve with hard work. Then I get a notice on Zillow for a property I have not yet seen in my Maui real estate search. If I had the money right now, I would have inquired about this property. I have worked remotely from Maui and it is not work. I would be so happy to have this view as I worked from my balcony. Praise are words. Love fades. Real estate can last forever.

Remembering my why re-energized me. A surprise funny print-out in a FedEx package sent from a coworker made me laugh. And a 7-hour nap always helps.

Venting to my roommate always helps. We have plans to go wine tasting on Black Friday like we did the previous year. I am looking forward to that. And I am also looking forward to sleeping majority of Thanksgiving weekend. I may be gone for another three weeks in December. This time, I am going to try to not overbook myself. Let’s see if I actually learn this time.

Black Friday 2018 – Trinchero Family Estates

Related posts:
Beach Day in Ka’anapali, Maui
Traveling Buddies
HFWF18 – Spiked!

Traveling Buddies

You learn A LOT about people when you travel with them. I am currently on my third deployment for my day job and we’re doing alright. Plus, we have at least two more trips this month planned where we will be sharing a nice Marriott room. I am mature enough to share a room and save costs to stay in the same room with my male coworkers. No big deal. With snow scheduled to fall on Snow-hio tomorrow, I found myself thinking about Maui. I have traveled often with my roommate, Kim. However, that trip to the islands was my first with my #Instafriend. And I am so happy to say it went really well. It helps when they are so easy going. Even when you have to wake up at 1:30 AM to catch a tour.

From our first trip to Southern California before she officially moved in to a 13-day Princess cruise around New Zealand to day trips to wine country, Kim and I are very much used to each other traveling. Maui was no different.

Walt Disney World – January 2019

#Instafriend was great. Her outgoing personality fits right into the mix and she’s adventurous and happy all the time. She isn’t afraid to go off and do her own thing as well. Like work. We three also work a lot and this trip to Maui was much needed.

San Francisco

I am happy to report I have officially recruited two friends to join me every year at the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival on Maui. I am happy to have been able to report back on the festival for three years now. Before the main dinner was over, the girls were committed to returning for the same event. I love my job. And I love these ladies. You will be seeing more of them on my blog. Good company, good food = good times.

Biking down Haleakala – October 2019
Dining at A’ina in San Francisco
Merriman’s Kapalua

Let me help you plan your next Hawaiian vacation as your Travel Agent.

East Bay Bites – November 2019

As a resident of the East Bay, Hayward to be exact, I have a lot of photos on my phone that are from local spots. I see that one establishment in particular from the July posting of East Bay Bites will reappear in this post as well. Congratulations! You have a regular! You know what they say, right? It more expensive to gain a new customer than a repeat customer. I hope they continue to keep me happy.

San Leandro

Yes, I am a repeat customer. This is our go to spot for beer nearby. It has an outdoor area, the pretzel balls that my roommate enjoys with the beer cheese is only available on a few days of the week and it’s a good spot. We have had brought friends here as well as had nice convos with other patrons. During a Warriors game, good luck finding a spot!

We recently stopped by on a random Saturday night when I got off work early from Stonebrae, my then bartending job. My roommate, Kim, was up to going out and we went to SOLA. Balls were ordered as well as the cocktail benefiting breast cancer research and a cider was ordered. Deliciously pink!


This place was my second restaurant job ever and it is going on 20 years of being in business. Martino and his wife, Laura, still own it and have locations in Benicia and Martinez. They make their bread and sun-dried tomato spread in-house and their menu doesn’t need to change. They have a one-sheet of specials but I stick with their spinach salad and typically the penne alla vodka and add broccoli. This time, I went off and got the linguini gambere. Kim ordered the ravioli with half and half sauce – limon e brown butter. She enjoyed her meal. Try their strawberry lemonade as well.

You can park on the street, to the right of the building or in the larger parking lot behind the building. Enter thru the back door is possible as well.

Castro Valley

Craving pad see ew, I stopped off in Castro Valley. Thankfully it was in between lunch and dinner time and I didn’t have to wait long. I ordered my favorite Thai dish and a green papaya salad to go, plus a Thai iced tea while I waited. It honestly wasn’t the best pad see ew I have ever had. The dish seemed a bit charred and the chicken was a bit tough. The Thai iced tea was perfect and the salad was great as leftovers for Meatlesss Monday. Parking is available in the shopping center.


Denica’s is a chain restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, and sweets. I typically go to Denica’s for brunch. The purple pancakes on their website look amazing! My roommate had Susan G Koman miles to do with her friend and ended up in Dublin. She returned with another treat for me for the second day in a row. She brought me a box of Starbread from a Filipino bakery. Then the carbs were followed up with an ube cookie. Yes, it’s purple. The edges were pretty tough but two cookies on top of each other left the middle a bit moist. Other locations include Castro Valley, Walnut Creek and Livermore.

Jamba Juice

Doing a quick errand with my Lola took me near a Jamba Juice and I can’t resist their Acai Antioxidant smoothie. As much as I am a fan, it was $6+ for a small. It is becoming unaffordable, Jamba. Let’s fix that. This location shares the parking lot with Chipotle, Starbucks and the dollar store.

Follow on social media

Menlo Tavern – Palo Alto, California

MNF Niner’s Game – October 7, 2019

Formerly known as the Menlo Grill, Menlo Tavern has a new look, great food, inventive cocktails and my main reason for going there: my Cugino. Also known as Ron, my cousin has been a bartender there for three years. If he doesn’t have shifts with a local sports club or high-end client in the Bay Area, he is behind the bar Monday thru Friday. Since I started at a startup in Palo Alto in January, I have been able to enjoy some family time, along with Menlo Tavern‘s delicious offerings.

I have a normal seat at the bar, I pull out my laptop, watch games on the large screen and either talk to other patrons or bring friends and family. I am all for supporting my friends and the establishments they work at. I now get hugs from the staff and even once trained one of my Cugino’s coworkers that to call me “Beautiful.”

My Cugino

The menu has changed again recently and my Cugino has created most, if not, all of them. He recently was photographed making drinks and the marketing shots look great. Come in and try the new menu items. I have tried almost all of the cocktails and there is something for everyone. In terms of food, the kale and quinoa salad is delicious as well as their burger on a pretzel bun. Though he makes fun of me, Cugino pointed out that there are quite a few menu items that I can eat on Meatless Mondays. Happy to!

Little Quad
Respect Your Professors
Los Arcos
Kale and quinoa salad
Seafood louis

Menlo Tavern
100 El Camino Real
Menlo Park, California 94025

Follow on social media

13.1 at Disneyland Paris

It would have been my last 30-something birthday and my friend wanted to do another half marathon. I agreed to participate as long as it was a destination. I just completed my first half marathon at Walt Disney World. It hurt. I didn’t plan on doing another one. I have done runs in the Bay Area and it didn’t feel like an adventure. It felt like it was just something I had to get out of the way that day. We signed up and we started training.

This particular friend and I have only ran together once. I ran poorly with her right after my first half and I didn’t take my training as seriously this time around. I wasn’t aiming to achieve a certain time per mile. I just wanted to complete it. And I did!

We didn’t have to start around 5 AM like we did at Walt Disney World. We took off from the starting line at probably about 8 AM. By that time, the sun has risen and the wait to go made you even more anxious to just start and get it over with. Watching the many other groups take off from the starting line was broadcasted over large screens and you could see the steam released above the arc in the distance.

It was eventually our time to go and I started out at a very slow pace but kept it consistent throughout. When I had to overtake runners, I pushed. When I wanted to enjoy the scenery, use caution on gravel roads and take my time up the hills, I just kept moving forward. I showed up, I traveled across countries and the Atlantic Ocean for this and I knew I was going to finish. There was no rush.

At mile 7, I thought, “Oh, maybe I will do another half marathon.” A few weeks before, I couldn’t even complete five miles without stopping. I walked home from Castro Valley frustrated. Then two weeks later, I did a 10K. At mile 9, I thought, “Oh, hell no. I’m not doing another half.” I haven’t ran since my 39th birthday on September 22nd and I still do not want to do another half.

I was surprised that I didn’t stop at all on my first half marathon. This time, I stopped for Powerade. I also stopped to help my friend who didn’t laugh when I grabbed her ass as I ran by and said “Go Team!” She was not in good spirits and she was in a lot of pain. So much pain that we had to stop, have her sit down and I tried to get her to breathe with me. Trying not to panic myself, tears flowed out of my eyes and I was really concerned. Other runners stopped to ask if we needed help. I asked a few people to send a medic. Another runner even offered his inhaler and she took a few puffs. We eventually got her back on her feet and we headed towards the finish line. We were literally a quarter mile from the finish line. Once I saw it in view and she was walking, I told her I would meet her there and I ran it out.

She made it, we got our medals and our goodie bags to refuel and we headed off to the see medic. Her vitals were taken and she eventually calmed down. Then it was all smiles.

When I couldn’t run anymore, I listened to my body. My friend listened to hers and she still crossed that finish line. I would still consider that a success.

As a finisher of two half marathons in one year with RunDisney, I got an extra medal – “Castle to Chateau.” I love it and it is happily displayed at home.

Contact me to book your next Disney vacation as your Disney Certified Travel Agent.
Follow on social media at

“What’s This?!”

The real question is ‘What’s The Nightmare Before Christmas?’ I have never seen this Tim Burton film until the day of Halloween as I got dressed as Sally. As a Disney Certified Travel Agent, I should know and now I do. Sorta.

In all honesty, I have to watch it again as I wasn’t able to hear every line as my best friend’s house was bustling. I actually don’t remember what happened at the end and frankly, all of the guts as well. What I did catch was that I was creeped out a bit by Sally’s creator. Being possessive is not a good look, Fellas. I adored Zero, the dog. My niece is also a lover of dogs and she dressed up as Zero. How fitting. What I recalled the most was the “What’s this?” song when Jack discovers Christmas. I definitely need to watch it again. I am sure my Disney fan of a roommate wouldn’t mind.

Straight off of a plane from Chicago, my best friend picked me up and we got ready for Halloween. I borrowed her costume, the Sally jewelry and helped with make-up. It was fun and I haven’t really done wigs before. One day, I will fit into my Jasmine costume again.


What were you dressed as for Halloween?
If you were to dress up as a Disney character, who would it be?

Recommended Travel Agent & Event Planner

Would you mind me posting a little self promotion? Below are a few recommendations on my Facebook page for my work as a Travel Agent and Event Planner. Per this blog and my posts on my Facebook page, I have been to a good amount of cities and countries, plus event planning experience. It is a dream to combine the two and travel the world for events, or helping you plan the event of being on vacation or business is doable as well. If I may be of some assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out. Referrals are also appreciated.

See my About Me page.