Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice

My favorite thing to do when I travel is shop local boutiques. I grabbed a purse out of my closet the other day that I bought while on a vacation to Hawaii. All day long I kept getting complements from people about how unique that bag was – how different it was from all the designer bags that everyone seems to carrying about these days. By the time I got home, I felt sorry that I that I didn’t carry that purse around more. It’s a small purse, with surprisingly many compartments. The strap is long enough to sling over your shoulders. It’s very unique – I bought it from a boutique called Cinnamon Girl on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Cinnamon Girl is a very feminine boutique, lots of floral, pastel colors and soft shapes. It is popular for its very feminine dresses and floral decorated flip flops (they call them slippers in Hawaii). What I liked the most about this store is that it is an entrepreneurial success story in Hawaii. The owner started out with a small kiosk in the mall and ultimately was able to open a store – which turned into several stores on the Island. The style throughout the store has been described as a mix between Laura Ashley and Betsey Johnson. She still designs her own clothes, and her family is very involved in the business (They hand-sew the flowers onto the flip flops!). I thought that the store was so cute, that I signed up the newsletter updates, so every few months I get a little note from Cinnamon Girl. They even have an online shop that very much keeps the same look and feel of the store. I love to browse her online store, and check back often for end of season sales.

my purse!

Embelissedd slippers that Cinnamon Girl is known for

Of course, my favorite thing about Hawaii was its food. If you love seafood and are daring, Hawaii is the place to eat. They have the best fruit punch; its not like the fruit punch you get here, it tastes so fresh. I traveled with a friend that was a local – so I saw all the local places, went to the local beaches, and hung out with the locals.
One of the best restaurants that I ate at was 3660 On the Rise – described as a blend of European, Pacific Rim, and Island-style cuisine. Overlooking East Honolulu – this restaurant was voted the 2003 Ilima Award winner. I just remember drinking the best fruit punch mix there.

I also went to the best pastry shop I have ever been. It was a small shop that was so hidden, I probably would have never found it by myself. It is JJ French Pastry (http://www.jjfrenchpastry.com/)– well-know for its Chocolate Pyramid cakes. Most of the shop space is taken up by a glass display of a variety individual size cakes. There are even small individual size chocolate pyramids. There a few small tables in the restaurant where customers can sit and eat. It was the cutest shop ever – the pastry chef himself came out to say hello. I love the background story behind how JJ French Pastry came about. JJ or Jinjie Praseuth Luangkhot was a 19-year old immigrant in NYC from Laos, speaking very little English, when he started scooping ice cream for the late pastry chef Jean Marc Burillier, who eventually became his mentor and taught him how to make pastries and desserts. His desserts are absolutely delicious and beautiful. You can read about his story in an article in the Honolulu Star Bulletin: http://starbulletin.com/2000/02/16/features/story1.html

And you have not LIVED until you have tried shave ice in Hawaii (note: its shave ice without a ‘d’). I have never had anything like it. There is flavor to the last bite – and they have so many flavors. I had shave ice every day for the 5 days that I was in Hawaii. On my last day I had to eat shave ice twice. There is nothing like it anywhere else, because the ice is actually shaved off a big block right in front of you into a fine powder and topped with a flavor syrup of your choice. And its such an inexpensive treat – at less than $2 a pop, we found ourselves digging through seat cushions for enough change to get some shave ice (this was when I was right out of college and poor).

What I love most about Hawaii was walking around in my bathing suit, board shorts and flip flops all day long in the sun.

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