Thursday, August 14, 2008
I Am A Golden God
Nikki and Neil are getting married and by tomorrow I will probably be dead.
Traveling with friends is a very rare treat and after our first night in Honolulu perhaps it's better that way.
Our journey started in Los Angeles yesterday morning with an upgrade to first class with Michelle. The thing that always gets my goat is that domestic first class is nothing compared to international first. Sure it's nicer seats and nicer service but it's not the same as international. Not to mention the fact that United has gotten cheap and just dropped the ice cream cart service last month. No more fresh Haagen Dazs ice cream. The friendly skies sucks.
But drinks in first class are free and Michelle and I proceeded to slosh ourselves straight across the Pacific while the rest of our friends were herded into the cattle car. Perhaps we should have just sat in the back with our friends. You know, taken one for the team but the reality is that the lure of first class and going into the back to visit with the common folk was just too powerful.
At least we're a benevolent Lord and Lady who tried to bring our friends in steerage a taste of our mai tais.
For our first night, we've camped out at the Waikiki Wave Hotel on Kuhio Street. It's a boutique hotel that's really quite nice. For $169/night we've got a spacious room with three queen beds and a party pad. Our flight was delayed for two hours so we didn't get situated and rolling until 8pm.
First stop was to visit The Bob where he has been recently gifted with a Volcano. I was first introduced to the Volcano last year at Alinea where they used the device to create juniper vapors that wafted out from a pillow during one of the courses. At The Bob's Bachelor Pad, our experience with the Volcano was less Grant Achatz and more Harold & Kumar. The surprise of the experience was the strong taste of popcorn.
From there, it was time to eat. First stop: Dave's Famous Ice Cream where they make truly amazing Haupia, Ube and Green Tea ice cream in-house. Sweet, delicate, delicious, I couldn't get enough. But ice cream doesn't make for a complete meal and nothing will substitute than Zippy's.
On the island of O'ahu, no restaurant satiates the local hunger like Zippy's. It's sort of a Hawiian Denny's that specializes in fast food and plate lunches that fill the local cravings. And while everyone has their favorites at Zippy's, for me it's the Holy Trinity of steamed white rice, fried chicken and chili that absolutely rocks my world.
They're taking a long time to fill our order at the Kaimuki Zippy's but it's worth the wait. The chicken is juicy and tender while being wonderfully crisp. The chili is perfectly balanced between the beef and the beans, and with cheese, onions and a liberal application of Tabasco, it's sublime. Paired with a large cup of Lilikoi juice (passion fruit) and nothing beats it. In fact, Anna and the girls order new menu item: Korean Fried Chicken but the regular fried chicken trumps the Korean. Next time we're gonna order the chicken barrel.
It's at this point that my night gets blurry. A combination of travel, fatigue, alcohol, food and The Volcano has brought me to the edge, and pushed me off. Muneko and Lisa are calling to head over the house in Hawaii Kai to party. Neil and friends are on their way to our place to drink and partake of the Volcano. The only sane person in my world at this point is Shellie, who's decided to stay home tonight instead of coming over. We're on a roller coaster ride and I need to get off.
When we get back to our pad, I'm done. Toasted. Burnt. Finished. Kaput. The Bob has brought along the Volcano. Christian has a case of Stella Artois and a bottle of Jack Daniels. I can't hang. I must hide. My vision is blurry. I imagine that this is what Tony Bourdain must feel like. I need to be done but in this condition, sleeping is not a simple matter. It's a fit of starts and stops. Everyone is still partying. The volcano is erupting. I'm hiding.
This morning is a dizzying recovery. After a few minutes, I'm lucid once again. From our fifteenth floor pad, I can see the Ko'olau Range covered in showers and the sun poking out from the east. It's beautiful. I moved to Hawaii almost exactly twenty years ago and for the life of me, I can't imagine why I ever left.
The wedding is on Saturday. DJ Un-G arrives today. My brother arrives tomorrow. We've gone balls to the wall and we haven't met up with all of our friends yet. I'm scared. I'm terrified. But I'm loving every minute of it.