Aloha `auinala, Kona!
After a whole weekend to settle into the relaxing flow of the big island (no lava pun intended), it’s nice to really start to get into the swing of the race vibe that’s just starting to pick up in this part of the world.
Aside from having the chance to be a part of the Ho’ala IRONMAN Training Swim, held this past Saturday on the very course where the race will be held exactly one week later, the weekend also provided some great cycling and running opportunities in the heat, wind and unmatchable Hawaiian vibe I’ve grown to know and love so much.
Having arrived over a week prior to the race this year, we’ve also set aside plenty of time to do a bit of exploration.
Yesterday, this little bit of tourism happened to entail a trip over to Hilo, where we happened upon a tiny little hole in wall joint called Café Pesto, located right next to one of my favorite food shops on Kona, Island Naturals.
While certainly not a paleo place per se, Pesto was an unassuming little joint that completely suited our purposes of a nice lunch comprised of local island greens along with some fresh, local wild Ahi.
Doused in olive oil, the balance of wild protein and fat with veg hit the spot after a long morning of fasted riding and running.
A quick stop into Island Naturals right next door, the sister shop to the same line of stores located in downtown Kona, provided the perfect opportunity to stock up on some provisions for our condo, including local grass fed beef, farm fresh eggs and pantry basics like olive and coconut oils.
I picked up just enough local produce to tide us over until the big stock up, which will occur this coming Wednesday at the farmer’s market on Ali’i Drive.
Then, en route home, after a touristy stop in the breathtaking Akaka Falls, we encountered two roadside fruit stands; once of which was selling coconuts and the other, bananas by the bunch.
At home, I’ll have the occasional bottle of Harmless Harvest, which I always say is hands-down, the best I’ve ever had, aside from drinking straight from the coconut.
If you’ve never tried it, it’s a must do; coconut water enjoyed fresh from the seed itself, picked just hundreds of feet away from where it’s sold quenches thirst and overwhelms the palate with the most incredibly delicate yet intense flavor.
Back into the car we got and continued the exploration with a jaunt up North, noting how different it is to actually stop and look around the small village of Hawi from a car, compared to from your bike during the race, when the primary focus, aside from keeping on top of your power, is keeping the body position low so as not to be blown off your bike by the crosswinds!
We wrapped up the day with an exquisite meal at one of our island favorites, Merriman’s restaurant in Waimea.
With a farm to table, organic, seasonal focus, we’ve never experienced anything short of an incredible meal there, and last night proved no different.
We shared the local salad, featuring delicate, baby Waimea lettuces, island tomatoes and a light Likiloi dressing along with the wild Ahi sashimi (poke prepared sans soy), followed by a main entrée of wild Ono served atop broccolini grilled with garlic and olive oil.
A short but lovely wine list is available for the partaking if you so desire, along with, of course, a beautiful, local coffee selection.
A fine day of exercise, exploration and dining and there’s plenty more of that to come this week, so be sure to stay tuned in!