As a child I have fond memories of watching the Winter Olympics on TV. I was a young girl on the island of Kauai with dreams of being a figure skater one day. I remember my mom buying me rollerblades and I used to skate in the driveway and imagine that I was on a rink. You can only imagine my excitement when I realized my upcoming trip to Seoul was taking place during the opening of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. I had my sights set on getting there, seeing it and hopefully meeting an athlete or two.
The road to the Olympics was a bit of a bumpy one. We didn't have tickets and didn't know how we were going to get there. In total I was traveling with 5 friends and nailing down when we would go, what to see and how we would get there was a bit tedious. When we finally agreed on what we wanted to see the tickets to the events were selling out so quick that we were left with no other option but to try and grab whatever we could.
I registered with the official olympics site and purchased 5 tickets for the women's snowboarding half-pipe final the same day as our return flight to Hawaii. After buying the tickets I realized booking the train tickets was no easy task as much of the routes were sold out too. But in the end I had faith that it was all going to work out and we would get there.
We decided it would be best to go Sunday (the day before our departure). We managed to score additional tickets on the train from Seoul to the nearest train station. After arriving in PyeongChang we managed to snatch up 6 tickets to the Cross Country Skiing event that afternoon. Watch the video below for a look at the journey. Sadly, I don't have more images or videos as the weather was so cold my iPhone kept shutting off every time I took it out.
Gladly though, it was really such a dream come true. I love every moment. Being there, the excitement, all the people in attendance from across the globe, the camaraderie, live music, emcee, sound blaring from the speakers and even the risers and ice were all a part of the experience. It was truly incredible to be there amongst these world class athletes and to see their friends and family making the voyage to cheer them on. This truly was a day I will never forget!
Known for their Asian-inspired cuisine P.F. Chang's Waikiki always delivers fresh food, bold flavors and generous portions. I was invited to attend a tasting of the latest menu inspirations and entrees created for Chinese New Year and the Valentine's Day prix fixe menu.
One of my fondest memories visiting LA was always stopping at P.F. Chang's -- now with their Waikiki restaurant sometimes I have to be reminded that we have one here on Oahu. While they offer the classic items you can find at any restaurant around the world they also offer some specialty dishes that are unique to Hawaii.
The Mongolian Beef is probably one of my all time favorite dishes, I could eat an entire serving with a bowl of white rice. Adding shrimp to it makes it a phenomenal combo.
Here's a look at some of the new menu items and also some of the classic favorites:
Asian Caesar Salad
Surf & Turf Mongolian Beef and Shrimp
Salt & Pepper Shrimp with Spicy Garlic Noodles (special for Chinese New Year celebration)
Uncle's Ice Cream Sandwich (Valentine's Day).
P.F. Chang's Waikiki Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center 2201 Kalakaua Ave. Honolulu, HI 96815. 808-628-6760
It's been a few years since I visited M.A.C. 24/7 in Waikiki. Admittedly, this is the location where I had my bridal shower (in the fabulous private dinning room) and I think I may have been back once after that, but kind of forgot about the restaurant which is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Compared to other 24-hour eateries the cuisine here has really stepped up and offers classic American fare with local ingredients and familiar Hawaiian flavors.
In December (Executive Chef Rey Baysa) they started adding new dishes and began shaking things up when it comes to the traditional classics. Here's a look at some of the new menu items along with some of the signature specialities I'd recommend trying.
Bacon Bloody Mary
Mushroom Swiss Burger
Honey Chicken & Ham Sandwich
Double Decker Grilled Mac & Cheese
Smoked Half Rack baby Back Ribs
Donut Split Sundae
Fried Lobster Mac & Cheese Bites
Ahi Poke Stack
Mochi Pancakes -- these were phenomenal (highlight of the night + gluten free).
Hawaiian Moonfish Tacos
Pina Colada Creme Brûlée
Ooey Gooey Mac nut Brownies
Last week I was invited to sample some of the new menu items at Square Barrels. Located at 1001 Bishop Street this hidden gem of a pub is known for it's gourmet burgers and craft beers. Not going to lie the vibe is hipster meets executive and the food is more refined then your average bar. The artisan burgers are the standouts -- oh and don't forget about the fries. Actually I would say I love the fries as much as I love the Wagyu Burger. They are crunchy, not oily, perfectly seasoned with your choice of garlic, truffle or plain.
The new menu includes seasonal dishes and fresh local meats. The first item was the Dark Berry Salad which was a hefty portion of mixed greens, black berries, blueberries Korean pear, red onion, almonds, feta and a honey tarragon balsamic vinaigrette. This was great and i would highly recommend if you are looking for something light and fresh.
The Wagyu Burger is $21 and consists of ground Wagyu Beef, prosciutto, swiss cheese, caramelized onions, IPA mustard, fried caper mayo and a brioche bun. This burger is outstanding. It's juicy, meaty, delicious and a perfect combination of salty, creamy and chewy. Everyone hands-down thought this burger was the hottest thing to happen so far this year.
Other highlights include the Green Chili Burger, Niihau Lamb and the recently added Banana Fosters. All-in-all get the Wagyu Burger, you won't be disappointed, it's an exceptional burger that will leave you wanting more.
So... What are you doing Saturday nights at 6:30pm? Got 30 minutes to catch up with me? Cause I am headed back to television to host a brand new TV show!!!
That's right I am putting the microphone back on and will launch a new series called Island Style TV on KITV, Saturday nights at 6:30pm.
Who: The show will feature local people, events, chefs, business owners, storytellers, musicians and more and will be hosted by yours truly.
What: I love sharing positive messages, interesting stories and compelling messages. These segments featured in the show will highlight everything that we love about Hawaii while highlighting the local people and businesses behind it.
Where: I am going to start off statewide and eventually head abroad as well, can't say where just yet - stay tuned.
Why: Because supporting each other, learning from one another and offering inspiring messages can really make a difference. I love talking to people, getting to know the details about them and how they came to be where they are today. I will chat with some of Hawaii's hottest chefs, business owners, interesting people and more! Mahalo to KITV for inviting me back on the air!
KITV Announces New Weekend Lifestyle Show
Island Style TV debuts Saturday, January 6th
HONOLULU - KITV is proud to announce the return of award winning journalist, news anchor and Miss Hawai’i 2004 Olena Heu to statewide television, hosting a brand new weekend lifestyle show, ISLAND STYLE TV.
ISLAND STYLE TV will air Saturday evenings at 6:30 p.m. following ISLAND NEWS, and leading into ABC primetime programming. Host Olena Heu brings you the best of Hawaii’s unique island lifestyle and culture. ISLAND STYLE TV is a weekly show that takes a new look at the stories behind the local people and businesses that create the food, fashion and fun that make Hawaii unique.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Olena Heu holds a master’s and bachelor’s degree in Speech and Communication and first launched her television hosting skills close to 15 years ago. After several years working in radio, television broadcast and local nightly/morning news the television personality launched her own marketing and communications business in 2014. Now the entrepreneur and avid food, lifestyle and travel writer, is excited to continue to run her business while returning to television “to share great stories, meet new people and showcase an inside look at everything we love about our island home.”
News Director Mike Darrah says, “It just makes sense. We add content that’s made in Hawaii, is about Hawaii, and is delivered by a respected journalist.” Heu will also appear on Good Morning Hawaii with previews of upcoming Island Style TV episodes.
A key component of ISLAND STYLE TV on KITV is a commitment to identifying stories from across the Hawaiian Island chain that are filmed completely on-location and outside the T.V. studio. Being filmed on-site will help our storyteller, Olena Heu, connect with the people, places, and events that make up Hawaii’s local communities. Social media and community engagement, along with 4K digital content production on all media platforms, will also be a big part of ISLAND STYLE TV. We want YOU to be a part of the show! Follow us @IslandStyleTV and online at www.kitv4.com/islandstyletv
ISLAND STYLE TV with Olena Heu on KITV 6:30 p.m. Saturdays beginning January 6th, 2018.
If you're ever headed to the north shore of O'ahu you must stop off and try a snow puffy. These delicious sweet treats are heavenly layers of puff pastry filled with custard cream, topped with an overwhelming amount of powdered sugar and a drizzle of chocolate. They are light, flaky, sweet, creamy, chocolatey and the perfect boost of sugar for your next adventure.
They are a bit hidden but well worth the search!
Paalaa Kai Bakery
66-1425 Kaukonahua Road, Waialua, HI 96791
Try to stop in during the morning hours as they usually sellout.
It may sound silly, but I am not a huge jewelry person. I always wear my wedding ring but I often forget to put on earrings and I almost never wear bracelets or a watch. But when I do, my style is chic, simple, beach, island-inspired and delicate.
I was excited to hear Lisa Bridge (designer and new President & COO of Ben Bridge) was debuting a line of jewelry inspired by and created for Hawaii. The Lisa Bridge Hawaii Collection is truly a gem in this sea of jewelry retailers.
The 32 year-old great-great granddaughter of Ben Bridge has long been a jewelry designer and spent her summers in the islands. She feels Hawaii is a very special place in her heart and thus created this new line of jewelry to showcase how the islands inspired her craft. The beauty of Hawaii paired with the warmth and spirit of the people helped her create the vision for this line.
Worn by celebrities Carrie Ann Inaba (also a Hawaii native), Cheryl Burke, Jodie Sweetin and more. Lisa utilizes the Rhodochrosite (which reminds her of the Hawaiian sunsets) in many of her pieces; also the stone is said to have the power to heal the soul and symbolizes both love and empathy.
A special Meet & Greet event Trunk Show will be held at Ben Bridge Jeweler Ala Moana Center -- Friday, December 1st 5-8pm. 5% of the proceeds from sales that evening will also benefit Make-A-Wish Hawaii. This is open to the public, refreshments will be served and a sneak peek of the new Lisa Bridge Hawaii line will be showcased along with Lisa Bridge, James Donnelly & Demetria Caston (from Make-A-Wish Hawaii) in attendance.
Celebrating 10 years with 10 days, Restaurant Week Hawaii is back! November 10-19, 2017 -- More than 70 restaurants from casual to fine dining (even a few fast food outlets have signed on) take part in the effort to raise funds for the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Diamond Head. Restauranteurs, chefs and culinarians can together join the movement to not only support local farmers, local businesses and local education but also the livelihood that marks Hawaii as a notable culinary destination. Diners can experience set-menus, specialty dishes and promotional items during this annual event.
I had the honor of revisiting a true gem during the launch of Restaurant Week Hawaii. Stage Restaurant has put together an imppressive 3-course tasting dinner for $60 (add $30 for wine pairings).
ACT1- Choice of:
Sashimi: Hamachi, Coconut Milk, Lime, Basil & Chili Pepper Ogo
Escargot: Hamakua Alii Mushroom, Cauliflower Lemon Purée, Parmesan Crisp, Arugula and Toasted House-made French Bread.
ACT2- Choice of:
Kurobuta Pork, Soy Glaze, Maui Pineapple Compote, Sweet Potato Purée, Brussel Sprouts and Applewood Smoked Bacon.
King Salmon, Butternut Squash Purée, Sugar Snap Peas, Shiitake Mushrooms, Teriyaki Butter Sauce.
Peaches & Cream- Lemon Panna Cotta, Grilled Peaches, Oatmeal Crumble and House-made Tahitian Vanilla Bean Rum Ice Cream.
Chocolate Tart- Peruvian Dark Chocolate, House-made Koloa Hawaiian Coffee Rum Ice Cream, Salted Caramel and Whipped Cream.
I enjoyed the Hamachi, Salmon and Peaches:
Stage is open Tuesday-Saturday 5pm-8:30pm, reservations are suggested.
1250 Kapiolani Boulevard
2nd Floor of the Honolulu Design Center
Many years ago the thought of drinking tomato juice made me cringe, then I discovered the Bloody Mary. Thing is, if it's made well you won't be overwhelmed with tomato flavor, it's more savory and delicious than it is like drinking a juiced vegetable drink.
My favorite place to score a solid Bloody Mary is at Hula's in Waikiki. Located across the street from the Honolulu Zoo this eatery and bar serves happy hour all day and a special Bloody Mary bar during brunch. But I like the plain and simple bloody that you can get any day and any time. What makes it so good? Well they add delightful celery salt and a perfectly crisp yet tart pickle instead of celery, because let's face it who really eats celery?!
The flavor is a good combination of savory with acid, salty and the addition of celery salt with the pickle is key. They pour a generous serving of vodka in it too, so after 2 I am usually good.
MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY - Happy Hour 10AM – 6PM
$5 Well . House Wine
$6 Mai Tai . Bloody Mary . Mojito . Miller Lite Pitcher
$7 Long Island
$12 Mai Tai Pitcher . Bloody Mary Pitcher
$14 Long Island Pitcher
A few months ago while on a quick trip to Bangkok we wanted to visit an animal cafe. Most common in Japan, and mostly Asia, cat cafe's are the perfect retreat for those who can't keep pets in their apartments. This trend to house animals has become so popular that places around the world now host a slew of exotic animals (snakes, owls, etc) for you to meet and play with.
At Little Zoo Cafe in Thailand there were dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs, prairie dogs, foxes, a raccoon and a special arctic fox. The raccoon and arctic fox were in an enclosed room and would alternate visitation in the mornings and afternoons with other foxes. The cats and dogs roamed freely while the guinea pigs, prairie dogs and birds were in cages but could come out when you asked to pet or hold them.
Upon entry you must take off your shoes and put on clean slippers to wear. There wasn't a fee to come and enter but they do require you to order an entree and a drink. After you order you can enjoy the company of the various types of animals. Small groups up to 4 people were welcome to hang out with the raccoon and the arctic fox. The fox was also trained to stand on your back and eat fresh bananas from your hand.
Overall, this was a great experience. The animals all appeared to be well cared for and loved by the workers. I would recommend this cafe if you are seeking an animal fix. You get to pet and hold so many and they are all quite friendly. Take a look at what we ate, the pets we met and a short video encounter with the raccoon below. The food was ok, the service was good and the pets were all very therapeutic to play with.