Newt Gingrich’s campaign manager, accompanied by his top strategists and consultants, walked out while the blissful Gingrich’s enjoyed a two-week Caribbean cruise, at the insistence of wife Callista – right in the throes of Newt’s presidential campaign!! Someone forgot to inform her that the trips can resume after a hard fought White House occupancy. Mrs. Gingrich (apparently Tiffany’s best customer – and- she does look great!) envisioned a run for office where spousal whims override campaign demands. Good luck on that!
While contemplating whether or not I’d vote for Callista as First Lady, a recent lunch outing at Montre in Kopiko Plaza comes to mind. Not that the former “Kona Mix Plate” transformed to an Asian-Thai-Pacific Rim foodie destination has anything to do with Mrs. Gingrich – it’s just a more pleasant thought to dwell upon.
Walls painted in muted shades of ash green and tomato lends a hushed atmosphere to Montre. As you enter, two wooden Indonesian maidens greet you with hands clasped in the considerate greeting of ‘namaste’. Greenery and soothing water, rippling in a large ceramic pot, contributes to the welcoming effect. A friendly Japanese ‘neko’ statue with raised paw covers the base to allow good fortune to enter the establishment.
The Babes waste no time and get right down to the business of ordering lunch. Our waitress is efficient and makes suggestions while giving clear explanations. The menu looks suspiciously like Krua Thai’s on Kuakini Street. Mei explains that they dissolved a relationship and are now separate entities. I notice that there are several Chinese items available to complement the Thai offerings.
Because I normally long for good, Cantonese-style Chinese food (which does not seem to be available in Kona), my selections are Shrimp Look Funn as a table-shared appetizer, and Black Thai Noodle – wide rice noodles with pork and vegetables, closely resembling my preferred dish of Chow Funn.
The Look Funn is decent – and mostly foreign to the other gals. Consequently, Mei and I happily finished it off. The chow funn clone is tasty and more than I can handle, prompting me to pack the remains for another day.
In the spirit of dim sum, Mei chose a basket of steamed Mini-Char Siu Bao (pork manapua) and Sticky Rice, wrapped in leaves and steamed. The pork buns, tender and flavorful, are greedily (in fun, of course) apportioned while the dark green leaves filled with sticky rice – not so much!
Appearing in the middle of the table is a tasteful green papaya salad – shredded and tangy green papaya mixed with onion, tomato, basil, chopped peanuts and dressed with a mixture of soy, shrimp paste, chili pepper, squeeze of lime, salad oil and a drop of two of honey. If you haven’t tried it, this salad is very refreshing – and filling.
Frankly, this visit to Montre took place on April 6th and I failed to write anything down – including who ordered what, and for how much! All I can do is post food photos and the fact that the prices were very reasonable.
From somewhere out of my brain fog, I recall that Cindy ordered a vegetable tofu dish with black bean sauce. There was also chicken and vegetables, and a vegetarian plate. All plate lunches come with a neatly formed pyramid of brown or white rice, a small salad with peanut-sauce dressing, and a crispy fried wonton.
Looking around the room, I noticed various pieces of Indonesian furniture and art, which at first, appeared to be the décor. At a closer glance, they were priced for sale. Well, why not??
Sated, we headed out the door, only to focus on the newly opened “Tex’s Drive Inn” across the parking lot. Despite all the protestations of lunchtime fulfillment, a few could not resist the freshly cooked (deep fried) malasadas!
Unfortunately, the malasadas are made in the confines of the kitchen, which takes all the fun out of eating a malasada in the first place! Does anyone remember the infamous Leonard’s Bakery Malasada Wagon in Honolulu? I do – my younger brother worked one during a long, hot summer. He would much rather have spent his summer surfing, but needed money to buy a surf board. Catch-22 in a minor form.
Malasadas are at their best when you are able to witness yeasty puffs of sweet-bread dough dropped into a huge wok of hot, bubbling oil. The dough pops a bit and when golden brown, is rescued from the pit by a cook with a mesh basket, drained somewhat, and doused with a coating of white, Hawaiian cane sugar. Consumption is at it’s best when you are able to take a bite without scorching your palate. Don’t save it for the next day – not-o so good-o.
Tex’s Drive Inn does a decent job, but there is no other like Leonard’s Bakery. In Honolulu, the annual Punahou School Carnival (Obama’s alma mater) also features the extremely popular, Malasada Tent, where enthusiastic alumni and current students form an efficient assembly line to handle the huge demand.
They also have some of the best carnival food in the State (excuse me, HPA) – and have consistently produced my favorite Portuguese Bean Soup – I wonder who’s recipe they pilfered??
Back on the Big Island of Hawaii, we make do with what’s available. Truthfully, the Big Island has much to offer, albeit a little spread out due to our massive geography, but within reach of those who desire it. All you need to appreciate what you have is to travel away from it – the homecoming is gratefully appreciated! Vog and all!