A couple weeks ago Andrew and I attended a culinary influencers trip in Oahu. The trip was organized by the Oahu Visitors Bureau and they covered our accommodations, activities and most meals.
I shared the first part of the Oahu Adventure here.
After an epic bar crawl the day before, we decided to start the next day of Oahu fun with a hike up Koko Head Trail. I had seen this trail on pinterest for years and years and knew it was something I had to do while in Oahu. But first, breakfast by the pool at The Modern Honolulu.
Bob’s Red Mill steel-cut oats + granola + warmed milk.
Then Andrew and I met up with Meg to drive over to Koko Head. The trail was as intense as I’d thought it’d be. It was only 0.7 miles long, but was straight uphill with over 1,000 stairs made from old railway ties.
I’m not that much of a hiker, I just get kinda bored walking, but I loved this trail! All the way up everything was so green and lush. I’ve never done a trail like this and had a blast even though we were all gasping for air near the end.
Over halfway up!
After about an hour of hiking we made it to the top and took a break with KIND bars + water, while enjoying this view.
After making it down the mountain we headed back to jump in the shower before our next outing.
First stop after showers, iced coffee!
I’m in such a deep iced coffee love right now, can’t get enough. This was a vanilla iced latte from The Curb that I drank in like 5 minutes flat. Couldn’t get enough hydration after the hike.
We then headed to lunch at Koko Head Cafe. For anyone visiting Oahu, I highly recommend making a stop by this place as this was my very favorite meal of the trip. The restaurant serves brunch all day, which is such a dream. They brought out a bunch of their dishes so we could have a couple bites of everything.
First up was breakfast bruschetta with macadamia yogurt + fruit. I mean, what a brilliant idea. Why hadn’t I thought of this?! Definitely will be making a version of this for the blog.
Next was the dumpling of the day. Filled with pork and topped with pickled onions & peppers.
I was already excited and loving this meal when they brought out the next dish…ricotta pancakes. These were insane. The waiter mentioned that they’re so moist that you don’t even need maple syrup. He was so completely right.
With adding the ricotta you end up with this milky, creamy tasting pancake that is just everything you want in a pancake breakfast.
First I tried the Hawaiian-style pancakes topped with pineapple + mango.
Then I moved on to the applewood smoked bacon pancakes that came with creamy black pepper maple.
After falling in love with these two pancakes I knew ricotta pancake making would be in my future. More on that at the end of this post!
Then we had Loco Moco, which is a traditional Hawaiian dish. Koko Head Cafe made there’s with a Maui Cattle Co. beef patty, garlic rice, mushroom gravy, a sunnyside up egg and tempura kimchi. Tasty.
And then Ohayou Eggs, which was baked eggs, ham, local mushrooms, parmesan dashi cream. That parmesan cream was TO DIE FOR. It tasted like the world’s best and fanciest cheese dip.
And then Breakfast Bibimbap, which came with bacon, Portuguese sausage, ham, kimchi, soy-mirin shiitake mushrooms, sesame carrots & bean sprouts, sunny up egg all served over crispy garlic rice in the cutest skillet.
Then we finished on a sweet note with Cornflake French Toast, which was Hawaiian bread coated in cornflakes and served with bacon, creamy black pepper maple and frosted flake gelato.
The whole experience at Koko Head Cafe was amazing. I thought their menu was way creative (check it out here). I’d definitely (DEFINITELY!!) go back.
After lunch we walked about for a couple hours checking out shops before heading back near Waikiki beach to hit up some shaved ice.
I went with coconut + matcha. I loved the coconut, but wasn’t feeling the matcha.
Then we rested that afternoon until Andrew and I headed down to the beach to swim in the ocean while the sun set.
This was one of my favorite nights of the trip. So relaxing. I made Andrew get out of the water to take this photo of me…so it kinda ruined the romantic moment that could’ve been. But this picture is one of my favorites.
The next day started at 5:15am (which was 10am back in Houston so it didn’t seem too early) with a trip to the Honolulu Fish Auction.
It was cool watching the fish be bid for. The largest tuna was 198# and sold for $2,700! It’s on my bucket list to catch a fish that weighs more than me. Need to get on that.
We were eating a later breakfast that day so on the way back to the hotel we made a quick stop for a snack before breakfast.
Cinnamon-sugar donut love from Liliha Bakery.
Then we were off to explore the KCC Farmers Market.
An iced coffee (again) for me.
Then Andrew and I split an acai bowl.
And some freshly fried taro and sweet potato chips.
And we looked at some pretty fruit.
Then we packed up and headed to North Shore for the rest of the trip.
For the remainder of the trip we were staying at Turtle Bay Resort. Here was the view from our room…
pretty pretty pretty.
The resort offered a free 2-hour snorkel equipment rental. So Andrew and I headed to the beach and snorkeled. We saw a bunch of little fish, but no sea turtles.
I feel like this resort would be so great for when we have kids! So many activities to choose from.
Snorkeling was great, but my favorite thing we did on North Shore was a shark cage excursion that Turtle Bay’s staff helped us book. I’ve wanted to go in a shark cage ever since Shark Week became Shark Week.
When we pulled up to the marina we were about to get onto the wrong boat, before being redirected to another boat that was much, much smaller. I was a bit concerned at first since I feel like you always want a bigger boat, especially if sharks are involved! But I was really impressed with our tour and would highly recommend Hawaii Shark Encounters.
I couldn’t remember being this excited for something. It was even more than the excitement I remember feeling when I was a kid and my parent’s would take us to Disneyland. I told Andrew this and he was like what about our wedding day?
It was so overwhelmingly peaceful. And so surreal.
Andrew couldn’t stop laughing when he got in the cage because the entire experience felt like you were in a dream!
The sharks we saw were Sandbar and Galapagos sharks. The longest was about 8ft. I would love to do this with great whites (I think haha). My dad has volunteered to go with me and he thinks we should make it a family event, so we’ll see.
I did get sung by a jellyfish, but was told that makes me a local. The British tourists we were with asked me, “Do you want me to wee on you?” I guess that’s supposed to help? I passed lol.
Absolutely worth it and I’d do it again in a heartbeat…jellyfish sting and all.
Such an amazing experience. After the excursion we headed back to Turtle Bay before catching our flight that evening.
We had a great time in Oahu. But my most memorable experience (other than the shark cage) was those ricotta pancakes. So i’ve got a recipe for us below.
Can we note the ridiculous length of this post?! But it’s okay because PANCAKES!
I’m still going crazy over the texture of ricotta pancakes. They are so creamy. Almost like a custard stuffed inside a pancake but then nothing like that because custard would melt if it was in a pancake.
Another good thing about these is there are only 8 ingredients, which really isn’t that many ingredients. So that makes this a perfect recipe for a holiday brunch. Or perhaps the perfect recipe for anytime ever. Yes.
May you love these as much as I do.
Fluffy Ricotta Pancakes
Yield: makes 10-12 pancakes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup flour (I used half whole wheat pastry flour and half all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk
2 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
vanilla cinnamon maple syrup
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
In a bowl, use a hand-held electric mixer to whip egg whites until fluffy and stiff. Set aside. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg yolks, milk and vanilla. Pour ricotta mixture into dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Then fold in whipped, fluffy egg whites. Grease a skillet with butter/coconut oil/coconut oil spray. Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop batter onto skillet and cook, flipping once.
For syrup, combine maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 20 seconds before pouring over pancakes.
As always, top as desired. Butter + this syrup + these pancakes = heart eyes, but I'm sure a nut butter topping would be delightful as well.
pancake recipe lightly adapted from The Kitchn