With Flavor of Hawaii Culinary Adventures, tourists and locals can experience the culture and unique flavors of Hawaii at the same time. Its walking tour explores a variety of restaurants in Kailua or Waikiki, allowing diners to sample different dishes and interact with an award-winning chef. While walking between restaurants, tour-takers can savor the flavors of dishes such as fried rice, malasadas, haupia-glazed bread pudding, and fresh ahi poke.
Primarily purveyors of electronic cigarettes and accessories, the Volcano Vapor opened the Volcano Vapor Cafe as a relaxed space that is welcoming to both electronic-cigarette aficionados and espresso enthusiasts. More than 50 specialty coffees and drinks, free WiFi, game consoles, and an e-cigarette-friendly atmosphere make Volcano Vapor Cafe an ideal hangout for caffeination and relaxation. Premium Hawaiian beans infuse every coffee drink, from a regular cuppa joe ($1.50–$1.80) to iced lattes crowned with luscious whipped cream ($3.35–$3.75). A 60” HDTV occupies the premium real estate of the café’s scarlet walls, ready to connect with the Xbox and PlayStation 3 game consoles and play host to caffeine-fueled bouts of friendly e-competition. Volcano Vapor's free WiFi and computer consoles equipped with 24-inch touchscreen monitors provide paved access to the information superhighway. Sippers who prefer to remain stationary can lounge in sumptuous leather seats inside.
La Tour Cafe beckons diners with a menu of light cuisine, homemade soups, and freshly ground, locally roasted coffee. Turkey and sundried-tomato paninis come slathered with provolone or the baked-chicken pesto, spinach, and swiss cheese, and then leave the kitchen with a golden tan ($8.50). All sandwiches grace tables with their presence alongside a house salad, house-made pickles, and a variety of legal eating utensils. After 10:30 a.m., flatbreads such as the margherita strut down the dining-room runway flaunting the fresh mozzarella, basil, and tomato ($10), and the kalua pork seduces tongues with lomi tomatoes, taco sauce, and sour cream ($12).
Meandering through rows of coffee trees in a Waialua coffee orchard, roastmaster John Alvarez gauges by sight alone the maturity of the trees and the ripeness of the berries peeking out from verdant leaves. Though the coffee aficionado follows his beans’ route from germination into each piping mug, his true passion lies in roasting. Back at his roasting site in the shadow of Mount Ka'ala, handfuls of beans cascade through his fingers, pouring back into the drum roaster’s cooling bin as he inspects their chafes and hues to ensure an even roast. Though he concedes each island’s orchards produce different flavors, it’s the slow-roasting process—featured on Hawaiian Grown—that accounts for his coffee’s smooth, sweet taste. “It’s like being a chef at a restaurant,” he says of his duties. “A lot of people take it for granted, but it’s what makes all the difference.” Just outside, amid the Ilikai Hotel's fountains and gardens where his coffee shop is located, people sit on the patio, take in the sun, chat, and sip on the signature coffee.
Every morning begins the same at Cafe Laufer. Chef and owner Cyrus Goo arrives with his team and, by 5:20 a.m., has already begun making fresh bread dough. While the sun continues to rise, the chef and his crew hand-make every single one of the cakes, pastries, and other treats that will eventually fill the gleaming display cases. Although this routine may be the same each morning, the creations rarely are. The selection of pastries?which Frommer's hailed as "sublime"?changes from day to day and features everything from fresh fruit eclairs to flaky apple strudel. These daily specials can even be additions to the menu's bistro-style sandwiches, soups, and salads.
With an espresso drink and a bite to eat in-hand, patrons can snag an intimate table and settle in for a quick meal. Vibrant pictures of newly-invented colors adorn the custard-hued walls, although the most striking features may be the sculptures in the center of the room, which resemble thin, leafless trees complete with spindly branches reaching up toward the ceiling.