Friday, February 25, 2011

Sleep? Hah!

At some point during the past few weeks, my body clock must have gotten knocked off of the nightstand and reset to Hanoi time. I’d been sleeping in the not-so-early a.m. and getting up a couple of hours into the afternoon. Agreeing to a meeting before noon would be crazy, right? Yet I did. And this morning I ended up waking up right about the time that I’d been going to bed. Way too early, yet not early enough to grab a coffee on my way into town.

After surviving my 9 a.m. meeting, I made my way over to the Sure Shot Cafe in Makiki for some lunch and a much-needed latte. And while I tend not to acknowledge little coffeeisms posted around cafes, especially the ones reducing my favorite beverage to nothing more than a drug of choice, I was living out this one today. I found a seat and waited for a mug of energy to be brought out to me.

I love this place. It truly is a neighborhood cafe, which is such a rarity out here in Hawaii. True, it’s not my neighborhood, but it was once. My family’s first neighborhood, in fact, before we moved out to the suburbs when I was little. Makiki’s packed tight with apartment buildings and the occasional old-style single family home that survived the development of the area. Some of them are really cute, and I can picture people’s grandmas living in them.

The interesting thing to me about this coffee shop is that it draws in a nice mix of residents. Today, a group of college-aged girls gathered at a table near the back wall, sharing an upbeat conversation. An older woman sat reading a magazine with a fancy purple orchid plant sitting on the table next to her, a gift for the friend she was meeting. The tattooed server gal brought out sprout and veggie-packed sandwiches to the couple at the table in front of me, then smiled and chased a toddler around the cafe. And unlike most of the other coffee spots out here, there were only a couple of laptop users sitting solo at their tables. I guess there’s no Wi-Fi….

I wish I could tell you more about the food, but I’m stuck on getting their bagel with pesto cream cheese with tomatoes. There’s something about that cream cheese, mmm. Those sandwiches did look tempting, though, and I’m also kind of curious about the melts that I saw on the menu board.

Despite today’s much-needed caffeine charge, Sure Shot really isn’t a spot I’m drawn to because of its coffee. It just feels good to be there. While some other coffee places are cold and library-like, this one exudes a nice energy. Probably from all the patrons catching up over a cuppa somethin’. It’s nice. Plus, on my way out I spotted some really good looking slices of house-made cheesecake. That’s reason enough for me to stop by again soon.

Sure Shot Cafe
Makiki Shopping Village, 1249 Wilder Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96822
(808) 523-BEAN (2326)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Hey there. Thanks for stopping by. Since this is my first post, I thought I'd let you know a little bit about me.

My love affair with coffee began back in high school at a magical coffee house called Java Java Cafe in Kapahulu, near Waikiki on the Island of Oahu. This was years ago, before Starbucks had frappuccinoized the far reaches of the globe. At Java Java, my friend Todd, who’s half Italian, first introduced me to the caffe latte. This mysterious new drink was brought to him in a sleek glass, pale brown and crowned with a hint of creamy froth. My round-mugged cappuccino looked just plain stubby in comparison. I was captivated.

Yes, that began my caffeinated journey. I’ve since worked at a number of coffee and tea places on the Mainland and back here in Hawaii. And while I like my drip coffee black and am tortured by the shrill protests of the milk wand when a poorly-trained barista’s at the helm, I don’t consider myself any sort of coffee snob or expert. In fact, I’ve been known to frequent places with sub-par coffee as long as they score high on the ambiance scale. If the coffee’s bad but the cozy vibe is there, well, you can always order tea.

Just kidding. I know it’s just as easy to mess up tea.

As for the “wanderlust” part of this blog’s name, I’m equally addicted to exploring other cultures as I am to the café experience. I’m an ex-expat who lived in Seoul, Korea and had the chance to wander Asia a bit while I was there. Bunches of photos and memories still need to be sorted through, so this blog will help me process that year and a half of learning, exploring and occasional cultural nuttiness. And, of course, it’s hard to sit still for too long, so I hope to also hop back on a plane again soon and report back to you!

Passport or no passport, my first taste of a new culture is often, quite literally, to taste their food. Whether grabbing a tempting morsel at the Ningxia Night Market in Taipei or trying “black noodles” at a no-frills spot catering to Korean nationals on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, there’s always something new to discover. And we really do have a rich food culture out here in Hawaii, evolving from all the different groups of people that make up who we are. Maybe that’s why eating foods from around the world feels natural to me (although, admittedly, there are far more adventurous eaters out there). So until I can travel, I can always eat.

So that’s a little bit about me and what I plan to write about here. Again, thanks for stopping by!