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When most tourists go to Maui, they usually rent a car and go straight towards the resort areas of Ka’anapali, Wailea, Kihei or Lahaina and tend to bypass the town of Kahului – where the majority of the locals reside. I always like to stop by the Maui Mall to see what’s on offer at the farmer’s market and craft fair held from 7:00am to 4:00pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Fruit is what I usually look for as it is very fresh and locally grown. Because Maui has areas of farming that are at higher elevations than on Oahu, farmers on Maui are able to produce sweet strawberries, onions and other produce that cannot usually thrive in the steamy tropics. The first thing I do when I go home is to eat as many papayas as possible because they are cheaper than apples and far tastier to me. Papayas are so versatile – eaten ripe or green as in a Thai papaya salad. After eating the pulp, I usually keep the skins as a facial mask to soften and exfoliate using the papaya’s natural enzymes.

Lychees and longans were in season and I couldn’t resist buying a few ripe lychees. Boy was I surprised to see that the prices have shot up enormously and it cost me about 60 to 70 cents each! Long gone are those days when many people had lychee trees in their back yard and buying them didn’t cost a fortune!

I did come across two fruits that I was not that familiar with: the star apple and a yellow passionfruit of unknown variety. Star Apples are said to be originally from the West Indies, Haiti to be exact, and is a very dark purple fruit with a thin skin. When the fruit is cut crosswise, a star pattern is seen but I didn’t really realize this so when I cut the fruit to take a photo, I cut it lengthwise. The pulp is a milky lavender color and is creamy and tastes like a watered-down, less sweet version of a custard apple (cherimoya). I don’t know, I was so excited with the way it looked that I was expecting so much more with the flavor and it was a bit disappointing.

The yellow passionfruit that was sold had an almost spongy outer skin and it was full of pulp and seeds. The woman who sold it to me couldn’t even tell me what it was and until I cut it open I didn’t realize that it was a passionfruit. It had the most peculiar soapy, woody flavor yet with a passionfruit undertone. It was very floral and not something that I enjoyed immensely although I ate about three or four just to give it a chance. According to Julia F. Morton in her book Fruits of Warm Climates, she lists at least a half a dozen yellow varieties of passionfruit so I guess it could be one of these varieties. I honestly don’t have much desire to research further than this and was happy that I was able to try a new variety of tropical fruit that I had never tasted before.

This is a great stop to make while you wait for your hotel room to be ready and also it is much cheaper to buy fruit and veggies here than at any of the resort supermarkets. There are crafts and other food vendors selling other goodies. I personally always makes sure I buy Filipino sweets like suman (glutinous rice and sugar cakes) or puto (steamed cakes) to top off my market shopping there – yum!

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I love being in Sydney’s Chinatown area because it is almost like being in Asia – after all, Australia is part of Australasia. I get to fulfill all my Asian cravings whenever I visit and this time, I discovered a bakery that specialises in Asian-style cakes. It is on George St. right in the thick of the action and according to other Aussie food bloggers, it’s been open since 2006 (how did I miss it?!)

Anyway, as much as I wanted to try more as many flavours as possible, I could only eat two cakes to take away with me and I chose the two that intrigued me the most – Calpis Cookie Cake and Mango Mochi Cake. For those of you who do not know what Calpis is, it is a tasty, sweet and milky/yoghurty drink that you dilute with water (like a cordial) or that is pre-diluted with water or soda. It has been a childhood staple in Japan since the early 20th century. What’s funny is that in the U.S. market, it is called Calpico probably because Calpis sounds too much like…yup, you guested it, COW PISS!! And no one wants to be caught dead drinking cow piss…and I digress.

All the cakes in the display were gorgeous and reminded me of Japanese-style bakeries – visually exciting. As for the taste of the cakes, I was just a little bit disappointed. The Calpis Cookie Cake didn’t taste like Calpis at all but tasted more like a non-descript mousse of some kind. The Mango Mochi cake was decent – tasted like the Mochi Ice Cream we have in the states and was filled with a lightly flavoured dense mango mousse. The outer mochi “skin” was very soft and tasty but overall, I thought it was just ok. You can read a blog that I found that raves about this shop and definitely took much better photos than I did:

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I mentioned in the last post about how I forgot that very big cities have interesting and colourful people right? (You’d think I grew up in the country or something but I didn’t…just living in a smaller city makes you forget these city things). Here are just a few people that I found worth my while to photograph:

Sydney busker doing an impressive balancing act on his forehead!

It was too rude to take a photograph of her from the frontal view but it’s amazing, she had on purple everything!! Including her hair clip, her earrings, her eyeshadow and her lipstick and as you can see, all her clothing! It doesn’t look at unusual or interesting in the photo…I guess you had to be there to understand.

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I have to apologize for my lack of postings but I have been away for over a week and I actually do not have easy access to the internet without paying a fortune for regular access so I’m finding it hard to stay on a computer long enough to type anything meaningful. I have eaten plenty of comfort food during my trip home but I am sad that it is not quite mango season yet although trees growing all over the islands are sooo heavy with green mangoes. So close yet so far. Here are just a few photos of my recent wanderings:

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Walking in the Mud Flats

Walking in the Mud Flats

Rather Unattractive Shot

Rather Unattractive Shot

Walking Back to the Car

Walking Back to the Car in the Heat

Mud was almost a food deep in places

My leg was all scratched and cut up

Here are the Blue Swimmer crabs, our biggest bounty yet!

The bottom crab is legal sized and the top one is gigantic!

Yes, the title is about “raking” crabs…you haven’t read wrongly. It is a South Australian tradition to go to the coast (often where mangroves grow) and trek through thick muddy sand armed with some rakes (specially designed to catch crabs) and an old baby bathtub (or whatever plastic tub that size) in tow to put the crabs into. This type of crab fishing is very different to catching them by merely throwing a crab net overboard from a city beach jetty and waiting every few minutes to see if any crabs have crawled in to eat your bait. Crab raking on the other hand is far more rewarding BUT is so damn tiring and dirty that we have to think twice about it before we rush and do it again, especially now that the cold weather has already started to settle in.

We probably needed a few locals to help guide us and/or tell us beforehand what to except with crab raking. Trying to read fishing books or websites hardly gives any clues worthwhile so, armed with our crab rake and our bucket (we forgot our big tub), we decided to just head towards the beaches that are famed for crab raking. The first beach we got to, the water was so far away that you could barely see it – all you could see was sand because the tide was way out. So we headed north to try the next beach and it was a similar situation except it seemed like the water was nearer. There were three other cars parked on the sand so we just followed suit and started walking and walking and walking about 2 kilometres or so. Stupid me, I forgot to bring my sand shoes (reef walkers) so my Crocs were getting sucked into and stuck in the muddy sand. I then gave up walking in Crocs and decided that barefoot was the easiest way to walk in the nasty, smelly muddy sand. When we finally reached some water, it was only 6 to 10 inches deep and I couldn’t understand where we’d find crabs. So many times we questioned whether this was worth our time but two other small groups (very far away) were making lots of “woohoo, yeeha, yeeaahh” noises so we figured that they must be catching crabs.

All of a sudden, we started seeing crabs walking around and then another. We couldn’t figure out where the rake but then soon realized that they hide and dig themselves under very flat sandy patches. In once sandy patch, we found over 15 crabs!! Legally, they have to measure 11cm from the base of their longest spine across the carapace and we found so many large crabs there. Our largest was 17.5cm and it was amazing. I even stepped on a crab by accident and thrust it deeper into the sand. It truly freaked me out and I screamed because of the unexpectedness of a crab being under my feet. I then reached down and pulled the crab out of the depths of the mud and let that one go!

It is easy to get carried away with how far you are walking out to search for crabs and little do you know, you’ve walked another couple of kilometres out. Luckily my husband was the disciplined one and told me when it was time to go home. I’m glad he did that otherwise I am not sure I’d have had the strength to have walked all the way back to the car. The sand and constant rubbing on my legs started to take its toll on me. My legs were very raw and scratched up and I started to get sores that looked very disgusting. My husband was smart enough to bring his sand shoes so he was fine but I wasn’t so prepared. When we finally reached the car, my feet were all cut up and so were my legs and it was over 40C (104F) that day. Exhausted, we decided to drive to a beach near the city and take a dip in the sea to wash off all the mud and to cool down.

As soon as we got home, I knocked on my neighbor’s door and asked to borrow a huge pot so that I could cook the crabs. I seasoned the water with garlic, chillies, bay leaf, peppercorns, salt and brought it to a boil and dropped all the crabs in. I shared them with a friend and my neighbors and froze a few for later but that night, my husband and I ate one crab each (the biggest ones) for dinner and they were very, very satisfying!! After all the pain, it was worth it…just.

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