Geste Shrimp food truck

meter-ha-A friend recommended this Maui hotspot to me more than two years ago, and it’s taken me all this time to finally try it for myself. Frequent readers of my blog (my thanks and condolences to you all) know that I have a thing for sketchy food served on the side of the highway, so I’m sure you can imagine my excitement to visit this truck. In spite of nearly 800 days of anticipation, I was not disappointed in the slightest to experience Geste Shrimp for myself.

Food court, Maui style

Food court, Maui style

” Our rental car was never going to smell the same again”

Within 45 minutes of touching down on the tarmac at Kahului Airport, my wife and I were on the backroads of Maui, headed straight towards Geste Shrimp. After a couple of wrong turns in the industrial part of town, we finally spotted a cluster of cars stopped on the side of the highway. We parked amidst half a dozen food trucks and trailers and looked for the one with all the people hanging around it. Yep, there was Geste. It sure wasn’t much to look at – nothing more than a drab white box with a window cut in the side of it – but that didn’t have much effect on our appetites. We headed over to that side of the dirt lot and got in line.

The menu at Geste Shrimp is short and mostly devoid of useful information. We decided on spicy pineapple shrimp and placed our order. The soft-spoken and patient cashier explained that we would need to wait for about twenty minutes, and we were ok with that. Everybody else seemed fine hanging around waiting and besides, we were on island time. Nobody gives a crap how long anything takes when they’re in Hawaii.

This is my kind of tourist attraction.

This is my kind of tourist attraction.

The wait was slightly annoying but bearable, and before long our order was called. The cashier handed me a Styrofoam container, two forks, and a HUGE stack of napkins through the dingy, cramped window. Shawn and I went back to the car, bemused at the enormous pile of dead trees we’d been given, and opened up the container.

Three things were immediately apparent: 1) This was no typical food truck meal, 2) our rental car was never going to smell the same again, and 3) we were going to need a lot more napkins.

The generous helping of shrimp and pineapple chunks were absolutely swimming in an even more generous lake of wickedly seasoned butter. We plastered the car and our clothes with napkins, precariously perched the brimming food container on the center console, and started peeling shrimp.

There is no way mere words can explain how good this tastes.

There is no way mere words can explain how good this tastes.

Oh. My. Goodness. That flavor.

Those were the most incredible peel-and-eat shrimp I have ever experienced in my life. I didn’t even bother complaining about my burnt fingers, I just kept peeling shrimp and stuffing them in my face. I looked up at Shawn and she was in the same boat as me – loving the amazing flavor of those shrimp but making a total mess of everything. The conversation over the next ten minutes went something like this:

“Oops.”
“What?”
“I got some butter on my clothes. Crap! Twice.”
“Here take another napk… Damn it, I dropped some in my lap.”
“We should have brought a Tide pen.”
“Yeah, we.. Ack! Don’t move. There goes a shrimp tail.”
“I’ll get it before it falls between the seats.”
“Too late.”
“I’m glad this isn’t our car.”
“No kidding.”
“I dropped some shell down there too.”

Fortunately for us, week-old garlicky seafood odor is not explicitly called out in Hertz rental contracts, otherwise we’d be purchasing a brand new interior for a Kia Optima. And that, boys and girls, is reason number 783 for not ever buying a used rental car. Randomly Edible, bringing you restaurant reviews, recipes, and automobile buying advice.

Just like that, Geste Shrimp made the number one spot on our tastiest-meals-of-the-trip list. It might be the very best shrimp dish of any kind I’ve ever had, and it was certainly the messiest. Everything was amazing about the meal, even the crab macaroni salad and the sticky rice. Twenty minutes was no time at all to wait – we would have been fine with twice that. Geste Shrimp earns a nearly perfect rating of 89 out of 90 lost shrimp tails, darn near worth the price of a plane ticket to Maui just to try their food. You will never experience shrimp like this anywhere else, and neither will the upholstery of your car.

      Pros
+ Best shrimp you may ever eat
+ You’re in Hawaii!
      Cons
MESSY
All other shrimp will seem terrible after this
Nowhere to sit and eat

Geste Shrimp
Kahului Beach Road
Kahului, HI
(808) 298-7109
www.gesteshrimp.com

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Best meal I've had in Hawaii by a long shot

Best meal I’ve had in Hawaii by a long shot


Small Bite: Which Wich

Which Wich is a worldwide sandwich shop chain that I had never heard of before a few days ago. You can’t really do a restaurant review on an entire chain, so I’m posting this as a Small Bite instead.

Hey, a new sandwich shop! New for me anyway.

Hey, a new sandwich shop! New for me anyway.

” This is a restaurant, not Wild Kingdom “

I found myself in Belmont at lunchtime following a dentist appointment, so I decided to go looking around for somewhere I hadn’t eaten at before. Which Wich immediately caught my eye, mostly because it is located right next to the Starbucks I was visiting. Alright, let’s give this a try.

Never before have I seen a bag caddy of this magnitude.

Never before have I seen a bag caddy of this magnitude.

The ordering system at Which Wich is… different. I honestly do not know whether I love it or hate it. I think love. Basically there is a wall of many types of little baggies. You select a baggy based on the type of sandwich you want to order (I opted for a Cuban in the ‘ham and pork’ category) and fill in some options with a felt pen. It’s not immediately apparent what you’re supposed to do when you walk in, but Which Wich seems aware of this. The cashier also has the job of asking every single person who walks in if they have been there before, and if not they are given a brief rundown of what to do.

They have one of those awesome a-billion-soft-drinks-in-one-machine things here.

They have one of those awesome a-billion-soft-drinks-in-one-machine things here.

The one thing that stood out about this place was the swarm of flies buzzing around inside the front door. I’m not kidding about this. They were the annoying fly-around-in-a-square-pattern type flies that never land, and they exclusively hung out in a beam of sunlight through the open doorway. I guess it wasn’t really unsanitary since the flies weren’t landing on anything, but it was still weird. I know it was a nice sunny day and all, but close the freaking doors, people. This is a restaurant, not Wild Kingdom.

The slightly pouty teenager making my sandwich called out “Cuban for Tom! Cuban sandwich for Tom!” Oh nice, that’s me. So I walked up to the counter. “Just a minute,” she said sulkily, as though I had asked her to get off the phone and go do her chores. And so I waited another few minutes, standing there awkwardly. “Cuban for Tom!” she called out again. Apparently she meant it this time because I was awarded a sandwich. Alrighty then.

Which wich would a witch witch if a witch could witch a wich?

Which wich would a witch witch if a witch could witch a wich?

The sandwich itself was pretty tasty. It was messy as hell, although that’s not always a bad sign. It was a real challenge to keep drippy toppings off of my clothes, but somehow I managed. I rather appreciated the copious amount of mayonnaise that was used, but my waistline didn’t feel too great about it.

Overall Which Wich is not a bad place for lunch. I’d probably prefer it over Subway, but it’s more or less on par with Togo’s.


Nonstandard Disclaimer of Randomness
No sandwiches were harmed in the writing of this post. Actually, that’s a lie. I totally destroyed that sandwich, and I’d do it again given the opportunity. I’m not entirely sure why a disclaimer is needed to advocate sandwich safety, but I guess there’s a first for everything. Why am I still writing this? Why are you still reading this? These are questions the answers to which may never be known.


Alexander’s Patisserie

meter-good+Alexander’s Patisserie is a relatively new addition to the city of Mountain View. This high end bakery features all sorts of fancy things I can’t pronounce, and people are going nuts for it. Although plagued with a number of “inventory problems” early in its lifecycle, this bakery has made a splash and, now that it has stabilized, seems to be here to stay. It may not be for everybody though.

” It’s nice, but it doesn’t tug at my heartstrings “

The Alexander’s brand started with a not-so-humble steakhouse in Cupertino, and their reputation for absolute culinary excellence has grown from there. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Alexander’s was opening a bakery, but I remained skeptical. You see, I’m not a super duper fan of Alexander’s in general, mostly because overly-gourmet’d anything just kind of turns me off. I know, I know, blasphemy. Alexander’s makes plenty of tasty stuff that I love to eat, and I am always quite happy to enjoy a $180 steak at one of their outstanding restaurants, but they always seem to chef things up one step too far.

The problem with Alexander’s in general is that I don’t really trust them. I feel like if I don’t keep a close eye on what they are doing in the kitchen, they are going to get crazy and put horrible things in my food. No, thank you, I would not like gold-leafed pygmy kangaroo spleen on top of my steak. Please just give me the steak and stop screwing around.

I'm not sure if these are food or not... but they sure are pretty.

I’m not sure if these are food or not… but they sure are pretty.

Alexander’s Patisserie follows the same basic formula as the rest of the brand, and for the most part that is a good thing. This place is spotless. I’m talking surgical cleanliness here; I challenge even the most paranoid of germophobes to find fault in this place. I would have no problem eating off of the floor, and that’s the truth. The immaculate display cases are no exception to the hyper-neatness rule at Alexander’s, and the care put into arranging the displays is clear to see.

Speaking of the display cases, this bakery is truly a feast for the eyes. Never before have I seen such gorgeous baked goods in all my life; if nothing else, it’s worth coming here just to snap a few pictures. It’s impressive.

Colorful little disks of macaron excellence. And yeah, 'whisky' is really a flavor.

Colorful little disks of macaron excellence. And yeah, ‘whisky’ is really a flavor.

Over the course of several visits here, I’ve had an opportunity to sample a decent array of the bakery offerings, and for the most part they are all good. Not necessarily delicious or amazing or omg gimme that right now but just… good. As is their way, they seem to be in the business of taking extra steps in the kitchen to make things more fancy, but not necessarily to make things more delicious. Some people would argue that this is the very thing that makes Alexander’s special, but I’m just not that into it. It’s a still a great bakery though, no doubt. The quality is there, the presentation is there, the cleanliness is there, but one thing is missing: appeal.

You see, the trouble with Alexander’s Patisserie is that it’s so high end it lacks charm. Polish and perfection have come at the price of personality. Nothing feels like it was ever fresh-out-of-the-oven; it all seems like it was assembled in a cleanroom by robots. There is no bakery smell, no wafts of warm air from a nearby oven, no hustle and bustle of busy bakers half covered in flour. Everything is neat and cool and highly processed. It’s nice, but it doesn’t tug at my heartstrings.

The bread offerings are actually a bit disappointing. I hear the croissants are decent though.

The bread offerings are actually a bit disappointing. I hear the croissants are decent though.

So far I haven’t done much besides bash on this innocent bakery, but there’s a good reason for that. I wanted to get all the unpleasantness out of the way before I focus on the highlight of this review. Truth be told, I really enjoy visiting Alexander’s Patisserie. More specifically, I absolutely love two things they make: lattes and kouign amanns. Oh yes, the lattes at this place are absolutely superb – the baristas truly know what they are doing. They’d better for the prices they charge, but I don’t mind the cost. In my book there is no such thing as too high of a price for a truly excellent coffee beverage, and Alexander’s does not disappoint. Major yum factor going on here.

I'm a sucker for foam art. It automatically makes any latte 18.4% more delicious.

I’m a sucker for foam art. It automatically makes any latte 18.4% more delicious.

What else was it that I mentioned? A keegoine-o-what? It’s called a kouign amann, and it is heaven on a tiny little pastry plate. I have no idea how to pronounce it of course, but that should not surprise you. If you’ve never heard of a kouign amann before (I hadn’t), it’s basically a rustic, lightly sweet, layered croissant-like thing. Apparently all the charm in the entire bakery has been focused into this one item, and it shows. The buttery, crispy layers of the kouign amann have just the right texture and softness as you pull them apart, and they go perfectly with one of those fancy lattes I was just raving about.

'Kouign amann' is French for 'Finally, something with character'.

‘Kouign amann’ is French for ‘Finally, something with character’.

At the end of the day, Alexander’s Patisserie is a great way to spend 45 minutes on a Saturday afternoon. There are fancy expensive things you can take pictures of to impress your friends, and if you look closely you’ll find a few delicious morsels to eat too. If you’re a fan of macarons, there is a good variety of flavors (and colors) to choose from, and of course there’s something here for coffee lovers as well. I rate this place 43 out of 50 robotically crafted shiny food spheres – above average but not spectacular. Alexander’s is good enough for an entertaining visit, but I don’t think I could ever truly fall in love with it. I’ll visit anytime for a latte and a kouign amann though.

      Pros
 + Super duper ultra fancy
 – …but no personality
 + Unbelievably clean and neat
 + Prettiest display cases you’ll ever see
++ Kouign amanns and lattes to die for
      Cons
It doesn’t “feel” like a bakery
The bread is just kind of meh
Nothing is cheap here
Nothing is served warm either

Alexander’s Patisserie
209 Castro Street
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 864-9999
www.alexanderspatisserie.com

Alexander's Patisserie on Urbanspoon


Like I said, it's all fancy and stuff.

Like I said, it’s all fancy and stuff.


Small Bite: Easy corn off the cob

” Please do not remove any fingers in the process “

There’s nothing quite like fresh corn. I always like to have a few ears on hand whenever it’s in season – it goes with just about anything. One of my favorite ways to prepare (and eat) corn is to cut it off of the cob and sauté in a skillet with some butter and black pepper. Cutting the corn from the cob isn’t a particularly difficult task, but it can be a bit tricky to do it neatly. I can’t take credit for this technique, but to be honest I’m not sure who can, therefore I’ll go ahead and take all the credit. Thanks.

A bowl in a bowl. So meta.

A bowl in a bowl. So meta.

To keep corn from flying all over your kitchen counter, you’ll need two bowls: one very large and one relatively small. Turn the smaller bowl upside-down and place it inside the larger bowl, stand an ear of corn against the bottom of smaller bowl, and (carefully) cut the kernels off the cob with a very sharp knife. Please do not remove any fingers in the process, and don’t push down too hard with the knife as the corn cobs tend to get rather slippery after a bit of cutting.

Observe photo above. Add corn. Process complete.

Observe photo above. Add corn. Process complete.

The good news is that you now have a bowl full of neatly cut corn kernels, all while keeping your countertops clean. The bad news is that you have an extra bowl to wash, but I’d call that a fair trade.


Nonstandard Disclaimer of Randomness
The vegetable cutting technique detailed in this post involves the use of both a sharp knife and a cerebral cortex, so if you are an idiot please do not attempt. If any part of this post confuses you, please see the previous sentence.


Sweet corn spoonbread

” It’s the hybrid, half-baked lovechild of cornbread and creamed corn “

Spoonbread is apparently a real thing. I had never heard of it before seeing a recipe on Pinterest (this one in fact), but after consulting a few people it seems I’ve been living under a rock. It’s too bad, because I’ve really been missing out. Spoonbread is good.

Skip to the short version

This is one of those 'dump and stir' kind of recipes. It's awesome.

This is one of those ‘dump and stir’ kind of recipes. It’s awesome.

What is spoonbread? The name alone describes it about as well as I could hope to, but I’ll still give it a shot. Spoonbread is the hybrid, half-baked lovechild of cornbread and creamed corn, raised in the wilderness by a pack of untamed bread puddings. It is sweet and stick-to-your-ribs tasty, but not quite a dessert. It’s just about the most perfect side dish for a meal of barbecue that I can imagine. This recipe is just begging to be put in a Dutch oven and lovingly baked in a smoker alongside a slab of brisket or baby back ribs.


Ingredients

  • 1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix (8.5oz)
  • 1 can cream style corn (14.75oz)
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained (15oz)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Other stuff you’ll need

  • a 2 quart casserole dish
  • something to grease the casserole dish with


Directions

As you may have noticed, pretty much all of the ingredients are yellow. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with color-coordinated recipes, provided they taste good. And this one does.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Dump all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir until you have attained a large mass of evenly-mixed yellow goo. Grease your casserole dish, pour in the goo, and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Goo in a casserole dish.

Goo in a casserole dish.

The spoonbread is done when it has “set”, meaning it is not liquidy and has the same approximate texture as bread pudding or underdone cake. If the top is a little browned, it’s probably done.

And this is what it looks like when it's done.

And this is what it looks like when it’s done.

Dish it up, eat it, and enjoy. If anyone you serve it to doesn’t like it, kick them out of your house.

Looks good enough to eat, right? Believe me, it is.

Looks good enough to eat, right? Believe me, it is.




tl;dr

Sweet corn spoonbread

Ingredients

  • 1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix (8.5oz)
  • 1 can cream style corn (14.75oz)
  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained (15oz)
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Other stuff you’ll need

  • a 2 quart casserole dish
  • something to grease the casserole dish with


Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine ingredients until evenly mixed and pour into a 2 quart casserole dish. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until spoonbread has set.



See also