Friday, November 19, 2010

Memories from Rarotonga

There's an island in the South Pacific called Rarotonga...
And I'm just going to say this....
It doesn't suck.

I headed down there about 7 years ago when Aloha Airlines had a short lived route out of Honolulu.
Rarotonga lies in the remote Cook Islands. It's about 6 hours by jet southwest of Hawaii and it's one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.
There's a restaurant there called "Sails" and it sits on white Muri Beach along a tranquil topaz colored lagoon. It's a lazy kind of place of course with a large wooden deck and the occasional island mutt lounging in the shade of a picnic table. And then at night, it's a must see.... with the Southern Cross sparkling between the palm trees on the motu just off shore. It's the kind of place Michener would have written about.... 
I spent many long afternoons at Sails.... Not only for the techni-color view and trancy world music but for the food of course. Yes, the food was spectacular.....So much so, that many of my staple, homemade dishes came from this very place.
And here's one of them....

Sail's Greek Salad
8 Roma tomatoes cubed
2 peeled cucumbers cubed
1/3 red onion sliced very thin
handful of minced basil
1/2 cup or more kalamata olives
3/4 cup cubed feta
1/2 lemon juiced
about 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
about 2-3 Tbs Meyer Lemon olive oil
pinch of red pepper flakes
cracked black pepper and flaky sea salt to taste

Use dark, red, meaty, tomatoes like Roma.
Red onion sliced paper thin.
Squeeze of lemon....
The beauty of this salad ( and all the gorgeous food I ate in the Cooks ) was the simplicity of it.
No preserved ingredients and everything was super fresh and island grown...
The trick to this dish is to cut the main ingredients ( tomatoes, feta, cucumbers and kalamata olives ) into roughly the same size cube.
Now, add a handful of thin sliced onion and a handful of minced basil.
 For the dressing: I simply whisked together the lemon juice, red wine vinegar, Meyer Lemon olive oil, cracked red pepper, a pinch of red chili flakes and flaked sea salt to taste.
Now, just toss everything together and that's it!
(Sails Restaurant on Muri Beach click for website and menu)


  1. Wow! Seems like my kind of place! The salad looks good too. I bet I could replace the feta with Follow Your Heart Monterrey Jack and make it vegan. Yum!

  2. This salad reminds me so much of home - I am originally from Bulgaria living in Boston right now. I think we have a lot in common - I too cook a lot vegetarian and vegan. Love your blog!

  3. Gah! I LOVE Greek Salad; I am definitely trying out this recipe ASAP!! :)

  4. Wow, what an incredible looking flavor combo! Anything with Greek influences is awesome in my book :)