I’ve discovered a lot over the last few weeks. I’ve discovered how beautiful the people in my life really are. How precious what I had with Kappel actually was, and how my heart has come to process those things as time slowly passes. I say “discovered” because when blurry images become sharp, it feels like you’re seeing them for the first time. I knew we went on a disproportionate amount of adventures. I knew the things he loved to do complemented the things I loved to do, and that our hearts wanted to move through life in the same direction. But the details that filled in the space of our relationship sometimes flowed beneath the radar. They came naturally, and now that I have distance from him I’m able to notice them in a way I couldn’t before. Details like how much we changed and inspired each other. How I finally learned to ride a motorcycle because he pushed me to tackle that dream. How we both geeked out over Playmobils and woke up the little kids in each other. How he fell in love with food because I loved it so much. We learned so many new things about ourselves because of each other. I have to collapse under that truth sometimes and just cry. We let ourselves be seen, and be changed for the better by each other. I think that’s the most beautiful thing we ever accomplished.
Our last big trip was to Hawaii with Bon Appétit and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau. It was a food-focused journey that led us across the four islands of Oahu, Kauai, Maui and The Big Island. We tasted all the things, and loved it. I would normally write about an experience like that from my own perspective. I would talk about what I loved in each place, what the tastes were like, what spots I would recommend based on my own preferences…but I don’t want to do that here. I want to talk about what Kappel loved. I want to share what it was like to watch him light up over bruschetta at The Pig & The Lady on Oahu. I want to talk about his favorites, the places he would have told you to go, because my heart exploded every time he got excited about food. I knew it was something we loved together…and was a part of him that came alive a little more when he was with me.
So here’s how Kappel tasted Hawaii, and another batch of reasons I love him so much.
Kappel loved the shrimp trucks. We drove aimlessly one afternoon and ended up on the north shore at Macky’s Sweet Shrimp Truck where we holed up under a big umbrella at a picnic table while a storm blew in. He got the garlic butter shrimp over white rice with a side of vegetables. I got the lemon shrimp. He tasted both and definitely preferred the garlic (so did I).
We visited the Hawaiian Shochu Company to learn about (and taste) Japan’s favorite drink next to sake. It was a private tour with the sweet owner, and Kappel couldn’t get enough of his stories. Usually, he would film while I talked to people. But he loved the conversation so much that I took over camera duty. I loved watching him be free while getting to know people, absorbing what they were passionate about and celebrating it with them. At the end of the tour, we did a tasting. Shochu is a rice-based spirit with sweet potato, fermented with Koji-kin, a mold used to break down the starches in the rice and potato. The flavors came through beautifully, and we departed with 2 bottles. We had no room left in our bags, but Kappel was determined to get them home and he made it happen. My bottle is unopened, on the counter in my kitchen. I’ll keep it there.
Koloa Rum Company was a lot of fun. We went for a tasting, learned a lot about rum, and Kappel insisted that we buy the Mai-Tai mix and a bottle of coffee rum. From there, we drove out to the canyon and stopped along the way for a coffee rum picnic. He loved that moment. We sat on the edge while the fog rolled out, sipped and took pictures.
We went on an official Kauai food tour and got to stop at Wailua Shave Ice. It was a beachy, cherry red, happy little trailer and Kappel got the Stumptown Coffee flavor. I got a fruity one, he tasted both, preferred the Stumptown. We were both really impressed by how refreshing the shave ice was.
O’o Farm was incredible. It’s a full farm to table experience. It starts with a tour. You eat from the trees and pick your own salad, then you make your way to the dining area where the chef gives a menu intro, then you make friends while everything comes to life. Finally, you eat on a beautiful hillside at a big family table. With our full plates in front of us, new friends next to us, and a sweet breeze blowing, we looked at each other and said, “What is our life??” Beautiful.
The Mai Tais at Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (say it 5x fast) spoiled us both. We spent an evening at the bar, tasting what became our favorite beverage of the entire trip. Kappel loved that they weren’t too sweet, and that the fruit flavors were so fresh. We agreed they were the best, and would recommend them across the boards.
ISLAND OF HAWAII
On our last day, we met at Daylight Mind Coffee Company for breakfast before heading out for a day of shooting with Mark and Soni from Moon & Turtle and the HVCB team. Kappel loved the food at Daylight Mind. We had dinner at one of their other locations earlier on in the trip, and that was a great experience too. I ordered the Avocado Toast that morning and he had the Eggs Benedict. He LOVED Eggs Benedict, so was pretty picky and Daylight Mind nailed it.
Later that day, we visited Hirabara Farm where Mark cooked for all of us in the outdoor kitchen right next to the farm. Then we ate together right on the farm. We made some beautiful friends that day and it was the highlight of our entire trip. Kappel loved connecting with the owners, Pam and Kurt. He wanted to go back. We walked away feeling like they were family, and talked about making plans to visit again. When Kappel fell in love with people, I fell in love with him more. It wasn’t just about the food that day, which was incredible (Mark is an insanely talented chef). It was walking into a situation as strangers and walking away with bonds that led Soni to send me a box full of Hawaiian treats and a beautifully comforting letter when she found out about the accident.
Kappel was changed by our Hawaii trip and so was I. We checked a lot of items off our bucket list, and added a lot of new ones. Our desire to travel and gather with people over food for the purpose of going deeper, loving better and connecting in a more true way grew tremendously. That’s a big part of the journey we were on, both professionally and in our relationship. That journey continues for me and I will honor it. Our hearts intertwined there. We loved people, food, and the process of overcoming fear so that we could venture into beautiful places like this and experience the hearts and souls of precious human beings. It opened up the doors to so much life, and I will keep after that. And find healing in it.