Up with the birds this morning at 5 am loving the coolth of the morning in Hilo ready to hit the Hilo Farmers Market for a 6am opening. It will be a little less populated due to the Puna farmers getting hit by the hurricane but I vow to find a new breakfast joint, superb coffee and try not to buy anything superfluous.
So who do I meet up with first thing as I troll the stands but Tedd, chef brother at the Full Moon Cafe, who is in true form picking the herbs, greens, fruits and veg for the lunch and dinner meals. He greets me with a wide smile, chirpy voice and thanks me profusely for yesterday’s blog about Full Moon. And when asked for a tip for breakfast and coffee points me a block down on Punahou street to a little hole-in-the-wall called Pauls inside of a B&B. He also introduces me to Helen, the Chilli Lady who has a groaning table of exotic pods and we talk story for a half hour and compare notes.
The market is awash in flowers from multi coloured anthuriums, to birds of paradise, orchids and gingers. THen there are the stands filled with fruit from all around the island, many I’ve never seen before.
It was tempting to pick up a manapua (doughy bun filled with meat or veges), tamales, empanadas or spring rolls but I was determined to find Paul’s and have a proper breakfast, albeit healthy. But first, NEED COFFEE!!!
I was in luck to find a stand selling my favourite Aikane Plantation from Kau, the new upstart to Kona just down the volcano a ways towards Hilo. I went for a sample cup, then a refill and talked coffee story with Reverend Bob, the vendor and savoured the mini cups, breaking down and picking up two kilos of beans. The first of probably 15 keys which I’ll squirrel away in the wine cellar this year.
Then a block down the street, looking for a sign for Paul’s but none appeared, looked around the corner of the Pakalana Inn at the corner of Punhou, but no luck, just a ukulele store and a greasy spoon. Back to the door on the side of the building and voila! Aloha! Dis da place, truly a puka-in-the-reef. Two steps up and the room is cozy with only two tables, one for four and one for two. I was greeted by Frank Sinatra on the stereo, no papers and Paul, the owner and cook whose kitchen had only one hotplate to cook.
He had another gig running the gourmet hot dog stand at Lowe’s hardware store and opened this place in a dicey looking neighbourhood but with the traffic from the farmers market and word of mount over three years. Why no sign? “Ahhh, fell down two weeks, no have time to put up again… maybe weekend.”
Coffee? Yep Ka’u and black as nightshade. The menu is tasty but small and he serves lunch as well as the faves of waffles and Eggs Benedict. I took thee latter option with smoked salmon and was served a water first that had been infused with flowers and fruit essence–subtle, almost imperceptible, but delicious.
Two sets of couples came in but had to return because the other table was reserved and they weren’t going to hurry me up. Hilo is like that–come back later. Breakfast was then served and the owner of the Inn came through doing repairs to the front door and getting the day started for another turnover of guests. A charming little place right in town and good value.
The only sad part leaving was going by the roadworks where the lanes are being widened and traffic is at a standstill. Funny enough, the song that came up ws Joni Mitchell’s “Pave Paradise and Put Up A Parking Lot”. Too true dat.