Papa’a Palaoa Bakery


187 Kilauea Ave. * Hilo HI 96720 * 808-935-9700 *

Mission: Liliko’i Ukelele. This also sounds like a flower duo or a tropical poem. I was visiting Robert and William and the ONE thing I was bound and determined to do (besides impose on them ) was to buy a ukelele and seek out a Hilo Bakery.

Mission accomplished! Papa’a Palaoa Bakery IS poetry, serving all kinds of baked yummies with ingredients I can’t imagine tasting better elsewhere. Could you really order Liliko’i pie anywhere but Hawaii?  Rebekkah and Nikki of Papa’a Palaoa were adorable and so friendly fun while they talked me through the selection. Here are their cartoonified selves on terrible paper – note the awesome large hands. I swear every baker I met in Hawaii had the most fabulous hands and I know that sounds like a creepy fetish but it’s true! The hands not the fetish. Tah-dah:


Love these lassies!

Due to the inclusion of plenty ‘o dairy in that day’s pies, I was not able to feast on Liliko’i ….but wait! I walked out with something just as epic which was a vegan cinnamon roll.

Oh my god. That cinnamon roll was unmatched among dairy and non dairy contenders. Not too sweet, and here’s the kicker – not too xantham gummy…wahoo! There is something remarkable going on with vegan desserts in Hawaii. Okay I do have a fetish. For Hawaiian vegan sweets!

For the next two days I planted my ass on Robert and William’s lanai, ate Papa’a Palaoa cinnamon roll, and tortured ‘their’ Pacific Golden Plover with my ukelele squawks. Named Hitch, after Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ – HA – he never answered back but undauntedly plucked away at bugs while I stickily plucked at that roll and the ukelele strings.

Turns out Hitch and I are birds of a feather; we both seasonably claim territory in Robert and William’s back yard and eat. Return and repeat year after year. In homage to Robert, William, and the incredible vegan eats of the Big Island, here is Robert with a pie offering for Pele. Photo actually taken in Mordor-like Volcano National Park:



My migratory compass is set. Back to Hawaii! Back to Papa’a Palaoa Bakery!

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Surfing and Strolling near Papa’a Palaoa Bakery

SURFING: THIS IS HAWAII. Well, not so fast. There’s a lot of inhospitable lava shoreline about, including fresh hot stuff poured off of Kilauea and down into the sea.

STROLLING: Good grief it’s so gorgeous here! All I did was walk around my friend’s neighborhood early in the morning and ‘ooo’ and ‘aaa’ the many many flowers.  There’s also Volcano National Park!


Cheryl at Uncle Robert’s Night Market

Cheryl @ Uncle Robert’s Night Market

Southwest side of Hawaii

 I can’t tell you how to get to Uncle Robert’s Night Market, you have to be local ,or, just end up here somehow some way. The FIRST time I came here, Robert and William and their friend Michael drove me down a dark road – no I wasn’t getting kidnapped – and that’s how I discovered the only Big Live Party I’ve Ever Felt Comfortable At And In Fact Loved. Impossible to put into words and it’ll sound stupid if I do so I won’t. Maybe this feeling has to do with the all ages all styles welcome dancing. In the event you do vector in,  bring your dancing shoes and come hungry because this scene is a smorgasbord of food vendors.

I stumbled past Cheryl amidst an eye-popping medley of other goods and food spreads. Amidst an array of sellers’ displays, there she sat, behind a simple table with a few baked items. Her straight to the point style had a homing effect on me like an unclaimed honeypot to a hungry bear.  “Banana Pie” one of her signs read. Oh my god!


Like Prince, Cheryl needs only one name. Pie doesn’t get better than this

True story; once upon a time, a bear nocturnally broke into Yosemite’s Awanee hotel kitchen and ate 17 banana cream pies. Imagine coming into work that next morning. If you have the opportunity to buy homemade banana pie from a Hawaiian Grandma, for gods’ sake be like that bear and don’t hesitate. Cheryl did not have 17 banana pies, but she did have one and I totally fangirled this poor woman over it.  After making a fool of myself peppering her with questions, I bought a slice and then dorked away towards the band with a huge grin on my face.

Needless to say, Cheryl’s banana pie was spectacular in all ways. Also amazing were Cheryl’s hands – what is it with Hawaiian bakers? – same as Papa’a Palaoa’s crew, these were large hands meant to create great things. The best kind of hands.

 Mahalo to Uncle Robert’s for existing! And to Cheryl,  for feeding this happy bear. Many blessings and dancing for you all!

BONUS: Cheryl has a fabulous face and dress and for the life of me I couldn’t capture it. Numerous attempts were made. The closest I came was the version above and this coloring-book version. I do think her banana pie is legend, so her picture is too:


Fill this in with tropical colors!

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Surfing and Strolling near Uncle Robert’s Night Market


Strolling: Just walking around Robert and William’s neighborhood gave me a thrill. All the flowers! There’s also Volcano National Park!

Tin Shack Bakery

TinShackBakeryAkeakamai Loop * Pahoa HI 96778 * 808-965-9659 *

 Tin Shack Bakery blew my mind.

This literally named cafe/bakery is a – overused term alert ( but true ) – local hub in picturesque ‘ downtown ‘ Pahoa, Hawaii. Yup, it’s that Pahoa, the town that almost got wiped off the map by a lava flow. Goddess Pele spared the township, just barely, for reasons of her own but I like to think that she didn’t want to take out Tin Shack.

By now you realize two things; one: I only give good pie reviews, and two: I eat a fantastic amount of pie. When I say that Tin Shack’s vegan pies are THE MOST INCREDIBLE VEGAN PIES ANYWHERE, you know that this opinion is based on empirical evidence and can be construed as FACT.

The Shack first gifted unto me chocolate tangerine tahini pie. This pie was ridiculous. I took one nibble and immediately afterwards friend Robert and I ran around Volcano National Park, taking hero photos…..OF THE PIE. 

The chocolate tangerine tahini pie disappeared in a fit of gastrointestinal rapture, so I returned to Tin Shack two days later. Lo, vegan key lime pie and Tin Shack’s pie baker were in the house. Said baker did not want her name used, I think because she can vegan bake any kind of pie, including the humble variety. I’m naming her the Vegan Pie Goddess because, hot damn, those vegan pies are epically yummy and creative. Plus I want to talk her up because I’m such  a fan of this gal:


Bow before greatness

Maybe Pele spared Pahoa because she did not want to disturb a vegan pie diety. Mahalo, Pele, Tin Shack, and Vegan Pie Goddess!

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Surfing and Strolling near Tin Shack Bakery

Surfing: in lieu of naming places, I’m naming books instead:

Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku, by David Davis

Eddie Would Go: The Life and Times of a Hawaiian Hero and Pioneer of Big Wave Surfing by Stuart Coleman

Fierce Heart: The Story of Makaha and the Soul of Hawaiian Surfing,  also by Stuart Coleman

Strolling: for god’s sake, just step outside.


Malama Market


15-2664 Pahoa Village Rd. / Pahoa HI / 96778

 The plan here wasn’t to frequent the baked good aisle of chain grocery stores, however, due to an epic clusterfark of traffic planning, if you are lucky enough to reach Malama Market without a fender bender, any kind of celebratory pie sounds like a fine idea.

Malama Market is a regular ol’ grocery store situated in the ‘ugly’ ( yeah sure ) section of Pahoa, Hawaii. What sets it apart is the risk to life and limb trying to reach it. Some genius government planners, in an effort to improve the safety of reaching said mini mall, got bored and increased the traffic accidents near Malama by FOUR HUNDRED PERCENT. Maybe they were paid off by auto body shops. In any case what used to be a simple intersection or two of ho-hum ninety degree angles and straight lines now resembles urban planning by a hedgehog on acid.


For the love of god

My dear friend Robert and I took a risk and popped into Malama Market for taco shells and cheese.  Upon parking in front of the store sans damage we were sweating bullets. Keep in mind the first week upon moving to town, Robert and William were in a car smash in the very same location, so arriving unscathed is a big deal. Damage-free, en route to the taco shells we passed by….PIE.

Giddy with relief, of course we nabbed dessert. Returning to Robert’s home in one ( technically two ) piece,  I admit I was skeptical as the peach pie resembled peach smash more than anything else. Maybe EVERYTHING gets smashed on the way to this place.

Was I in for a surprise. You see, every restaurant in Pahoa, be it a finer dining establishment or a tin shack, is delicious. Malama Market peach pie smash was no exception. Robert and I took first bites and blurted out, ” Hey, this is really good!”


Like Malama’s pie, real hibiscus  is insanely more delectable in person than as a smash sketch

I don’t think the deliciousness of that pie was a result of our post-adrenaline rush. It genuinely tasted great.  Malama Market, I salute you!

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Surfing and Strolling near Malama Market

Surfing: in lieu of naming places, I’m naming books instead:

Waterman: The Life and Times of Duke Kahanamoku, by David Davis

Eddie Would Go: The Life and Times of a Hawaiian Hero and Pioneer of Big Wave Surfing by Stuart Coleman

Fierce Heart: The Story of Makaha and the Soul of Hawaiian Surfing,  also by Stuart Coleman

Strolling: for god’s sake, just step outside.

BONUS WORDS: ‘Smash’, ‘ Delectable’, ‘ Auto Insurance’.







On the Main Street * Stokmarknes, Vesterålen * Norway

Upon hearing my pie plans for Stokmarknes my local friends advised, ” We have two bakeries and they are not very good. ” Undaunted, I visited both of them. This led me to discover the greatest chocolate bar EVER:


 Behold Viking chocolate. This giant nugget is thick as my little finger and soooo delicious. It’s found in stores all over Norway – admittedly I’m pretending to speak for the entirety of Norway, and I never wandered below the Arctic circle. Fantastic for hot chocolate and breaking off ‘just a wee bite to warm up, ‘ never mind this excuse being torpedoed by the warming Gulf Stream that chugs along the Norwegian coast.

Stokmarknes is also gingerbread-happy, and they host a gingerbread ‘house’  contest every year. The entries are displayed in a downtown window, and this is how I found myself standing on an Arctic sidewalk in December laughing out loud:


Bwaaah hahahahahaha!!!

Who made this Trump tower?! Can I invite them to dinner?! Can I make THEM president instead ?! Normally I don’t trace but for the sake of capturing every nuance I went for it here.  I love the Scandinavian style hearts and stars on the side of the building. The helicopter and martini glass  – ( oops forgot to draw it, pretend it’s on the floor behind the figurine ) – are fantastic details , could one be disqualified for adding non-edible elements?

It goes without saying this tower is an infinite improvement on the larger version. Stokmarknes, you and your gingerbread parodies are forever in my heart!

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SURFING and STROLLING in Stokmarknes

[ Pie tastes better when you’re hungry ]

SURFING: There is! More or less. My surfing friend/host was telling me about various places that probably work. On the right swells. In summer. Some exploration and patience is in order. Bucket list!

STROLLING: Repeat the following, ” No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”, and you should be fine. Surrounded by mountains and fjords, Stokmarknes has 360º of hikes of various lengths and difficulties. ESSENTIAL, however, are ‘pigger’, that means ‘shoe spikes’ in Norwegian. Forgo spiked shoes and you’ll enjoy a worm’s eye view – because you fell on your ass – of locals literally running down the icy street.

 One of my favorite walks is the Stokmarknes Aurora Interval Training Workout. This stroll cannot be planned, nor is there a set path. To find this trail, you A) Park yourself at your Stokmarknes friends’ house, stay up half the night, and obsess over the current-time, online Tromsø magnetometer. B) When the levels start spiking, throw on your warm clothes, run outside and up the water tower hill. C) Pace around, “Ooo”,” Aaaa”,  and enjoy nature’s light show. D) Walk down the hill when the aurora peters out, then run back up the hill when you’re at the bottom and the green lady makes another appearance. E) Return to your friend’s house when the sky calms down, repeat A-E multiple times. F) Hot chocolate and collapse.



KAFFEBONNA * Stortoget 3 * 9008 Tromsø * NORWAY * 47 77 63 94 00

Part bakery/cafe, part pit-stop from the weather, this ideally located bakery is within walking distance from anywhere in Tromsø’s center. Surrounded on two sides by large windows, you can sit with your pie and coffee, ogle the Arctic blue light, and if you sit strategically facing south-east ( lame tourist’s guess ), across the water you face what could be the grandest homage to a baked good anywhere:


Behold, the Ishavskatedralen, aka The Arctic Cathedral, and pride of Tromsø.  The reasons for the Ishavskatedral’s iconic design are still up for speculation. If you’re anyone but me. CLEARLY this landmark is an enormous piece of pie! I mean, take a look:


Is it not obvious

Holy Pie Wedge!

I recommend the Tromsø pie pilgrimage; walk across the bridge aka wind tunnel to the Ishavskatedral. Pay respects. Walk back to the sentrum and experience the true meaning of wind chill. Seek shelter in Kaffebønna and delight in pie and a delicious cup of coffee, all the while with the northernmost icon of pie within sight. Lovely!

Quick note: I did cheat as Kaffebønna did not have pie on the day I visited. In addition, with 9 hours of jet lag an interview seemed foolhardy. So I ordered the next closest thing to pie, a kanelsnurr. No you sickos, it is not brains, though appearances look deceiving in the picture. Nor is it ‘Camel snot’ though a bad translation is tempting. Kanelsnurr is aka ‘cinnamon swirl” a not-sticky, most outstanding cinnamon roll I’ve ever eaten! I don’t know what they did to it, but le swirl was light, not-too-sweet, and thus a cinch to eat in one sitting. Can I have another, please?!


Defective Sketch of Successful Pastry Event!

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The northernmost brewery! Arctic tapas! Beer samples! Tromsø Beer Safari is a hoot and plan for 10 samples not 5 which I misheard in the beginning, oh my.  You probably don’t need to buy tickets 6 months in advance like I did, but who am I to argue with long term goals. Tromsø Beer Safari will not disappoint!


Surfing: There is! Kind of. In the general area. There are also known places in Lofoten, nowhere near Tromsø of course, but hey since we’re in the same part of the world…. check out my next bucket list item: Unstad Arctic Surf.

Strolling: EVERYONE walks in Norway. Inclement weather is no excuse. In Tromsø , as previously mentioned there is the Pie Pilgrimage stroll from Kaffebønna to the Arctic Cathedral and back. Or, point your feet at a peak or well-marked-on-a-tourist-map trail and go. Prestvannet is a local lake that makes for a small easy hike and I’ve vowed to return to Tromsø to ‘attempt’ it. The real challenge strolling around here is not feeling embarrassed falling on one’s arse while locals are BICYCLING UP icy hills!