Thursday, June 21, 2012

Acca Kappa Military Style Brush

One of my favorite things to use when I travel is the Acca Kappa Military Style Hair Brush. Every since it was featured in a GQ article, the company has had trouble keeping it in stock. In the article Scott Schuman wrote: "Ever wonder how guys like Cary Grand and Errol Flynn got such shiny hair? I did, until I bought this Acca Kappa brush, which creates a natural sheen on its own. I think it has something to do with how close together the bristles are and how this allows light to reflect off one's hair."

It's a product I've come to use regularly that I own two: one for home and one for travel. The brush is made of Kotibe wood and pure boar bristles which tend to be stiff. Acca Kappa indicates the brush is designed to stimulate the scalp and polish the hair shaft.

The product can be purchased at Acca Kappa's flagship store at the Venetian's Grand Canal Shoppes in Las Vegas or from the Acca Kappa online store. The brush costs $34 and is also available in white bristles. The brush is also available on (price varies).

Visit for more information. I've recently discovered the company's Cedar (Cedro) scent for men available for $64 (3.3 oz) in-store and online. It is made with essential oils of cedar wood distinguished by its fresh balsam notes of cedar and moss.

Acca Kappa store at the Venetian Grand Canal Shoppes
(photos: Acca Kappa)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Afdal Airlines on "Sex and the City 2": A Copy of the Emirates A380

This is one of a series of posts about the Emirates A380:

The 2010 sequel "Sex and the City 2" should have been called either "Sex and the Desert" or "Sex and the Excess". It was a film that totally lost touch with what made it popular and suffered in extreme lavishness of consumerism. One of these excesses included the four main characters (Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis and Cynthia Nixon) flying first class to Abu Dhabi.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Cattrall (above images: New Line Cinema)
Of course they had to travel in style flying on the fictional airline Afdal Air. It was obvious their flight accommodations were designed after the Emirates A380 manufactured by Airbus. The first class cabin was replicated exactly to include the suites with sliding privacy doors and social lounge where the gang enjoy a round of Cosmos.

(note: This post was originally published on March 5, 2011. This post separates the portion of the article dealing with the A380 featured in the "Sex and City 2" movie. The original post now only features the portion about the film "Flightplan" which featured an airplane similar to the A380.)

The airplane suite set featured in "Sex and the City 2".
(photo: PropNSpoon)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Orchids Restaurant at the Halekulani Hotel

Verry Berry Mojito at Orchids.
Not only guests of the Halekulani Hotel can enjoy the ocean view. Diners
at Orchids can enjoy the same experience.
(above photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
I've been longing to again dine at Orchids at the Halekulani Hotel ever since I ate their exquisite version of the local favorite dish called the the loco moco. Picture a red wine poached egg in lieu of a sunny-side egg found at most local restaurants topping a perfectly shaped mound of rice and hamburger. That was for lunch so it was great to have the opportunity to return for dinner.

One of the high-end dining options at Waikiki hotels, Orchids offers one of the most spectacular views of the beach at Waikiki. The restaurant also has one of the best Sunday brunch buffets on the island.

Starting with a Verry Berry Mojito ($12; white rum, fresh berries, lime juice, mint leaves, splash of soda over ice), it's one of the best cocktails I've had ever. I have a sweet tooth which it satisfied but it's the refreshing taste that matched this cool summer evening that made it special.

It should be noted that the menu is a la carte and appetizers are per person. The focus of the dinner menu at Orchids is contemporary seafood but meat options are available.

This is the Halekulani Hotel which represents a high standard in the hospitality industry and the service at the restaurant is impeccable.

For a starter, the Big Island Abalone ($16) with Sea Asparagus, Tomato and Fennel Nege is filled with light flavors and the broth worth eating to the last spoonful.

Beef Tenderloin ($45) with Green Peas Puree, Potatoes, Olives, Hawaiian Sea Salt, Beetroot and Balsamic Jus. After just having a fine steak at BLT Steak nearby, I should have gone with the seafood option, but I love a perfectly prepared steak and this one was accented by the deep flavor of the balsamic jus. I remember an episode of the television series "Top Chef" about judges commenting on how perfect they loved a contestants pea puree. This is how I imagined it tasted.

Raspberry Bavarian ($11; praline crunch, rose marshmallow and red currant). If feel like ordering a second serving of a dish either it wasn't enough or it was delicious and refreshing that you couldn't get enough of it. This dessert fits the latter description.

As usual a selection of three kinds of bread presented before dinner.

Make a reservation for early in the evening and you'll likely be able to snag one of tables on the restaurant lanai. The views of the ocean are wonderful made all the better by the cool Hawaiian breeze.

Another view of the covered seating on the Orchid lanai.
(above photos: TheHopefulTraveler)

Visit for more information. Hours: Breakfast 7:30am-11am (Mon-Sat); Lunch 11:30am-2pm (Mon-Sat); Dinner 6pm-10pm daily; Sunday Brunch Buffet 9:30am-2:30pm. Note that the restaurant has a dress code. For day: resort attire. Dinner service: collared shirts and slacks for gentleman, evening attire for ladies.

BLT Steak at Trump Hotel Waikiki

"BLT" stands for Bistro Laurent Tourondel.
The entrance to BLT at the corner of Saratoga and Kalia Road.
(above photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
One of the most exciting restaurants to enter the Hawaii market is a location of BLT Steak, located in the Trump International Hotel in Waikiki, which elevates the classic American steakhouse with a French finesse. During my staycation at the neighboring Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach I had the opportunity to dine at BLT Steak on Friday evening.

I love pre-fixe menus especially when dining at fine restaurant for the first time. BLT Steak offers one called the Prix Fixe Blackboard Menu, a $60 four-course meal which consists of two selections of appetizers, entree, side and dessert of which the diner picks one from each category. It's a bargain when tabs at fine steakhouses easily can top $100 per person. Drinks are not included. For my pairing with the menu, I chose a glass of the Pino Grigio ($10) and a bottle of still water.

When ordering a bottle of wine or water, the server will ask the diner if they would like to keep it chilled or left on the table. In the center of the dining room is a table where a large ice bucket is holding bottles to chill. Friendly servers are always a benefit in making the diner feel comfortable in the restaurant and our server was enthusiastic in offering highlights of the BLT Steak menu.

Included with dinner is Chicken Liver Pate with Ciabatta Bread. The pate is not oily and provides a hearty topping to the toasted bread.

From the prix-fixe menu, Kulana Strip Loin Tataki with Wasabi Meringue and Ponzu. Fresh and bright flavor highlight this dish with a delightful taste from the meringue. The other choice from the menu is a Braised Octopus (Tako) with Shaved Fennel and Black Garlic Vinaigrette.

Who doesn't love popovers? Included with dinner these are hot and airy and served with whipped butter and sea salt, I could have eaten a couple of these.

From the prix-fixe menu, Herb Roasted Mushrooms and Potato Gnocchi. This rich side could have been a meal in itself. The other selection from the menu is Braised Leeks with Cipollini Onion and Sea Asparagus Pesto.

What it's all about: A 12 oz Grass Fed Wagyu Rib Eye with Roasted Bone Marrow and Herb Butter. The perfect medium cooked steak should be delectable that each bite just almost melts in your mouth with flavor. This steak fits the bill. The bone marrow is a sinful extra. The second selection for the prix-fixe menu is a Brown Butter/Vanilla Bean Alaska Halibut with Steamed Mussels.

The steak is served hot in the pan with a generous slice of butter.

From the pre-fixe menu, a Strawberry Napoleon. A satisfying end to the hearty meal comprised of a refreshing strawberry mousse and sauce and honey if not easy to cut because of the crispy tulle. The second dessert selection is a Chocolate Cherry Cake.

Two complimentary brownies were served after dessert. The pieces are appropriately bite-sized after this filling dinner.

The restaurant is separated into three sections. A bar with that includes small tables and low chairs and the main dining room which is comprised of indoor and outdoor seating. Being this is Hawaii, it appeared the large number of guests were visitors looking for an outdoor dining experience. Those tables filled quickly. Furnishings in various shades of cocoa are in contrast with the floor to ceiling windows that surrounds the restaurant on three sides and the mirrors and white columns inside. Tables along the banquette feel rather close but uncomfortable is the banquette itself which was not designed for comfort in proportion to heigh of the dining tables. I am guessing this is why throw pillows are lined  along the seating.

Click HERE to view the menu. Visit or for more information. Reservations accepted online on each website or by calling 808-683-7440. Free valet parking for four hours at Trump International Hotel with restaurant validation.

Guests have a choice indoor or outdoor seating. This photo was taken
on yesterday morning.
BLT Steak is separated into a bar section and a main dining room.
(above photos: TheHopefulTraveler)

Waikiki Beach Walk: Restaurant, Retail, Hotel and Entertainment Complex

Central plaza of Waikiki Beach Walk.
Second level walkway.
(above photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
Over seven years ago this corner of Waikiki was a collection of dated and crowded streets and cramped hotels built in the 1950s and 1960s. After a $535 million redevelopment, this eight-acre area bordered by Kalakaua Avenue, Lewers Street, Kalia Road, Beach Walk and Saratoga Road has emerged as a vibrant gathering place called Waikiki Beach Walk.

The name is almost a misnomer since the heart of Waikiki Beach Walk straddles two sides of Lewers Street and not Beach Walk the street. The pedestrian-friendly project is comprised of restaurants, shopping, a central plaza, wide sidewalks, tropical plants a water fountain and buildings renovated into upscale hotels. One block was completely demolished to make way for a new 350-foot tower.

Yesterday I finished an excellent staycation at the Embassy Suites Waikiki Beach. The hotel's Aloha and Hula Towers rises above the complex's central plaza. Occupying the east side of Waikiki Beach Walk is Wyndham Vacation Ownership. Also within the project limits are newly built Trump International Hotel Waikiki and the renovated Outrigger Reef on the Beach, the hotel brand's flagship property. Adjacent to the Waikiki Beach Walk hotels is luxury property the Halekulani Hotel and its sister hotel the Waikiki Parc and the Outrigger Waikiki Shore condo/vacation rental.

Among the 47 tenants on two levels are some popular restaurants: Yard House known for its extensive collection of beers, Roy's Waikiki featuring Chef Roy Yamaguchi's Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. Need something fast and cheap, head over to Subway, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or ABC Stores. Specialty retailers offers a collection of gift and clothing stores.
(story continued below)

Chairs and tables for Cheeseburger Beachwalk on the complex's
second level.
View from the second level of the central plaza.
(above photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
Key to the design of the central plaza is providing a space for entertainment and play. Waikiki Beach Walk features a regular Sunday showcase of free music performances as well as yoga classes on Wednesdays.

It appeared that Waikiki Beach Walk was the new hangout for local residents and visitors alike. But after the downturn in the economy, the complex like hotels and other shopping centers in Waikiki struggled to keep its tenants busy. Over its first five years in operation Waikiki Beach Walk has seen a turnover of its retail and restaurant spaces mainly on its second level. It's saving grace is being the prime restaurant and shopping option for the complex's on-site hotels.

Still Waikiki Beach Walk is a beautiful addition to Hawaii's most popular visitor destination. It's an inviting complex that complements the neighboring hotels and is almost like an extension of the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. It has rejuvenated this corner of Waikiki, a trend that has extended to other properties on Kalakaua Avenue.

Visit for more information. Valet parking available at the Embassy Suites porte cochere (enter from Beach Walk) for $6 with same-day purchase from any Waikiki Beach Walk shop or restaurant. Additional parking available at Wyndham Vacation Ownership (enter on Lewers Street).

The pedestrian-friendly walkways of Waikiki Beach Walk.
The shops on the east side of Lewers Street.
A water feature at Waikiki Beach Walk. The wording on the fountain
features Hawaiian words and its translation: I hear the sweetly voiced
water, let it ripple, let it rise. The sign advertises the Waikiki Beach
Walk's Sunday Showcase.
The walkway of Waikiki Beach Walk segues into the west end of the
Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center.
A plumeria tree among the tropical plants at the complex.
The Embassy Suites Hula Tower is located conveniently above
the heart of Waikiki Beach Walk.
The Embassy Suites Aloha Tower rises above Waikiki Beach Walk.
(above photos: TheHopefulTraveler)

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