A life consumed by food. A lifetime consuming food.
I planned a kayaking trip at Deer Lake almost a month in advance. I found later that the Powell Street Festival was also taking place that weekend. I didn’t want to miss the Powell Street Festival another year, so I decided to add it to the schedule even though not everyone could make it to both events. The plan was to head out to the lake in the morning, kayak for a few hours, relax with a picnic lunch, and then part ways for the festival. Somehow, the day didn’t quite go as planned.
In the morning I was late, very late, meeting up with the rest of the group. Luckily my sister and brother in-law, who came up from the states, were more tardy than I was. We called Deer Lake Boat Rentals and the staff there were more than happy to accommodate us even though we were over an hour late for our reservation and using Groupons on top of that (Thank you Deer Lake Rentals!).
When we finally arrived, it took a while to round everyone up to get our kayaks. Once we got into them, it didn’t take us very long to reach the opposite side of the lake, but it was an awkward ride. My kayak was constantly steering to one side, and my brain wasn’t cooperating with my arms while I tried to navigate through the water. Even though I wasn’t too skilled at kayaking, we finished touring the lake in only 45 minutes. At that point I realized that the All Bran bar I had for breakfast wasn’t going to be sufficient for another hour and 15 minutes. I wasn’t the only one who was feeling peckish, so my kayak partner and I decided to paddle back to the car, retrieve the food and enjoy it out on the lake. We told everyone else what our plan was and started paddling away.
I packed an assortment of fruits (strawberries, pears, and grapes) and cheeses (cheddar, brie, and jalapeno Monterey Jack), a sliced baguette and balsamic onion marmalade, but I didn’t slice the cheese ahead of time. I forgot to pack a cutting board, so we ended up hacking the cheese into slices with plastic knives in the trunk of the car, using the Tupperware lids. The entire group came onto dry land because like us, they couldn’t wait to eat.
In addition to what I had brought, we also ate Spicy Cheetos (American Import), bow tie pasta salad, and fruit tarts. We had originally planned for Church’s fried chicken to be part of the spread, but since we were only 45 minutes into our 2 hour rental it would have been a waste of time. After some sustenance, we journeyed out onto the lake again. My arms and my brain, now getting along again, were now able to glide the kayak through the water, correcting for any course deviations without even thinking about it. We circled the lake once more and retired the kayaks at the dock.
Half of the group made it to the festival, I made sure I was with the lucky half. The very first booth I saw was the Spam Musubi booth, my jaw dropped and my eyes willed my legs towards it. I grasped a musubi parcel in my hand, tearing into the crispy seaweed. Seasoned rice and lightly fried SPAM (the meat underdog). How can something so bad be sooooo good?
We shuffled through the crowd and found that there was a bit of a wait for the shaved ice. Our lips, parched from the salt loaded Spam and the warm weather, were getting more anxious by the second. After an eternity, we finally got to the front of the line. We shared a rainbow shaved ice topped with creamy, thick condensed milk. As I crunched the ice, the only distinct flavor I made out was the lime. So I tried different sections of the bowl hoping to recognize another flavor. Spoon after spoon, reaching into the pool of blue sugar-water at the bottom of the bowl. I wasn’t able to make out any other flavor, but it definitely quenched my thirst.
After dessert we moved onto our mains, the first being yakisoba and a potato croquette. The second entrée was the “everything combo”, which consisted of grilled onigiri, chicken yakitori, and okonomiyaki. The stalls were pumping out the food, one plate after another, trying to keep up with the line of customers. Nothing sat around and so plates were almost too hot to handle.
Our croquettes were fresh out of the fryer, revealing a creamy potato filling beneath a crispy outer layer of panko. The croquette was accented with the traditional ponzu sauce, a tangy, sweet, and sour topping.
Although yakisoba is a pretty run of the mill dish, it was above and beyond anything I’d find at a local Japanese restaurant. The favorite of the “everything combo” was the onigiri. It’s strange how the simplest things, like seasoned grilled rice can steal the show.
We walked a few of the calories off looking at what the vendors had to offer. There were plenty of trinkets, jewelry, and artists showcasing their talent. I homed in on the food themed merchandise like the sushi jewelry and mushroom dolls.
After touring the entire festival we were still stuffed, but we didn’t leave without getting some Spam musubi to-go.