Sometimes I think was it all a dream, did that actually happened?
The people, the place, the food, and of course the waves! Six winters, and summers spent learning how to survive on Hawaii’s North Shore. What the surf world has dubbed “The Seven Mile Miracle,” The North Shore of Oahu is home to the best surf breaks on the planet. If you’re a surfer I highly recommended that you make the pilgrimage to this holly land of surfing in your lifetime. On my 23rd birthday after surviving cancer I made mine.
When I left Vancouver I knew nothing about surfing, or even if I would like it, but I had to see. My need to surf came from my earliest memories of growing up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. While most kids were dreaming of the NHL, I was dreaming of getting perfect barrels somewhere tropical. The only surfing outlet I remember at that age was a Surfer Magazine my friend’s dad had brought home with him from a vacation he went on to California. Those images are still burned into my mind much like the many great rides I had during my time spent in Hawaii. Six years living in Hawaii during the golden age of society before social media and the hype. It was a special time where I discovered some really cool spots to get fed and re hydrate after surfing.
Almost all the recipes on Islands Cafes menu are recreations of North Shore recipes I discovered while there. Around the second year of my stay a few friend and me built a cast iron coffee roaster and began roasting beans we picked from wild coffee trees growing in the Waimea Valley. It was a great way to profile coffee in a way that was in the true sprit of discovery and nothing else motivating it. Some of the best coffee I have ever experienced came out of that drum! It’s a large reason we decided to buy our own roasters, so we could continue to define what makes the perfect cup of coffee. The time I spent in Hawaii was amazing, the people I met even more amazing, the food, drinks, and culture are a huge part of who I am today. I enjoy healthy, good, clean tasting food, thats what we set out to do with Islands Cafe.
With my amazing wife as my partner we began a cafe based on the experiences and recipes we both fell in love with while living on the North Shore. Some of the menu is Hawaiian influenced and the rest comes from "surf culture".The First big hurtle opening Islands Cafe other then money was finding the exact recipe to make our Menu taste like we knew to in Hawaii. We wanted the Poke to taste exactly like the Kahuku Superette's Poke where I tried my first poke bowl. Poke is an amazing source of iron and protein and its texture is perfect. If you surfed everyday, which most North Shore residents did, the body needed real energy - it craves it. The lean and clean Ahi provides the best protein to heal sore and torn muscle fibres and the taste is undeniable. Many trips east to the town of Kahuku to grab a Poke Bowl and a cold beer from the Superette after a long surf somewhere along the 7-mile.Our most popular item at Islands Café is the North Shore Acai Bowl.For five months I worked in the most popular smoothie shack in Hawaii, and as far as I know the first to bring the Brazilian berry bowl to Hawaii.
It wasn't long before the best surfers and artists all started lining up. John John Florence, Kelly Slater, Jack Johnson, even movie stars would show up like Tom Hanks, and Adam Sandler for an Acai Bowl. But mostly it was the local surfers who lined up daily to get their fix of healthy glucose sugars, and organic granola giving their bodies the needed energy to charge massive waves.The North Shore was also known for some really amazing parties.
The big charity events at Waimea Bay, reggae nights in Haleiwa, or The Annual Lifeguard Party on Halloween. The next morning you were hurting and the best place for comfort food was Ted’s Bakery at Sunset Beach for a breakfast sandwich and Kona coffee.Our Ted’s breakfast sandwich is a more healthy version of the original but we kept the main ingredients the same.
With our newest addition of a coffee Roaster we began to refine our coffee palette, and we encourage you to come try our coffee. Whether you have been to Hawaii or not, Islands Café will be an experience that will keep you coming back. Our goal is to provide all our customers with a higher quality of food, drink, and atmosphere. Come check us out and let us know your thoughts on any of our social media channels.Mahalo,Robb Harding