I think I need a vacation. I know what you’re thinking. Are you not off work for Thanksgiving? And were you not in Yellowstone just three months ago? Yes, I know. The wanderlust bug has bit me hard.
Since our next trip is a good 6 months away, I’m making due by reminiscing on past travels and planning for future trips. Food is an easy way to reconnect with travel memories, so I’ve found myself recreating favorite dishes. A few weeks ago, during a particularly cold snap, I needed a reminder of the hot Mediterranean sun, so I recreated a few dishes from our trip to Turkey. Scott must be in the same boat as I am because one weekend when I was out of town, he cooked all classic Cajun cuisine to remind himself of our long weekend in New Orleans last year. My favorite recreation however, has been this incredibly simple po’e from our honeymoon to Easter Island.
Scott surprised me (and our wedding guests) with the honeymoon destination at our wedding reception. If I didn’t already know I had a winner on my hands, I was absolutely positive when he planned two weeks in Chile, including an excursion to the top place in the world I wanted to see, Easter Island! If you’ve unfamiliar with Easter Island, it’s the world’s most isolated, inhabited island, 1,100 miles from the nearest inhabited island and 2,300 miles (and an 8 hour plane ride) from the coast of Chile. The big draw, besides the gorgeous volcanic scenery, are the almost 1,000 moai, giant carved figures scattered across the island.
The first day we spent driving the dirt roads around the circumference of the 8-mile long island, stopping at each set of ruins, petraglyphs, and scenic overlooks along the way. Although every sight was incredible, the highlights were Ranu Raraku, an extinct volcano where the Rapa Nui carved all of the moai and Ahu Tongariki, an impressive line of 15 restored moai. The next morning we took a horseback ride to the top of Terevaka volcano, the highest point on the island for 360 degree views. To get there, we galloped through open pastures and crossed fields strewn with volcanic rocks. It was pretty freaking cool.
When we got back down, it was mid afternoon, so we were starving after a breakfast of just fresh island mango. With sore legs and empty bellies, we were devastated to find most restaurants were closed between lunch and dinner. After hunting around, we found a restaurant with a second story balcony overlooking the harbor that was still open. We enjoyed much needed cold beers, a plate of scallop carpacchio, and tuna ceviche served with po’e.
Po’e is a sweet, dense pudding common in Polynesian islands. Usually it is served as a dessert, but sometimes they’ll serve it as a side dish. Usually it is made with bananas, but there are also versions made with mango and papaya. With only four ingredients, it couldn’t be more simple to make. Right out of the oven, it’s a little fluffier and lighter, but traditionally it’s served cold topped with coconut cream.
- 4 cups mashed bananas, from about 6-8 bananas
- ½ cup honey or brown sugar
- 1 cup whole wheat or spelt flour
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup coconut cream or full fat coconut milk
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix together the sugar and arrowroot powder in a bowl. Place the mashed bananas, sugar and arrowroot mixture, and vanilla in a food processor. Blend into a puree.
- Spread a little coconut oil or butter in a medium-large baking dish. Bake 35-40 minutes until firm. Remove from oven and let cool on the counter top. Serve warm, or chill in the refrigerator. Slice or cube then drizzle with coconut cream.