Hawaii Adventures Day 3: The Whale Who Came to Visit & Tagilatelle Carbonara [RECIPE]

Good Afternoon Everyone! 🙂

I hope you’re having a lovely day. I’m beginning to get used to the constant sticky feeling on my skin while vacationing here in Maui. Yesterday we went whale watching with the Pacific Whale Foundation. What an incredible time we had! Mr. Noob Chef and I are ocean buddies by nature. We’re happiest out on the water. I grew up spending every summer on motorboats and sailing. But being in a giant catamaran with 60 other people was a first for me and I’m so glad we took the 2 hour tour!

Here’s a few tips if you decide to go whale watching on Maui:

  1. Choose the Pacific Whale Foundation as your tour guide. There are other whale watching tours you can take, but this one has whale conservation in mind every step of the way. Your ticket money goes into whale research to protect these marine mammals and so not only do you get an incredible tour…. but you’re helping the planet too!
  2. Make sure to get a good seat. As a family we were able to snag seats at the very front of the catamaran. I was literally pulling a Jack & Rose moment a la Titanic while we were sailing out to the viewing spots. It was heavenly.
  3. Wear sunscreen. No, I’m not talking about the Baz Luhrmann song. Literally wear sunscreen. It gets really warm out there on the Pacific. I wore Neutrogena 100 SPF sunscreen + a giant sunhat and I was fine in my tank top.

Now let me share my experience with you!

We boarded the catamaran excited and eager to go. Queuing up and climbing on board, I instantly felt giddy. Inside I felt like a pirate. Cheesy, I know, but I did. Sitting there perched at the very front of the ship the wind rolled off the ocean and with a loud groan of the engine we were off! If I’m being completely honest, I would have been happy sailing over the waves without seeing a single whale. That’s how much I love the rock of the ship, the cool wind on my face, and the sun in the sky. I’m an ocean kind of gal. 🙂

The crewman began explaining about what to look for as we neared the shallow waters (300 meters deep) where the whales were swimming and giving birth. These humpback whales had swam all the way down from Alaska and preferred the calm waters around Maui to give birth. Mr. Noob Chef slipped an earbud in my ear and began playing sea shanties from his phone. I grinned and bopped my head along to the music. Suddenly over the microphone we heard: “WHALE! 10:00!”. Everyone turned their head and sure enough off in the distance we saw spouts of water and air blowing up from the surface. No doubt we were getting close. As we neared the area we saw a mother and baby whale cresting over the water, along with a male escort nearby.

Okay, I know I said that I would be fine just sailing over the waves, but seeing how massive these humpback whales were…. my jaw fell open and all I could say was, “WHOA! COOL!!!!”. Captain Chris cut the engine and we rested on the waves nearby when suddenly one of the whales breached. The water roared and everyone exclaimed with delight!

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We squealed, clapped, cheered, and I couldn’t stop smiling! Be free… I thought, my body giddy with excitement to experience these creatures up close and personal. “Now occasionally these humpback whales will get curious at the ships” the crewman explained over the loud speaker, “so we’ll see if they are interested in us today”. Interested? I wondered to myself. Why would a whale be interested in us? Then all of a sudden, the whale dipped…. and began swimming our way.

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“Uh….” I said to my husband and we looked at each other. The giant male escort (who is the size of a city transport bus!) was swimming right at the catamaran! “Ladies and Gentleman, the male escort is coming to say hello!!” the crewman said excitedly and everyone rushed to the sides of the ship with cameras in hand. Sitting in the front edge of the ship I already had a prime spot. “So…. if he breached under the boat….” I muttered to my husband and prayed that he wouldn’t get that curious! As he dipped, the white of his fins blended with the blue water to show bright blue and white images on top of the water so we could see him traveling right at us. Suddenly I looked down….. and there was his face… RIGHT THERE!

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A male humpback whale’s face! The white parts are his cheeks and you can see the round mouth in front! It was amazing!

“That’s a whale!” I breathed to my husband tapping him repeatedly. We both stared in shock and watched the male silently glide his massive body right under the boat! All I could do was wave with a slap-happy grin on my face. 🙂 Moments later the Mom and baby humpback swam by the ship!

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I couldn’t believe how close we were! I couldn’t believe how happy and relaxed the whales were around us. I learned from the crew that the Pacific Whale Foundation is one of the few ships that only sails up to 12 knots so as to not startle the whales while they are birthing and resting in the warm waters. That is why the whales aren’t afraid of their ships!

After whale watching we came home and were ready to whip up a tasty dinner. On the menu: tagliatelle carbonara.

So now… let’s talk about the food! 🙂

As a family we all pitched in to whip up this tasty, but easy Italian pasta courtesy of Chef Patrick Capuozzo from Cleveland, Ohio. Chef Capuozzo trained under celebrity Chef Michael Symon at Lolita, so he really knows his stuff! The carbonara was divine and mixed with pancetta, onion, garlic, and a splash of pinot grigio. We decided to use tagliatelle instead of bucatini and it tasted heavenly. I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as we did. Stay tuned for the next Hawaii Adventures! Until then, have a wonderful day everyone and as always, keep on cooking! ❤

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Tagliatelle Carbonara

Courtesy of: Chef Patrick Capuozzo 

Serves: 4

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb. tagliatelle pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. pancetta, small dice
  • I medium yellow onion, fine dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 free range egg yolks
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinot grigio to taste

Instructions: 

  1. Bring 4 quarts of water to boil, season with salt to make as the sea.
  2. Over medium heat in a large sauté pan, begin rendering pancetta in oil.
  3. Drop tagliatelle in water, stirring occasionally.
  4. When pancetta begins to crisp, add onion, garlic and sweat. When onion is translucent, add parsley, crushed red pepper and sauté for 30 seconds.
  5. Deglaze with splash of wine. Turn heat to low.
  6. When pasta is al dente, transfer to pancetta mixture pan. Do not throw out pasta water.
  7. Re-season pasta with salt and pepper, add Pecorino Romano and egg yolks. Turn pan off.
  8. Turn pasta and eggs with tongs, adding reserved pasta water to achieve desired consistency. Serve immediately.
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