Ku’ia Estate Chocolate in Maui

When we visited Maui this year, we found an awesome chocolate plantation, Ku’ia Estate Chocolate. They grow delicious world-class cacao trees (where chocolate comes from) on land that was made useless due to sugar plantations. When the land was used to grow sugar it was stripped bare of trees, the crop was never rotated and tons of chemicals were dumped on it turning the once lush land into a desert.  You are read more about Maui’s effort to restore the land here.

Kula Estate Chocolate in Maui

This is what the chocolate farm looks like from above. It is located in Maui on a plot of land that is reserved for agriculture. It looks like an oasis in the desert created by the sugar plantation. Ku’ia Estate Chocolate needed to replant the tropical forest that was once there to block the wind and the hot sun (cacao trees love the shade). They also had to do a lot of work to get nutrients back into the soil making sure to use organic farming methods. 

The chocolate starts its life as a tiny flower. They are very delicate so the wind blockers are extra important to ensure that the flower doesn’t get blown off the tree. Since they are so tiny, the only insect that can pollinate the cacao plant is the chocolate midge. 

The flowers turn into cacao pods. They are ready to harvest when they turn a darker color and get a lot bigger. You harvest them all year round but the biggest harvests are between May and July, and between October and March, after the rainy season. 

These are the Cacao trees. The pods grow on the trunks and thicker branches of the trees because they are very heavy. The trees are currently pretty young because Ku’ia Estate Chocolate hasn’t been around for a very long time. 

After the cacao beans are harvested and prepared, they are put through a series of machines to create all the different chocolate creations. Ku’ia Estate Chocolate grows their banana leaves to use for the preparation process, so they are very self-sufficient. They also don’t take away any of the natural flavors of the cacao beans, so the chocolate is more nutritious and has a complex flavor. They also do shipping so you don’t have to go all the way to Maui to get their chocolate.

They have created a whole bunch of unique flavors that they sell in their store, for example, orange mango guava, lemongrass, and calamansi lime, you are sure to find a flavor that you love.

They grow the fruit that they use for their flavors on site and it is very fresh.   

Ku’ia Estate Chocolate after only three years of selling has won the 2021 Cocoa of Excellence Gold Award for the Asia Pacific region and the 2022 Good Food Award. They give all of the profits that they make to local Hawaiian non-profits.

There are also tours of their plantation (which we highly recommend) that teach you about the process of making chocolate. The tours end with a chocolate sampling deep in the cacao forest. 

Anthony’s Cookies

Want to bring out the inner monster within? Just go to Anthony’s Cookies and your inner cookie monster will spring to life in no time. Hidden near where Cesar Chavez street meets Valencia street in San Francisco, Anthony’s Cookies is one of the best a boutique cookie stores we have found.

Anthnony's Cookie San Francisco

With a wonderful menu of cookies to choose from you are sure to find a favorite. We love to get a mixed box (which is lovingly secured with neatly tied twine) but always make sure to get at least two cookies and cream.

Box of Anthony's Cookies

Anthony’s Cookies are cooked to perfection with high quality ingredients, elegant recipes and care. They have traditional flavors as well as seasonal specials like banana walnut. The chocolate chip cookie (the measure of any cookie maker) is exactly what one would expect -wonderful chocolate chip goodness wrapped in a well balanced cookie dough.

Anthony's Cookies unboxed

Its decor is clean and simple with seating up front to watch people stroll down Valencia Street showing off the latest fashion. Just get some cookies and milk then sit back and enjoy the City.

Anthony's Cookies store


1417 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

Mon-Sat 10 AM to 8 PM
Sun 10 AM to 6 PM

Junior’s: The Best of NYC Cheesecake

Rating for cheesecake:  Rated 5 Monsters

Rating for restaurant:   Rated 3 Monsters

Kid-friendly!  Kid-friendly

Monsters love to travel, especially to large cities with a dense population, skyscrapers and monuments where a Monster can pose like Godzilla or King Kong. This week Monster is in New York City, and aside from attending a TV show taping and catching a hot-listed play at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the thought of food is front and foremost on Monster’s mind!

New York City, in addition to being the capital of the world, is also a top foodie destination. The variety rivals the quality in just about everything, and all throughout town, residents and visitors alike will argue over the best bagel, the best hot dog, the best deli, the best pizza, the best chef-of-the-moment… It is the debate over the best cheesecake that brought Monster to Junior’s, a cheesecake bakery and restaurant that has grown from a single Brooklyn location in the 1950s to four store locations today.

Junior's Strawberry Cheesecake
Junior's Strawberry Cheesecake, Yum!
What can you expect from Junior’s flagship location in Brooklyn? A landmark building that evokes the 50s. Diner vibe with vintage booths and stools at the bar. Friendly and casual service with a decidedly Brooklyn attitude. Now it’s a full-fledged restaurant large enough to accommodate wedding receptions with the most extended of extended families, but stay focused: Skip the overpriced entrees (of which there is a huge selection — several pages worth, in fact) and go directly to the cheesecake section — that’s why you’re here anyway. In fact, you may not even want to walk beyond the cheesecake counter, visible from outside and immediately located near the entrance. Sit yourself down and feast your eyes on possibly the largest selection of cheesecakes of traditional and seasonal flavors: plain, strawberry, cherry crumb, apple crumb, chocolate swirl, raspberry swirl, brownie marble swirl, lemon coconut, carrot cake, strawberry shortcake cheesecake… It may just be one of the hardest decisions you’ll ever have to make.

May I make a suggestion? Don’t let the many flavors dazzle you to the point of confusion or indecision. Choose a long-time favorite or a classic, and avoid anything so fancy you can’t repeat the name without reading it off the menu, or combines so many ingredients you can’t taste the cheese in the cake. All the flavors are good: rich, decadent, and creamy, with a think crust for contrast. Monster’s favorite, though, is the strawberry cheesecake topped with so many fresh strawberries Monster would challenge you to try to squeeze one more in without the whole layer starting to slide down its base! The combination is just perfect: the tartness and juiciness of the fruit completes the creamy sweetness of the cheese, and the result is the universe in harmony, a balance between yin and yang.

Should you really want a full meal, Junior’s restaurant offers everything a you’d expect a diner to offer: breakfast, soup, salad, sandwiches, and more: from buffalo wings to homemade chili, from Hungarian beef goulash to Southern style fried catfish, from BBQ baby back ribs to Caribbean style lobster tails. Something must catch your fancy here. Serving size is generous, though quality is only average.

Additional Information

Great for families and groups. Not nearby? No problem. Juniors offers online ordering of their famous cheesecakes and two-day and overnight shipping, so that you can get your cheesecake fix without leaving your home.

Pointer  Restaurant web site

Yummy Macarons at Paulette, Now in San Francisco!


There’s something about a macaron that renders it irresistible to almost everyone — especially Monsters! (What, aren’t you familiar with the Cookie Monster? Monsters are obsessed with dessert!) Is it the fluffy-as-cloud almond batter? Or the intense flavor of the melts-in-your-mouth filling? Or perhaps it’s the cute sandwich forms in a rainbow range of colors? It certainly doesn’t hurt that it is rarely spotted in a U.S. bakery that each discovery carries with it a special hint of decadent pleasure!

Six different macaron flavors from Paulette Macarons
Six different macaron flavors from Paulette Macarons: passion fruit, raspberry, sweet wedding almond, Madagascar vanilla, Sicilian pistachio, and a surprisingly delicious violet cassis.

San Francisco foodies have been coveting those lucky enough to reside near Beverly Hills, where Paulette Macarons has been a Mecca for macaron worshipers. Well, great news! Paulette has opened a store in the trendy Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco! Yay!

Hand-made daily with care by master pastry chef Christophe Michalak and air-transported from Beverly Hills, these little cookies come in a dozen flavors, from the traditional Vanilla and Pistachio to the less common Rose and Violet. Load up on your favorite flavor or try one of each. What’s your favorite flavor?

Additional Info

Paulette's signature box for six macarons
Paulette’s signature box for six macarons.

The Hayes Valley store offers limited indoor and outdoor seating, perfect if you can’t make it out the door without sampling a delicious macaron…or a dozen. Or, order online in case they run out of your favorite flavor!

Just when you think these little desserts couldn’t possibly be dressed up any prettier, Paulette comes through with cute gift boxes perfectly sized for two, six, twelve, or twenty-four macarons. Guaranteed to delight any friend, hostess, or birthday girl/guy/monster!

Pointer  Store web site
Pointer  Yelp reviews