What I Did On My Summer Vacation: Lisa Garza

by Lisa Garza

We have been asking local chefs how they spent a bit of their down time this summer, and chef Lisa Garza was gracious enough to share details of her wonderful belated honeymoon. Lisa is owner of Sissy’s Southern Kitchen in Dallas.
My husband, Travis, and I just got back from our honeymoon in Lanai, Hawaii. We waited a year to take our honeymoon due to the opening of Sissy’s. Opening a restaurant is an intense and demanding process for everyone, including your loved ones. So, both of us really wanted time alone to rest and relax, and our main priority was to get away to an island that wasn’t thronged with tourists.
We went with Lanai because of its seclusion and amazing beachfront accommodations. Every morning, we awoke to enjoy breakfast alfresco at the while watching the sunrise over the beach. Since Lanai is one of the smaller, less inhabited Islands, most of the restaurants we dined in were at The Four Seasons at Manele Bay and The Four Seasons Lodge at Koele. There’s also an adorable little town square with a few cafes, grocery store, and tiny boutiques.
One of the local dishes I enjoyed most was poke. The “Fresco” cafe served a poke of the day with homemade Taro chips presented in a palm leaf-lined bamboo steamer. They were all awesome, especially the spicy Tuna. They also served a “Manele Tai”—I could not drink enough of those! After having them a couple days in a row, I kept noticing a citrus flavor I had never experienced. One of the locals behind the bar explained that it was a fruit called Calamansi, which is native to the Philippines. It looks like a key lime, but tastes like a combination of Meyer lemon and Clementine. I’m obsessed with finding new flavors, especially when they come from a palate like citrus that you think you know.
We also hiked up the fisherman’s trail and viewed the ruins of the native people of Lanai, went paddle boarding and snorkeling right off the private beach, played croquet, and walked the grounds to see the amazing orchid house. There was also lots of watching sunrises and sunsets over the beach. I can not say enough about the view from our patio!
The best part, though, was when we took the fairy to Maui to cook for and stay with a mutual friend for a night. The dolphins were adorable doing tricks as they escorted us out to sea. Maui has a new Whole Foods market, so we shopped the amazing organic local produce to prepare for dinner. I wanted to bring a little Sissy’s to my Maui host, so I did curry deviled eggs topped with caviar, tarragon jumbo lump crab salad nestled in bibb lettuce with shallot lemon vinaigrette garnished with micro kale & edible flowers, organic shrimp and grits, and a key lime pie.
Shep, our host, has lived in his bamboo-style home for 35 years. It’s right on the beach. The commercial kitchen was a chef’s dream—I felt like I was like cooking in heaven! I could hear the ocean and the sun sparkling over the water as I prepped my ingredients.
Shep is a very successful talent manager. He has managed some of the most successful chefs and musicians of the last 30+ years—our guesthouse was covered in gold and platinum records.
To my surprise, one of the dinner guests that joined us was Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. We had an amazing evening—it was an experience I will never forget.
photo 1 from Lisa Garza’s Facebook

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