Presidential vacation gets extended: Basketball, beach time, birthers, soy-braised short ribs...
President Obama is being an eater repeater while on vacation in Hawaii: He's hitting the same favorite local places he visited during his 2009 holiday. On Wednesday evening, the President and First Lady Michelle Obama, with a large party, dined at Alan Wong's restaurant, an acclaimed fine dining establishment in Honolulu. They dined there last year, too, as well as three other times during other vacations. (Above: The President waves as he departs the restaurant)
The restaurant is located on the third floor of a downtown office building, in the same neighborhood as the apartment where the President spent his teen years, and around the corner from the Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop where he scooped treats as a teen. The President motorcaded by his boyhood home shortly after 7:30 PM on the way to dinner. Secret Service closed off the streets around the restaurant and held back dozens of onlookers, according to local media. The President's sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, and her husband Konrad Ng, as well as members of the Ramos, Whitaker, Nesbitt, and Titcomb families--friends from Hawaii and Chicago who are vacationing with the President and First Lady--completed the dinner party.
Chef Wong is an internationally acclaimed toque who highlights local and sustainably sourced ingredients on his menu; he was awarded the 2009 Hero of Hawaii award for his advocacy for local farmers and fishermen, and has won many, many other awards. Wong has said the President's favorite dish is his soy-braised short ribs.
In 2009, Wong guest cheffed at the White House, masterminding the annual Congressional picnic, which doubled as the first-ever White House Luau. Wong cooked his famed Kalua Pig in special slow-roasting ovens, because historic considerations prevented traditional pig-roasting pits from being dug into the White House grounds. Wong's home-cooking recipes for White House Kalua Pig and White House Wasabi Potato Salad are here.
On Monday afternoon, the President had another Hawaii foodie rerun: He brought daughters Malia and Sasha and a large party to Island Snow, a local shave ice outlet. The President visited Island Snow in 2009, too. President Obama is referred to in Hawaii as Kama'aina, a "child of the land," and newly minted Governor of Hawaii Neil Abercrombie has started a campaign to settle once and for all the birther controversy, pledging to work with the Attorney General of Hawaii to release additional documentation of the President's birth on Aug. 4, 1961, at Kapiolani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu. (Above: The President and Malia enjoy their shave ice)
"It's an insult to his mother and to his father," Abercrombie told the New York Times. "And I knew his mother and father; they were my friends, and I have an emotional interest in that. It's an emotional insult. It is disrespectful to the president; it is disrespectful to the office."
Extending the aloha time...
Earlier in the day on Wednesday, the President played basketball with friends, while the First Lady and daughters spent time at Pyramid Rock Beach on the Marine base at Kaneohe, several minutes down the road from their rented beachfront estate. Vacation activities have also included rounds of golf on the local Marine Base course for the President. The vacation has had another day added to it, White House spokesman Bill Burton said on Wednesday: The First Family will depart Hawaii late in the evening on Jan. 3, arriving in Washington, D.C., in the afternoon of Jan. 4. The President was previously scheduled to return on Jan. 2.
"After the extended lame duck and five-day delay of his trip here, he's just trying to squeeze in more time with his family before returning to Washington," Burton said.
Related: The President and First Lady greeted Marines over Christmas Dinner at Marine corps Base Hawaii. The menu for their own Hawaii Christmas Day Dinner is here. On Christmas Eve, Mrs. Obama joined NORAD's Santa Trackers and took calls from kids and parents. Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass announced his holiday cooking and eating tips.
>Links to all posts about the 2010 Holidays at the White House are here.