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#CatChat: Visiting the new Choco le‘a Boutique

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Yeah, yeah, I keep saying I’m going to restart the #CatChat segments on my blog.

And hey, this might be my first one in 2014, but at least I did it!

I decided to save my first #CatChat of the year for the opening of Choco le‘a‘s first boutique in Mānoa Square (2909 Lowrey Avenue in Mānoa).

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Outside the shop on Lowrey Avenue.

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Owner Erin Kanno Uehara preparing a box of chocolate truffles.

The charming storefront opened in late September — the grand opening isn’t slated until November — for fans of the artisan chocolates made with premium chocolates and the freshest ingredients possible.

I visited Erin Kanno Uehara last year — last year! — and have been a huge fan ever since. (See my blog post on that visit here.) I appreciate the rich, bold flavors and unique ingredients — like Guinness beer, locally made cheesecakes, pink chichi dango mochi, lychee liqueur — that set these chocolates apart from others.

The shop features about 18 different truffle flavors that will rotate monthly; dark, milk and white chocolate macadamia nut clusters; almond cups; dipped pineapple and mango slices; chocolate-dipped strawberries; and prepackaged gift boxes and bags. Soon, she’ll be serving chocolate drinks. (Can’t wait!)

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White chocolate-covered macadamia nuts

For the holidays, Choco le‘a will be selling special orange chocolate-covered Oreos, caramel apple Oreos and pumpkin spice Oreos. And yes, you can come here on Halloween to trick-or-treat. (Or treat-or-treat, as I like to do.)

Here’s what the Mānoa shop looks like — and why you should plan your next weekend around visiting it:

#CatChat with Erin Kanno Uehara

And here’s the outtake where I fired my mother. LOL.

Visit Choco le‘a at 2909 Lowrey Avenue in Mānoa on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fridays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Or follow them on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @chocoleahawaii.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel to watch more #CatChats.

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#FUUD: Via Gelato in Kaimuki

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Two years ago I met Melissa Bow, a former physical therapist who had come back home to Oahu after living in New York City to make gelato.

She wanted to do something she loved — and, incidentally, she loved gelato.

So she decided to start a gelato company, first selling hand-crafted gelato using local ingredients from a food truck with the goal of ultimately opening her own brick-and-mortar shop.

Well, back in March, she did just that, opening Via Gelato in the space vacated by the (beloved) Covenant Books and Coffee on 12th Avenue.

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The cute storefront on 12th Avenue in Kaimuki.

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And yes, it serves more than just gelato!

It’s hard to admit that I hadn’t been there when it opened. This was about the time I had gotten really sick, and I just wasn’t getting around — or eating — as much as I had wanted to. So I put this visit on hold.

Then the other day, I get a text from Melissa, asking if we could meet up for pedis.

Uh, yeah, of course.

Except as soon as I got to the nail salon, she texted and said she had to work at the shop. Which wasn’t actually a bad thing for me since it gave me an excuse to hang out with her and her gelato.

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Inside the shop.

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There’s Melissa Bow, serving her happy customers.

I was surprised that on a Wednesday afternoon, just after lunch, the place was hopping. It wasn’t packed the way it often is at night — I see photos on Instagram all the time — but there was a steady stream of customers coming in, seeking out her unique flavors like green tea with Oreos (shown at the top), black cherry salted pecan brittle, tiramisu, coconut black sesame, and milk tea.

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The flavors available that day. She offers about a dozen flavors every day — and they change!

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Here’s the affogato, an Italian favorite. It’s a scoop of vanilla gelato topped with a shot of hot espresso.

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And here are Bow’s famous handmade waffles cones. The smell, alone, will make you want to buy gelato.

Bow raised about $8,000 on Indiegogo to help fund this new permanent space. It’s so big, though, she can’t just do gelato. So she offers espresso and sandwiches — and tons of space to spread out and kick back with friends.

I just wanted to eat gelato!

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Here’s the stracciatella, or chocolate chip gelato.

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And here’s one of my favorite combos: strawberry with Bow’s Fierce Chocolate.

So if you haven’t been, go. And if you’ve already been, go again. You can never eat too much gelato!

Here’s the first #CatChat I did with Bow back in 2012!

And here’s the second video we shot when she got her food truck.

Via Gelato, 1142 12th Ave. in Kaimuki. Phone: (808) 732-2800.

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#CatChat: Black Friday at Eden In Love

I may not be a fanatic shopper. But I love me a deal.

And the deals at Eden In Love Boutique at Ward Warehouse — where I often shop, I confess — is worth getting up early on Friday.

The reason why I shop there, though, isn’t because of the deals.

I shop there because its owner, Tanna Dang, is never without fashion advice for me. Which I appreciate since I’m, well, fashion inept. (I still wear clothes from college and slippers, to me, go with everything.)

So get some fashion tips for the holidays and find some great deals for gifts for that fashionista — or yourself — at Eden In Love on Friday.

Check out Eden In Love‘s Black Friday sale from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at the Ward Warehouse Conference Rooms. Best deals: 6 to 8 a.m., 50 percent off everything.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

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#CatChat: Cooking eggs in a microwave

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#CatTravels: Scenes from Typhoon Soulik

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Talk about an adventure.

We traveled on Hawaiian Airlines‘ inaugural flight from Honolulu to Taipei City in Taiwan, with an itinerary of places to visit and things to eat. But we didn’t expect to be hunkered down in our hotel room for 24 hours, waiting out a Category 3 typhoon.

Typhoon Soulik hit Taipei and other parts of northern Taiwan overnight, forcing hundreds to evacuate and businesses and schools to close.

The Yilan area on the coast was inundated with high surf — good thing my surf trip got cancelled! — and parts of northern Taiwan saw flooding and other damage.

But here, it wasn’t too bad.

Yes, it was windy and raining and it probably wasn’t the best idea to be outdoors at 2 a.m. — which we were — but it seemed like a massive tropical storm, not so much a typhoon, and we’re just hoping the worst is over.

Because we still have things to do!

Here are some scenes over the past couple of days and a video taken the morning after the typhoon hit.

Calm before the storm

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I took this photo yesterday morning, after a nice swim in the pool at the W Taipei. Hard to believe how quickly the weather would change.

Thanks to everyone who sent us emails, text messages, DMs, tweets, and Facebook and Instagram comments about the storm and your concern. We really appreciate it!

Follow my adventures in Taipei on Twitter @thedailydish and on Instagram @catherinetoth. Special thanks to Hawaiian Airlines for allowing me to be part of this special inaugural flight.

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