Aloha—Macaroni Salad, Huli-Huli Chicken and Hawaiian Lemonade

I was pretty excited when I heard Culinary Adventures with Camilla was hosting Food ‘n Flix for June.   You can read her announcement post here.   Cam was giving us options.  Choose any movie set or filmed in Hawaii.   How cool is that?   What a perfect summer theme and a great way to take a virtual vacay!

Even though I was excited about the prospect of this month’s feature film, I have to say I was a bit stuck.   The first thing that came to mind was Lost, but that’s not a film.  (I’m a big J.J. Abrams fan and the series was filmed in Hawaii.)   Even though Cam gave us a list of films, I had no idea where to begin.  Of course my plan was to watch two or three movies that fit the category and then decide what was my favorite and what one had the most food scenes.

Best laid plans.

I had never heard of Aloha and since I have been binging on Alias (another J.J. Abrams fave) and Bradley Cooper plays a prominent role in seasons 1 and 2, I decided to rent this 2015 film.   Besides, Aloha  also stars Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray and Alec Baldwin.  That’s a pretty good list of actors.  Added bonus—Cameron Crowe wrote and directed the film.  (I love Almost Famous.)

I chose poorly and I didn’t have time to watch anything else.

Here’s my review of Aloha.  I just didn’t get it.  Cooper plays Brian Gilcrest, an injured war veteran turned independent consultant.  He apparently swindled a big time civilian military contractor (might have been Murray’s character—couldn’t really figure it out) and he is now disliked by both the military and the private sector.   He returns to Hawaii to facilitate a native blessing.   It was presented like he was the only one that could obtain this blessing from the native Hawaiians before construction could be done at a nearby base.  (Unsure what his background really was with the Kingdom here.)

The portrayal of the Native Hawaiians missed the mark for me.  I wanted to know more about their movement and their history, myths, and legends.  We only get a glimpse of their culture with a few weird references to some of their more supernatural stories.

The focal point of the plot is a private industry satellite launch.  Gilcrest morphs from a misfit renegade to a real rocket scientist.  Who knew?

Then, there’s kind of a weird love triangle working.   Gilcrest is flown into Hawaii by his ex-girlfriend’s current husband.  He’s greeted on the tarmac by his former lover and a perky (if serious) Captain Allison Ng.  Ng is played by a very blonde Emma Stone and her character is forever repeating, “I’m a quarter Hawaiian.”   (Apparently there was a lot of controversy casting this character.)

The star-studded cast I was excited about left me wanting.   Bill Murray plays the billionaire Carson Welch with a evil lurk.  John Krasinki’s Woody was hunky but flat.  Alec Baldwin was his usual over-the-top character.  Rachel McAdams was cute.   Emma Stone was way too serious.   Bradley Cooper was just weird.

The only fresh and humorous scene was when Cooper and Krasinski’s characters hug it out using male telepathy.

There were food references in the film, so there is that.  Here’s what I picked up on:

  • “like a hungry cat outside of a seafood restaurant”
  • Peppermint tea
  • Double (or triple) espresso
  • Food in the kitchen:  sandwiches, Barq’s, canned tomatoes
  • At Kingdom feast:  Stella Artois, unidentified buffet
  •  Huli-Huli Food truck   
  • Seaweed ??
  • Chicken Wings
  • HUGE Christmas Spread:  Layer cake, watermelon, lots of stuff I couldn’t identify but the table was laden down with chow.  
  • Lemon lime soda and beer
  • Chopping onions
  • Chips and salsa on the cabinet
  • Kamehameha lemonade and Jack & Coke at officers club
  • Iced coffee
  • Scotch

The film was not my favorite, but I did get a really delicious outdoor-patio-summer meal out of the deal.

I decided to grill up some Huli-Huli chicken and serve it with some macaroni salad and a Hawaiian lemonade.  (I tried to find a recipe for Kamehameha lemonade which was specifically ordered in the movie but came up short.)

Here’s the macaroni salad recipe I tried.  It was a hit!

Garnished with chive leaves.  How do you like my Magnum, P.I. type shirt?

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Based on a recipe from Spicy Southern Kitchen

I cut the original recipe by 3/4 so it’s still 1/4 Hawaiian (and it serves 2-3 people).


  • 1 c. macaroni
  • 1/2 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T. onion, chopped
  • dash of garlic powder
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 c. mayo
  • 2 T. 2% milk
  • sugar to taste


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Place onion in a medium mixing bowl. When pasta is done, drain it well and add it to the bowl. Add garlic powder and apple cider vinegar and stir. Let sit 10 minutes.
  3. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, milk, and sugar.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. After 10 minutes, mix macaroni and carrots with mayo mixture.   Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Even though I had made Huli-Huli chicken before,  I used this recipe  (which was easier) for this go around.   

This recipe was much simpler to prepare and more delicious than my previous version.  This recipe is a keeper.  (I used chicken thighs.)

I used this one for the Hawaiian lemonade.

We may or may not have added a little vodka to make a cocktail.  🙂  I highly recommend adding a spear of mint.  I would also recommend using a coconut sparkling water in place of the ginger ale to cut the sweetness and for less calories.   It was delicious both ways.

With plumeria.

I loved the opening retro videos and film clips but after the closing credits I still had lots of questions.  Who is Brian?   A military hero, contractor, rocket scientist, astronomer, dreamer, realist, opportunist?  What’s his tie with Hawaii?   He’s back for the blessing, but who knew he could launch a rocket.   (Spoiler:  What did he think he was doing when he went to Grace’s dance lesson?   Is he going to be part of her life?)

I apologize for this rambling post and review but I may have been influenced by the rambling randomness of Aloha.

Join Food ‘n Flix in July  and Coyote Ugly hosted by Coffee and Casseroles.  That should be interesting.  Why do I automatically think I will do a cocktail for that one?

Aside:  I just reread Camilla’s announcement post and realized I could have chosen Lost.  What would I have made?  Something with coconuts and papayas and maybe something with generic DHARMA beer?  Oh well.  If we have another Hawaii challenge, I will know.  My bad.  But, I did discover this great grilled chicken recipe and a great summer salad and beverage.  

19 comments to Aloha—Macaroni Salad, Huli-Huli Chicken and Hawaiian Lemonade