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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Brian's Pink Pomelos

This is a pic of my friend Hawaiian Brian's laden pomelo tree.

Brian's Pomelo Tree

Brians pomelo tree

BTW, any guesses as to what is the green vine growing up the tree on the left-hand side of this pic? I'll tell you at the end of the post. (Hint: Brian likes orchids)

Brian's Pink Pomelos

brians pomelo 3

Pomelo (pronounced "pom-EH-loh" although I prefer "PAW-meh-loh"). Also called jabong, Chinese grapefruit, pummelo, shaddock, or bu-look (that's the word my family in Hawaii used to refer to this fruit). It originated in Malaysia but is grown throughout the tropics, including Hawaii. Their size ranges from grapefruit to basketball. It is the largest of all citrus, hence the Latin name Citrus maxima.

They are normally in season during the winter, along with a lot of other citrus. We see a lot of pomelos on sale here during Chinese New Year (January/February). But Brian's pomelo tree has ripe fruit right now, in the middle of summer . I guess when you live in the tropics, "seasons" don't really matter much. Either that, or Brian has such a green thumb that he can get any plant to fruit whenever he likes!

When ripe, the outside skin is yellow. Inside is a thick layer of soft, spongy rind, which can easily be peeled away. The skin around each section is tough and bitter, and normally not eaten. The flesh itself is much like a grapefruit, but not as tart.

The flesh can vary from pale yellow to fully pink. Brian's pomelo seems to be a mixture of the two, which makes for a beautiful looking fruit.

Brian's Pink Pomelos

brians pomelo 2

We peeled his pomelos open, and found that there were quite a lot of seeds. The flesh was so sweet and juicy, though. We could not control ourselves as we separated the flesh. Peel, divide a section, and drop one half on the plate and pop the other half in our mouths. Repeat. Too bad we couldn't bring any of Brian's pink pomelos home with us to San Jose!

Aloha, Nate

This post was submitted to the August 2008 CLICK photo event.

Oh, btw, that vine you see growing up Brian's pomelo tree? It's a vanilla orchid. Yep, that's right. That crazy cat is growing his own vanilla beans. How cool is that?

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Pumpkin Mee with Prawns Recipe

Mum's Pumpkin Mee with Prawns

Mum's Pumpkin Mee with Prawns

When we were last back in Malaysia, Annie's mum cooked up her delicious Pumpkin Mee with Prawns. I made it a point to watch her cooking in the kitchen, taking notes on how she did it.

Mum's Pumpkin Mee with Prawns


12 - 16 large shrimp, peeled and reserving shells
half a kabocha squash (about 1.5 lbs) *
6 cups water
4 cloves garlic, minced and fried crispy
1/3 cup dried shrimp (hay bee)
8 meatballs
8 fishballs
1-2 tsp chicken bouillon (to taste)
8 stalks of choy sum or yu choy
1 lb fresh egg noodles or yellow noodles
sesame oil

*If you can't find kabocha squash, use another hard squash like butternut squash.


  1. Peel and remove shells from the shrimp.
  2. Peel and chop the kabocha squash into 1 inch chunks.
  3. Boil the shrimp shells in a large pot of water to make broth, then remove the shells.
  4. Keeping the broth at a low boil, add the squash to the broth.
  5. Add the hay bee and half the fried garlic to the broth.
  6. Add the meatballs and the fish balls to the broth.
  7. Parboil the shrimp in the soup for a few minutes, then remove and set aside.
  8. Cook until the squash are fork tender.
  9. Add a bit of chicken bouillon and salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Add the chopped choy sum.
  11. Boil the egg noodles in the soup.
  12. Serve into individual bowls and top w/ the remaining fried garlic. Drizzle a little sesame oil on top for extra yumminess.

On one of our tries at making this recipe, we garnished with some chopped cilantro and fried shallots. We also served it with a little dollop of shrimp-chili paste.

Annie's Pumpkin Mee with Prawns

Annie's Pumpkin Mee with Prawns

This recipe is entered in the "Mee and My Malaysia" blog event hosted by Babe in the City-KL, celebrating Malaysia's "Merdeka" (Independence day). Selamat Hari Merdeka!

Aloha, Nate

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Our Top 5 Favorite Places to Eat in the South Bay

Our list of Top 10 Favorite Places to eat in the South Bay has to include dim sum.

#5: Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant

Dynasty Chinese Seafood dim sum fried taro puff

There are lots of dim sum places in the South Bay, especially in Cupertino and Milpitas. But in San Jose, the place we go the most is Dynasty Chinese Seafood Restaurant, on Story Rd near McLaughlin. They have a large banquet hall so the wait at even the busiest times is short. They also have a large selection of dim sum, not just the usual char siu bao, siu mai and har gau. The food is good, with some (including the fried taro puffs pictured above) bordering on excellent. Prices are reasonable, though they have been inching up in the past years.

#4: Akane Sushi

Akane Sushi nigiri plate

We got spoiled for good sushi when we came to San Jose, but good sushi can be very expensive. I found out about Akane Sushi in Los Altos from the Big List of Peninsula Sushi. It was among the top tier of sushi restaurants and noted for its value. We used to save up for a whole year before going up to Sushi-Man in San Francisco. With Akane's prices, we can afford to go every few months. For a completely enjoyable evening, go on Thursday nights when the Los Altos Farmer's Market is running. Shop first, then sit yourself down at the sushi bar for omakase (pictured above).

#3: East Lake Seafood Restaurant

East Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant satay udon and jook

East Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant on White Rd near Quimby was one of the first Chinese restaurants that we went to when we arrived in San Jose. We took an instant liking to it. They always have tasty food at very reasonable prices (like the satay udon and the jook pictured above). Everybody around here knows it. At times when we want to eat in, we have to remember to get there before the crowd. Other times, we call ahead for take away.

#2: Thao An Vietnamese Restaurant


I haven't posted an article about this restaurant, despite the fact that we have eaten here numerous times. Thao An Restaurant on Aborn Rd near King Rd is really close to our house, in a mall next to an Asian grocery. This makes it very convenient when we want to go shopping and get a bite to eat. They serve all kinds of great tasting Vietnamese dishes, but strangely enough, not beef pho (for that we go to Beef Noodle #1 on Capitol Expressway). I guess they figure why compete with the dozens of other pho places in San Jose. The kids like their tomato rice, I usually get some rice plate (the fried quail is really good), and Annie goes for the dry egg noodles with pork, chicken, shrimp and crab (pictured above). Thao An Restaurant is (until now) virtually unknown, a hidden gem.

So, where is our #1 favorite place to eat in the South Bay? Of course, it has to be...

#1: House of Annie


Please, allow us a little indulgence! I mean, what's not to like? It's the closest place to home, it's open any time of the day or night, the food is great almost all of the time, and it's got the best prices.

When we came back from our Hawaiian vacation, the first place we went was Thao An for lunch. Then we went shopping, hitting the Asian grocery next door, then Costco and Trader Joe's. At Trader Joe's, Annie picked up a couple of bags of whole wheat pizza dough and a ball of mozzarella. We brought them home, then used some homemade tomato sauce plus tomatoes and basil from our garden to make our own pizza margherita (pictured above).

(Pizza pic submitted to the August 30 edition of Grow Your Own, hosted by Andrea's Recipes.)

So there's our Top 10 Favorite Places to Eat in the South Bay. Of course, they are not the only places we hit regularly. Honorable mention goes to Goveas Mexican Restaurant, for their chile verde burrito and chicken mole, and to CPK for their salads.

Now it's YOUR Turn

Food blogging is about sharing, so tell us where your Top 5 Favorite Places to eat out are! All of us wanna know! Either blog about it and link back to this entry, or leave us a comment below.

Aloha, Nate

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Our Top 10 Favorite Places to Eat in South Bay

Does this happen to you?

You get home from vacation and there's nothing to eat in the fridge because you got rid of all the perishables before you left. Or, you get home from work and your wife says, "Honey, I don't feel like cooking tonight. Let's go out!"

Where do you go?


Here's a list of our Top 10 Favorite Places to Eat in the South Bay:

#10: Manresa

Manresa uni in oyster

Yes, I know. Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos isn't your everyday "drop in on a whim" kind of place. It's a Michelin 2-star, SF Chronicle 4-star, Top 50 Restaurants in the world kind of place.  The kind of place where memorable dinners happen, in a good way.

When Annie and I ate there, I thought that it was the best dinner I've ever had.  That oyster in uni with jelly (pictured above) was just one of the many amazing items we had on our tasting menu.  If I could afford it, I would go again.  That's why this restaurant is on the list.


#9: Secret Garden Korean Restaurant

Secret Garden Bi Bim Naeng Myun

There's no shortage of Korean restaurants in the South Bay.  But for Korean food that is better than your normal Korean barbecue buffet, we like Secret Garden in Sunnyvale.  The food is high quality, the service is good, the prices reasonable, and the atmosphere is easy.  All good reasons to keep going back.


#8: Athena Grill

Athena Grill Lamb Chops

Athena Grill is little Greek restaurant tucked away in an industrial area of Santa Clara that does a brisk business at lunchtime. But for weekday dinners, you have the place all to yourself. The staff is relaxed yet attentive. The food is the best Greek food around. We could just go there and fill up on pita bread and all the different spreads but their grilled meats are great as well. If you're lucky, they will have some kokkinisto (braised lamb shoulder). But if not, get the lamb chops with the fries and their terribly addictive Greek mayonnaise.

#7: Layang Layang Malaysian Restaurant

Layang Layang Chicken and Mango in Taro Sarang

When we first arrived in San Jose, everyone told us to go to Banana Leaf restaurant in Milpitas for the best Malaysian food. It's good, I agree. But nowadays when we want to go out for Malaysian, we head on over to Layang Layang in Cupertino. To us, it is the most authentic Malaysian food around. Though their menu tends to be more Chinese (like the Chicken and Mango in Taro Sarang pictured above), they actually do a pretty good Malaysian Rendang Beef. Powerful flavors, helpful service, and pretty good value if you use your Entertainment Book or a gift certificate.

#6: Buca di Beppo

Buca di Beppo Fried Calamari

Although we usually eat at local, family-owned restaurants, we're not averse to eating at chain restaurants, as long as they don't compromise on the quality. We like Buca di Beppo because they give great value for their food. There are two locations near us, but we prefer the Buca di Beppo at the Pruneyard in Campbell because we've had better luck with the food there. We especially love the fried calamari - these are done right!  Their chopped antipasto salad is a meal for four, all by itself.

The only thing that disturbs us is when we go with a large party and they seat us in the "Pope room". What's up with that?

To be continued...

This post is getting kinda long so I will split it into two parts. The next post will conclude with the Top 5 Favorite Places that we like to eat at in the South Bay.

Aloha, Nate

Continue Reading: "Our Top 10 Favorite Places to Eat in South Bay"...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Eating Locally in Town

Town Restaurant in Kaimuki

Town exterior

A friend of ours invited us to lunch at "Town", a recent arrival to Kaimuki's restaurant scene that is known for featuring fresh, locally-sourced ingredients in its ever-changing menu.

Town's menu

Town daily menu

I like their motto at the bottom of the menu: Local first, organic whenever possible, with Aloha always. Their menu is dependent on whatever is available that day from local farms. Of course, eating this way tends to be expensive, especially considering Hawaii's higher costs of farming.

Town Mussels in Fennel, Tomato and Cinzano Broth

Town mussel soup

The kids shared an order of black mussels served in a fennel, tomato and Cinzano broth with pastina pasta. I didn't get to try any of the mussels but the fennel and tomato were very tender. The lemony broth had me wanting more.

North Shore Cattle Co. burger with Gorgonzola

Town North Shore Cattle Co grass fed beef burger with gorgonzola 2

Annie ordered a North Shore Cattle Company grass-fed beef burger on a grilled ciabatta bun. North Shore Cattle Co does a brisk business serving lunch at the Kapiolani Community College farmer's market on Saturdays. People line up and wait a long time for their grass-fed beef burgers and sausages. The wait for Town's burger seemed just as long, as the kitchen was backed up that day.

The burger was worth the wait, though. Annie opted for topping the burger with gorgonzola cheese along with the traditional accompaniments of lettuce, tomato and onion. Even better, the kitchen cooked the burger to medium, just as she asked. Try doing that at other burger places!

Town Vegetarian Panini

Town portabello mushroom panini 2

Our vegetarian friend ordered a panini with sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions and tatsoi. It looked good.

Grilled Opah with Kula Strawberry Salad

Town Kula strawberry salad with chevre and grilled opah steak

I ordered the Kula strawberry salad with arugula, almonds and goat cheese, and added a grilled opah steak. I felt that the vinaigrette dressing overwhelmed the sweet Kula strawberries. The opah had a good texture - firm but not flaking.

All in all, our lunch total came to $60, including soft drinks and tip. That seems like a pretty steep price to pay for lunch. No doubt, the quality of the food is high and the freshness of the ingredients is impeccable. But I don't know if I could afford to eat this way all the time.

Would you pay this much for local, organic restaurant food? Leave a comment!

Aloha, Nate

3435 Waialae Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816

Map image

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tokkuri Tei 2: Going Back for More

Have you ever enjoyed a meal so much that you had to do it again as soon as possible?

Tokkuri Tei's Award-Winning Spider Poke Roll

tokkuri tei 2 spider poke roll 2

After our recent dinner at Tokkuri Tei in Honolulu (thank you, FoodBuzz!), I raved so much about how good it was that my mom wanted us to take her there.

One of the memorable dishes was the Spider Poke roll (see picture above) which is a soft-shell crab, fried tempura style and wrapped in a sushi roll along with two kinds of sashimi. They then top it with loads of ikura (salmon roe) and masago (smelt roe) and serve it with a spicy sauce. Awesome.

We arrived at the restaurant without making reservations beforehand. Good thing we got there early, because a lot of tables had already been reserved. Fortunately, we were able to sit right at the bar, which was fine with us. We like to sit and watch the sushi chef work, asking him questions and marveling at his skill. Here's a video of him making our salmon sashimi plate:

And the finished product:

Tokkuri Tei Salmon Sashimi Plate

tokkuri tei 2 salmon sashimi 3

Notice the imprint of the leaf on the plug of wasabi. He pressed the wasabi into a shiso leaf to get that design. Little things like that are so impressive to me!

Tokkuri Tei Salmon Skin Salad with Silken Tofu

tokkuri tei 2 salmon skin salad with tofu

The salmon is broiled skin-side up and then shredded up before mixing it in with the microgreens, radish sprouts and onion. The mixture is then placed atop a block of fresh, silken tofu, then topped with some shredded nori. My mom really liked this dish and asked if we could replicate it. We'll try!

One thing to note is that the salmon skin salad we had on Tuesday was overdressed and caused the greens to wilt. Tonight's salad was done just right, with no wilting and no puddle of salty dressing on the plate. The Friday night chef is better than the Tuesday night one? Maybe.

Hotate Nigiri

tokkuri tei 2 hotate nigiri

These scallops were so fresh and buttery, you could cut them with a chopstick!

Tekka Maki

tokkuri tei 2 tekka maki

Check out how huge the pieces of tuna are in these little rolls. That's a high ratio of fish to rice! This is the good stuff, too - no strings attached!

Aji Nigiri

tokkuri tei 2 aji nigiri

When we sat down at the sushi bar, Daniel immediately noticed the Aji (mackerel) sitting inside the glass case in front of him. "You like?" asked the chef, holding the fish up. "Just flown in from Japan."

The aji nigiri were indeed fresh. No hint of fishiness, just sweet flesh perfectly balanced with slightly spicy ginger shreds and minced green onion, plus a few drops of soy sauce. Perfect!

The next time we're back in Honolulu, we're coming back to Tokkuri Tei!

Where is your favorite sushi place? Leave us a comment!

Aloha, Nate

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Getting Buzzed at Tokkuri Tei (Honolulu)

tokkuri tei sign

Tokkuri Tei is one of the best izakayas (think Japanese tapas) in Honolulu. We were able to have an amazing dinner there with other food bloggers based in Hawaii, all paid for by FoodBuzz!

Dine on FoodBuzz's Tab

Back in June, FoodBuzz got together a bunch of Featured Publishers from the South Bay and hosted a dinner at Gochi Japanese Fusion Tapas. We all had a great time, sharing great food and talking "shop" with other food bloggers. So when Annie and I were thinking about things to do and places to eat on our trip back home to Hawaii, I thought it would be fun to get together with FoodBuzz Featured Publishers in Hawaii.

So I contacted FoodBuzz, and found out about a program called "Dine On Us" where Featured Publishers in an area can get together for dinner on FoodBuzz's dime. Next, I contacted the three FPs in Hawaii: Made Healthier, Accidental Scientist, and Pizza Therapy. We met up for dinner on Tuesday, along with a new FP, Kahakai Kitchen, at Tokkuri Tei on Kapahulu Avenue in Honolulu.

Tokkuri Tei's Spectacular Food

Tokkuri Tei's menu is a big list of small plates. Besides sashimi, nigiri, and maki sushi, they also have assorted yakitori (broiled meats on a stick) and even "bata" dishes (sauteed in butter). With the helpful suggestions of our waiter, Annie selected a few dishes from each section that caught her attention.

Hamachi Sashimi

tokkuri tei hamachi sashimi

Tokkuri Tei won the Sam Choy Poke Contest with this dish, the "Spider Poke" roll. It is a combination of softshell crab and ahi poke, garnished with masago and ikura fish roe. It was exquisite. This is one fancy sushi! The ikura was also surprisingly fresh, not fishy or oily at all.

tokkuri tei spider roll 3

Salmon normally isn't very good in most sushi places we visit. But this salmon sashimi was the freshest fish that I've had in a while. Soft, buttery, smooth on the tongue, no little pieces of string evident. I could have had another whole plate of this myself.

tokkuri tei salmon sashimi

When you think of miso butterfish, you think of a fillet of black cod that has been marinated in miso and then broiled. The chefs at Tokkuri Tei took it to another level, deep-frying the fish tempura-style and then serving it on a plate with a thin pool of miso sauce. Outstanding.

tokkuri tei miso butterfish tempura

This salmon skin tofu salad with silken tofu was probably the largest dish of the night. A block of smooth, silken tofu sitting under microgreens mixed with salmon chunks and salmon skin, all topped with nori and masago. It is a favorite item on the menu, but I found it to be overdressed and overloaded with raw white onion.

tokkuri tei salmon skin tofu salad 5

Once Annie ordered, the dishes started coming rapid-fire. It was all we could do to take pictures, pass the plate along, take a piece of each plate, and try to eat it before the next dish was delivered to our table. The waiter said that once the dishes are ordered, the kitchen just pumps them out, no slowing down.

So the food was consumed within the first hour, and we had the rest of the evening to really get to know each other better. Albert from Pizza Therapy is a teacher and an Internet marketer, but his passion is pizza and his prized pizza recipe has been sent all over the world. Michelle the Accidental Scientist is a "lab rat" studying corals on Coconut Island but her passion for cooking is so vast, she doesn't make the same recipe twice. And Deb from Kahakai Kitchen, who works in human resources, makes her own garam masalas for her favorite Indian cuisine.

When all was said and done, we walked out of there stuffed to the gills but extremely happy to have come. We arrived as strangers and left as friends. The shared food and the shared camaraderie contributing to the "buzz" high generating smiles on all our faces.

Thanks, FoodBuzz!

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Aloha, Nate

PS If you are a food blogger who hasn't joined the FoodBuzz community as a Featured Publisher yet, contact me and I can get more information sent to you.

PPS: Would you answer my sex poll, over on the right sidebar?

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Continue Reading: "Getting Buzzed at Tokkuri Tei (Honolulu)"...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Eating halfway through Hawaii

We've only a short time in Hawaii, so the list of things we HAVE to eat is short as well.

Daniel rushing from the water to get to our next meal

daniel at kahala beach 4

Midway through our trip, here is the rundown of things and places we've eaten:

Wednesday: Zippy's Chili

Thursday: Kozo Sushi, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, Island Manapua Factory (too bad they ran out of the Peking duck bao)

Friday: Made in Hawaii Festival, Brian's Kapakahi Grilled Chicken


KCC Farmer's Market (crowded)

KCC farmers market 03

The Mandalay (decent dim sum, good service, free parking)

pork hash and ha gau, seasbass with veggies

Costco (milk, $5 a gallon! Aloha Shoyu, $5.59 a gallon!!)

Waiola Shave Ice (da bes' in Hawai'i, brah!)

Sunday: Royal Kitchen (baked chicken curry manapua, mmm-Mmm!)

Char Hung Sut (steamed manapua ,the classic not-your-normal-char siu bao)

Nam Fong (siu yuk, char siu, and a video of them cutting up a roast duck)

Shokudo Japanese Restaurant (Mochi cheese gratin? Yes! Shoyu ramen? Nah.)

shokudo mochi cheese gratin


Yummy Korean Barbecue (meat jun baby, aw-yeah!)

yummy korean bbq meat jun

Fook Yuen Seafood Restaurant (yes, I WILL have some more lobster!)

fook yuen garlic lobster

We still have a lot of places and things to eat, including Bubbie's Ice Cream, Leonard's Malasadas, a new musubi joint called "Mana Bu's", and dinner with other FoodBuzz Featured Publishers at Tokkuri-Tei.

Oh, and more beach time to try to work off all this great food.

Aloha, Nate

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Waiola Shave Ice: the Best Shave Ice in Hawaii

89 degrees and sunny. It's a Waiola Shave Ice day.

original waiola shave ice

I've been coming here since forever. I remember my high school cross country coach taking us on a run around the Ala Wai Canal and then detouring up Pa'ani Street to treat us to some shave ice before heading back to the school grounds. Every time we ran around the Canal after that, I secretly hoped he'd take that same detour.

original waiola shave ice 2

Annie and I would go there quite often when we were dating, at least once or twice a month. At the ordering window, it was always the same order: a large cone with ice cream, li hing and Melona flavors for Annie, and strawberry-li hing for me.

waiola shave ice making

Annie and I eventually began talking about getting engaged. One of my friends shared her story of getting engaged on Christmas Day when her boyfriend walked her to the end of a snow-covered runway and dropped to his knee. I thought to myself, where am I going to find snow in Hawaii? That's when I got the idea to sneak the engagement ring into Annie's shave ice.

The day I actually proposed, Annie wasn't feeling well. She didn't want to have shave ice but I prevailed upon her. When she found the plastic baggie holding the ring, she almost tossed it out, thinking it was trash that had somehow gotten into the dessert. Of course, I was right there to pick it out and make my proposal.

She said yes, and the rest is history.

X-Large Bowl with Ice Cream, Lilikoi and Strawberry for Esther

esther strawberry lilikoi bowl

Matsumoto's in Haleiwa may be the most famous, but it's just hype. Waiola Shave Ice in Moiliili is where you can find the best shave ice in Hawaii. The ice is finer, the choices wider, and the flavors are bolder.

Here's to you, Waiola Shave Ice

original waiola li hing lilikoi shave ice 2

Aloha, Nate

View Larger Map

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Difference Between "Made in Hawaii" and "Hawaii-Made"

Today we attended the "Made in Hawaii" Festival at the Blaisdell Center. This three-day festival showcases all sorts of products that are locally produced, including clothes, artwork, crafts, and of course FOOD.

Maui Jelly Factory

Rows upon rows of arts, crafts, and food to tempt every buyer. Most of these products are geared to the "local" tastes and culture. We were on the hunt for a palaka print cover for the long folding table in our patio back in San Jose. We couldn't find it, but we did come home with a Hawaiian Forest calendar and a few bottles of Lilikoi Jam and Poha Jelly from Maui Jelly Factory:

Hawaiian Forest Calendar, Maui Jelly Factory Lilikoi Butter and Poha Berry Jam

The thing I like about this Festival is that you really see a microcosm of Hawaii, all in one place. People from every ethnic group, every walk of life are here. Most of them are hapa - mixed race. It's just the Hawaiian way, I guess. Immigrants from all over the world settled on Hawaii's shores, intermarried, and intermingled cultures. This acceptance of each other is what the Aloha Spirit is all about. It is what gives this place its peaceful, joyful, and harmonious balance.

About the only people who didn't look like they were having a good time, strangely enough, were the Native Hawaiian t-shirt vendors. They were selling shirts with messages like "The Natives are Restless", "Aloha means Goodbye", and "Pure Blood". They certainly do have a legitimate reason to be restless and angry, what with the anniversary of Hawaii's August 1959 admission into the United States reminding them of the illegal overthrow in 1893 of the Hawaiian Monarchy by American businessmen. Even though their t-shirts were "made in Hawaii, their attitude seemed so out of place at the Festival.

While there were a lot of vendors offering samples of their food, we still needed something substantial for lunch. We picked up a bento and a couple of Spam musubi and went into a side room where they were showcasing live Hawaiian music. As luck would have it, Hoku Zuttermeister and the legend Jerry Santos were on stage:

They were singing songs of old Hawaii, and their music and the graceful hula dancing by Hoku's aunt and mom were so beautiful and soothing. It was a "chicken skin" moment. This is what Hawaii is about: the descendants of immigrants, singing and dancing to a song written in Hawaiian, telling of the beauty of the people of the Islands. Their ancestors may not have been "made in Hawaii" but somehow they became Hawaiian - they were "Hawaii-made".

We stayed at the Festival for almost 6 hours, walking every aisle and sampling almost every food. (Probably the only food we didn't like were the Noni products. The noni fruit leather tasted like really ripe Parmesan cheese. I spit it out.) Then we had to go home because we had a dinner appointment with Brian, a good friend of ours and one of my groomsmen.

Brian is another example of someone who is "Hawaii-made". Originally from Michigan, this haole boy took to the local culture, joined a Tahitian dance troupe, married a hapa girl, and is living in the back of a valley where he raises all kinds of tropical fruits and native Hawaiian plants in his yard.

looking up the valley 2

Here he is picking a ripe, juicy starfruit from his laden tree. I have never had such a sweet and succulent starfruit before. Forget having to add salt!

brians starfruit tree

Brian is a landscape architect by training, and a landscape maintenance manager by trade. He has a terrifically green thumb, and has found ways to blend native Hawaiian plants with non-native "exotics" while taking care to ensure none of them are invasive. Here he is trying to decide what to do with this just-imported, fresh off the plane California native, the Daniel plant. He would have thrown him over the wall except for the fact that the Daniel plant is also known by his Hawaiian name, Ikaika (meaning "strong" in Hawaiian, or "squid squid" in Japanese).

brian and daniel

Dinner was grilled chicken that Brian had marinated over two days. When I asked him what he marinated it in, he said, "whatever I found in my pantry. There's dried onion, garlic, salt, pepper, some Aloha Shoyu teriyaki sauce, some Old Bay seasoning...I don't remember it all."

brians kapakahi grilled chicken 2

Teriyaki and Old Bay? Who whould have ever come up with this kapakahi recipe? But you know what? It rocks! Here is another example of "Hawaii-made": you take the best of what you like from individual cultures and mix them together. The mysterious amalgamation blends to form something completely unlike the original components. They come together and create a beautiful, harmonious, and joyful balance.

Aloha, Nate.

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Continue Reading: "The Difference Between "Made in Hawaii" and "Hawaii-Made""...