Raining Gifts of Fortitude

Let’s take a look at the weather outside now. It’s currently raining and cloudy in southern Honolulu while northern Honolulu is warm and clear. The sun is shining, the temperature is currently 71 degrees, and it looks as if a little holiday cheer might make its way in from the West.

As “Happy Thanksgivings” and “Merry Holidays” proliferate around us, why not take a little uninvited advice from a few of us at the Weekly? We’re hardly strangers. We’re neither overly cheery nor bah-humbuggers, but we do have a new perspective on what a good dose of gift giving can do for the heart and soul and the state of Hawaii.

In the coming weeks, you’ll find recommendations for island-inspired gifts, including our favorites in food, apparel, charitable and DIY gifts. So here’s to a shot of eggnog with a sprinkle of coconut (vodka) for some Weekly-esque cheer! —

Oh So Shiny

Oils of Aloha

Perfect for basting that fried turkey or for coating fresh fish, Oils of Aloha’s macadamia oils offer a subtle, nutty flavor to any holiday dish. It’s just right for salad dressings, on baked goods or sprinkled on popcorn (trust me!). It has a high smoke point and comes in flavors like Haleiwa Heat (roasted garlic), Pele’s Fire (chili), and Kauai Herb. All for $9 each!

Tango on the Tongue

Madre Chocolate

Madre Chocolate is a blend of organic, fair trade, vegan (and soy-free) chocolate nibs from Latin America and the Caribbean. They sell limited editions of chocolate bars made from local, seasonal ingredients, hand-picked from Hawaii’s famers including their single estate Hawaiian bars which originate from Big Island’s Hamakua coast ($8) and the Pink Peppercorn and Smoked Salt dark chocolate bars ($8 each). They deliver to anywhere in Waikiki on Tuesday afternoons for free, and don’t overlook their “sampler pack” which includes five dark chocolate bars for $29.

Madre Chocolate shop, 20-A Kainehe St., Kailua, Open Mon., Wed., Fri. 9am–6pm, [madrechocolate.com], 377-6440 Kale’s Natural Foods, 377 Keahole St., 396-6993 Kokua Market, 2643 S. King St., 941-1922 Mercado de la Raza, 1315 S. Beretania St., 593-2226 Ono Pops, (check out their “Stracciatelli pops” which are a half-breed of Madre’s Hamakua chocolate!), 354-2949 The Source Naturals, 32 Kainehe St., Kailua, 262-5604

Maintaining a Buzz

Big Island Bees

Located in Captain Cook, Big Island Bees is the largest producer of honey in Hawaii, and one of the largest producers of organic honey in the US. “Good honey is like wine and should be appreciated as such,” they say. “We’re trying to enable consumers to think about considering gifting honey as an alternative to wine. It’s less expensive, lasts longer and indirectly helps the bees and therefore the environment.”

Blue Hawaii Lifestyle, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd., #2312, [bluehawaiilifestyle.com], 949-0808 Lupicia, 1450 Ala Moana Blvd # 2312, [lupiciausa.com], 941-5500 Island Vintage Coffee, 2301 Kalakaua Ave., Ste C21, [islandvintagecoffee.com], 926-5662 Gift & Gourmet, 212 Merchant St., Ste 7, 528-5818 Hilo Hattie, 700 North Nimitz Hwy, 535-6500

Leaves of Tea

The Tea Farm Café

Can you think of a more modern gift than a jar of pu-erh tea? It comes from the Yunnan province of China, green or black, with unique characteristics similar to wine. As it ages, the tea becomes smoother, and any tea connoisseur will tell you that when it comes to tea, go pu-erh or go home. Its aroma is that of a rose garden, its caffeine level is “medium” and its taste is earthy with a lightly sweetened flowery taste that sits there, on the tongue, like a bee on a bud.

If that’s too flowery for you, peruse the collection of tea tins at the Tea Farm Café. Sit, watch a pot of tea bloom before your eyes, and think about all those you’re buying gifts for this year. Their beautiful jars of tea start at under $5, and their tea accessories might inspire you…morning, afternoon and evening.

The Tea Farm Café, 2600 S. King St., [theteafarm.com], 945-2679

Local Kine Snax

Ba-Le Bakery

Imagine a whole grain puff glazed in honey and mixed with Japanese Nori, sesame seeds and a pinch of salt, and then imagine a bag of these things wrapped up in paper. It’s irresistible. It’s sweet and salty, and oh so snappy in the mouth!

Seasons Greetings

Pacifica Hawaii Salt

To create their salt, Pacifica Hawaii uses sea water that’s first filtered, then purified with ultra-violet light. The sun and tropical breezes evaporate the water until only the beautiful salt crystals remain. Their salts contain a mix of essential minerals and trace elements vital to health. Varieties of their salts include “White Coral” used in cooking and finishing of dishes; Red Alaea, ideal for fish, pork and veggies; and black lava, used in grilled meats, crusted fish and salads. Four-ounces in a bamboo salt box for $15.50, Eight-ounce refills for $6.95

Hawaii Kai Salt

Inspired by Nancy Grove and Pacifica Hawaii, Hawaii Kai Salt can be found throughout the island of Oahu, and they’re known for their “Solar Seal” sea-salt making technology. Their gourmet products include a sweet and savory blend of mineral-rich salts and all-natural sea salts, perfect for the advanced or amateur cook! Prices start at $6.

Kale’s Natural Foods, 377 Keahole St., 396-6993 Marukai Market, 1020 Auahi, 371-5618 Whole Foods, 4211 Wai’Alae Ave., 738-0820 [hawaiikaico.com]

Don’t worry, Be Happy’s

Happy’s Hawaii

It’s common that one would go to the farmers‘ market to buy local produce, but Haleiwa residents flock to their Sunday farmers market for the avocado and sundried tomato fried eggrolls with magic green sauce from Happy’s Hawaii. The Magic Green Sauce is a cilantro-honey-cashew condiment that is good with anything, and one of three magic sauces (all gluten-free) Happy’s manufactures at the Historic Waialua Sugar Mill.

Happy’s owner and chef Lan Thai says her family escaped war-torn Vietnam in 1977 and came to the US, where she grew up on the family farm in San Diego, eating only the freshest vegetables, herbs and fruits. She came to Hawaii to enjoy cooking with the abundance of pineapple, macadamia nut, ginger and plentiful fruits and vegetables. “I make everything from scratch,” says Lan. “All our food contains local ingredients, produce from North Shore farms, organic meats, Kahuku shrimp, local grass-fed beef, no preservatives, no MSG, no GMO, and if we use sugar, only Maui evaporated raw cane sugar.”

This year, stuff that sock with a little bit of Happyness.

Potato, Potato

Hawaiian Chip Company

Taro, zesty garlic, kiawe barbecue taro, sweet potato, zesty garlic sweet potato, Kilauea Fire BBQ Sauce… They’ve got every reason in the world to think about chips in a whole new way. All made in Hawaii, all natural and all about satisfying the craving. $8 per bag.

Hawaiian Chip Co., 1928 Republican St., [hawaiianchipcompany.com], 845-9868 Diamond Head Market and Grill, 3575 Campbell Ave., 732-0077 Yamas Fish Market, 2332 Young St., [yamasfishmarket.com], 941-9994 Petals and Beans, 1288 Ala Moana Blvd., #104, 596-0888

Favored Flavors

Waialua Soda Works

For local, inexpensive, retro-cool gifts, think about bottles of Waialua Soda, or even a 6-pack for that hard-to-buy for cousin. Pineapple, mango, vanilla cream and lilikoi sodas flavored and sweetened with Maui Brand natural cane sugar, Big Island vanilla and Kauai honey. Under $3.

Aqua Café, 2250 Kalakaua Ave., 922-6888| Diamond Head Market and Grill, 3575 Campbell Ave., 732-0077 Nico’s at Pier 38, 1133 N. Nimitz Hwy, 540-1377 [waialuasodaworks.com], 371-7556

Short Bread, Tall Appetite

Honolulu Cookie Company

We know you like to stumble in, taste a few cookies, head out on the Waikiki strip, only to come back for more. Why, how about a box of macadamia nut cookies covered in chocolate this holiday? Pineapple, coconut, lilikoi, mango, Kona coffee and dark chocolate cookies, for those who need a few more choices. Gifts for under $10. Cookie-of-the-month club starting at $85.

1717 Homerule St., 845-1778 2005 Kalia Rd., 942-7171 1050 Ala Moana Blvd., 597-8182 [honolulucookie.com]

Gawd that’s Good!

Koko Head Foods Smoked Ahi Spread

Eat it with bread or veggies or spread on homemade crackers. Probably even good on a scoop of rice. $7!

Tamura’s Market, 91-1051, [tamurasmarket.com], 853-4700 R. Field Wine Co., 1460 S. Beretania St., 596-9463 R. Field Wine Co., 108 Hekili St., #106, 261-3358 R. Field Wine Co., 820 W. Hind Dr., 373-2231