Food Box

For a time. when I was new to Honolulu and trying to make ends meet without panicking over grocery sticker shock, I worked as local personal assistant to Dr.

Why, assuming it’s not an agricultural college, should a school have a garden? Especially an elementary school, where young people have enough to do just taking in the the Rs without adding radishes and rutabega?

It’s fair to say that, after experiencing Whole Foods Kahala and Kahului, we thought we knew what to expect from a Whole Foods store. But it’s probably equally fair to say that the Kailua store surprised us all by adding something unexpected of such an oh-so-PC place: A bar in the store.

Pretend you haven’t been to Haleiwa in say, a year. Am I reaching?

For two generations of travelers to Oahu, the must-take omiyage has been Leonard’s malasadas: deep-fried, sugar-dusted sweet dough. Step off a plane on the neighbor islands without a grease-stained box and your relatives’ shoulders slump disappointedly.

If you’ve never attended a “real lu’au”–not a tourist attraction–or if it’s been too long since the last one, scroll on over to Aug. 4 on your smart phone calendar and plan for a pleasant drive, a day of kanikapila with several hundred new friends and a lavish feast.

If you’ve promised yourself not to bring home one more new hot sauce, you might want to reconsider. As a food writer, I sample a lot of condiments, sauces and such.

With company in town last week, I toured the gardens at the Bishop Museum and the guide challenged the four locals on the tour to “teach me something.” I did. I taught her something: that ‘akulikuli, the creeping vine best known for its brilliant magenta, pale rose, white or ‘ilima yellow flower used in lei, has an edible leaf.

Can’t easily slice that beautiful Island-grown tomato? Canʻt figure out how to properly sharpen a knife?

Diana Anthony doesn’t live in the islands, but in Melbourne, Australia. Fortunately, not only do many plants flourish here that do well there, the garden principles she teaches in this well-organized, beautifully photographed and illustrated book transfer well, too.

Southeast Asians relish a sprawling family of confections made with sweet rice or sweet rice flour (mochiko) and coconut milk. In the Philippines, there are everything fromfudges to cakes, often combined with fruit or starchy vegetables or tubers (taro, cassava).

Da Falafel King, yet another source of healthy but fast food, is absolutely lovely. Two charming young women work inside the ocean-blue truck in Moiliili (the original is still in Waikiki), greeting everyone as though they were family, taking orders, even serving pita appetizers to those waiting on their orders.

If you want to kookoo hee, you’ve got to have somebody to kookoo and a good ‘okilo ia. Got that?

Alan Wong is worried about the one in four children who go to school hungry. “That’s not a national statistic; that’s a Hawaii statistic,” he said, yelling somewhat over the band entertaining at Hawaii’s first Taste of the Nation event, a link in a chain of chef-driven events across the US seeking to end child hunger.

Speculatively eyeing the rock-hard green ovals, mango lovers are asking each other. “Is it just me, or is this going to be a great mango year?” The answer is yes.

Whole Foods already has a well-established Kahala store. Why, when you live near town, go to Kailua?

We can add fresh abalone to the short list of compensations for living in Hawaii. Itʻs a luxury item found not just in name restaurants (Hiroshi, Roy’s, Alan Wong’s, Chef Mavro) but also Whole Foods, Costco and farmers’ markets, said Big Island Abalone CEO Hiroshi Arai.

Here’s how to have a truly happy hour: Strong rum drinks, hand-crafted with muddled mint and plenty of lime, are half-priced at Soul de Cuba’s festive happy hour ($4-$6). Cuban music gets your shoulders rolling and hips swaying.

Oahu, once pretty much a two-note restaurant town (Asian, American) now offers a much broader spectrum, down to Himalayan and even a weekly Ethiopian pop-up. But for years, Southern cookin’, Cajun and Creole food have been scarce.

We’ve had a soft spot for single malt Scotch ever since our first sip while honey-marooned for 48 inclement hours in a tent in the Hebrides. As puddles became peaty lakes, our Talisker kept us sane, even cheerful.

Jews who keep kosher in Hawaii (blessings be on their heads because it ain’t easy, with no kosher groceries, bakeries or butchers and only one truly kosher deli) already know how to acquire ingredients for Passover, a multi-day festival that begins April 7. (Kosher is a complex set of regulations governing what observant Jews eat; at its simplest, no pork or shellfish and never meat and dairy at the same meal.

You’re picturing coco-palms fringing a moonlit beach, aren’t you? Rewind.

The rumor’s been fermenting that “New Korean” cuisine is the next big thing. Now it’s happening at trendy restaurants such as the recently opened Jung Sik in New York.

A very real set of the working population is turning coffee shops into their go-to offices. It’s a mobile trend we’ve written about before–the coffice–that modern businesses are quickly keying into, brewing free Internet on tap as a selling point (see local cafes like Coffee Talk, R&D and Fresh Café).

Say tsukemono and watch people’s reactions. You’ll note the experienced tsukemono eater, particularly one who likes salt, will immediately salivate.

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