Chinese New Year / Possibly more than any other Chinese holiday, the Lunar New Year (2/3) is the most celebrated, with food at the forefront of tradition. Lucky snacks like oranges and harmony trays filled with lychee nuts, and eating fish the night before the Chinese New Year are just some of the ways the Chinese culture honors certain food traditions.
Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture / Big Island coffee growers had it tough in 2010. They faced the most severe drought on record and confronted an infestation of the coffee berry borer, a beetle found around the world but only recently discovered in Hawaii.
food & Drink / Most people know the Blue Lotus Farm stand, a fixture at the Saturday Kapiolani Community College farmers’ market, for its colorful shave ice, giant omelets and onolicious sake butter clams. There’s much more than meets the eye, and, in fact, it may just be the best-kept secret at the ever-more-crowded institution.
Padovani’s Chocolates, Blue Hawai‘i Lifestyle / The holiday season isn’t quite over yet, and neither is gift giving. For emergency holiday gifts, there are two easy shops to pop into for locally made edibles.
Food & Drink / If you’ve ever wanted a kitchen lesson with Alan Wong, his latest cookbook, The Blue Tomato, might be the closest thing to standing in front of the stove with him. It’s written in true Alan Wong fashion–cooking instructions embedded in a history lesson, accompanied by purveyor profiles, all couched in motivational speech.
Sheraton Princess Kaiulani / The gingerbread village at the Sheraton Kaiulani is an architectural, festive treat. Fourteen years ago, it started small, and over the years it just got bigger and bigger–an entire town in gingberbread miniature, incorporating medieval churches, a carousel, skating rink and mechanical toys such as a train and ski lifts.
Cranberry persimmon sauce / As a fruit, persimmons are a perfect encapsulation of the season: orange-hued like a pumpkin, with a hint of cinnamon holiday spice to its sweetness. Persimmons from California flood the Chinatown produce markets this time of year, but they’re also locally grown by the Hashimoto farm on Maui, which has 500 persimmon trees on 5 acres of land.
Zsoli’s Chimney Cakes / Who would have thought that Honolulu’s latest sweet inspiration would come from the streets of Hungary? The introduction of Zsoli’s Chimney Cakes is a reminder that good food can come from anywhere–and especially from a wooden trailer that looks like it drove out of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale.
Sabai Dee Thai Restaurant / Ordering a dish from Sabai Dee Thai Restaurant is like opening a new box of crayons. Their Yum Yum salads arrive looking like leafy parfaits–colorful peppers tossed with pineapple and glass noodles spread over a blanket of crisp lettuce and a warm sweet red chili sauce.
Hale‘iwa Farmers’ Market / Haleiwa Farmers’ Market is celebrating kalo from loi to pai‘ai, while also offering up more modern takes on the starchy tuber so intertwined with Hawaiian culture. The festival will include tours of nearby loi in Waimea Valley and Namea Kupono in Waialua, as well as Lovan’s Taro Farm, which grows dryland taro varieties.
Terry’s Place / Even those who live close to the iconic Chinatown Cultural Plaza may still not have figured out the lay of the maze-like, multi-floored plaza. Aside from the dim sum places and Chinese bakeries one would expect to find, a few wrong turns into loading zones prove there are surprises around every corner.
Mauna Kea Tea / Takahiro Ino, farmer of Mauna Kea Tea on the Big Island, begins his biography with the question, “What is life?” He may not have found the answer when he studied philosophy in college, embarked on months-long backpacking trips and experimented with “living off the land” in the Sierra Wilderness (he found himself chasing bears with a hand knife for food), but his experiences led him to natural farming, and specifically, farming tea. “I could have decided to farm anything, tea is just a mechanism for understanding what nature can produce,” Ino says.