Archive for the ‘Comfort food’ Category

‘Eat the Street’ marks 1st anniversary

January 30th, 2012

Nadine Kam photos
“Eat the Street” founder Poni Askew shows a plate of swordfish and another of enchiladas from the Cooking Fresh for You truck at the event’s one-year anniversary luau.

Eat this street held its first anniversary at the Kakaako waterfront, from 4 to 9 p.m. Jan. 27, where the truck count is up to 32, and founder Poni Askew said she regularly turns away 25 to 30 vendors for lack of space, although she said it breaks her heart to do so.

They include people who are starting up specifically to be a part of the monthly communal food event. Picking which newbies get in is difficult, she said, and is a matter of finding those with something new or novel to offer. For instance, one to look forward to in coming months is the Sweet Revenge pie truck that’ll offer sweet and savory selections.

In the beginning, Poni was working as a district manager for Starbucks when she started her Street Grindz blog and website just to bring the food truck community together and offer a convenient place to share sightings and locations of trucks. But with the popularity of the trucks affordable fare, the whole project took on a life of its own.

Now, it’s become political as well, with the city moving to enforce a 1978 law that requires street vendors to move at least 300 feet after being in one spot for 15 minutes.  Violators face a petty misdemeanor charge punishable by up to 30 days in jail and  a fine up to $1,000 fine.

After police began citing lunch wagons and other street vendors several months ago, Councilwoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced a bill that would allow the vendors to stay in place two hours, to get them through a typical lunch period, although final testimony is pending.

Poni said it’s a shame that the city is doing this at the height of the trucks’ popularity, and I think attendance at the monthly events also speaks to consumers’ wishes.

“It would be a shame if they turn away a legacy that’s been here for so long, for so many generations of Hawaii families,” she said.

Shortly after arriving at the event, I stopped by the Eat the Street booth, where food writer Mari Taketa said she’d just been asked if she were me. The late John Heckathorn also told me in the past that people asked him the same question!

This city is not without precedent of the mystery writer with the fake name and fake gender. The Honolulu Weekly once had a male restaurant reviewer writing under a  woman’s name. But I started writing about food a decade before that, when I was 22, too young to consider the consequences. If I had to do it over again, I probably would have used a pseudonym and just walked away from any grief.

One of the attractions of the waterfront setting was a huge warehouse with seating for the tired and hungry.

Getting fancy. An $8 lobster roll made with Maine lobster was one of the specials at the Why’z truck. Andy Hope was prepping lobster outside and I had to do a doubletake when I saw his doppelganger inside the truck. His twin.

The lobster roll: Not as much lobster as I’d like like, but fair for $8. I paid double for awesome lobster rolls in New York, but don’t think most people would spring for that here.

Also offered by Why’z, ribs dubbed “dinosaur bones.”

Former newsperson-turned-foodtrepreneur Kawehi Haug, shared her latest venture, Street Frites.

A closeup of the frites.

Some of the sauce selections accompanying the Street Frites. Offered are savory and sweet flavors, and sometimes a combination of the two, as with the bacon jam.

A suggestion from The Curb truck.

I got it. If you love Godiva’s Chocolixirs, you’ll love this. It’s topped with mini chocolate chips and strawberry slices. (more…)

First meals

January 3rd, 2012

Nadine Kam photos
First meal of the New Year, Navitas Naturals chewy raw cashews.

When making up lists of symbolic meals, I’ve often seen people struggle to come up with the perfect last meal.

Not much is made of the first meals of the new year because they are typically preordained by tradition, whether one’s culture calls for ozoni, mochi, ahi, jai or candied fruit, whether to bind families together or bring sweetness, longevity and fortune into one’s life.

New Year tradition in my family is tied to the Lunar New Year, which begins Jan. 23, so Jan. 1 tends to be more of a culinary free-for-all that’s not weighted in any kind of tradition or superstition.

So, what was on the menu? After waking up too late to head to Mariposa as planned, my afternoon started with a fistful of Navitas Naturals raw, kosher, gluten-free, vegan and 100 percent organic cashews.

To balance the healthy goodness, lunch/dinner was a decadent one-third pound Kua ‘Aina ortega burger with avocado.

It was totally random, and I’m not saying a colossal burger is a good thing, but I like the word “balance” for 2012 and hope to make more healthier choices in the new year. My personal choices are not something that’s necessarily reflected in my restaurant columns, which, as a mirror of our times, relays what is happening in local dining rooms at this particular point. But wouldn’t it be nice if more restaurateurs thought like personal trainers, creating meals to optimize the functions of the human body?

Second meal of 2012: Kua ‘Aina ortega burger with avocado.