Archive for January, 2012

‘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…)

One Strong Ohana tweetup at P.F. Chang

January 25th, 2012

Nadine Kam photos
Nate J. Richards, Vice President, Marketing & Communications for the Joyful Heart Foundation, and Joanna Colangelo, Manager of Foundation & Corporate Relations, stand behind One Strong Ohana.

The Hawai‘i Children’s Trust Fund has partnered with the Joyful Heart Foundation to launch a statewide public awareness campaign called “One Strong ‘Ohana,” to promote the idea that the prevention of child abuse and neglect is a community responsibility.

A tweetup launch that took place Jan. 19 at P.F. Chang’s Hokua restaurant proved timely, two days after a Kamuela man was charged with manslaughter in the death of 3-year-old Marley Makanani.

Speaking to Joyful Heart CEO Maile Zambuto before the event began, she noted a “blame the family” stream of public response to the killing, but she said there needs to be more community responsibility because every time a child is killed or abused, she said, some of the warning signs are evident to all who see the child. A study commissioned by the foundation found, among other things, that in Hawaii, the perpetrators are more likely than those on the mainland to be related to the victims, and that there are cultural barriers to reporting such abuse, that must be overcome.

“The campaign theme of ‘One Strong ‘Ohana’ was born out of the deep-rooted belief we all share here in Hawai‘i—that we are all part of one ‘ohana,” said Aileen Deese, Chairperson of the Hawai‘i Children’s Trust Fund Advisory Committee and Program Director of Prevent Child Abuse Hawaii, in a press release. “Through this campaign, we hope to increase awareness that there are simple ways to reach out and be there for a family, such as bringing a meal or offering child care.”

The weighty tone of the informative event was tempered by selections from P.F. Chang’s well-rounded pupu menu, including seared ahi sashimi with spicy mustard sauce.

“The results of this research clearly demonstrated a critical need for increased public education about the prevalence and signs of child abuse and neglect as well as how bystanders can intervene to help keep children safe,” Zambuto said.

Among the study’s findings, released last summer:
* Nearly 40 percent of residents know a victim of child abuse.
*64 percent of residents say it is difficult to identify the signs of abuse.
*27 percent of residents said they were reluctant to report suspected abuse or neglect
because it was “none of their business.” And the majority of residents would rather talk to a colleague, friend or family member about suspected abuse than appropriate authorities.

In addition to physical and mental abuse, The Federal Child Abuse Preveention and Treatment Act defines child abuse as “an act or failure to act that presents an imminent risk of serious harm,” which means all those who fail to report are participating in abuse.

Among the One Strong ‘Ohana business partners are Whole Foods Market, Fun Factory and Jamba Juice Hawaii. From now until March 12, 2012, Jamba Juice Hawaii will donate 25 cents, up to $10,000, from the purchase of each Fit ‘n Fruitful smoothie to the Hawai‘i Children’s Trust Fund’s One Strong ‘Ohana campaign.

Spring rolls. They are $2 each on the pau hana menu, offered from 3 to 6 p.m. daily and during new late-night pau hana hours from 9:30 p.m. to closing Fridays and Saturdays.

In an emotional moment WFM’s Natalie Aczon, in speaking about Whole Foods willingness to get involved, volunteered the information that she was a victim of domestic violence that began shortly after her seven-year marriage. It took her that long to extricate herself from the situation, and I see her as a very strong woman.

Until that moment, she told me later, she had never spoken about it, and had never intended to say anything out of shame that all victims of abuse feel. But she said she believes the time is right, and that more people speaking up will diminish the power of would-be abusers.

She made it a point to speak to her sons about what they had seen while they were growing up so that they would not grow up to be abusers, but she said, “They didn’t remember it, they had blocked it from their minds.”

I believe that they willed themselves to forget,  because children’s memories can be uncanny. I can still remember my infancy and what the plastic liner of my crib felt like, as well as the feeling of being behind bars and seeing the three big heads of my teen cousins peering at me. I had no vocabulary then, but my thought was, “Why are they looking at me?” with a conflicted mixture of happiness and annoyance.

“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” actress Mariska Hargitay founded Joyful Heart Foundation on the Big Island in 2004 with the intention of helping survivors heal and reclaim their lives. Today, the organization’s mission is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. For more information, visit

My interview with Hargitay from 2010:

Hargitay may be in town later this year for a benefit event like this one from 2010:

More from P.F. Chang’s pupu menu:

Chang’s ahi poke.

Dynamite shrimp with spicy sauce.

Northern-style wok-braised spareribs sprinkled with 5-spice salt. (more…)