Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
For the past several years, I have been making a concerted effort to purchase my food ingredients from local purveyors so that more of my hard-earned dollars remain in the 50th. I realize that some of my money stays in Hawai‘i even if the produce I purchased was grown on the continent. That purchase still supports the local employee who works in that produce section or the local cashier who processed my purchase. But if you purchase local products, everyone local benefits — the employees working for that company; the grower or farmer who produced the product; and even the company managers, executives and owners return some of the dollars to the local economy by spending locally for their own personal needs.
I had this epiphany recently following a totally unrelated experience. If you recall, I enjoy a nice glass of vino. In fact, after the Hawai‘i Legislature approved direct wine shipments to the 50th, I created my fair share of accounts at various wineries in California and Washington. If you’re lucky, you are immediately offered wine directly from the winery — if not, the winery places you on a wait list. While I’m always happy to receive a wine shipment, I began noticing in the past year or so that the shipping costs have risen to the point where I am reassessing whether to continue purchasing my annual allocation of wine. Although the 50th does have its own local winery — Maui Wine Co., on the slopes of Haleakalä — I still want to sample wine from more than just one winery.
That got me thinking about other food products (yes, I view wine as a food product, not an over-the-counter sedative). What if we have to ship all of our food into the state? And, what happens when those shipping costs become prohibitive?
Hawai‘i-Grown and -Raised
I’m happy to report that two of my favorite protein purveyors are holding their own in Hawai‘i. Julius Ludovico still sells his naturally raised chickens at the Blaisdell Farmer’s Market every Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m. He delivers to a limited number of locations, so you can try contacting him directly. And, Julius also sells those other organs that I like, specifically, hearts, livers and gizzards.
J. Ludovico Farms
On the pork side, I am eagerly awaiting Chef Bob McGee’s venture into retail sales of his Pono Pork products. He should be gearing up for home cook portions — as opposed to selling whole sides of swine — from David Wong’s Mountain View Farms’ naturally raised pork. If you can’t wait, contact Chef Bob directly, as he, too, delivers to limited locations on O‘ahu.
Pono Pork, LLC
Kualoa Grass Fed Beef is raised and processed locally and sold directly across from the Kualoa Ranch Visitor Center twice a month. The beef is hormone-, steroid- and antibiotic-free and can be ordered directly from the company’s website. Of course, it does require a drive to the Windward side of Oahu to pick up, but I bet you’d chose that gorgeous drive over H-1 traffic any day, right?
Kualoa Grass Fed Beef
Gone are the days when the only edibles that came out of the ground here in the 50th were sugarcane, pineapple and papaya. Just look at your weekly supermarket ads, as they all highlight whether the produce is locally grown. Here is a partial list: long beans • green bell peppers • Chinese cabbage • broccoli • watercress • head cabbage • Bok Choy • Kai Choy • Ong Choy • Okinawan sweet potato • butternut squash • daikon • corn • tomatoes • long eggplant • bittermelon • cucumber • zucchini • green onion • sweet round onions • bean sprouts • fresh herbs.
Regardless of your choice of cuisine, you should be able to purchase these made-in-Hawai‘i veggies to support our local economy. The only other fruits and veggies I need are apples, pears, carrots and celery; if not for these, I would be purchasing 100 percent locally grown produce.
Since there’s no wheat production locally, we do have to settle for locally processed or produced products. Hawai‘i does have a baker extraordinaire in Chris Sy, who creates several different breads at his Kaimukï bakery, Breadshop.
3408 Waialae Ave.
Honolulu, HI 96816
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Although rice is no longer cultivated in Hawai‘i, we do have a store that freshly mills heirloom rice varieties for several local restaurants and also sells them directly to the public. The Rice Factory in Kaka‘ako usually carries four or five heirloom varieties of rice brought in from small growers in Japan and will mill it to 100 percent (pure white rice), 70 percent, 50 percent or pure brown rice while you wait in the store.
The Rice Factory
955 Kawaiahao St., Bay 1
Honolulu, HI 96814
Monday, Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Of course, you might also shift some of your carb consumption to locally grown sweet potatoes or breadfruit. I intend to plant a breadfruit tree in my yard because Chef Ed Kenney’s ulu (breadfruit) side dishes at Mud Hen Water have me hooked!
To get you started on your quest to purchase local, I have included in this column a recipe for a dish I sampled for the first time about 10 years ago at Cucina Restaurant and Wine Bar in the Bay Area. The Zucchini Carpaccio was simply thin ribbons of fresh zucchini, flat leaf parsley, toasted slices of almonds and flaked pecorino cheese, but the salty, herbal and crisp textures had me wanting for more. But with local zucchini and fresh parsley available year round, there’s no need to be wanting anymore.
2 large zucchini, grated on a box grater (I place them between cool paper towels to absorb the excess moisture.)
About 1/2 cup of roughly chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
About 1/2 cup of lightly toasted sliced almonds (Trader Joe sells 1 lb. packages)
About 1/4 to 1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano (I prefer Parmesan to Pecorino, but any hard-shaved cheese will do.)
Toss all 4 ingredients and serve as a salad or side course.
I first published the grilled version of the following salad in my sister-column, “The Gochiso Gourmet,” which appears in the Bay Area’s Nichi Bei Weekly. Sometimes fresh corn is best left as is in its natural raw state. This is a nice way to utilize three locally grown vegetables as either a salad or a side course.
Raw Corn Salad
3/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
3/4 tsp. smoked salt (available at gourmet markets)
3 cups fresh corn kernels (about five ears — I use Chef Chiarello’s tip and place one end of the corn cob in the hole on a Bundt pan then slice the kernels directly into the pan.)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 cup finely chopped red or green bell pepper
1 cup finely chopped green onions
Combine the sour cream, Worchestershire sauce and smoked salt in a large bowl and stir with a whisk. Add corn and remaining ingredients and combine by stirring. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
So, for the “Year of the Dog,” I hope you will join me in supporting and purchasing local to make us less dependent on forces we cannot control outside of our world.
Ryan’s Table wishes you and yours a healthy, happy and peaceful 2018. Shinnen akemashite omedetou gozaimasu! Or, to put it locally, Hauoli makahiki hou! In this Year of the Dog, or inu, it’s time to pay a visit to the newest local brewery, Inu Island Ales. But that’s for another column . . .
Ryan Tatsumoto is a clinical pharmacist by day. In his off-hours, however, he and his wife enjoy seeking out perfect marriages of food and wine. Ryan is a certified sommelier and a certified specialist of wine. The Windward O‘ahu resident also writes a column for San Francisco’s Nichi Bei Weekly called “The Gochiso Gourmet.”