Archive for February, 2016

Students soak up tips from star Seattle chef

By
February 29th, 2016



"I didn't go to college, I didn't go to culinary school, I barely made it through high school."

Not the spiel you'd expect from a role model called upon to inspire a room full of culinary students.

But then, Tom Douglas runs a multimillion-dollar restaurant empire in Seattle ($80 million to $100 million is what he expects his 25 businesses to earn this year, give or take, depending on how things go and what he may decide to buy). Payroll for his nearly 1,000 employees is $1.5 million every two weeks.

By Craig T. Kojima On Monday, February 29. Tom Douglas, wearing the lei, worked with Kapiolani Community College culinary students including Nam Chi Anoche, left, Amy Roges, Sara Palumbo and their instructor Daniel Swift.

By Craig T. Kojima
Tom Douglas, wearing the lei, worked with Kapiolani Community College culinary students including Nam Chi Anoche, left, Amy Roges, Sara Palumbo and their instructor Daniel Swift.

Douglas spoke and cooked at Kapiolani Community College today in an appearance sponsored by the Hawaii Culinary Education Foundation.

He was there to talk about the trend toward making vegetables the center of the restaurant plate, but the students — most of them near the age that he was when he launched his career — seemed far more interested in his business success.

Douglas recounted leaving his East Coast home after high school in a 1967 Chevy Bel Air (sky blue) that he bought for $300, hitting the road with only the cash that his dad gave him as a going-away present. "I ran out of money in Seattle."

So there he settled, working his way up in the kitchen of Cafe Sport. Five years later, in 1989, with the help of a wealthy in-law, Douglas opened Dahlia Lounge. The first year was rough, he said. The country was entering a recession and he made some missteps. But he learned, corrected and started collecting awards, including the coveted James Beard Foundation award for best chef in the Pacific Northwest.

The key, Douglas says, is to know how to manage your crew and to work constantly to get "butts in the chairs." Bottom line: "I'm a worker bee. I'm a leader in getting up and showing up. Every day."

By Craig T. Kojima Tom Douglas' Berbere Spice Roasted Vegetables with Injera, Tomato Chile Fried Egg and Charred Pineapple Yogurt.

By Craig T. Kojima
Tom Douglas' Berbere Spice Roasted Vegetables with Injera, Tomato Chile Fried Egg and Charred Pineapple Yogurt.

For Douglas' thoughts on the new role of vegetables in restaurant cuisine, see the Food section in Wednesday's Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

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Instant minced garlic - a kitchen hack for mise en place

By
February 28th, 2016



This kitchen hack will save you mise en place time, and money, in terms of avoiding costly food waste.

Mise en place, or the prep we do prior to cooking such as chopping onions, mincing garlic and slicing green onions, often can be done in WAY in advance. Just to be clear, this is not a cheffy pro-tip, this is a home-cook "lifehack" or a way to simplify something we always find ourselves doing.

If you have ever looked longingly at the large bags of peeled garlic cloves at the warehouse store but didn't buy one because you just KNOW the contents would go bad before you could use them all up, this tip is for you, especially if you have a food processor.

The latest round of garlic squares I made is rather generously sized. Note the quarter at left.

The latest round of garlic squares I made is rather generously sized. Note the quarter at left.

For this kitchen hack, all you need in addition to a food processor, is a rimmed baking sheet, some waxed paper, plastic wrap, foil, or parchment paper. Line the baking sheet with your kitchen film of choice.

Buy the ostentatious bag of pre-peeled garlic. Get out your food processor. Pulse the heck out of all those cloves. I do it in two batches, pulsing or letting it run on low until the garlic bits achieve the minced size I want. You'll want to stop the processor and scrape down the sides a couple times. When the garlic is minced to your desired size, scrape the garlic into the lined, rimmed baking pan and smooth it out to an even thickness using a spatula, additional piece of waxed paper, etc. Note that you need not fill the whole pan. The last time I did this, I filled garlic to the rim of the pan, so several inches of the pan's length did not get used.

Using a sharp knife, cut minced garlic into squares of desired size. Cover the cut-up, raw garlic with another piece of waxed paper (etc.) and freeze for about 20 minutes or until hardened.

Remove from the freezer and separate garlic squares into a zip-top bag (or bags) labeled with the contents and the date. Keep in the freezer and when you need minced garlic, just grab a square, toss it into the pan, and keep on cooking!

Frozen minced garlic, ready to use, labeled with date.

Frozen minced garlic, ready to use, labeled with date.

My thanks to friend Kat Souza for this fantastic kitchen hack! It has simplified weeknight dinner prep immensely, saving me from having to peel and mince garlic cloves each time I need it for a dish.

If you're making garlic butter, just take out a garlic square or two in advance to defrost, maybe set on a paper towel to absorb any condensation that develops. Add it to your softened butter with desired herbs, etc., and you're good-to-go!

The genius tip from Kat's family is an extension of another technique I've used for years to help save me time in the kitchen AND reduce food waste.

I also store chopped onion, as well as sliced green onion, in zip-top bags in the freezer, flattening the product in the bags before placing in the freezer. Frozen flat like that, I can just break off whatever size piece or amount I want of either type of onion, and add it to my dish. In the case of green onion, it will wilt as it defrosts, so if your presentation calls for perfect rings of fresh green onion, the frozen ones will disappoint you -- use fresh green onion in those situations.

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Pieology ready for prime time

By
February 27th, 2016



The Pieology Pizzeria chain opens its first Hawaii location Sunday, introducing its concept of build-your-own pies with a single price for unlimited toppings.

The Aina Haina Shopping Center restaurant is to be the first of 15 to 20 locations in Hawaii, says Peter Capriotti II, president and CEO of Cotti Foods, which holds the Pieology franchise for the state and parts of California.

A pizza moves down the assembly line.

A pizza moves down the assembly line.

Here's how it works: You choose a crust (regular, whole wheat or gluten-free), then proceed down the assembly line as you pick from among seven sauces, five cheeses, 10 meats (including, in Hawaii only, Spam, Portuguese sausage and kalua pork) and 16 toppings. If you want you can have everything and even grab toppings from the salad bowl side, like garbanzo beans. Then you get a number and your pizza goes into an 800-degree oven for about four minutes. An
11-1/2-inch pie sells for $10.95 no matter how much you pile on.

A custom pizza with kalua pork, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon, spinach, mozzarella and feta cheese. A pie sells for $10.95 no matter how many toppings.

A custom pizza is topped with kalua pork, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, tomatoes, bacon, spinach, garbanzo beans, mozzarella and feta cheese.

A preview event today proved that all those choices can be a decision-making challenge, creating bottlenecks on the line. "That was stressful," one diner said of the ordering experience.

But Stephen Dees, chief operating officer for Cotti, said that's a newbie thing. Repeat customers develop favorites. "They get used to it and they know what they want."

And those who really don't like making decisions can go with one of the menu suggestions. Hickory BBQ Chicken, for example, or Alfredo's Alfredo.

The Rustic Veggie starts with a whole wheat crust and the house red sauce, topped with bell peppers, roasted red peppers, onion, corn, garlic and basil.

The Rustic Veggie starts with a whole wheat crust and the house red sauce, topped with bell peppers, roasted red peppers, onion, corn, garlic and basil.

Dees said the 32 employees at the new shop have been producing an average of 130 pies every hour or so during the shakedown phase, when guests have been invited to test the wares and provide the crew with real-world experience.

They're preparing to serve as many as 1,000 pizzas on opening day.

The owners promise long lines won't be a problem once customers get the hang of how to order.

The owners promise long lines won't be a problem once customers get the hang of how to order.

A Hawaiian blessing takes place at 10:45 a.m., with service starting at 11 a.m.

Pieology was founded in 2011 and has more than 100 restaurants nationwide. The fast-growing company says it has commitments lined up for 500.

Aina Haina hours are 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays. Call 373-5550 or go to pieology.com

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Dogs invade Burger King

By
February 26th, 2016



The Grilled Dogs served by Burger King have gotten quite a bit of attention from the restaurant industry press as well as news outlets intended for the masses.

Waiting for the big reveal, one each of the new Grilled Dogs at Burger King and onion rings on the side.

Waiting for the big reveal, one each of the new Grilled Dogs at Burger King, with onion rings on the side.

It’s hard to beat $1.50 for a ginormous hot dog or Polish dog and soda at the warehouse store. Or even the guilty pleasure of a quarter-pound hot dog with unnaturally orange "cheese" sauce from the convenience store. Or you might go in the other direction, toward the higher-end gourmet hot dogs made from traditional or exotic meats, served at Hank’s Haute Dogs in Kakaako.

Burger King’s new Grilled Dogs are somewhere in-between, and interest in them has been fueled by the quick-service-restaurant chain’s considerable marketing budget.

Neither the warehouse store, convenience store, nor Hank’s can claim to have “leaked” so-called internal training videos for the product release, one featuring recording artist Snoop Dogg, and the other, musician and comedic actress Charo, for instance. Each amusing video is less than 2 minutes long.

To hear Snoop Dogg tell it, or, more accurately, to hear him recite the script written by BK’s ad agency, the new grilled dog is “The Whopper of Hot Dogs.”

The Classic with ketchup, mustard, relish and chopped onion is $2.39 by itself, or $4.99 if you want it with fries and a soda. The Chili Cheese choice is $2.69 by itself, while the meal option is $5.29.

Top dog, the Classic. Underneath, the Chili Cheese choice. Onion rings on the side. Not shown, the hypocritical diet soda.

Top dog, the Classic. Underneath, the Chili Cheese choice. Onion rings on the side. Not shown, the hypocritical diet soda.

For purposes of this blog, a purchase on Thursday included a Classic Grilled Dog meal with an upgrade to onion rings, plus a separate Chili Cheese Grilled Dog. With tax the total came to $8.04, and along with the soda there was too much food for this tummy to handle.

It’s a bit odd, while sitting in Burger King, to look out the window and see McDonald’s directly across Beretania Street. One must surmise the opposite also is true.

That one can sit in either bastion of such classically American fare and hear groups of customers all around you speaking in their non-English mother-tongues, is the cool, "Lucky You Live Hawaii" aspect of such an outing.

As for the hot dogs, they’re worth a try, if for no other reason than to say you’ve tried them.

That said, neither Hank’s, your favorite convenience store, nor the warehouse stores have anything to worry about.

Posted in Eating Out, Food | Comments Off on Dogs invade Burger King

Capitol appearance for culinary class

By
February 25th, 2016



A team of cooks-in-training from Waipahu High School participated Tuesday in Tourism Day at the state Capitol.

Their teacher, Elaine Matsuo, said they were invited by Mufi Hannemann, president and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, to help showcase partnerships between the tourism industry and the schools.

 

Jessica Cabradilla, left, Shelyn Longboy-Eliazar, Jesus Bautista (behind), Jethro Agbayani and Jansen Picquet

Jessica Cabradilla, left, Shelyn Longboy-Eliazar, Jesus Bautista (behind), Jethro Agbayani and Jansen Picquet prepared a coconut napoleon with pineapple compote and a tuille butterfly for Wednesday's Tourism Day at the state Capitol.

Waipahu doesn't have such a partnership right now, but several years ago the school worked with the Waikiki Parc Hotel and then-executive chef Don Maruyama.

The five-week summer internship gave the students experience in various food-service positions, from dishwasher to line cook to server to room service.

"It was a great experience for them," Matsuo said.

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Happiness also can be a cold egg

By
February 24th, 2016



The Peterson Farm blog Joleen Oshiro wrote benefited many people, as she was kind enough to offer to get additional eggs for some of us to share, and I decided to make two things. A frittata was one, onsen eggs, or ajitsuke tamago, a.k.a. ni tamago, was the other.

Using fresh eggs, old eggs and an adaptation of a marinade recipe, you can make these "ramen-style" eggs at home. Habanero is optional.

Using old eggs is better for this method of making soft-boiled, "ramen-style" eggs at home. Habanero is a totally optional marinade ingredient.

Betty Shimabukuro gave me a tip about boiling half an inch of water, adding eggs, covering the pot and reducing the heat to medium, and removing the eggs to an ice bath after six minutes. I’ve tried other methods and cooking durations before, but she’s my boss now, so I thought it wise to try her method for this blog post.

These eggs are being soft-boiled in about half-an-inch of water. You do need to cover them.

These eggs are being soft-boiled in about half-an-inch of water. You do need to cover them. Once six minutes is up, remove them immediately to an ice bath.

The ice bath helps stop the cooking process ensuring a liquid-y yolk. Remove when they're cool enough to handle, then peel.

The ice bath helps stop the cooking process ensuring a liquid-y yolk. Remove when they're cool enough to handle, then peel.

Clearly I’d forgotten that it’s exceedingly difficult to peel soft-boiled eggs that are super-fresh. It was. Of the six I soft-boiled, two did not survive the peeling process.

Super-fresh, these soft-boiled eggs from Peterson's Farm didn't survive the peeling process.

Super-fresh, these soft-boiled eggs didn't survive the peeling process.

Note the two older eggs, at center, which I soft-boiled to make an even half-dozen. The air pocket in older eggs is larger, and the membrane comes away from the white more easily.

Note the two older eggs at center, which I soft-boiled to make an even half-dozen. The air pocket in older eggs is larger, and the membrane comes away from the white more easily.

For the marinade recipe, I turned to J. Kenji López-Alt, managing editor at Serious Eats, author of James Beard Award-nominated column “The Food Lab,” former editor at Cook’s Illustrated magazine and restaurant-trained chef. He has actual culinary street-cred, whereas I’m just a home cook educated by newspaper food sections, people like López-Alt, Food Network, Bravo Top Chef, PBS, etc. His method for soft-boiling eggs calls for you to pierce the wide end of the eggshell with a thumb tack. The American Egg Board does not approve, saying the practice may introduce bacteria into the egg. His recipe and method can be found here: Ajitsuke Tamago - Lopez Alt

His recipe calls for water, sake, soy sauce, mirin, far more sugar than I wanted to use, and of course, eggs. I omitted sake, and decided to use ume vinegar because I love it and I still have some. I also thought I’d add some heat, so I bought a single Habanero pepper. It cost all of 20 cents.

IMG_0284IMG_0285

I did all my marinade prep in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Poured in 1/2 c shoyu, and 3 Tablespoons of ume vinegar. Yum! I added the 1/2 cup of  mirin, and tasted the mixture. I was instantly sorry I added the full amount of mirin because it was so sweet. There was no way I was going to add 1/2 c sugar. I put in a scant teaspoon, then filled water to the 2-cup line. I then cut open and seeded the Habanero and sliced half of it into thin slivers. I added the six slivers to the marinade, let it sit for 20 minutes, tasted it, and the heat level compelled me to immediately remove three slivers of the pepper.

Three slivers of Habanero pepper actually wound up not being enough to spice up the aji tamago.

Three slivers of Habanero pepper actually wound up not being enough to spice up the aji tamago.

After a subsequent stir and taste, I not only added back the three slivers I'd taken out, I added one more from the remaining half. The finished eggs had no discernible heat -- a bit of a disappointment.

López-Alt's method calls for putting the marinade and eggs into a container and covering the eggs with paper towel, which will absorb the marinade and make sure the eggs don't wind up with "bare spots." I didn't like the idea of any chemical flavor in the paper towels infusing the marinade, so I poured the marinade into a zip-top bag and gently lowered the eggs into it, squeezed out as much air as I could, and put the bag into a shallow bowl for refrigeration.

I gently turned the zip-top bag over once an hour for four hours. They spent the rest of the night in the fridge.

I gently turned the zip-top bag over once an hour for four hours, which helped with the consistency of the exterior color. They spent the rest of the night in the fridge.

This morning, eager to taste a shoyu-ey egg that was spicy and not overly sweet, I removed the beauties to a bowl. Note the two older eggs I soft-boiled, on the right, which were SO MUCH EASIER TO PEEL! (The Habanero sliver is pointing to them.)

The finished eggs. The four super-fresh eggs on the left seemed to absorb the marinade better than the two older eggs on the right.

The finished eggs. The four super-fresh eggs on the left seemed to absorb the marinade better than the two older eggs on the right.

I was paranoid that I'd overcook the yolks, so I pulled these out of the simmering water earlier than six minutes. The yolk is a little runnier than I wanted it to be.

I was paranoid that I'd overcook the yolks, so I pulled these out of the simmering water earlier than six minutes. The yolk is a little runnier than I wanted it to be. I've grown accustomed to my paranoia working against my best intentions.

The American Egg Board and health officials caution against eating undercooked eggs. The yolk is runnier than I'd have liked, but the egg was delicious! As I write this, a couple hours after eating the egg, I feel fine.

Notes for next time: Use old eggs. Use less mirin. Use all of the Habanero. Maybe use sake. Remember that Vino Chef Keith Endo made seven-minute eggs at his "Slurp" pop-up ramen shop, and they were perfect.

 

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Rad roasting

By
February 23rd, 2016



photo 1(2)

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been in root heaven. This is thanks to my supplier, a farming student who sells me weekly bags of her bountiful produce. I agree to buy whatever she harvests, and she fills the bag FULL of any and all combination of salad greens, dark leafy greens, the occasional bunch of bananas, cucumbers, radishes, turnips, herbs, even pickles.

The recent supply of radishes and turnips were not only plentiful, they were beautiful. Some roots were purple-hued, others classic white, and some were white on the outside and — surprise! — a gorgeous fuchsia inside. Some came packed with their leafy green tops still attached.

Here’s how I’ve been enjoying them:

Radish tops stir-fried with olive oil, garlic and salt have a mild bite and lots of deliciousness.

Stir-fried radish tops have a mild bite and lots of deliciousness.

I chopped the tops and stir-fried them in olive oil with crushed garlic cloves, seasoned with sea salt. Though they’ve still got a bit of a spicy, bitter bite, the lushness of the oil and tasty garlic flavor provide a nice balance.

As for the roots, I decided on roasting. The end result was a mellow, tasty and hearty veggie. The family thoroughly enjoyed them for dinner, and I packed a serving for lunch today.

My satisfaction extends further than my taste buds. It feels great knowing that I didn’t waste a thing. I know the farmer would be glad for that as well.

Roasted radishes are oh so satisfying.

Roasted radishes are oh so satisfying.

Make your own roasted roots:

Set oven rack to highest level. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil.

Scrub and chop roots into bite-size pieces and placed roots into a stainless-steel bowl. Add olive oil (I used a generous amount, about 1/2 to 3/4 cup for about 4 cups of root veggies) and toss well. Spread in single layer on pan, sprinkled generously with sea salt and cover with foil. Place in oven.

After 20 minutes, stir pieces, re-cover pan with foil and return to oven for 20 minutes. Toss again. At this point, roots will be softened and releasing quite a bit of water — remove foil cover to dry them out a bit and return pan to oven. After 10 minutes, check on them. When they’re nicely browned and tender, they’re done.

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Happiness is a warm egg

By
February 22nd, 2016



The cheery sign matched the mood of early-morning customers at Petersons' Upland Farm.

A cheery sign greets all at the Egg Room in Wahiawa, where brown and white eggs in various sizes are waiting for eager customers.

Petersons' Upland Farm Egg Room
>> Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays
(closed Sundays and Mondays)
>> Address: 141 Dole Road in Wahiawa
>> Phone: 621-6619
>> Also: 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursdays at Wahiawa Hongwanji Mission farmers market, 1067 California Ave.

Happiness is a warm egg, at least in my world. A freshly boiled egg is nourishment and comfort all packaged in one pristine orb. And there's no better time to partake than at breakfast, no better way to start the day on sure footing, which is why a boiled egg is my go-to food each morning.

I feel even better about the daily ritual because I know exactly where my eggs come from, and that they're fresh.

There's already a line first thing in the morning at the Egg Room at Petersons' Upland Farm.

There's already a line first thing in the morning outside Petersons' Upland Farm's Egg Room.

This is thanks to Petersons' Upland Farm's Egg Room in Wahiawa, not far from my Waikele home. There, the longtime egg-farming Peterson family sells flats of brown and white eggs in various sizes. (A flat is 30 eggs.) Prices change depending on supply, but they're always astoundingly affordable. Last Saturday, one flat of size large was $10!

When my husband and I arrived at about 8:05 a.m., we faced a considerable line. But it was a pleasant wait. Strangers chatted happily, no doubt because every one of us had pictures in our minds of all the delicious foods we'd be whipping up.

Though some may have had visions of cakes or quiches, I just thought of my quiet time, the solitary couple of minutes at my office desk peeling my warm meal, sprinkling it with salt, and that first, soothing, satisfying bite.

A flat of 30 eggs is precious cargo for egg aficionados traveling home from Petersons' Upland Farm.

A flat of 30 eggs is precious cargo for egg aficionados traveling home from Petersons' Upland Farm.

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Chef shares vision with students

By
February 19th, 2016



"Cutthroat Kitchen" winner Kaimana Chee visited several public school classrooms last week to talk about cooking, eating and competition.

Chee is a Kahuku High School graduate who now runs a catering company and teaches cooking in the Maryland-Washington, D.C., area. He also just started a new job as traveling culinary concierge for Hampton Creek, a manufacturer that focuses on providing healthier choices in prepared foods.

Kaimana Chee visited a third-grade class at Heeia Elementary School.

Kaimana Chee visited a class at Kahaluu Elementary School.

Back in Hawaii to visit family, Chee stopped by Kaimuki High School and Heeia, Kahaluu and Hauula elementary schools. The Hauula visit was a homecoming — Chee attended the school from kindergarten through grade 6.

"It was an amazing experience to speak to kids about dreaming big," he said. "I also told them that I lost more times than I won and was rejected more times than I was accepted, so it's important to never give up."

At Kaimuki the students watched the Food Network "Cutthroat Kitchen" episode of Jan. 10, which Chee won, and spent a half hour taking selfies, he said.

He also talked to them about the importance of viewing food as more than just fuel.

Craig T. Kojima Chef Kaimana Chee visited Nico's at Pier 38 for lunch after his Kaimuki High appearance.

Craig T. Kojima
Chef Kaimana Chee visited Nico's at Pier 38 for lunch after his Kaimuki High appearance.

In his position of culinary concierge he represents Hampton Creek at dining events, serving up dishes that showcase the company's foods. This means making them look and taste great, Chee said, by creating complete dishes of varied textures (crunch is important) and flavor profiles (sweet and tart, for example).

"What I tried to relate to them is that when you eat a dish it should be a complete experience, not just to be full," Chee said. "Think about taking the eater on a tour of at least two or three flavor profiles."

Chee hopes to return to Hawaii in a few years and connect again with high school students. He would like to start a culinary vocational program, filling an academic gap that he said he noticed when he was still in school.

"If you play football there's a path for you. If you're super smart, there's a path for you," he said. But for many kids in the middle, the way forward is less clear, and college is not an option. Vocational training is a practical alternative that would do the most good if offered during the high school years, he said.

He envisions a community-centered after-school program in which students would learn to cook by preparing food for low-income families. "I would love for it to be in Hauula, but I would just love for it to be somewhere in Hawaii."

Chee returns to television April 3 on "Guy's Grocery Games."

 

Kauai-made curd makes top 100 list

By
February 18th, 2016



Monkeypod Jam's lilikoi (passion fruit) curd retails for about $13.

Monkeypod Jam's lilikoi (passion fruit) curd retails for about $13.

Furlough Fridays in 2010 gave Aletha Thomas, an art teacher at Kapaa Middle School, time to work on her preserving techniques. She used Kauai produce to make jams, jellies, marmalades and curds, and in time a business -- Monkeypod Jam -- was born.

This week, sweet recognition came from Saveur, which named her lilikoi curd to the Saveur 100, a list of products, ingredients, recipes and cooking techniques that the magazine's editors mark as must-haves.

Saveur calls the curd "tangy, floral and velvety-smooth ... perfect.

Thomas says she quit teaching when her daughter Annika was born in 2012. Monkeypod Jam now produces 55 seasonal preserves, all with Kauai produce. Available now: spiced tomato, mango, Tahitian lime, Meyer lemon, white pineapple and more.

The kitchen and warehouse moved to Lawai in November. The new location is also a storefront, and Thomas teaches monthly preserving classes.

On other islands look for the jam at R. Field Wine Co. and Whole Foods Market.

Visit: monkeypodjam.com and saveur.com/saveur-100-2016

Posted in Food, Home Cooking, Shopping | Comments Off on Kauai-made curd makes top 100 list

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