A wealth of new Hawaii products was unveiled at the recent Hawaii Lodging, Hospitality & Foodservice Expo at Blaisdell Center.
The annual industry-only event allows all sorts of companies to show off their wares and drum up business, and Crave went with an eye toward new food and drink.
Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Cooperative
Ulu could feed the world, it is said, but even in Hawaii where it once was a staple, it is underutilized. The Kealakekua-based Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Cooperative is seeking to change that by amalgamating Hawaii County’s growers. Eleven member-farmers are offering fresh and fresh-frozen breadfruit, as well as value- added products, in natural food stores.
The co-op has aligned itself with HFM Foodservice, a major distributor, in an effort to reach beyond the Big Island.
Under the Ulu La brand the co-op is offering a tasty breadfruit hummus and chocolate breadfruit mousse that uses fair-trade, organic dark chocolate. Both products are non-GMO and dairy-, egg- and gluten-free.
Pickled breadfruit, a new product, is made with baby, or immature, breadfruit and is similar to pickled artichoke hearts, said Dana Shapiro, co-op manager. (The hummus is made with mature fruit, and the mousse from ripe fruit.)
The co-op offers fresh, whole Hawaiian ulu and Ma’afala, a Samoan variety, as well as fruit that has been steamed and cut up before being frozen, which ensures the food-service industry with a year-round supply. Quarters, spears, cubes and mashed ulu can be ordered.
Last year the co-op processed some 18,000 pounds of breadfruit, and this year production is projected to nearly double, Shapiro said.
Herman Tam, HFM director of marketing, said industry clients on all islands, including restaurants, hospitals and grocery stores with delis, “would be obvious outlets for the ulu.”
Getting the product into chefs’ hands is likely to expand exposure and create demand, Tam said. “We can definitely help Dana and connect her to the right people.”
Zen Island Kitchen
Word that the University of Hawaii has had initial success cultivating chickpeas in the islands was great news for Maui-based Zen Island Kitchen, which is in the final stages of bringing a garbanzo “cheeze” to market.
Ayako Hashimoto, chef-owner of the company, said she had met with Amjad Ahmad, who is leading the UH project, “and heard more about the exciting news for the future of local chickpea farming.”
Zen Island Kitchen’s vegan spread comes in three flavors: wasabi-lavender, herbes de Provence and sun-dried tomato. “I just want to spread veganism,” Hashimoto said.
For many an omnivore, traditional vegan cheese can be a disappointment, but Zen Island’s version is creamy, flavorful and spreadable. It is also nut- and soy-free, “hence it is allergen-free,” Hashimoto said. “None of the existing vegan cheeses on the market are made from chickpeas and allergen-free.”
Commercial production of the humble but powerfully nutritious garbanzo bean in Hawaii will give Hashimoto a locally sourced crop for other food products she plans to develop.
“Down to Earth, other health food stores, restaurants and distributors on Maui, Oahu and Big Island are waiting for the product,” she said.
As soon as TheBuzz gets word that Garbanzo Cheeze is available in stores, you’ll read about it right here.
Maui Fruit Jewels’ new Hawaii Fruit Paste is available at the Kahala and Maui Whole Foods Markets, but it is sold by weight from the cheese case and is not branded. That will change in the coming weeks, with retail rollouts scheduled far and wide by specialty food manufacturer Maui Epicure.
The new product is intended to be sliced and paired with cheese and crackers, and provides an explosion of flavor. The packaging for each of the three flavors — lilikoi, pineapple and pineapple with Hawaiian chili pepper — even suggests cheese pairings for a no-fuss pupu or snack. Cheesecake topping is another idea.
Company owners and product developers Chris and Lin ter Horst debuted their original Maui Fruit Jewels line at the Specialty Food Association’s Fancy Food Show, and it was named a finalist for the association’s Sofi Award in 2014.
At the show, the ter Horsts learned the importance of offering a shelf-stable product that could last a year without refrigeration, Lin said. They worked five years to perfect their fruit paste, and waited to launch until July 1 in order to qualify for the 2018 Sofi Awards.
The product is already available in its new packaging at Dean & DeLuca in Waikiki. It also is targeted for Down to Earth Natural Foods stores, R. Field sections of Foodland supermarkets and Foodland Farms stores, Whole Foods Markets, Neiman Marcus and Gift & Gourmet on Merchant Street, with more stores possible.
Even a big dog among Hawaii’s food manufacturers has to learn new tricks in order to stay relevant and appeal to customers’ changing tastes.
Two new Redondo’s products heading for retail stores include 100 percent local beef hot dogs, which are smoked and contain no nitrites, no monosodium glutamate and no fillers; and smoked dinner bacon, which has been the local food-service industry’s delicious little secret for about two years.
Redondo’s isn’t giving up on its traditional red hot dogs, but is adding to the line with the all-local beef product.
“This is for our corporate social responsibility,” said President Hitoshi Okada, “to make a real, local product.”
The smoked dinner bacon is sure to make any bacon lover’s eyes grow big as dinner plates. Half-inch-thick slabs will be fully cooked and sold in packages of just under a pound for about $6.99.
“It tastes good cold,” Okada said. “You can put it on a salad.”
The hot dogs likely will be available in stores later this year; the bacon at Don Quijote stores, in September or October.
Not brand new, but perhaps underrecognized, are the company’s Blackline pork and Miyazaki Wagyu Beef.
The crossbred pork from Canada combines Berkshire (kurobuta), Duroc and Hampshire- breed pigs and is a favorite of local ramen houses. The premium pork is sold under the Blackline label at Don Quijote and Marukai.
Miyazaki Wagyu, imported from Japan, is available year-round to Redondo’s food- service clients, but twice a year the public gets a crack at the buttery, tender, specialty meat. Again, it is sold only at Don Quijote and Marukai, and only at New Year’s and around Father’s Day.
“It should have an official Japanese Wagyu label, which we get directly from the Japan Livestock Industry Association,” said Mike Fagaragan, Redondo’s sales manager for distribution. As with most specialty foods, the price point is not for the faint of heart: This Father’s Day it was advertised at $89.99 a pound.
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