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13 Local Made in Hawai‘i Festival Food Finds To Buy Now

Stuck inside but still have electricity? Shop for some of our favorite tasty finds at the recent Made in Hawai‘i Festival. Because canned goods only go so far.


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Made in Hawaii 2018

Photo: GREGORY YAMAMOTO

 

A long line of drivers waiting to go into the Neal Blaisdell Center during the statehood holiday weekend could only mean one thing. The annual Made in Hawaii Festival is described by Amy Hammond, the festival’s executive director, as a “start-up incubator.” This year it attracted crowds to meet the more than 400 vendors from across the islands who came to showcase their products.

 

The three-day event is a celebration of all things local. And what would a celebration be without food? From cookies to coffee, honey to hot sauce, the Made in Hawaii Festival offered dozens of tasty Hawai‘i culinary creations. Here are some of my favorite food finds from this year’s festival and where you can buy them now.

 

Pineapple Lilikoi Hot Sauce by Da Big Island Burn

$5.50-$10.50

Big Island Da Big Burn Hot Sauce

photos: Jennifer Mennella Fields


This sweet and spicy hot sauce is one of four varieties that Da Big Island Burn showcased this year. It was also the mildest of the bunch. A few drops will give you the  fruit flavors followed immediately by the spice. The company’s ethos is to source local ingredients like mango, Hawaiian chili peppers, honey and 100-percent Kona coffee from the Big Island. Want to feel the burn? You can visit dabigislandburn.com to find a list of shops that carry the hot sauce or to order online.

 

Cornflake cookies by Kawa Kookies

$6 a bag

Made in Hawaii Kawa Kookies


If you add cereal to a cookie can you eat it for breakfast? Kawa Kookies’ cornflake cookie is a buttery-good rendition of this old-school favorite. The Kawa Kookies team is truly a family-run operation. Hono Shimokawa and her husband make the snacks, while their daughter does the packaging and their son handles labeling. This team of four bakes up five different cookies from mochi crunch to chocolate macadamia nut. You can email them directly at kawakookies@gmail.com to place an order.

 

Guava Fruit Jelly by Maui Fruit Jewels

$0.75 each

Made in Hawaii Festival Maui Fruit Jewels

 

Maui Fruit Jewels’ fruit jellies are candies for grown-ups—think sophisticated fruit snacks. Designed as a Hawaiian twist on the French pâte de fruit, these jellies are made by husband-and-wife team Chris and Lin ter Horst using local fruit. I tried the guava and lilikoi jellies and enjoyed the intense  flavor. There’s nothing artificial about these – the sugar takes a back seat and lets the fruit shine. The gourmet candies are available online at mauifruitjewels.com.

 

Oahu Bourbon Peaberry by Big Island Coffee Roasters

$25-$60 (depending on size)

Made in Hawaii Festival Big Island Coffee Roasters

 

The Big Island is known for its coffee and Big Island Coffee Roasters is only adding to the island’s coffee-making pedigree. Located in Puna, the company uses beans from across Hawaii. The Oahu Bourbon Peaberry, pronounced bore-bone, was smooth with almost no bitterness. The company offers between 10 and 20 coffee varieties depending on the season. Visit its website to order the java or find a nearby store that carries it. bigislandcoffeeroasters.com

 

Sweet Bread & Butter Pickles by Waikapū Pickles

$7-$30 (depending on size)

Made in Hawaii Festival Waikapu Pickles

 

Waikapū Pickles’ founder Jen Fordyce’s passion for pickles comes from her Rhode Island roots where she says she always enjoyed fresh pickles. The company specializes in three types: crunchy dill garlic, Hawaiian chili pepper, and sweet bread & butter—my personal favorite. These taste exactly as they’re described; one bite was sweet and buttery, with the crunch that you want in a high-quality pickle. You can get Waikapū Pickles at Whole Foods locations on Oahu and visit waikapupickles.com for a list of where to find the pickles across the islands.

 

Waimea Strawberry and Mango Jams by Steve’s Akaka Falls Farm

$69 for 6 jars

Made in Hawaii Steve's Akaka Falls Farm Jams

 

Steve Stefanko told me he grows almost 100 different types of peppers and fruit at his farm on the Big Island, all of which are jarred (he doesn’t sell any actual fruit). Whatever he can’t grow himself, he’ll source locally from the islands to make more than  forty jams, butters and honeys in varieties ranging from passion fruit jalapeno to POG. Two of my favorites were the mango and strawberry; the flavors were vibrant with a fresh fruit finish. You can order online at akakafallsfarms.com or find his products at a variety of farmers markets across Hawaii.

 

Sea Salt Caramels by Sweet Brown Hawaii

$5 to $7 for a box of 6 pieces

Made in Hawaii Sweet Brown Hawaii

 

Steve and Ruiko Miller, the husband and wife duo behind Sweet Brown Hawaii, make small-batch, handcrafted caramels using local ingredients like Big Island macadamia nuts, Hawaiian sea salt and Kona Coffee. These caramels are small in size, but not in flavor. The fan-favorite is the sea salt and I can see why; you can taste the quality vanilla—Steve tells me they use 100-percent vanilla extract—and the salt counters the sweetness. Get them at specialty stores like Red Pineapple or all three Hallmark stores on Oahu. Visit sweetbrownhawaii.com for a complete list of stores.

 

Totally Turmeric Hummus by Ulu Mana Hawaiian Hummus

$7

Made in Hawaii Ulu Mana

 

Forget the garbanzo beans, at Ulu Mana they’re substituting breadfruit for chickpeas to make five types of hummus. Flavors include turmeric, sweet potato, beet (above), jalapeño and sundried tomato (the first four were available to try at the Made in Hawaii Festival). The Totally Turmeric was a personal favorite because of the standout spices. The Kakaako-based company’s mission is to “increase the production and consumption of `ulu in Hawaii,” and I think they’re well on their way. Pick it up at health food stores and farmers markets on Oahu. ulumanahawaii.com

 

Macadamia Nut Basil Pesto by For J’s Hawaii

$8-$14

Made in Hawaii Festival J's Hawaii

 

Janis Tanga puts the J in For J’s Hawaii. Her business is known for its flavored salts and sugars but it was her macadamia nut basil pesto that left me wanting more. She uses her Hawaiian chili pepper sea salt to flavor this pesto that’s loaded with Big Island macadamia nuts. This pesto is decadent. Some products are available online and in stores, but if you want her pesto, you’ll have to call, text or email her to place an order. forjshawaii.com

 

Paradise Pizzelles

$10 a bag

Made in Hawaii Paradise Pizzelles

 

Growing up, Ryan Oshiro loved when his aunt made pizzelles. Rather than waiting for her to make the thin, Italian-style waffle cookies for special occasions, he asked for the recipe so he could enjoy the cookies all year round. His chocolate pizzelle uses dark cocoa powder, which creates a rich, chocolate dessert. The company is just over a year old. He makes everything by hand without a stand mixer; a large feat considering he produces enough to stock Baldwin’s Sweet Shop and both Dean & Deluca locations in Hawaii.

 

Lavender Chocolate Bar by Mānoa Chocolate Hawaii

$10

Made in Hawaii Festival Manoa Chocolate

 

​Mānoa Chocolate works with small farms across the globe to source cacao for its chocolate bars, including farms here in Hawaii. Dylan Butterbaugh, the head chocolate maker at Mānoa​, tells me that the company makes more than  20 types of chocolate ranging in flavor from ghost pepper to lavender, which is my favorite. The lavender bar is less bitter than its darker chocolate counterparts and you get notes of lavender, which creates a mellow taste. You can order the bars online; find them at retailers across Hawaii or head to one of Mānoa​’s shops on Oahu. manoachocolate.com

 

Chai Honey by HoneySown Herbs

$8-$38 (depending on the type of honey)

Made in Hawaii Festival HoneySown Herbs2

 

It was the medicinal benefits of honey that first intrigued John Webley and his wife, Matie Minasie, to start HoneySown Herbs. The company now offers 15 delicious varieties, from turmeric to coffee, that they make from 25 beehives on the Big Island. The chai is a bestseller, probably because the sweetness of the honey nicely balances the spiciness of the chai. It’s available online at honeysownherbs.com and in select stores on the Big Island.

 

Spiced Tomato Jam by Monkeypod Jam

Starting at $5.50

Made in Hawaii Festival Monkeypod Jam

 

Aletha Thomas started Monkeypod Jam in 2010 to make extra money while she was planning her wedding. Now, it’s her full-time job. The Kauai-based entrepreneur works solely with farmers on the Garden Island to showcase local, seasonal produce. Her most popular flavor is the spiced tomato jam, which is both spicy and sweet. You get notes of cumin, chili peppers and cinnamon, which work together to create this savory spread. Check out monkeypodjam.com to find a store that offers her products or to order from her current online selection.

 

 

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