Best of Biting Commentary Holiday Gift Guide
By Martha Cheng
From left to right, top to bottom: Nami Hana from Hawaiian Shochu Co., maffles, Madre Chocolate's new Chinatown shop, truffles from Choco Lea, Kalakoa from Primo Popcorn, Lonohana Chocolate
Still shopping? We rounded up Biting Commentary posts from the past year for gift-giving ideas:
Locally-made and grown sweet potato spirit: Up in Haleiwa, Hawaiian Shochu Co. distills shochu using traditional Japanese methods and purple sweet potatoes. The result: an unfiltered, clear distilled spirit with a smooth, slightly sweet finish and notes of lychee.
Maffles: A mochi and waffle hybrid. With a crunchy, sweet exterior, soft and gooey interior, it's butter mochi meets liege waffle. Buy the dry mix as a stocking stuffer.
(Plus: Liliha Bakery's waffle mix, which recreates the diner's buttery, crisp waffle perfection at home. If you're gifting this, though, you might want to transfer it out of the plastic container into a pretty jar. Side note: the mix freezes well.)
Chocolate tastings and workshops: At Madre Chocolate's new Chinatown shop, you can get gift certificates for its monthly programs, which include a how-to-make-chocolate class, cacao farm and factory tour, and tasting events that pair chocolate with whiskey, tea, coffee, or beer. And of course, you can also buy Madre's chocolate bars here.
Chocolate truffles: Choco Lea produces chocolate gems with local treats like Nisshodo mochi and Otto Cake cheesecake. Specialty flavors such as haupia and lychee liqueur are made to order.
Primo Popcorn: sweet bacon, lihing pineapple, Thai crab curry, aku, white truffle Parmesan, prime rib, Kalakoa. Of the 100-plus flavors available at Primo Popcorn's new downtown outpost, you're sure to find a flavor for everyone.
Lonohana Chocolate Club: Gift a year's worth of 100 percent locally-grown and locally-made chocolate bars by Hawaii's newest bean-to-bar maker, Lonohana. A year's membership starts at $250.
From left to right, top to bottom: Hawaiian Nougat; chocolate martini truffles from Surfing Goat Dairy; CookSpace; vanilla beans from Maui Preserved; Island Olive Oil Co.; mochi from Bentos, Mochi and Delectables; Honomu Jams and Jellies; Da Secret Sauce
Locally-grown vanilla: After a taste test, we found Maui Preserved's vanilla beans to be the most potent of those we tried. Gift it or use it in your own baking.
Goat cheese martini truffles: Surfing Goat Dairy pairs up with its neighbor, Ocean Vodka, to create these treats.
Nougat: Hawaiian Nougat Co. makes their delicate confections with Maui sugar and vanilla and lehua honey. This isn't the too-sweet, pull-out-your-teeth stuff you might know: it's more like a handcrafted marshmallow, with a little more chew.
Mochi and marshmahalos: Mochi-wrapped chocolate truffles; fudgey, chocolate mochi; peanut butter and azuki mochi sandwiches—Bentos, Mochi and Delectables makes our favorite sweet even more crave worthy.
Cooking classes at Cookspace: In the past year, this new cooking class venue has offered dozens of events, such as a demo with Chris Kajioka of the Vintage Cave, macrobiotic lessons by Leslie Ashburn, and a tamales workshop. Give a gift certificate for upcoming classes.
Olive oils and specialty vinegars: Honolulu's only specialty olive oil shop (which recently opened a second location in Waikiki), Island Olive Oil Co. offers lively, fresh olive oils (now in: oils from Chile and Australia), truffle oil and infused vinegars.
Jams and jellies made with every tropical fruit you do (and don't) know: Honomu Jams offers sugar-free jam options, as well as regular jams with lychee, lilikoi, poha berry, and lots, lots more.
Chili pepper water: Get one of Hawaii's few completely original condiments from Da Secret Sauce, with oomph and the perfect acid bite.