Category: Fall 2013

Avocado Fruit Toast: A Recipe by Chef Lee Anne Wong

AVOCADO FRUIT TOAST

Photos by Monica Schwartz
“Avocados are one of my superfoods. I love the simplicity of their creamy, nutty flavor with a few fresh ingredients.” – Chef Lee Anne Wong
Course: Breakfast, Main Course, Snack
Servings: 4 People
Author: Lee Anne Wong

Equipment

  • Grill or Cast Iron Pan
  • Small Bowl
  • Microplane
  • Paring Knife

Ingredients

  • 2-4 Thick Slices Rustic Multigrain or Sourdough Bread
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Ripe Local Avocado
  • 1 Ripe Local Grapefruit
  • 4 Kula Strawberries (Washed and Hulled)
  • 4 Leaves of Tarragon (Fine Chiffonade)
  • 4 Leaves of Mint (Fine Chiffonade)
  • A Pinch Hawaiian Sea Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper (To Taste)
  • Local Honey
  • 2 Toasted Macadamia Nuts

Instructions

Toast Bread.

  • Lightly brush both sides of bread with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and toast on a preheated grill or cast iron pan over medium heat. Flip and toast for 2 minutes on the other side. Bread should have some color and have grill marks. Do not burn.

Prepare Avocado Mix.

  • Scoop the avocado flesh into a small bowl.
  • Using a microplane, zest a 1”x3” strip of grapefruit zest into the bowl.
  • With a paring knife, cut off grapefruit peel, so no pith or fiber remains. Carefully remove the grapefruit filets with the knife, working in between the membranes. Place the filets in a small bowl. 
  • Take the heart of the grapefruit and squeeze 2 Tbs. of juice into the avocado. 
  • Season with salt and pepper, then mash the avocado mixture with a fork until it’s chunky but blended.

Prepare Strawberries.

  • Slice strawberries, vertically into ⅛” thick slices.
  • Combine with grapefruit filets, toss lightly with tarragon and mint chiffonade.
  • Drizzle with a touch of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.

Assemble.

  • Spread the mashed avocado on the warm grilled bread. Top each slice with the strawberry-grapefruit salad. Drizzle with a touch of honey, and sprinkle with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Using a microplane, shave the macadamia nuts over the toast. Enjoy immediately!

Cooking Fresh with Chef Lee Anne Wong

Story by Melissa Chang
Photography by Monica Schwartz

Life and food has been nonstop for chef Lee Anne Wong since she showed the world what she could do on Bravo’s first season of “Top Chef.” She ended up one of the four finalists in this popular reality show in 2006, and continued with the show (and its spin-off, “Top Chef Masters”) for the next four seasons as their culinary producer— determining the budget, equipment restrictions and time limits for the contestants, plus sourcing and styling the ingredients for the challenges.

Not as many people realize she’s also been behind the scenes of many other popular shows, like “No Reservations” with Anthony Bourdain, “Rocco’s Dinner Party” or “Unique Eats”; or affiliated with lesser-known entities, like Maker’s Mark virtual recipe cookbook and the Gohan Society.

Despite such a high-profile career, this native New Yorker has fallen in love with the lifestyle, people and ingredients that Hawai‘i has to offer, and has set sights on moving here.

“The first time I spent time out here as an adult was during Top Chef season two,” Wong said. An episode was shot on the Big Island, so she took the opportunity to fly to O‘ahu to meet Hawai‘i relatives from her father’s side for the first time. There was a bit of a generational gap, but she found they had a great connection, as local families often do.

Now, she returns to Hawai‘i every six weeks or so, usually to work in the food scene. Through other culinary twists, she met her boyfriend, Tristan Reynolds of Hawaiian Fresh Farms, which has probably helped in nurturing her love affair with the islands.

Farm fresh Produce Box by Kula Fields

RECIPES:

Avocado Fruit Toast
“Avocados are one of my superfoods. I love the simplicity of their creamy, nutty flavor with a few fresh ingredients.”

Butternut Squash and Curried Kale Gratin, With Local Goat Cheese
“Sometimes you just want something comforting to eat and this recipe covers all the bases— it’s rich and delicious, but better for you because it’s fresh, local and full of great ingredients. This dish is perfect as a vegetarian entrée on its own, or can be served as a side.”

Roasted Beans and Broccoli, Szechuan Peppercorn Yogurt
“Green veggies are part of my daily diet and broccoli is an old favorite (it was the first thing I ever learned to cook for myself.). For an even healthier take on this recipe, simply serve the vegetables steamed or blanched with the yogurt dressing.”

Cronut: Hawai‘i 5-0
“Dominique Ansel is one of the best pastry chefs I have ever known and I visit his patisserie in Soho often for my sugar fix. He is singlehandedly responsible for the half croissant, half doughnut ‘Cronut’ craze that has taken the world by storm. If you can’t get to NYC and wait in line for two hours for this pastry delight, here’s a quick cheat; not quite the same, but equally decadent.”

Chef Lee Ann Wong

Butternut Squash and Curried Kale Gratin, With Local Goat Cheese

 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND CURRIED KALE GRATIN WITH LOCAL GOAT CHEESE

Photo by Monica Schwartz
Sometimes you just want something comforting to eat and this recipe covers all the bases— it’s rich and delicious, but better for you because it’s fresh, local and full of great ingredients. This dish is perfect as a vegetarian entrée on its own, or can be served as a side.
Course: Main Course
Servings: 4 People
Author: Lee Anne Wong

Equipment

  • 2 Bowls
  • 13”x9” Baking Dish
  • Small Pot
  • Parchment Paper

Ingredients

  • 1½  lbs. Lacinato Kale (Washed and Dried, Cut Into 1/8” Ribbons)
  • 3 Tbs. Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 2 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs. Local Honey
  • 1 Tbs. Curry Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg (Freshly Grated)
  • 1 tsp. Hawaiian Sea Salt
  • 4 lbs. Butternut Or Kabocha Squash (Peeled And Seeded)
  • 1 Cup  Parmesan Cheese (Grated)
  • 8 oz. Fresh Local Goat Cheese
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Cup Half And Half
  • 1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter (Melted)
  • Cold Butter (For Greasing)
  • 1 Cup Lightly Toasted Panko Crumbs
  • Hawaiian Sea Salt And Fresh Black Pepper (To Taste)

Instructions

Prepare Kale Marinade.

  • Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, honey, curry powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt until well combined, and pour over the kale.
  • Toss, cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour, allowing the kale to begin to marinate and break down.

Prepare Squash.

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut squash into large ⅛” thick slices; a mandolin may be helpful.

Prepare Baking Dish and Assemble Gratin.

  • Butter a 13”x9” baking dish.
  • Place one layer of squash along the bottom, slightly overlapping to create a solid layer. 
  •  Add a layer of marinated kale (about two handfuls), sprinkle two tablespoons of parmesan cheese. 
  • Repeat, being sure to end with a layer of squash. Gently compress the layers.

Prepare And Add Cream.

  • In a small pot bring the heavy cream, half and half, and 4 oz. of goat cheese to a simmer until the cheese melts, whisking until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the hot cream over the gratin, gently shaking the dish so it evenly distributes itself. The level of the liquid should just skim the top layer of squash. 
  • Dot the top of the gratin with the remaining 4 oz. of goat cheese.

Top and Bake.

  • In a small bowl combine the remaining ½ C. of parmesan cheese, panko crumbs, and melted butter, stirring until well mixed. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the mixture over the gratin.
  • Create a parchment lid by cutting a sheet of parchment to fit the interior of the gratin dish. Place on top of the breadcrumbs and bake the gratin for 40 minutes until the squash is tender. 
  • Remove the lid and allow the breadcrumbs to brown, another 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and rest before cutting at least 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

A Lesson in Thanksgiving: Honoka‘a Students Host 8th Annual Community Dinner

Story by Sara I. Smith

Honoka‘a High School student leaders and community volunteers join hands and hearts to bring Thanksgiving to those who need it most.

How does an after school program host Thanksgiving for 800 guests? With a whole lot of heart.

As this magazine goes to print, the juniors and seniors in Honoka‘a High School’s Student Leadership Training Program are hard at work planning their 8th annual Thanksgiving Dinner, a festive and completely free meal offered to anyone in the community of need. Whether it’s a need of food, friendship or thanksgiving 174that warm feeling resulting from a community coming together, no one is turned away. After all, it is Thanksgiving and the students are determined to provide their neighbors an evening to feel grateful for.

The sweetness of the scene, the care with which the cafeteria is trimmed and the bright young smiles in the buffet line, somewhat belie the fact that this dinner really does make a difference to many in the town. Since Honoka‘a’s sugar plantation closed in 1994, making ends meet is still hard for many. Over 70 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-cost lunch, a definite indicator of financial hardship, and the bedroom community’s rising number of senior citizens are increasingly affected by the area’s economic stalemate.

No one is more aware of this than Angella Brandt, lifelong Honoka‘a resident and faculty coordinator for the high school leadership program. When presented with the opportunity to take the event over from the local chapter of the Salvation Army back in 2004, she jumped on it. Under her care it has grown nearly five-fold.

In talking about the dinner and the leadership program she runs at the school, she refers to a quote by Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” Brandt says earnestly, “I want to make that real for the kids.”

thanksgiving 060At its essence, Thanksgiving is an opportunity to share the spirit of gratitude through generosity and compassion. The young leaders at Honoka‘a High achieve this in spades. Last year the community dinner tipped the scales at 806 guests. They even deliver to the home-bound with volunteer help from local police and Lion’s Club members—an additional 106 meals.What an amazing feat considering their entire budget is $2,500 (about $2.75 per person.).

The student group toils over details for the dinner, from reservations and logistics, to budgeting, cooking and decorating. For the kids who assist with the meal drop-offs, often to neighborhoods they’d not normally frequent, the experience is especially eye-opening. “It makes them realize just how needy some are,” says Brandt.

The reward for their work is getting to greet and serve the guests that night. They become sitting ducks, albeit willingly, for spontaneous hugs from many a Tutu overcome with gratitude.

Honoka‘a alumna Jana Carpio recalls people coming to the dinner looking relaxed and happy. “You feel really warm knowing you did a good thing,” she says. Now a UH-Manoa student, Carpio helped plan three events in her time at the high school.

It takes nothing less than the broad shoulders of a willing community to pull this dinner off and Brandt is quick to give thanks for the support the project has attracted. Major financial backing comes from Hamakua Energy Partners and a generous repeat donor who prefers to remain anonymous. Different classes, even down to the elementary school level, take on fundraising projects for the dinner throughout the year. Additionally, much support comes in the form of small donations handed over by fellow faculty, friends and neighbors.

“Without the community we wouldn’t be able to have the dinner,” Carpio states adamantly.

The turkeys are sold at a deep discount from Malama Market, a subsidiary of Foodland. Waimea town’s Paniolo Country Inn provides gravy and stuffing; the staff at Mauna Lani Bay Hotel come in early to roast all 25 turkeys, and Queen Lili‘uokalani Children’s Center pays for the pies. When yields allow, neighbor farms donate produce fresh from their fields, salad greens or ‘uala (sweet potato). Always a hit is Jim Cain’s King Lau Lau poi, which he donates every year.

If there’s a little money left over in the budget they splurge on luxuries most of us wouldn’t think twice about tossing in our shopping cart: whipped cream for the pies and fresh strawberries. Funds also go toward non-perishable goods for edible door prizes—almost everyone gets one, they proudly report—things like granola bars, cans of SPAM, and boxes of cereal. Last year they started making special goodie bags just for the little kids.

thanksgiving 004Even with full bellies and warm hearts, their dinner guests do not leave empty-handed. Leftovers are bagged and handed out, centerpieces, balloons and the rest of the decorations are taken down and sent back out to bring cheer into people’s homes. With all the volunteers’ work now undone, it becomes an exercise in impermanence and a lesson in the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

“We really have to teach the kids how to volunteer,” Brandt says. “We provide them opportunities to be of service, then they get the bug.”

Former-student Carpio hopes the event continues to grow to feed even more people. To help make that happen, cash and food donations are gladly accepted. This year the students will be at it again on Wednesday, November 27 as the Community Thanksgiving Dinner at Honoka‘a High begins at 5 p.m. To make a reservation, arrange a home delivery, or donate, call the Student Leadership Program at (808) 775-8800 ext. 264.

 

Keiki in the Kitchen: Working Parents Guy Hagi and Kim Gennaula Make Family Dinner

Photos and story by Ed Morita

Kim & Guy in the Kitchen

For working parents, making dinner can be the bane of the day. Conversely, it can be just the occasion needed to bring the family together to share some precious time. That’s how local TV personalities Guy Hagi and Kim Gennaula view it.

Though their schedules are hectic, they’ve got a good system down. “Monday through Friday I do the cooking,” explains Guy, who has a dinner breakin between anchoring the weather on Hawaii News Now KGMB9. Kim, now busy as philanthropy director for Kapiolani Health Foundation, helps prep then tends to the duty of getting the kids to their many after-school activities.

They experimented with theme nights: Meatloaf Mondays, Taco Tuesdays, Whatever Wednesdays, Thursday Leftovers, and Friday Free-choice. “We just try to make it fun, something the kids can look forward to and have some input on.”

Kim & Guy Cooking FreshTaco night became a tradition, a meal where the kids can interact from start to finish. “They get to choose the ingredients when we’re at the market: chicken or beef, the vegetables; they get to feel for a good tomato, a ripe tomato.” Alia, 9, likes to make the guacamole and prep the fixings, while Luke, 11, likes to cook the meat.

“At this age, they just want to get involved in any way. Whatever duties we can assign to them, they’re more than willing to do: wash this, chop that, they have that curiosity. It’s not a chore, they want to help,” says Guy.

The kids’ involvement in food is evident: Alia jokes that caviar is her favorite food, while Luke’s vote is filet mignon. Both agree on Spam musubi as a close second.

“The challenge for me as a parent is to stop being so…Type-A,” he chuckles. “Slow down and let them get involved, even though it’ll be messier. It’s okay.”

Sometimes there’s a mishap. Then, it’s pizza night.

 

Hamakua Mushrooms, Big Islands, Hawaii

Mushrooming Affair: Hamakua Mushrooms on Hawai‘i Island

Story by Fern Gavelek

Hamakua Mushrooms, Big Island, HawaiiIt’s all about fungi at Hamakua Mushrooms.

Here, over 5,000 pounds of specialty and exotic mushrooms are grown weekly at a specialized facility in rural Laupahoehoe on the Big Island. The fresh fungi is used statewide by chefs and local residents alike, while isle companies are sourcing the tasty ‘shrooms to produce cookies, chips, lavosh, trail mix, butters and honey. There’s even a mushroom coffee in the works.

All the fuss has jump-started the State’s only gourmet mushroom-growing tours, complete with cooking demonstrations and tastings. Hamakua Mushrooms’ on-site boutique is stocked with mushroom value-added products as well as gifts. The 35-acre Hamakua Heritage Farm, Inc. is also offering private celebrations in its Chef House, complete with a gourmet kitchen to concoct cuisine showcasing,what else, Hamakua Mushrooms!

The mushroom mania is the brainchild of a former O‘ahu helicopter company owner, Bob Stanga, and his wife, Janice, an interior designer. They broke ground on their 16,000-square-foot fungi facility in 2000.

“I love food grown in Hawai‘i and wanted to get involved somehow,” Bob shares. “It has been exciting and challenging.”

Forage Not

Hamakua Mushrooms (HM) grows wood-decomposing mushrooms in a substrate made with eucalyptus sawdust, wheat bran, corncob and water. A “baking bread” aroma wafts though the facility, which is a series of environmentally controlled rooms. The process involves the science of mycology (fungi), which means that sterility and exacting conditions are key to success. In addition to growing edible mushrooms, HM also makes its own mushroom spawn in an on-site tissue culture lab.

To produce mushrooms, the substrate is poured into plastic bottles, cooked, sterilized and then cooled before mushroom spawn is carefully placed inside. In a 75-degree incubation room, mycelium (roots) colonize the bottles for up to four weeks. Next, a machine scrapes a layer of roots from the top to activate the mushroom growing stage. In the growing room, light, humidity and carbon dioxide are regulated to provide optimal conditions for up to 20 days. The result is “bouquets” of fresh, flavorful mushrooms that are organically grown, free of pesticides and chemicals.

HM’s bottle cultivation method is automated and it takes about five weeks to produce a mushroom. Stanga says Hamakua Mushrooms first grew fungi in bags by hand, but switched to the current growing method in 2004 to up production. “We do over 3,000 bottles daily,” he points out.

Japanese mycologist (mushroom grower) Kyozen Shoji pioneered the bottle cultivation method. Stanga learned of the method from Gourmet Mushrooms in California.

In addition to changing the growing method, HM also improved the substrate formula by incorporating wheat bran and using a denser corncob from Iowa. “Corn adds nitrogen and form to the mixture and the wheat bran is easy for the mushrooms to eat,” Stanga explains. Trees for the eucalyptus sawdust are sourced from Kamehameha Schools land adjacent to the facility.

Hamakua Mushrooms, Big Islands, HawaiiTo decide which mushrooms to grow, Bob says HM tested the market by shipping samples to chefs. Until recently, the company was producing four different mushrooms, each boasting its own culinary characteristics: the gray oyster with a mild flavor and chewy texture; the robust-flavored pioppini with signature dark brown caps and cream stems; the firm-textured and nutty flavored ali‘i (trumpet) with meaty, one-inch-in-diameter stems; and the pepeiao, a fungi strain only found in Hawai’i that has a slight flavor and chewy crunch.

According to Lani Weigert, HM’s director of marketing and customer relations, HM is dropping pepeiao from its inventory and is newly growing abalone mushrooms. Abalone is a traditional earthy mushroom with a pronounced rich and buttery flavor.

“The preferences of chefs drive our market,” explains Weigert. “What they want has a lot to do with what we grow. They like the abalone.”

Farm To Table

A stable of top Hawai‘i chefs are using Hamakua Mushrooms. Chef Roy Yamaguchi showcased the pioppini mushroom in a bisque that became a top seller in his restaurants. When Chef Alan Wong was summoned to the White House to cook for President Obama, he took the Big Island mushrooms with him. In May of 2013, Royal Hawaiian Hotel Executive Chef Jon Matsubara featured HM in a “Cooking Local” segment on NBC News’ “TODAY” show.

Hamakua Mushrooms

Casey Halpern, executive chef at Café Pesto in Hilo, says the availability of having locally grown mushrooms has been a “godsend” and enables him to take dishes requiring mushrooms to a different level.

“When we used Mainland mushrooms there were problems with quality and freshness,” Chef Halpern notes. “We use HM in our Hamakua Mushroom Risotto, Smoked Salmon Alfredo and pizza. We’re working on a mushroom poke for special occasions.” Perry Bateman, executive chef of Mama’s Fish House on Maui, says, “We use Hamakua Mushrooms as a main ingredient and part of a dish to make bisque, braised beef, salads, soup and fish entrees. Our favorite is the ali‘i mushrooms; they are very versatile and can be used raw, marinated, sautéed and grilled.”

The popularity of the mushrooms with Hawai‘i residents has also been crucial to HM’s success according to owner Janice Stanga, who expects close to $2 million in sales this year. She credits Costco’s interest in HM as pivotal to its growth. “At the very beginning, we went to Costco to buy steel racks and their Seattle office called and asked why we needed so many,” she explains. “After finding out we had a mushroom farm, Costco came out to see us and decided to carry our mushrooms.”

Prizing HM’s partnerships with chefs and the local business community, Weigert comments on the importance of collaborating with others to create value-added products, “It takes a village to raise a business, and we reach out across the island to be included in product lines,” she notes. “Value-added products are 75-95 percent revenue for a farmer, so it’s a tremendous opportunity for us that also strengthens the community.”

Get Fungi

Hamakua Mushrooms now offers tours, tastings and a boutique gift shop. If in the area, stop by for a visit or make a tour reservation by calling (808) 962-0305. Can’t make it in person? Their website offers recipe ideas and information on where to buy their mushrooms across the State.

Hamakua Mushrooms
36-221 Manowaiopae Homestead Road
Laupahoehoe, HI 96764
fungaljungal.com

 

 

Pigs in Paradise: Mālama Farm Raises Them Right on Maui

By Shannon Wianecki
Photos by Kristy Copperfield

When Dave Fitch wakes up at 5:30 each morning, his two-year-old daughter clamors to help him with the chores. Dad lifts her onto the ATV loaded with buckets of fruit and grain. Together they make the rounds at what may be the prettiest pig farm in America.

Mālama Farm sits on a knoll in rural Haiku, with a view of Maui’s dramatic north shore. The light breeze carries the scent of passion fruit and Puakenikeni flowers—not the rank smells typically associated with pig farms. That’s because the pigs living here aren’t confined to pens, belly-deep in their own slop. Mālama Farm is one of the nation’s few pasture-raised piggeries and the first in Hawai‘i to offer 100 percent Berkshire pork.

Malama FarmDave and Lehua Fitch’s farming adventure started with the kind of naïve back-to-the-land impulse that doesn’t often translate into long-term success. Inspired by “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “Food Inc.,” and their travels through rural New Zealand, they decided to tackle small-scale agriculture to prove that it’s still possible in the United States. Neither had farming experience: he’s a furniture maker and she’s a software executive. So the young entrepreneurs started with a blank slate, balancing each decision against what would be best for the animals, the land, the community and their family. And in less than two years, they brought their first litter of top-quality hogs to market. In their own small way, the Fitches are transforming the meat industry—one piglet at a time.

To understand what’s special about Mālama Farm, it helps to understand what’s not special at most commercial pig farms. The majority of piggeries in the U.S. are large warehouses where animals are confined for life to individual stalls, pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones, and deprived any opportunity to exhibit natural pig behavior. In the worst scenarios, they can’t sit or turn in their pens. Many go berserk and injure themselves. At these cheap meat factories, sewage is a constant problem; overflowing refuse ponds can poison the groundwater.

“How pigs are raised is an unspoken tragedy,” says Lehua. “It’s really horrifying when you know how sweet, gentle and smart they are.”

Confronted with dirty details of industrial farming, the Fitches decided to put their money where their mouth is. They bought property on Maui and researched livestock they could raise themselves. They chose pigs because of the animals’ intelligence and importance to Hawaiian culture. Next they opted for a heritage breed with a ready market: Berkshire, or Kurobuta as it’s known in Japan. Chefs covet Berkshires for their clean flavor and well-marbled fat. The slow-growing hogs have dark hides that protect them from Hawai‘i’s tropical sun. Plus, they have good personalities, says Dave. “We wanted animals we’d enjoy working with.”

Lehua and Dave’s light-hearted approach to husbandry is evident in their pigs’ names. The boar is Hef, after Hugh Hefner. The sows in his harem: Candi, Trixie, Lola and Bubbles.

Malama FarmOut To Pasture

The Fitches prepared for their pigs’ arrival in 2010 by planting nutrient-rich grasses across their five-acre farm. “People told us pigs don’t eat grass,” says Lehua incredulously. “They do!” She and Dave also planted ‘ulu (breadfruit), macadamia nut, banana, papaya, avocado and citrus tree to supplement the pigs’ (and their own) diet. Each dawn, the Fitchs’ daughter pitches these treats out to the ranging herd. Chocolate brown piglets kick up dust as they scamper through the grass like warthogs on the Serengeti. They snuffle and grunt for their share of breakfast, snouts down, corkscrew tails in the air.

On special occasions, the spoiled swine enjoy a beer or two. Dave is negotiating with Maui Brewing Company to get brewer’s grain, a by-product of the beer-making process that pigs find extra tasty. He and Lehua aren’t above scrambling eggs for their herd, either. “You can make a pig do amazing things with scrambled eggs,” laughs Dave.

Each week, Dave rotates Hef and the ladies to a new 50 x 50 grazing area, by shifting the electric fence line and sliding the mobile shade huts he built onto fresh ground. 300-gallon horse troughs serve as ready-made wallows: portable pig spas where hot swine can cool down. Once the herd vacates an area, Dave turns his cleanup crew of chickens loose to peck away any fly larvae. Pig manure is no problem here; it serves its natural function as fertilizer.

Malama FarmSows are bred only once or twice a year, compared to industrial farms where they’re continually impregnated. Mālama Farm’s large, healthy litters have drawn the admiration of other Berkshire breeders. Dave fashioned farrowing huts—where the sows can go to birth and nurse piglets—with the animals’ comfort and safety in mind. Mama pigs are so massive they can accidentally crush their babies. Dave’s A-frame design allows piglets a little wiggle room; they can safely retreat into corners too tight for mom. Littermates stay together for their entire lives, which prevents anxiety.

The Fitches castrate males, but that’s about the extent of their veterinary needs. Because of the pigs’ clean food and living environment, vaccinations and antibiotics aren’t necessary. When it’s time for the trip to the slaughterhouse, the pigs climb into a trailer that Dave designed to mimic their shade huts—same wood floor, same color walls—so the animals don’t experience any trauma during transport. This contributes to the quality of the final product: less adrenaline in the meat.

The unrelenting nature of farming is not for everyone, but it’s so rewarding, Lehua says. Now pregnant with a second girl, she hopes the new baby will take to farm life as keenly as big sister has.

Malama FarmProof Is In The, er, Pudding

The true proof of success came with the Fitches’ first harvest. They were nervous. How would they feel sending their pigs to market? How would the pork taste? Would the chefs like it? They slaughtered the first pig themselves, under their avocado tree. “It was profound for us,” says Lehua. “We cried while we ate it, we respected the whole process.”

They weren’t the only ones. Ed Kenney of Town restaurant in Honolulu and Neil Murphy of Merriman’s were quick to place orders for Mālama Farm pigs—and now the waiting list is long. Gerard Reversade of Gerard’s in Lahaina was especially happy to get his hands on a whole hog. His uncle was a charcutier in France’s Loire Valley; his family has a long tradition of snout-to-tail cooking. The classically trained French chef cherishes every part of the animal, transforming the head, feet and blood into confit, pate and black pudding. He seasons his rillettes—succulent mounds of shredded pork—with just a pinch of salt and pepper. “The pork retains its full taste,” says Reversade. “It’s really delicious.” When he shared some of his family recipes with the Fitches, their daughter sampled her first headcheese.

Chris Kulis of Capische in Wailea says Mālama Farm pork is pricey, but worth it. “The superior feed that the pigs eat comes through in the moisture and the quality of the fat; it blows mainland competitors away,” he says. “I use less aromatics [with Mālama Farm pork], I don’t have to do as much to make it taste good.” Thanks to Mālama Farm, he’s served mouthwatering local sausages, pancetta, bacon and soppressata at his restaurant, and is eagerly anticipating his first prosciutto, which takes a full year to cure.

The practices Dave and Lehua employ at Mālama Farm benefit everyone involved. “We make sure we give the pigs the best life possible,” says Lehua. “We know they are going out to nourish people.”

Malama Farm

Letter of Aloha: Fall 2013

daniaDania Katz, Publisher edible Hawaiian Islands Magazine
Dania Katz, Publisher

Dania Katz, Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii. Photography by Peter Liu. SHARE. It’s what comes to mind this time of year, and it’s the theme we held in creating this issue.

In Hawai‘i, local culture is a blend of Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Portuguese, German and more. Bound together by our host Hawaiian culture we become a community that is especially unique. Here, we share our food traditions and cultures with friends who begin to feel like ‘ohana (family).

Revisiting the Japanese tradition of preparing a New Year’s feast to be shared with friends and family, (Osechi Ryori: The Greatest Gift), brought back warm childhood memories of my mother doing the same. For me ever since, food and family have always gone together.

I hope your heart is touched, as mine was, by reading about the Thanksgiving tradition at Honoka‘a High School (A Lesson In Thanksgiving). These kids can teach us a thing or two about sharing.

Spending time in the kitchen with our ‘ohana is an important tradition that happens year ‘round. Preparing a meal together is one way busy families reconnect. Local TV personalities Guy Hagi and Kim Gennaula share their story in the premiere of our new column, “Keiki in the Kitchen.”

I am happy to welcome other new additions to our magazine. Sara Smith has joined our staff as managing editor. Curious and hungry, she is sharing her knowledge freely to help us grow. Editorially, look for another new feature, “DIY,” a practical kitchen how-to. (We love getting hands-on in the kitchen!)

Enjoy the issue and please shop locally with the businesses that support Edible Hawaiian Islands. You’ll find them on the pages of this magazine. Each has something to offer that will make the perfect gift or add something special to your table.

And may I share our favorite gift suggestion? Perfect for the holidays or a thank-you is a gift subscription to Edible Hawaiian Islands. It’s a delicious way to give all year long.
daniasig