Category: Summer 2018

Letter of Aloha

Well, it’s official. As of the first day of summer, I am an empty-nester. After more than 28 years of balancing someone else’s needs and desires with my own, I am once again free to make decisions with only myself in mind. This new-found freedom immediately sends my thoughts to cooking; how do you cook for a party of one? My answer: you don’t! You invite friends and family for dinner, or you start a business feeding people. So, after a few weeks of adjusting to my new lifestyle, I am proud to announce the launch of our new statewide business, Lawelawe Hawaii. Lawelawe means to serve, to tend, or to care for others, including the serving of dinner or drinks. Perfect!

Other inspirations come from change. One morning I took a trip to Molokai with Chef Jana McMahon who is a frequent advisor for the magazine. We discovered Pu’u O Hoku Ranch with its 100-yearplan, as well as a salty mac nut farmer and a shared love for Kanikapila. We drove all over the island, picnicked, laughed and hiked. Where are you traveling to this summer? Check out #ehiRoadTrip to see where we are going and what we are eating.

We also wanted to highlight a progressive company we’ve known for years, 23 years to be exact, called Pacific Biodiesel. Get ready all you hard-core locavores because, thanks to Pacific Biodiesel, locally made cooking oil is finally here! Cooking oil has long been a missing ingredient for those of us who strive to create meals using 100% locally sourced ingredients. This company fills the cooking oil demand in a most extraordinary way: they grow sunflowers on previously mono-cropped land, use the sunflowers to create a cooking oil, recycle the oil, and then turn it into a bio diesel that can power cars. Please read up on this company because they are accomplishing so much more.

Finally, this issue marks the start of our 12th year of publishing. Happy birthday to us! On a recent trip we tasted a birthday cake that made us sing! We asked the chef to share the recipe and she obliged, but if you want to skip the kitchen mess and experience this cake straight from the master herself, they can ship it to you too! We did both and must admit that the cake we mail-ordered was a little bit more delicious. Mahalo Nui Loa to Christina Tosi.

As a gift to our readers we are giving away birthday presents to the first 12 people to sign up for 2-year print subscriptions starting the first day of summer, Thursday June 21, 2018. This gift is a collection of our favorite things we have found throughout our travels across the islands over the past few months. Once you subscribe we will mail you your gift. Please visit subscribe and become a subscriber.

Mahalo to our advertisers, subscribers, friends and ‘Ohana.

With aloha,
Dania Novack-Katz


Size: 8.2 x 1.2 x 10.6 inches
Pages: 256
ISBN: 192541826

Authors Nadia Zerouali and Merijn Tol have been writing about Arabic and Mediterranean cookery for many years. They have traveled around southern Europe, the Maghreb, and the Middle East to experience the influence of Arabic cuisine for themselves, to taste the food, and to learn how to cook it authentically by joining local women in their own kitchens. They have previously authored Arabia and A Drop of Rose Water. They can also be seen on Dutch television (NTR), where they will present their own culinary travel program.

The word mezze stems from the Arabic term tamazzaza—a single word that broadly embraces the idea of enjoying small portions of food and taking the time to indulge one’s taste buds, eyes, and nose by exposing them to a wide range of aromas and flavors. A complete mezze table is formed when many of these warm and cold dishes are presented together, as a meal in itself.

The mezze culture originated in the Ottoman Empire and can be found in the whole of the Levantine Mediterranean: from Greece and Cyprus to Turkey, Palestine, Jordan, and Syria. But it is Lebanon, the cultural home of the authors, which has really developed and is famed for the richest, most extensive, and most sophisticated mezze culture.

In addition to the 100 classic and contemporary mezze recipes, Souk also delves into the personal stories and reminiscences about this food tradition and the families and friends the authors meet along the way. Eating mezze is a social event, wrapped in warmth and coziness, and spiced with waves of laughter and noisy chatter.


Size: 7.4 x 1.3 x 9.8 inches
Pages: 440 pages
ISBN: 978-0451494160
Author: Alon Shaya was born in Israel, raised in Philadelphia, and calls New Orleans his home. The three celebrated restaurants he started and ran as executive chef/partner–Do-menica, Pizza Domenica, and Shaya–reflect his culinary journey and love of Israeli and Italian cuisine. In 2017, Alon Shaya formed Pomegranate Hospitality to foster opportuni-ties for colleagues, partners, and friends in a comfortable and professional environment where cultural differences are celebrated. Alon Shaya has been nominated for five James Beard Awards. In 2015 he was named “Best Chef, South” while at Domenica, and a year lat-er, ‘Shaya’ was hailed as “Best New Restaurant”. He was called one of the “50 People Who Are Changing the South” by Southern Living magazine, and by The Forward as one of the “50 Most Influential Jews in America”, published by Alfred A. Knopf, and with Pomegranate Hospitality he is opening two new restaurants: Saba in New Orleans and Safta in Denver.

Alon Shaya’s is no ordinary cookbook. It is a memoir of a culinary sensibility that begins in Israel and wends its way from the U.S.A. (Philadelphia) to Italy (Milan and Bergamo), back to Israel (Jerusalem) and comes together in the American South, in the heart of New Orle-ans. It’s a book that tells of how food saved the author’s life and how, through a circuitous path of (cooking) twists and (life-affirming) turns the author’s celebrated cuisine–food of his native Israel with a creole New Orleans kick came to be, along with his award-winning New Orleans restaurants: Shaya, Domenica, and Pizza Domenica, ranked by Esquire, Bon Appétit, and others as the best new restaurants in the United States.

These are stories of place, of people, and of the food that connects them, a memoir of one man’s culinary sensibility, with food as the continuum throughout his journey–guiding his personal and professional decisions, punctuating every memory, choice, every turning point in his life. Interspersed with glorious full-color photographs and illustrations that follow the course of all the flavors Shaya has tried, places he’s traveled, things he’s experienced, lessons he’s learned–more than one hundred recipes–from Roasted Chicken with Harissa to Speckled Trout with Tahini and Pine Nuts; Crab Cakes with Preserved Lemon Aioli; Roast-ed Cast-Iron Ribeye; Marinated Soft Cheese with Herbs and Spices; Buttermilk Biscuits; and Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Feta.




½ cup quinoa
1 cup fresh peas or thawed frozen peas 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup diced red onion
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint Pinch of Aleppo pepper
Kosher salt

Cook the quinoa in 1 cup boiling, salted water in a small saucepan, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the peas until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain, submerge in ice water to cool quickly, and mash with a fork.

Combine the quinoa and mashed peas with the parsley, on-ion, lemon juice, oil, mint, Aleppo pepper, and a big pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Toss to combine and serve.



1 head garlic
¾ cup lemon juice (from 3 lemons) 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 generous cups tehina
½ teaspoon ground cumin

Break up the head of garlic with your hands, letting the unpeeled cloves fall into a blender. Add the lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Blend on high for a few seconds until you have a coarse puree. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes to let the garlic mellow.

Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large mixing bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Dis-card the solids. Add the tehina to the strained lemon juice in the bowl, along with the cumin and 1 teaspoon of the salt.

Whisk the mixture together until smooth (or use a food processor), adding ice water, a few tablespoons at a time, to thin it out. The sauce will lighten in color as you whisk. When the tehina seizes up or tightens, keep adding ice water, bit by bit (about 1 1/2 cups in total), whisking energetically until you have a perfectly smooth, creamy, thick sauce.

Taste and add up to 1 1/2 teaspoons more salt and cumin if you like. If you’re not using the sauce immediately, whisk in a few tablespoons of ice water to loosen it before refrigerating. The tehina sauce will keep a week refrigerated, or it can be frozen for up to a month.



1 cup dried chickpeas
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ cups Basic Tehina Sauce, plus a bit more for the topping
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground cumin Paprika
Chopped fresh parsley
Olive oil, for drizzling

Place the chickpeas in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of the baking soda and cover with water. (The chickpeas will double in volume, so use more water than you think you need.) Soak the chickpeas overnight at room temperature. The next day, drain the chickpeas and rinse under cold water.

Place the chickpeas in a large pot with the remaining 1 teaspoon bak-ing soda and add cold water to cover by at least 4 inches. Bring the chickpeas to a boil over high heat, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Lower the heat to medium, cover the pot, and continue to simmer for about 1 hour, until the chickpeas are completely tender. Then simmer them a little more. (The secret to creamy hummus is overcooked chickpeas; don’t worry if they are mushy and falling apart a little.) Drain.

Combine the chickpeas, tehina sauce, salt, and cumin in a food pro-cessor. Pulse the hummus for several minutes, until it is smooth and Auber-creamy. Then puree it some more!

To serve, spread the hummus in a shallow bowl, dust with paprika, top with parsley and more tehina sauce if you like, and drizzle generously with oil.



The big day is here! That magical marker that signals another journey around the sun, another year older and wiser. Twenty-four hours to enjoy the spotlight, hopefully culminating in some type of shindig. As much as we love the attention that goes along with being the guest of honor, we know there’s something else drawing our friends and family away from their comfortable couches and out the door to toast our existence: it’s the unsung hero of the birthday party, our delicious sidekick — the beloved birthday cake.

Whether it’s chocolate with fudge frosting, vanilla with buttercream, angel food or black forest, no birthday party is complete without a sweet, scrumptious cake. Add candles, a catchy song and a few scoops of ice cream and you’re guaranteed a good time. Though birthdays and cakes seem like such a natural pairing to us today, there are a few different theories on just how this tradition started.

The ancient Egyptians are credited with calling out a person’s arrival date into the world as cause for annual celebration, but rumor has it the Greeks added a dessert to the mix; they made cakes in the shape of a moon to honor the birth of Artemis, the Greek moon goddess, complete with lit candles inside to mimic the moon’s glow. Some say the world’s first mortal-dedicated birthday cake came out of a German oven sometime in the Middle Ages, and that a handful of German bakeries were responsible for spreading the ritual far and wide when they marketed cakes for birthdays, instead of just weddings as was the standard. In the 1700s, bread-like bundles were served at German Kinderfests, grand festivals held for young birthday boys and girls. The ancient Romans also are said to have had a habit of mixing up flour, nuts and honey to churn out celebratory circles for special birthday occasions.

Luckily for us, these early versions of the birthday cake eventually evolved into more sugary, decadent desserts, involving multiple layers, decorative writing, icing decorations and edible ornaments like fruit and candy. For a time, such fancy delights only graced the tables of the wealthy elite, but thanks to Europe’s Industrial Revolution, cakes eventually became a staple in homes of all social classes.

No matter how the birthday cake came to be, the custom has ignited similar offshoot traditions all over the world: In Russia, you might enjoy a birthday pie, or in Holland, birthday pancakes. During Australian birthdays, partygoers feast on buttered bread covered in sprinkles. And if you’re attending a fête in Great Britain, be sure to take small bites and chew slowly, since tiny treasures are often baked into the cakes.

And what about the practice of blowing out the candles atop a birthday cake? Stories abound of cultures in centuries past where candle blowing served as an avenue for making dreams come true. As the birthday boy’s breath extinguished the flame, the smoke carried his silent hopes and prayers skyward to the divine dream makers in the heavens.

Happy 12th Birthday edible Hawaiian Islands! Make a wish!



SERVES 8-12.

1 (6-inch) cake ring
2 strips acetate, each 3 inches wide, 20 inches long

(Makes 1 quarter sheet pan)
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
3 eggs
½ cup buttermilk
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup rainbow sprinkles plus,
2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles

1. Heat the oven to 350°F.

2. Combine the butter, shortening, and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.

3. On low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. Don’t rush the process. You’re basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn’t want to make room for that liquid. There should be no streaks of fat or liquid. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. On very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and the ¼ cup rainbow sprinkles. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. Pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment, or just line the pan with a Silpat. Using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of rainbow sprinkles evenly on top of the batter.

6. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. At 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests.

7. Take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer (don’t worry, it’s not cheating). The cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.

¼ cup milk
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

Note on vanilla extract:
We use two different kinds of vanilla extract, brown Patisse brand and clear McCormick brand. Neither is of any fancy caliber, but we use these specific vanilla extracts on purpose because they are the flavor that most people relate to in their baked goods. Vanilla beans and fancy vanilla paste do not taste like home to me, but commercial vanilla extract does.

We use brown (standard) vanilla extract in 90 percent of our baked goods. It’s the extract that flavors nearly every homemade chocolate chip cookie. We use clear McCormick vanilla extract for the birthday cake, birthday cake crumb, and birthday cake frosting. It is vanilla in flavor, but not flavored by any actual vanilla beans. It’s “vanilla” in more of a guilty tub-of-frosting, box-cake way. The two are not interchangeable in recipes. Both Patisse brown extract and McCormick clear vanilla are available online.

Whisk together the milk and vanilla in a small bowl.

½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
¾ cup cake flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
¼ cup grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract

1. Heat the oven to 300°F.

2. Combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until well combined.

3. Add the oil and vanilla and paddle again to distribute. The wet ingredients will act as glue to help the dry ingredients form small clusters; continue paddling until that happens.

4. Bake for 15 minutes at 300°F.

5. Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or scarfing by the handful. Stored in an airtight container, the crumbs will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

Once we got birthday cake crumbs down, we moved on to our larger quest of making a funfetti cake, canned frosting and all, from scratch. Turns out that looking on the side of the cake mix box at the master ingredient list was really helpful in getting the “secret” stuff we couldn’t figure out by taste.

8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon glucose
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
a pinch of baking powder
a pinch of citric acid


1. Combine the butter, shortening, and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

2. With the mixer on its lowest speed, stream in the glucose, corn syrup, and vanilla. Crank the mixer up to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is silky smooth and a glossy white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. Add the confectioners’ sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid and mix on low speed just to incorporate them into the batter. Crank the speed back up to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until you have a brilliant stark white, beautifully smooth frosting. It should look just like it came out of a plastic tub at the grocery store! Use the frosting immediately, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.


1. Put a piece of parchment or a Silpat on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment or Silpat from the bottom of the cake. Use the cake ring to stamp out two circles from the cake. These are the top 2 cake layers. The remaining cake “scrap” will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.

Layer 1, The Bottom
2. Clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or a Silpat. Use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring.

3. Put the cake scraps together inside the ring and use the back of your hand to tamp the scraps together into a flat even layer.

4. Dunk a pastry brush in the birthday cake soak and give the layer of cake a good, healthy bath of half of the soak.

5. Use the back of a spoon to spread one-fifth of the frosting in an even layer over the cake.

6. Sprinkle one-third of the birthday crumbs evenly over the frosting. Use the back of your hand to anchor them in place.

7. Use the back of a spoon to spread a second fifth of the birthday cake frosting as evenly as possible over the crumbs.

Layer 2, The Middle
8. With your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall – high enough to support the height of the finished cake. Set a pre-cut cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process for layer 1 (if one of the cake rounds is jankier than the other, use it here in the middle and save the prettier one for the top). Layer 3, The Top

9. Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Give it volume and swirls or do as we do and opt for a perfectly flat top. Garnish the frosting with the remaining birthday crumbs.

10. Transfer the sheet pan to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. The cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

11. At least 3 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer and, using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. Gently peel off the acetate and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours (wrapped well in plastic, the cake can be refrigerated for up to 5 days).

12. Slice the cake into wedges and serve.

One Thousand Starts


“In this new “Talk Story” segment of the magazine, we invite locals to share their personal experiences of working with food and plants in Hawaii in their own authentic voice.”

The eight-legged boar trotted up the hill, haunches glossy in the dawn, muscles rolling under the thick scruff of his neck and rumbling with grunts, he ran right past us, my grandmother and me, sitting at the bus stop. A happy bounce in his legs, on the way to his morning nap. Sniffing for strawberries that had turned wild in that neighborhood, growing in the crevices of rocks and roots. Bus came, we went. My stop was first while Grandma continued on to her work, parting with a provocation, “How you gonna do all that?”

The way home is either dusty or muddy. Through the woods, the river-silt road is the only open pathway to light, which shines through high trees in long beams. Dirt swirls like fancy smoke from footsteps. The air smells of river, of cool stones, wet leaves and atmosphere being born. Farms peek through hedges and beyond shadows, murmurs of whose breadfruit are ripe, sudden gasp of a can opening, background buzz of insects. Lizards who have seen it all bask on branches. Instinctual pauses for plumeria.

As the road rounds and the sky opens, a low rainbow hums from within the dark forest up the valley. The clouds above could be angels, animals, or omens of who I’ll love… But then there’s a wild crashing, an explosion of breaking branches and right in my face is the wet breath of a red mule who’s sprinted to the end of her rope which reaches right to the edge of the road. Expecting a papaya, searching for a snack, kissy snorts, angling for a good scratch. From the moment her big ears catch you coming from miles away, she go hiding in the bushes for her funny game. Will get you every time, shi-shi-panty kine. She’s just too much.

Loosening the rope from the swivel, slipping it into a sloppy knot over her nose, rolling clumsy onto her shaggy back, she wanders on and takes us home. Her owner is too grumpy to know that she often goes free. She nibbles banana peels and comfrey leaves along the roadside then naps next to the fire pit on a hearth made of heart stones, soft ashes balance on her eyelashes.

Had been a drought for so long, rainy season had passed with blue skies, cracked earth and only the weeds and mangos growing happy. Still, I planted seeds and starts in little pots to be ready for the right day. Every single day giving root to at least one being. Gathering all the free moments in between into a bucket to water all that had begun. So that it could never be questioned if the forest was ready to grow. And after many months, almost a year, now the rain was coming to believe in the trees.

The sky is filling, thick with clouds close to spilling. Stepping down stone stairs that Aunty Paʻa had perfectly placed, I grab crates full of starts waiting by the ditch and set out to offer roots to soil. Been waiting for this day, when a good heavy soak would give these seedlings some hope, to plant a forest to protect us. That the future may want to keep us.

Air so warm, sweat so thick, could barely feel the heavy drops soak through my shirt. Crouched planting, planting, sipping the very heavens streaming down my face. River rising, rising, turning red. Rivulets rambling and all sorts of swirling. Loosening dead trees as if a light blanket of leaves. Bathing dry valleys with rushing streams. Vast handfuls of spreading seeds. ʻOʻopu unleashed. Hidden springs singing. Underfoot, waterways pulsed within the land, exactly like the maps that Uncle Earnest once drew. Was him who told me, “From the softest rock, the forest grew.”

The storm revealed the safest places and wherever I could, I planted them all- one thousand starts. The water’s rage danced in my chest but as my crate emptied, the river gentled its course. Within mist and profound darkness, a forest gave birth. Scattered leaves gathered along the high-water mark, a wild lei offered to the earth.

Now the mule stands still as a stone outside the house, gently cuing me to rest, let everything be. Bones sink deep into the weather’s roar, long surrendered to the potential of drowning but gratefully floating into sunlight shining through the twisted old longan tree. Laughter singing in light streaming through green leaves, smoke rising from the cooking fire. Warm air swirls in my face as a smiling child flies into arms reach, kicking high on an old koa swing. Her face in the sun rays, squinting in glowing beams. Prettiest thing I’d ever seen, this familiar being sprouting deep within a flood dream.

Bryna Rose Storch: I am a farmer on Kauai and founded Lanipō Farm in 2010. I’ve loved plants & gardening since childhood and learned to farm from aunties, uncles and friends. I believe in a proper fallow, sharp shovels, organic matter, doing better and a good cookie. Farming inspires me to write and my stories are as true as can be.

Hawaii’s Crowned Jewels

The rise, demise, and comeback story of the Hawaiian pineapple


From upside-down cakes to poolside piña coladas, you can get your pineapple fix just about anytime, anywhere (though the jury’s still out on if it belongs on pizza). Fresh pineapple, however, is harder to come by.

It takes about 18-24 months for one to reach maturity, and once picked, the fruit won’t continue to ripen. It’s neither a pine nor an apple, but several berries fused together around a single core. And like money, it doesn’t grow on trees, but on spiky tropical bushes that bear one fruit at a time. Pineapples are grown by propagation, and a common way to propagate is cutting off the crown and planting it in the soil.

Hailing from South America, the first pineapple documented on the islands was in 1813, when botanist Don Francisco de Paula Marin wrote in his diary: “This day I planted pineapples and an orange tree.” Canned and fresh pineapple production and sales experienced radical growth on the islands during the 20th century, under the watch of big players like Dole, Del Monte, and Maui Land & Pineapple Company. Since the late 1980s and into the 21st century, canneries have closed and companies have left the islands for cheaper, quicker, and less regulated production. Still a declining export, the industry now relies on local demand, and its supply lies largely in the hands of smaller farms.


Years after Marin’s poignant diary entry, in 1894, Queen Liliuokalani was overthrown by her opposition. This was led by a man named Sanford Ballard Dole, who would later become the first governor of the Territory of Hawaii after its annexation by the United States government. While Sanford played a pivotal role in the downfall of the last Hawaiian dynasty, it’s his cousin (once removed) James who’s known today as the “Pineapple King.”

A household name nationwide, the Dole Food Company made its way into our hearts, homes, and school lunch boxes by way of Hawaii. James Drummond Dole, a Harvard-educated agriculturalist, came to Oahu in 1899 and starting experimenting with various tropical crops. He landed on the pineapple business, and, eventually outgrowing his land on Oahu, looked to a neighboring island.

The island of Lanai has only one town; a small one that boasts a big name. Lanai City was built back in the 1920s to house Dole employees who came to work in the then-bustling pineapple fields. In 1922, James shelled out $1.1 million for the vast majority of Lanai’s acreage, an incredible amount at the time. He plowed his way through the land to create a plantation that would come to produce 75% of the world’s pineapples, thus earning its nickname, the “Pineapple Isle.” All pineapple production was eventually halted in 1992.

While no longer commercially grown on Lanai, the island still pays homage to the formerly industrious fruit at its Pineapple Festival every year. Returning to its roots on Oahu, a new Dole Plantation opened to the public in 1989, and with over 1 million annual guests, it primarily profits from tours and attractions, but it still grows pineapple commercially on over two acres. The majority of Dole pineapples sold on the mainland today are imported from Latin America.


About nine miles west of Lanai, Maui proved itself a gold mine for pineapples, too. Since the early 1900s, pineapple production has been integral to the island’s economic and agricultural landscapes. Most notably, Maui Land & Pineapple Company— or Maui Pine, for short—ran a lucrative operation there for over 75 years, until they closed their doors in 2007. Maui is also home to a seed bank that has all 37 varieties of pineapple known to the world.

Determined to keep production on the island, former Maui Pine employees bought the assets needed to keep the business intact, but downsized drastically. They were able to maintain a trusted product under a new “local-first” formula, and relaunched in 2010 under the name Maui Gold Pineapple Company.

Sweet with some tang, and bright gold in color, the Maui Gold® pineapple made its public debut in 2005, after 17 years of experimental planting. Maui Gold Pineapple Company’s name celebrates the variety developed by their predecessors, and is the only pineapple it cultivates.

From mom-and-pop restaurants and other small businesses to local households, Maui reaps what it sows: Half of all the Maui Gold pineapple grown is consumed right on the island. Just up the road from the farm, Hali’imaile Distilling Company uses the fruit in their famous Pau Vodka. (As of 2018, Maui Gold Pineapple Company and Hali’imaile Distilling Company operate under the same parent company, The LeVecke Corporation.) Wine lovers can sip sparkling pineapple wine at nearby MauiWine, the island’s only winery, or you can relish in the taste with sweet & spicy pineapple spears from Maui Preserved. For a fully immersive experience, book an excursion into the world of Maui Gold with Maui Pineapple Tours.

Even with its prime growing conditions and farmland, Hawaii imports 85% or more of its food from the mainland and beyond. However, by law, pineapples cannot be imported. And without the presence of big agriculture, this leaves the local market wide open for smaller operations like Maui Gold, and specialized family-run farms.


Enter White Sugarloaf and Meli Kalima pineapples. Alongside Maui Gold, a new generation of farms across the archipelago are putting Hawaiian pineapples back on the map. Small in scale, but mighty in passion, a business of “craft” pineapple is emerging.

The origins aren’t known for sure, but the White Sugarloaf (named after the loaf-like way refined sugar was sold at the time of its discovery) is thought to be a naturally occurring variant of its golden counterpart. The production of this variety has remained within a small circle of growers on the islands, and one such grower can be found on Kauai’s Moloa’a peninsula.

Jude Huber and her husband Paul have spent the better part of two decades growing Kauai Sugarloaf white pineapples on Hawaii’s northernmost island. A small-batch operation of sorts, they grow and handpick over 350,000 Sugarloaf pineapple plants on 38 acres of land. (For reference, Dole’s Lanai plantation had around 16,000 acres.) The Huber family has helped Kauai stake its claim to pineapple fame with a noteworthy fruit and an exclusive dairy- and sugar-free treat, Paulie’s Pineapple Phrosty (it’s 100% Kauai Sugarloaf white pineapples, they promise!).

Another specialized venture has garnered attention on Oahu, too. Hawaiian for “honey cream,” the Meli Kalima variety is grown exclusively by Frankie’s Nursery in Waimanalo, Oahu. While they’ve been operating for over 30 years, Meli Kalima has been on the market for five. Backed by a patent, the sweet-ashoney, pale-as-cream variety is sold crown-less so it cannot be propagated. The patent is currently for sale, though, as the owners are looking to retire. “Our customers say it’s the best pineapple in the world, so someone has to keep growing it!” says Lynn, co-owner of Frankie’s Nursery.

Big agriculture continues to invest elsewhere, which has resulted in loss of jobs on the islands and other economic issues. But while plantations have been deserted, traces of a once-booming industry have been replaced by a new wave of determined farmers with the goal of keeping Hawaii’s pineapple industry as good as gold, and as sweet as sugarloaf.