Haleiwa - Huli Huli Chicken and Shave Ice

Trip Start Dec 27, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Friday, December 21, 2007

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Haleiwa - Huli Huli Chicken and Shave Ice

Before leaving the North Shore we stopped at its only "surf town" - Haleiwa. It is the social and artistic center of the area and is therefore a mandatory stop on our tour.

The town would normally be the first stop on a visit to the North Coast as the shortest route from Honolulu to this surfing paradise would be to drive one hour north - west along H 2, and nos. 99, 930, and 830 to Haleiwa. This route leads right through the middle of Oahu.

We had taken the scenic route along the Pacific Ocean on the east side of Oahu therefore placing Haleiwa at the end of our North Coast visit. (see Blog 85)

After the beaches, it was good to stop in a town, stretch our legs, and soak up a bit of the flavor of small town life in northern Oahu. There is always a sense of anticipation in the hopes of stumbling upon something interesting and unique.

In this case there were two "discoveries" which stand out.

The first was the mouth watering "Huli Huli chicken" being barbequed in a parking lot. The huge rotisserie was covered with chicken halves being grilled over a bed of mesquite charcoal. To ward off the rain the whole affair was covered by a blue tarpaulin. Fortunately, there was no rain today.

Sights like this are not uncommon in Hawaii as Huli Huli (turn turn) chicken is very popular. The B-B-Q s are portable and can therefore be found in parking lots or at sites along highways. Often they are used as fund raisers.

On this day our attention was drawn to this scene by the abundance of smoke pouring from the B-B-Q as well as the delicious aroma of the chicken slowly turning to a golden brown.

There was an immediate knee-jerk reaction to try the Huli Huli chicken. However, we are much disciplined, or perhaps ritualistic, in our eating patterns. This was, unfortunately, not the time of day to feast on Hawaiian chicken. Our next scheduled pit stop was for the traditional afternoon coffee and piece of banana bread around 17:00.

Note: I am tempted to launch into the virtues of Hawaiian coffee at this point; I will save it for another blog. However, as I write this, the burning memory of a coffee and chocolate cake I enjoyed in Mendoza, Argentina during my Argentinean trip begs for acknowledgement, it was soooo good. I know a thing or two about that, since I have always been a fan of afternoon "Kaffee und Kuchen".

Back in Haleiwa, our enjoyment was limited to observing the inviting scene of the dense smoke mixed with the delicious aroma of the well spiced chicken. While the temptations were great, we drew solace from the probability of going to a luau at some point during our visit to Hawaii which would certainly have lot of Huli Huli chicken.

Huli Huli barbequed chicken is a Hawaiian specialty.

It gets its name from the Huli Huli sauce which is made from Asian chili paste, soy sauce, brown sugar, olive oil, ketchup, honey, lime juice, minced garlic and ginger root, salt and pepper. It sounds delicious, for the recipe go to:

http://gohawaii.about.com/od/luaurecipes/r/hulihulichicken.h tm

While Huli Huli chicken tends to be associated with parking lots, side of the road stops and fund raisers, as I mentioned, it is also a staple of a Hawaiian Luau.

A Luau menu may consist of the following Hawaiian specialties: Kalua pig, slow cooker Kalua pig, authentic Hawaiian lau lau, mainland lau lau, oven Kalua turkey, Mochiko chicken, Shoyu chicken, Huli Huli chicken, Teriyaki beef or chicken, Macadamia nut crusted coconut shrimp, coconut fried shrimp, and baked fish. Side dishes may include long grain rice, potato salad, sesame cabbage salad, lomi lomi salmon, tossed green salad and a fresh fruit plate. Desserts may include haupai (coconut pudding desert), coconut pie, Hawaiian Ambrosia, Macademia Nut Cream Pie, butter mochi, pineapple nut loaf, Hawaiian sweet potato pie, banana guava pie, banana-pineapple upside down cake, layered lilikoi cake, lilikoi party sheet cake. Beverages include: pineapple punch, lau lau punch, mai tai, blue Hawaii and chi-chi.

(source: http://www.alohafriendsluau.com/recipes.html)

Now, tell me your mouth isn't watering as you read this.

Note: it is ironic that I should be blogging this menu on our first day (March 2, 2008) on the South Beach diet which is a long way from a luau.

Why am I writing about a luau now?

Did we not at some point during our four week stay have the pleasure of attending a luau which includes tremendous food, drink and Hawaiian entertainment?

Well, no ..... there are several reasons.

As I mentioned, we are careful not to overeat and this Hawaiian smorgasbord certainly means overeating. The other factor was the cost. At close to $100 per person it was a delight on which we decided to take a pass.

In retrospect this was another decision which was, for lack of a better word, wrong.

A luau is an integral part of Hawaiian life, not to be missed. Hang the calories and the cost. If you go to Hawaii, you just have to go to a luau. So if you go, don't make the same mistake.

Let's see now. After the Polynesian Cultural Center, this was our second, shall we say, "mea culpa".

A Hawaiian Luau is basically a beautiful Hawaiian party with plenty of excellent food as the list above indicates. In Old Hawaii, they were feasts held for royalty and/or other important persons. It was an opportunity to pull out all the stops in entertaining for weddings, christenings and birthdays.

Today they have become a major tourist attraction offered at most resorts designed to entice the tourist to overindulge while sampling the culinary delights and entertainment of Hawaii that would make Don Ho proud.

As mentioned, the price of admission to a luau is in the neighbourhood of $100. Of course like a lot of tourist attractions and sports activities (snorkeling, diving, para sailing) it can be had for free. All that you have to do is participate in a two hours sales pitch for time share condominiums which are as prolific as mushrooms in a wet forest here in Hawaii.

Before coming to Hawaii, I did not know the difference between a luau and a lei. Now I know that a lei is the traditional floral wreath or garland strung together to be worn as decoration. In the fifties and sixties visitors flying to Hawaii were ususally welcomed at the airport with a lei being placed around their neck.

Along with the other stalwart of Hawaiian traditions - the Hawaiian shirt, it is as evident and beautiful as ever.

Our next discovery was a long line-up which spilled out the front door of a store.

The last time I saw something like that was in Chicago.

In December 2005, Barbara and I had the pleasure of strolling along one of America's great avenues - North Michigan Avenue. The walk was even more beautiful at Christmas as colourful lights lined the broad sidewalk giving the area a very festive mood. I acknowledge that many other streets and avenues around the world are also are lit up at Christmas time, but there is really something very special about walking Michigan Avenue at this time of year.

It ranks right up there with other Chicago "specials" like eating a world-famous Chicago hot dog, going to a blues club, checking out historic Wrigley Field and visiting the former home of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright and walking his neighbourhood of Oak Park which has many examples of his creative architecture.

Getting back to "a long line-up that spilled out into the street", that is indeed what we saw in front of a small store along busy Michigan Avenue.

Incredible as it may seem, it was popcorn that the people were lining up for, pop corn, yes - pop corn! It boggles the mind that grown people would stand in a line up right out to the sidewalk, in the winter, for something that should be eaten in a movie theatre. Perhaps the reason for this unusual sight was the beguiling wafting of pop corn fragrance that hit the nostrils of passersby on the sidewalk. Another reason may have been the Chicago pop corn, like the Chicago hot dog, has its own caché. We were destined to never find out as the thought of waiting for 10 minutes for pop corn did not cross our minds.

The name of the store is Garrett Popcorn Shops and the one we passed is located at 670 N. Michigan Ave. Chicago. Needless to say, the pop corn shop is a Chicago institution in this beautiful city.

The line up here in Haleiwa that stretched out onto the wooden porch was situated in the front of a store that was also a local institution.

If you come to Haleiwa you must stop at the M. Matsumoto Grocery Store, not to buy groceries but to try their legendary "shave ice".

"Shave ice" is a big thing here in Hawaii and it is available almost everywhere. It stretches the imagination to think that Matsumoto Shave Ice has created an almost cult like following in the crowded shave ice field.

It is after all, nothing but a finely shaved snow cone embellished with a choice of rainbow coloured syrups. Nice to look at but how good can shaved ice saturated with a brightly coloured syrup taste?

While I was keen to try a Chicago hot dog, the shave ice left me cold.

The same could not be said for Barbara. She just had to have one of these Hawaiian specialties. Before I knew it, she was in the long line joining people from around the world waiting to sink their teeth into this legendary Hawaiian shave ice.

The choices and combinations available were formidable.
· Strawberry, Pineapple, Lemon, Coconut, Banana, Vanilla, Root Beer, Grape, Lime, Lilikoi (passion fruit), Orange, Honeydew, Melon, Mango, Raspberry, Coffee, Watermelon, Bubblegum, Cotton Candy, Pina colada, Banana Cream, Lihing Mui, Lychee, and Cherry.
· Combinations; The Rainbow-combination of Strawberry, Pineapple, and Lemon. Hawaiian Special-combination of Pineapple, Coconut, and Banana. Matsumoto's Special-combination of Coconut, Pineapple, and Lemon.
· Create your own combinations; you can have up to three (3) flavors of your choice per Shave Ice.
· For a different twist to your Shave Ice try it with ice cream or beans and or ice cream and beans. See below for more information.

Source: http://www.matsumotoshaveice.com

Click on the "About Us" link for a history of the store.
(Sorry, but the hyperlinks of Travelpod do not function with certainty, you will have to copy and paste)

My pleasure was in taking photos in and around the store and soaking up the atmosphere inherent in this little piece of history. Speaking of photos, I was amazed how I neglected to take a close-up of Barbara's shave ice, so a far off shot will have to do for now.

Yes, I broke down and had a taste of Barbara's shave ice. It was o.k., but I did not write a post card home about it. She really enjoyed it.

The shave ice, which resembles a brightly coloured tennis ball, is served on a cone shaped paper cup. To keep the whole process relatively clean, the paper cone is then inserted into a larger plastic cone with petal shaped flanges intended to catch any melting or falling shave ice. This also provides a better handle with which to manipulate the whole ball of shave ice.

Like it or not (the shave ice), it still feels good to have participated in a small manner in the local scene which makes a place special. The shave ice and huli huli chicken accomplished that task in Haleiwa, Oahu.

Coming Soon:

The Dole Plantation
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LynnPowell on

It is great that we can get the loans
moreover, that opens up new possibilities.

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