Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Joseleyn Benn will be selling macadamia nut tarts at the Kailua Thursday Night Farmer's Market, which opens this week.

Baker takes wares
to new night market

Kailua Thursday Night Farmers' Market

Featuring: More than two-dozen vendors selling fresh meats and produce, plus prepare foods

Opening night: 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday

Place: Kailua Town Center parking garage (behind Longs Drugs on Kailua Road)

Call: Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, 848-2074

Joselyn Benn was a reluctant baker. But Uncle Sam made her do it.

More than 20 years ago, Benn enlisted in the military and was assigned a specialty. "I got stuck in baking. I didn't want to do it. But then I found out I had a knack for it."

Such a knack, in fact, that when she left the service in Hawaii, Benn became a professional baker and now has her own bake shop, The Sweet Stop in Kailua.

Benn is among vendors and farmers who will be part of the new Kailua Thursday Night Farmers' Market, opening this week at Kailua Town Center.

The market is an offshoot of the Saturday Farmers' Market at Kapiolani Community College, sponsored by the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation and organized by food writer and overall foodie activist Joan Namkoong. Kaneohe Ranch Co. is a co-sponsor of the Kailua market.

Items for sale will include produce, flowers and beef, all of it island-grown and much of it sold by the farmers themselves. Also featured will be prepared foods made with grown-in-Hawaii products -- including fruit preserves, taro chips, sauces, cookies, oatcakes salad dressings, seasoning blends, fresh ginger ale, salsas, dried fish and goat cheese.

Not to mention pastries, which is where Benn comes in.

A miniature lychee cheesecake is ready for takeout.

She'll be selling macadamia-nut and lemon tarts, haupia cream puffs, Maui onion rolls and giant shortbread cookies, all specialties she developed for her shop.

Depending on how things go, she says, she'll probably add some of her other favorites. The Sweet Stop is growing known for its Ice-Box Cheesecakes. Flavors include lychee and lilikoi. She also makes her macadamia tart in a 12-inch size and serves creme brulee in a tuille, or cookie basket.

Benn's creations reflect individual attention such as was not possible when she was in the military, baking for 5,000 people at a time. "Pies, breads, rolls, cakes -- you name it."

It was later, as a civilian working at places such as the Willows, the old Hawaiian Regent hotel, the Royal Hawaiian and for Roy's restaurant in Hawaii Kai, that Benn discovered a love of pastry decorating. Now she does wedding cakes as well as elegantly decorated single pieces.

She finds the work quiet and soothing.

"It was really me," she says. "An extension of me."

Dinner at the market

Despite all the inspiration offered by the farmers, you might prefer that someone else do the cooking, at least on market night. To that end, the night market will offer a dinner booth each week, featuring a local restaurant.

First up, this week, will be Roy's Hawaii Kai.

Future participants will include Sam Choy's Diamond Head, Diamond Head Market and Grill, Joe Aloha Catering and Big City Diner. In October, Lucy's from Kailua town will be featured every other week.

The Sweet Stop is open 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in the Kailua Beach Center, 130 Kailua Road. Exotic Dessert Nights are held 7 to 10:30 p.m. Thursdays and 8:15 to 10:30 p.m. Fridays. Call 721-5034 or visit the Web site, www.sweetstophawaii.com.

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