MADE IN HAWAII
Dip into extra-tasty taro with hip flavors
Poi-loving Tom Purdy had been mixing up the stuff ever since his Hawaii days at Iolani School, Roosevelt High and eventually as partner at Kapaa Fish and Chowder House on Kauai.
Three decades, two careers and a divorce later, he's back making poi -- but turned into flavored dips. He's discovered a Chinese dryland taro that yields the right poi-like creaminess, even after the addition of his diverse flavorings. These now include stylish sundried tomato, black olive, green Thai curry, no-dairy "taronaise" and (soon to come) smoked salmon.
Dip into what looks and initially feels like the traditional gooey comfort food, and you'll be surprised by a burst of flavor -- minus any artificial ingredients. Purdy processes 50 to 100 pounds of taro a week in a commercial kitchen in Kalihi. Two months into production, he's landed shelf space at Tamura's Fine Wine and Liquors in Kaimuki; you can also find him at the farmers' markets at Kapiolani Community College on Saturday and Manoa Marketplace on Thursday mornings.