CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Marty, left, and Mark Alsop say the chocolate-chip chookies at Paradise Cafe are the best in town, based on a comparison of every cookie they could get their hands on for tasting.
Couple finds perfect cookie in Paradise
Marty and Mark Alsop are on a mission -- a chocolate-chip-cookie-tasting mission.
"My ideal chocolate-chip cookie is made with semi-sweet chocolate chips, and I like to taste the essence of the vanilla as well as the brown sugar," Marty said. "I like a harder outside, and a nice, soft, moist inside, and I don't like my cookies to crumble very much. I prefer margarine over butter for cookies, and I don't like to taste the margarine when I take a bite."
Marty's husband, Mark, has his own exacting standards. "My mom's cookies were the best. They were medium-sized, soft, with good-sized chips. I like a lot of chocolate chips, and the cookie has to have a good consistency and be moist, yet hold its form. It should be slightly chewy, and it should be able to break without crumbling. I don't like it crunchy, and it shouldn't flatten out on the tray or be greasy."
Over about six months, the McCully couple bit into chocolate-chip cookies baked and sold in Honolulu and came up with a list rating them from 1 to 10 on taste, texture and other qualities. Their top choice: the cookies at Paradise Cafe on Bishop Street, with a 9-point score. They also tracked down the last remaining Mrs. Fields outlet on the island, in Nuuanu, which ranked a close second.
"My favorite cookie is chocolate chip, so it was important for me to find the best out there," Mary said. "Hopefully our list will help others so they won't have to try them all."
Marty is from Quincy, a small town in Washington state; Mark is from Redwood City, Calif. They met in church after moving to Hawaii about four years ago and have been married for about a year and a half. Marty's a legal secretary; Mark's a communication major at the University of Hawaii who works part time in sales and distribution.
At Marty's previous job, a co-worker brought her chocolate-chip cookies every Friday as an end-of-the-week treat. Marty kept notes so she could remember which ones she liked best, but after she and Mark married, the list was lost in their move.
The couple recently decided to re-do the list together. "He's actually a better food critic than I am," Marty says of her husband. "His favorite TV channel is the food channel."
Do either of them bake their own cookies, since they're so particular about the outcome?
"I love to bake," Marty said, "but I'm not that great (Mark rates her cookies as 'pretty good'). Mark does a great banana-chocolate-chip cookie, but it's more cakey because of the banana. I'd maybe give it a 9."
Have they ever tasted a 10?
"Our friend, Rob Carpenter, makes these monster, delicious chocolate-chip cookies," drooled Marty. "They have that nice, hard outside and the nice, soft inside, and he's got the flavors down. I'd give it a 10."
Mark said: "I'd give my mom's cookies a 10. And I come from a 'chocolate family,' where my dad would break out blocks of Ghirardelli chocolate on a daily basis."
But the final word goes to Marty: "To me, a chocolate-chip cookie that's really good is when you're done, you need a glass of milk to wash it down -- your palate is just screaming to have the milk go down. A chocolate-chip cookie that doesn't need milk isn't a chocolate-chip cookie."