DEREK Calibre owes his sweet, cool success to Mom and Dad. Five years ago they gave him an ice-cream maker for Christmas and he took to it like a penguin to an ice flow.
How to crank out
He experimented with it so much, threw so many sorbet parties, that the motor blew out in four months. But a business was born.
He and partner Michael Mahan developed a variety of exotic flavors using lilkoi, guava (with tequila), lychee, macadamia nut, mango and Kona coffee (they also make basic vanilla and chocolate ice cream). The first client of their Tropilicious Ice Cream and Sorbet company was Kincaid's, where Calibre used to work. The restaurant took 6 or 7 gallons at a time.
This year they're figuring they'll sell 18,000-20,000 gallons to 60-plus hotel and restaurants. Their customers include David Paul's Diamond Head Grill, Ihilani Resort and Spa, the Hawaii Prince Hotel and -- a major coup -- Japan Airlines, which serves cups of sorbet in business class and slices of a specially made raspberry-guava ring in first class.
A few months ago they moved into new quarters in Kalihi Kai, where they have a small retail operation, a large freezer and a machine that cranks out 6 gallons every 10 minutes, all day long. They're already growing out of this new site and are looking for a neighborhood location for a true retail outlet -- Calibre calls it entering "the ice-cream-cone stage."
Mildred Au tasted Tropilicious' signature Haupialani coconut sorbet when dining at Scoozee's with visitors from the mainland. "They are anxious to experience the taste again soon," she wrote.
The store: At 206 Mokauea St. in Kalihi Kai, sells 3-1/2 ounce cups for $1 or quarts for $5. Call 383-3510.
The theater: Manoa Valley Theatre will sell cups at showings of "Angels in America Part II," which opens July 14 and features Tropilicious owner Derek Calibre in a starring role. Call 988-6131.3080, Honolulu 96802.
Calibre and Mahan are not about to give up the formulas that are making them famous, but they did offer these suggestions for making ices at home. The ingredients are easy to find and the technique is simple.
For each combination, chill the ingredients, pour into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Calibre favors a hand-crank freezer for home use.
"It's not a lot of work. You can sit on the couch while you watch TV and turn the crank. That's how I started."
Sorbet, he says, owes its smoothness to sugar, which depresses the freezing point and keeps the sorbet from getting too hard; and motion, which prevents the lengthening of ice crystals. So keep those cranks turning.
For those who don't have any type of machine, make granita, a more textured ice treat, using these same recipes: Pour the ingredients into a sheet pan and place in the freezer. Turn the mixture with a fork every 15 minutes, until firm. It can be kept frozen in an air-tight container.
RECIPESSeveral of the mixtures call for Simple Syrup, which is made by dissolving 2-1/2 cups sugar in 2 cups water and boiling for 5 minutes. This makes 3-1/4 cups of syrup.
Lilikoi Sorbet: 1 12-ounce can frozen lilikoi juice concentrate and 3/4 cup water. Variations: Add 6 mint leaves, finely pureed, or one pureed banana. Makes 1-1/4 pints, more with banana.
Strawberry Sorbet: 1 pound strawberries, pureed, 1-1/2 cups Simple Syrup and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Variations: Add a 2-inch sprig of rosemary, finely pureed, or reduce lemon to 1/8 cup and add 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Makes 1 generous quart.
Guava Margarita Sorbet: 1 12-ounce can frozen guava juice concentrate, 1-1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup lime juice and 1/8 cup tequila (optional). Makes 1 short quart.
Lychee Sorbet: 1 20-ounce can grade AA lychee in syrup, pureed, with 1/2 cup Simple Syrup and 3/8 cup lemon juice. Makes 1 quart.
For Au's mainland friends, here is a recipe for a coconut sorbet. It's not from Tropilicious, but perhaps it will be close enough to rekindle those memories.
It calls for coconut water, the liquid inside a fresh coconut.
Combine coconut water with sugar and cook over low heat until dissolved. Stir in coconut milk. Cover and refrigerate mixture until cold. Stir, then freeze in an ice-cream machine, according to the manufacturer's directions. Mixture will be soft, but can be served at this point. To make harder, put in freezer 2 hours.
COCONUT SORBET"The Ultimate Ice Cream Book," by Bruce Weinstein, William Morrow and Co., 1999, $15 paperback
1 cup coconut water
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
Variations: Add 1/4 teaspoon almond extract or 1/2 teaspoon coconut-flavored rum when stirring in the coconut milk.
Nutritional information unavailable.
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