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Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, May 3, 2000

By Alex Kendrick, Special to the Star-Bulletin
Suwanlee Thai Catering created a polar bear picnic of Grilled
Thai Chicken Skewers, Green Papaya Salad and Sweet Rice
Sushi for Ulupalakua Thing's Ultimate Picnic Basket Competition.

Five Palms sails
away with outrigger
picnic basket

By Stephanie Kendrick


ULUPALAKUA, MAUI -- A picnic basket with an outrigger canoe theme took top honors in the Second Annual Ultimate Picnic Basket Competition and Auction at the Ulupalakua Thing Saturday.

The winning basket, "Ka Hinae Wa'a Kaukahi (The Outrigger Canoe Basket)" from chef Raul Bermudez at Five Palms Restaurant in Kihei, contained Sandwich Islands of Imu Kalua Pig with Salted Mowee Cabbage on Taro Bread with Kim Chee Aioli Spread; handmade chips of Taro and Sweet Potato; and Kulolo Cheese Cake served in a banana leaf.

The basket itself was made from lauhala by Five Palms director of marketing Amy Kawamoto.

Second place went to I'o Restaurant in Lahaina for chef Ernesto Lopez's seafood-themed basket that included Shrimp, Avocado and Papaya Ceviche; Smoked Mahi Pate; Yellow Tomato-Tomatillo Salsa; Ahi and Ono Deep-Fried Sushi Rolls; and Kula Strawberries with Chocolate Pate.

By Alex Kendrick, Special to the Star-Bulletin
Oahu's Nalo Farms was among the new vendors eligible
to participate this year under Ulupalakua Thing's
expanded mandate.

Third place went to Sam Choy's Kahului, where chef Ricardo Corpuz created an Aloha Asia Picnic Basket containing Tofu Poke; Crab-Mango Summer Rolls with Spicy Vinegar; Nori-Wrapped Cajun Ahi with Watermelon Salsa and Citrus-Balsamic Butter Sauce; Seafood Mania, a stir-fry with seafood, vegetables and noodles in a crispy wonton shell; a Mac-Nut Chicken Salad and Lilikoi Creme Brulee.

The annual competition, open to restaurant industry professionals, is a fund-raiser for Maui Community College's culinary and agricultural programs. This year's event is expected to raise $8,500, coordinator Barbara Santos said.

The event drew about 5,200 people this year, some from as far as Maine and Massachusetts. Word is getting out, but organizers seem committed to preserving the character of the event.

"We've always tried to keep this affordable because we want people to be able to come and see it," said Santos.

Anyone who frequents food and farm fairs know they can get expensive. On top of the admission price, the wallet keeps coming out again and again for one tasty morsel after another. Converting good cash into scrip can be quite painful.

For Maui residents, the Ulupalakua Thing has been a prescription for that pain. In its seventh year, this agricultural trade show has got to be the best deal a foodie ever found.

By Alex Kendrick, Special to the Star-Bulletin
John Applegate of Applegate & Associates shared samples
of his hydroponic tomatoes.While he supplies select Maui
groceries and gourmet stores, the luscious fruit is not
available on Oahu.

For a $10 admission fee, visitors at Saturday's event got to sample products from many of 80 exhibitors, mostly for free.

Honey butter from Wailuku, grilled beef from Ulupalakua, mixed greens from Waimanalo, breads from Kula and a whole lot more. Heaping samples of things like Maui Onion Rings cost a dollar. A bouquet of protea, pine and eucalyptus was 50 cents by day's end.

The event was created as The Maui Agricultural Trade Show & Sampling. Its mission is to create a network among Hawaii farmers and potential customers.

In the beginning, Santos said, the event was not open to the public, "but we couldn't keep them out."

And, in the beginning, only Maui growers were featured. But last year, the organizers decided to expand their mission.

"We've got a lot of new vendors because we opened it up to anyone who had a product with a Hawaii-grown ingredient," said Santos.

But while the event itself is a deal, keep in mind it can inspire expensive habits.

"I used to buy on price before this show, but once you taste what fresh, home-grown produce tastes like, you can't go back," said Santos.

If that's a risk you are willing to take, mark your calendar. Next year's Thing will be April 28.

Following are winning recipes from the Ultimate Picnic Basket Competition:

Kulolo Cheese Cake

From Chef Raul Bermudez, Five Palms Restaurant

3 pounds cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
15 ounces sugar
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons lilikoi (passion fruit) juice concentrate
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups diced kulolo
1 banana leaf or 3 large ti leaves, washed and dried

Let cream cheese sit for 1 hour at room temperature.

In mixing bowl, blend cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Scrape sides of bowl often.

Add egg yolks, one at a time. Add lilikoi juice and vanilla, continuing to stir mixture. Add sour cream and continue to mix for 5 minutes. Strain mix.

Line a baking dish with banana leaf or ti leaves. Pour in mixture and sprinkle with diced kulolo. Tap the pan lightly and place some of the kulolo on top. Bake in 300-degree oven for one hour.

Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Tofu Poke

From Ricardo Corpuz, Sam Choy's Kahului

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup ogo, chopped
1 block tofu, cubed
1/2 cup tomatoes, diced
2 cups cornstarch

Bullet Sauce
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups soy sauce
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/8 cup sesame seeds, roasted
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
1/4 cup green onion, sliced fine
1/8 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1/2 tablespoon chili garlic paste
1/4 cup miso paste
1/2 tablespoon sesame seed oil

For sauce: combine sugars with liquid ingredients and blend until sugar is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and blend well; set aside.

In a bowl, mix ogo, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

Coat tofu in cornstarch and deep fry until golden brown.

Add fried tofu to bowl of vegetables. Ladle in 6 ounces of sauce, tossing gently until all tofu is coated.

Serve on a plate garnished with whole cilantro stems and fresh ogo.

Serves 4. Sauce recipe makes 1 quart. Refrigerate remainder up to three days or freeze for later use.


Here is a recipe that was demonstrated at the Ulupalakua Thing:

Galliano Marinated Strawberries

From Chef Tony Edington, Westin Maui

Bullet Marinated berries
2 pints fresh strawberries
6 leaves fresh basil
2 ounces Galliano liqueur
Whole white pepper
Guava sorbet

Rinse berries in cold water and let them drain to dry. Remove stem and cut each berry in half, or quarter them if they are large.

Chiffonade basil and reserve. Combine liqueur and berries. Toss to coat.

Place berries in individual glass dishes and grind white pepper over them. Place a small scoop of guava sorbet in the middle. Sprinkle basil chiffonade over all. Place baklava stick on rim of each dish.

Bullet Baklava sticks
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon macadamia nuts, finely chopped
3 sheets of phyllo dough
1/2 cup clarified butter

Combine sugar with cinnamon and nuts. Mix thoroughly.

Place one phyllo sheet on a flat surface and brush with butter. Sprinkle half of the sugar mixture evenly across the sheet. Lay the second sheet on top and repeat the process and top with third sheet.

Cut the phyllo into fourths with a sharp knife. Roll phyllo around a buttered chopstick.

Bake in 350-degree oven until golden brown. Remove chopstick while still warm or the dough will stick. Set aside to cool.

Sticks can be stored in an air-tight container for up to four days.

Serves 4.

Nutritional informtaion unavailable.

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