Friday, September 30, 2011

Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts

The cleanup in this grandslam of sweets is Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts. While Bubbies serves up a host of desserts and ice cream varieties, I first heard about them as a mochi ice cream distributor. Bubbies sells boxes by the thousands to anywhere from local markets to island branches of Coffee Bean. They even ship boxes internationally. Despite this far reach, I never had the chance to really try their mochi ice cream until my most recent trip to Oahu. And with articles in countless periodicals and over 500 reviews with a 4.5 star rating on Yelp, I made it a point to go.

If you're trying to find Bubbies at night, it looks like this. If you squint a little, you can see their unlit black sign with faint white writing. You're better off looking for a crowded corner than the actual store sign.

Like all the other dessert places I went to on Oahu, the line was long, but the line moved quickly. The line almost moved too fast for me to wrap my head around their humungous menu.

Their display cases feature their ice cream cakes and other sweet nibbles. The cakes have some outrageous, unabashed names, like Buffy's Aural Massage, Total Insanity, and Come Here Little Girl. There aren't any descriptions of all these cakes until you get closer to the cashier, so be patient and take your time to figure out which dessert you feel like. After grabbing your order, grab a seat and prepare yourself for a solid showing of ice creamery.

We had to get at least one non-mochi dessert, so we decided to get the Multiple Orgasm, a layered, ice cream cake with Oreo crust, fudge, and chocolate sprinkles. The Oreo, espresso, and chocolate ice creams were all delicious individually, but together, they really did create something of a special experience for my taste buds. The ice cream wasn't excessively rich and the flavors didn't hit me over the head. While the ice cream itself was pleasantly light and the crust and fudge were smartly proportioned, I don't think I would ever find myself eating an entire slice by myself. These guys are surprisingly filling.

The first mochi ice cream we got was one of the current specials, Li Hing Mango Mochi Ice Cream. The ice cream itself bursted with mango and had the same consistency as the ice cream in the cake. The mochi and ice cream were both a little bit hard at first, but after five minutes or so, they softened up to a perfect, chewy, creamy texture. I definitely recommend that you do the same. As I've mentioned, I'm kind of a sucker for li hing. Unfortunately, there wasn't nearly enough li hing flavor for my tastes.

Our second choice was the Azuki Bean Mochi Ice Cream. The ice cream could have easily been too bean-y, but thankfully, it wasn't. This one had great texture and consistency, and was the perfect way to follow up its sweeter mango equivalent. I would definitely recommend getting this one.

The clear winner for me, however, was the Green Tea Mochi Ice Cream. I've always loved the green tea variety of mochi ice cream, regardless of the source. Something about green tea, mochi, and cream just strums my tonguestrings. The green tea flavor wasn't overpowering or bitter, and, like the others, the texture and consistency were great after letting it sit for five minutes.

What I loved about these mochi ice creams is that you can clearly taste the homemade quality of the ice cream. With store-bought mochi ice cream, you sometimes get a batch that contains ice cream that's just too icy, isn't very creamy, or doesn't have much pull. The mochi itself sometimes tastes too chalky as well. With Bubbies, you can order your dessert knowing that it will contain some solid homemade ice cream and mochi. While Bubbies won't make you feel like you're eating something you've never tasted before, it delivers noticeably superior quality and flavor when it comes to mochi ice cream. Be careful, though. If you get overambitious and order a mountain of mochi ice cream, you might just leave looking like these round treats.

And that closes out this quartet of addictive sweets on the island of Oahu. Now carefully insert the insulin pen needle into your body fat and detox.

Bubbies Homemade Ice Cream & Desserts
1010 University Ave
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 949-8984

GET: Green Tea Mochi Ice Cream.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Leonard's Bakery

Aw, heck. Let's just ride the Oahu sweets train for two more posts.

Third up to bat is Leonard's Bakery. Anyone who's been to Oahu and still doesn't know what Leonard's is should be ashamed of themselves. Nearing 60 years of baked goodness, Leonard's offers a wide variety of bakery classics to Oahu. What they're most famous for are their Portuguese baked goods.

If you're having trouble finding the place, roll down your windows and alert your senses to the smell of fried dough. The smell is unmistakeable, and while it may be a little too intense at first, that smell will lure you in like a moth to a flame. The moth here is your diet/health, and the flame is one of the best bites of fried dough I've had in my life.

The length of the line fluctuates throughout the day. Never let the line deter you though. Leonard's runs a well-oiled, or well-fried, operation, so the line moves slowly enough for you to drool all over the display cases, but fast enough for you to get your fix before you flood the place.

Like many famous spots on Oahu, Leonard's has its fair share paraphernalia. Their mascots, "malasada babies," are creepy, but give them some time and I bet you they'll grow on you. I bought this "chef baby" for a friend back home. It was meant to be a joke at first because the thing looked so darn creepy. But by the time I had to hand the baby over, I had to exercise some serious self-control to not rip it from my friend's hands and run away.

Once you get your order and leave the store, giggling like a little school boy, consider grabbing a seat on one of the bakery's storefront benches to enjoy your malasadas in their freshest form. Keep an eye out, however, for the battalion of birds. They're cute, until they start nosediving straight towards your malasadas. The ones hopping around on the floor are easy to keep an eye on, but those are mere diversions. The real ones to look out for are the ones skillfully perched up on the stone/brick columns. I seriously thought the one in the picture here was going to shoot laser beams out of its eyes.

The first item my friends and I got was the famed Original Malasada in Plain Sugar. When we first opened the styrofoam container, all I could see was sugar. Everywhere. My immediate concerns of the malasada being too sugary were immediately backhanded by the heavenliness of the first bite.

As my teeth made the first incision into the malasada, a puff of baked bread found its way into my nostrils. The bread was absurdly pillowy, with just enough fry to add some resistance. The sugar wasn't overwhelming at all, with just the right amount of sugar crystals making it onto the actual malasada. Though you might be tempted to dip your malasada in the excess sugar in the container, don't. I thought the following bites of the now deflated treat were going to be less miraculous, but I thought wrong. Bite after bite after bite. So addictive and so, so good.

Your container should look like this after your attack on the malasada.

Because we were feeling a little adventurous, we also got the seasonal Guava Malasada Puff.

While the guava custard itself was good, I found myself really just wanting another Original Malasada with Plain Sugar. The custard had light hints of the tropical fruit, but the gooeyness of the custard ended up making the fluffy fried bread less than ideal. If you're really feeling adventurous, go for it, but personally, I'll probably pass in the future.

As much as I'd love to try all of their treats, I know that every time I make my way back to this malasada mecca I won't be able to convince myself, or anyone else, probably, to get anything other than the Original Malasada in Plain Sugar.

As we departed Leonard's, those same intoxicating wafts of fried dough found their way into our car, taunting us, knowing we'd be back for more.

Leonard's Bakery
933 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816
(808) 737-5591

GET: Original Malasada.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Waiola Shave Ice

Alright, alright. Don't get all worked up about the fact that I put up a Matsumoto's post without putting up a Waiola Shave Ice post. I got you.

If you ask any local or regular visitor to the island of Oahu what his or her favorite shave ice joint is, you'll probably get one of two answers: (1) Matsumoto's, or (2) Waiola Shave Ice. Both have a strong following, and both distribute their renditions of shave ice from the inside of a shanty market.

Like Matsumoto's, Waiola has a large menu that caters to whatever flavor you might be craving. And like Matsumoto's, Waiola offers azuki beans and condensed milk.

Unlike Matsumoto's, Waiola does not have as many crowds upon crowds of tourists looking to check off one more famous Oahu destination. Not yet at least. And unlike Matsumoto's, Waiola does not have a mountain of paraphernalia. What Waiola does have is a strange, oversized representation of shave ice tucked away in a dark, musty corner. Do those eyes look like eyes of desperation to anyone else? Are they just smeyes? Is that a dagger going through its head? So many questions, such a dark corner.

Most importantly, Waiola has one thing that Matsumoto's does not: mochi balls. Enormous white and pink mochi balls. And the best way to include these mochi balls in your tasty treat is through an Azuki Bowl.

The Azuki Bowl is a beautiful concoction of shaved milk ice (yup, not just shave ice covered with milk), azuki beans, condensed milk, and mochi balls. The milk ice is smooth, slightly crunchy, and light, while the azuki beans are comforting, slightly sweet, and rich. The condensed milk reminds you that you're eating a dessert and the mochi balls add a nice chew to each and every bite. So, so good.

Unfortunately, I was only able to hit up Waiola once while I was on Oahu. One look at the menu, however, makes clear that Waiola has everything Matsumoto's has, and then some. Milk ice? Awesome. Lilikoi cream? Want. Banana cream and custard? Check. Li hing mui seeds and sauce? Yes, please. The list goes on.

Don't let this whirlwind of options deter you from going to Matsumoto's though. Matsumoto's can't be beat when it comes to the pure basics of Hawaiian shave ice. If you find yourself really struggling with which shave ice joint to hit up, leave your decision up to geography. Make the trek up to Matsumoto's in conjunction with a trip up to the North Shore. Indulge in Waiola's offerings when you're in Waikiki or its surrounding neighborhoods. Both are awesome and you won't be disappointed with either.

Oh, and if your experience is anything like mine, you might witness an intense argument in Mandarin between the husband and wife owners over who the real boss of the joint is. Seriously. A ten minute argument. What neither of them knows is that neither of them is the boss. Angela Bower is. But really, who cares who the boss is. At the end of the day, the two of them run a kickass shave ice operation.

Yikes, this is why I try to avoid writing posts when I'm tired and delirious. And craving shave ice.

Waiola Shave Ice
2135 Waiola Street
Honolulu, HI 96826
(808) 949-2269

GET: Azuki Bowl.

Matsumoto's Shave Ice

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a good ten days on Oahu with a couple of good law school buddies. Planning a trip to Hawaii, or anywhere, really, means planning an eating extravaganza, and this trip to Oahu did not disappoint. After doing some research and putting out a request for recommendation to the wonderful world of Facebook, I came up with an overwhelming list of restaurants, dessert shops, and quick biteries. Near the top of this list, however, was Matsumoto's Shave Ice.

Tucked away in an unassuming shack of a building, Matsumoto's is easy to miss when it's closed. When it's open, just keep an eye out for a crowd of crazy-eyed tourists and locals looking for their fix of one of Oahu's most highly regarded shave ice establishments. Lonely Planet's decision to include Matsumoto's as one of their top twenty-or-so things to do on Oahu doesn't help to shorten the line either. But the wait is really a game of chance. On this trip, my friends and I didn't have to wait even a second. Ten minutes later, however, the line was out the door.

The menu is long and extensive, catering to every person's tastes, inclinations, and cravings. If you're feeling a little overwhelmed, keep in mind that you can combine a good number of flavors into a single delicious treat as well. My two friends and I decided to share two cones. The difference between a cone and a cup is pretty much negligible. The cones come with a plastic, UFO shield, which effectively makes the cone option the same thing as a cup with a conical base. With a cup, you'll be sipping up your melted remains like you would from a bowl (or like you would from a cup, I guess), while with a cone, you can suck them up through a straw. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

Once you place your order, the wait is short. If you're bored, take a short stroll through the market's mountain of paraphernalia. Or just stare at large blocks of ice getting shaved into mounds of snow.

Our first selection was Matsumoto's Combination, which is a psychedelic mix of lemon, pineapple, and coconut. The flavor was very much like that of a pi├▒a colada, though the color wheel on the shave ice threw me off a little. The texture of the ice was soft, with very little of the bite you might get with typical crushed ice. The ice isn't as snow-like as my favorite rendition of shaved ice, Taiwanese shaved ice (which is seriously like eating powdery snow), but this came really freaking close. I've always felt that Hawaiian shave ice needs to have a little bit of bite to the ice anyways.

Here's the other side of that same cone. So. Many. Colors.

We also topped each of our treats with an order of condensed milk. If you're not the biggest fan of the stuff, beware. A single request for condensed milk will bring forth a flash flood of sweet, creamy deliciousness.

I preferred the Li Hing Mui flavor, but I'm also a sucker for li hing mui. For those who aren't entirely sure what li hing mui is, it's salted, dried plum. I know. It sounds weird. I've had li hing mui since I was a kid, but I never really knew that li hing mui was salted, dried plum until a few years ago. The day I found out that li hing mui was salted, dried plum, that's all I could taste. Salted, dried plum or not, the shave ice syrup version of li hing mui tastes more like a tart, strawberry syrup than salted, dried plum. The tartness of the li hing mui is a great way to offset the avalanche of condensed milk, and the delicate ice waters down any trace of excessive tartness and sweetness you might experience in any given bite.

Will you be on a sugar high for the next few hours after eating this? Probably. Will you be able to prevent a sugar high by limiting yourself to just a couple bites of this delicious treat? Probably not, unless you have diabetes, of course. Will a chunk of ice form from your tear duct and roll down your cheek as you drive away from the North Shore? Definitely.

In other news, I'm currently rounding up my first trip to Napa. Expect some posts in the near future on some freaking amazing restaurants. Also, posts on chickens number 13 and 14 coming up sooner than later.

Matsumoto's Shave Ice
66-087 Kamehameha Hwy
Haleiwa, HI 96712
(808) 637-4827

GET: Li Hing Mui Shave Ice with Condensed Milk.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mindy Fox's Peruvian Roast Chicken (12/24)

A couple weeks ago, to toast off the last week of my chicken-less summer job, I decided to roast up a chicken. With the help of my friend, Charizard, I embarked on an attempt to do more non-European preparations of chicken. While I'll still be throwing in some European-influenced recipes throughout the rest of the year, expect to see some different flavor profiles pop up every once in a while over the next four months. Holy smokes, only four months left in the year??? I've got a lot of catching up to do.

Chicken number twelve features the work of Mindy Fox. Her recipe showcases how chickens are roasted down in Peru. I've had roast chicken at Peruvian restaurants before, but I had never really known what goes into making these delicious chicken flavor bombs.

Step 1: Mince up some garlic and mix in some salt.

Step 2: Prepare the chicken as usual with a good wash and pat. Rub a couple lemon wedges all over the chicken.

Step 3: Stuff that awesome garlic paste underneath the skin of the chicken. Oh man, this is going to be good.

Step 4: Put together some white wine vinegar, white wine, extra virgin olive oil, paprika, cumin, black pepper, and oregano. Cumin and paprika happen to be two of my favorite spices. Awesome.

Step 5: Whisk away.

Step 6: Bask in the glory of your deliciously aromatic marinade.

Step 7: Pour the marinade over the chicken in a baking dish.

Step 8: Bask in the glory of your marinaded chicken and let it sit for 5 to 8 hours in the fridge. Turn the bird once or twice. I did 8 hours and one turn.

Step 9: Meanwhile, make the suggested salad. It's awesome. All you do is shock the red onions in some ice water to take out the bite.

And mix in minced cilantro, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, and salt. Leave these guys alone until later, when the chicken is resting, to add the avocados.

Step 10: Take out your gloriously marinaded chicken. Preserve the juices for basting.

Step 11: Squeeze two more lemon wedges into the cavity of the bird and place them inside the cavity. Tie up the legs with some kitchen twine. Season the whole bird with some more salt.

Things should look like this at this point, and your fingers should look like you've killed someone. They should also look like they have almost no hope of being odorless for the next couple days. The bird should also be at room temperature by now, which ensures even cooking and accurate roasting times.

Step 12: Roast the bird at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Then roast at 375 degrees for an hour, basting the bird every 20 minutes with the marinade juice. Your kitchen should be smelling awesome by now. Roast for another 15 minutes or so until the juices run clear when you tilt the bird. You can also use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the thigh, which should be at 165 degrees.

Step 13: Take out the chicken and drool. Let the chicken rest as you add avocados to the salad and reheat the pan juices. Oh man. Look at that beauty. Layered with crispy spice and filled with juicy goodness.

The juices, as usual, were unnecessary. If you haven't noticed this about my chicken interpretations so far, the sauces and juices really end up being entirely useless and excessively fatty. Luckily for me, most of the chickens I've run across have held their own without the need for extra grease.

Now, what'd I say? Look at how darn juicy that cut is. The first cut released an intense aroma of cumin, paprika, and lemon. Um, yes, please.

The final plate featured the chicken, the salad, and a red quinoa salad with serrano pesto, black beans, and tomatoes.

The chicken was, like I said, ridiculously juicy, and the flavors were epic. The cumin and paprika made for a smokey and deeply savory bird, while the aftertaste of lemon helped to lighten up each bite. The skin was addictively crispy, and the dark meat was the easiest to down. Surprisingly, the marinade found its way into the centermost parts of the breasts, making the breast meat just as irresistible. So freaking delicious.

The salad was crisp, light, and simple. The salad was a great way to balance out the intense savory flavors of this chicken. The red quinoa salad was a simple mix of Latin flavors that rounded out the chicken and salad, and gave the meal some umph. There was also some bread and chimichurri involved, which I'll share in a couple posts. A great dinner to reintroduce my kitchen to the 24 Roast Chickens project.

Overall, I'm staying loyal to Marcella Hazan, but at year's end, I wouldn't be surprised to find this chicken in the top five. Gracias, Mindy Fox, for an amazing preparation of pollo.
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