My first malasada at Leonard’s Bakery [Hawaii]

In December, I was in Hawaii for a friend’s wedding. I decided to use the opportunity to extend my stay a few days and make it a vacation. I’ll be posting some of my Oahu highlights in the coming weeks. But right now, while I’m at home recovering from my sprained ankle I can’t help but have cravings for food I can’t have because I’m not mobile.

I blogged about Hawaiian shave ice last week and right now as I’m laid up on my sofa, I’m craving malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery. Leonard’s is a neighborhood treasure to Honolulu locals and also a place tourists flock to. They have everything from cookies to Hawaiian sweetbread. But it’s the malasada I crave.

Malasadas are actually Portuguese and are deep-friend dough and covered in granulated sugar. Sounds simple, right? Like a donut? But what’s special about this is the dough – the soft and fully dough that melts in your mouth. It actually has relation to beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans.

My friend and I got to Leonard’s right after the morning rush and before the noontime crowd. When I was in line, I met someone who lives close by and she said I made a good decision to stop by for malasadas. I ordered the regular malasada and the woman taking my order recommended I also get the custard filled on – how could I not! First, I tried the regular malasada.

You can get the malasadas rolled in sugar, cinnamon, or li hing mui sugar – I went the original route and got the sugar. My malasada was fresh out of the frier. I had to weight a few minutes to cool down so I can eat it – it was the hardest few minutes! When I took my first bite, my teeth smoothly sank into the sugar fried exerior into the doughy bread. It was heaven.

Here’s a short video where I take a bite of a custard filled malasada. Sorry for the bad quality of video but it was on my old camera that was not HD. Still trying to see if video works with my blog so please be kind. 🙂

Leonard’s Bakery
933 Kapahulu Ave
Honolulu, HI 96816

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Marketplace: Video from Lanai, Hawaii

I try not to overlap too much of my day job with this blog but my days have been bleeding into my evening life because I’ve been busy editing some videos for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk. Here’s the latest video about the island of Lanai in Hawaii. Lanai’s residents are in the middle of making some tough choices about their land: preserve land or use the land to create renewable energy. What’s the right and wrong? Here’s a short video that introduces the problem they are dealing with and how this problem may not be isolated just to this region.

Here’s the radio story it goes with.

Island of Lanai: lunch time!

On my short stay on Lanai, I had one meal and random snacks like the icee I previously blogged about. Yes, your dear foodie had just one complete meal. It was a simple lunch at Blue Ginger Cafe in Lanai City and it was a good one.

I got the mahi burger with regular fixings (lettuce, tomatoes, tartar sauce) and a side of fries. I know it sounds and looks plain but the thing is, it’s the best mahi burger I’ve had so far. Why? Because the fish was seasoned just right and super fresh. When you cook with fresh ingredients, you don’t need to cover it up by frying it or covering it with a bunch of spices.

And after lunch, I had to finish it off with dessert. When you walk into the cafe, you’re welcomed by a fresh platter of baked goods. I tried to fight getting dessert at first but when my colleague said she would split something with me, I couldn’t say no. With no hesitation, I requested the blueberry turnover that I saw when I walked in.

The soft flaky exterior was light and sweet and the blueberry wasn’t overly sugary. I could have eaten an entire platter of these if I could. If I find myself in Lanai again, I’m going to start and end everything with this pastry.

Island of Lanai: Dis ‘N Dat Store + Video

I was on Lanai for work but after we finished getting our last interview and footage for our sustainability series, my colleague and I wandered into the Dis ‘N Dat store to look for some souvenirs. It’s a cute little shop with a car in front – it’s hard to miss.

Just steps before you even get into the shop, you hear the wind chimes coaxing you inside. You look up and to the side, and every inch of this place is covered with stuff. I admit it was a bit overwhelming to sift through the selections of souvenirs from jewelry, wood carvings, and wind chimes but it felt magical. For a second, I thought the Mad Hatter would walk through the door because there was definitely whimsy in this place.

I asked where the owners were but they weren’t in. I figured owners of a place like this must have a good story. When I read about them online, looks like they are from Florida and bought this little shop. You can find out more here.

You’ve now seen what the place looks like. Here’s a video so you can hear the chimes and my take on it. My apologies for the poor video quality – I think it may be time to upgrade my camera. Regardless, I hope you enjoy the sounds and my clumsy ways in this video. 🙂

Special thanks to Adriene Hill for filming this for me.

Island of Lanai: Icee surprise!

Don’t you love new discoveries? I admit li hing muy, the salted plum powder, isn’t an everyday ingredient for me but I thought I knew what it was mainly used for – I’ve talked about the amazing flavor that li hing mui brings to fruits and shave ice. On a recent trip to the island of Lanai in Hawaii I found out you can put it on Icees! I had to take a double-take when I saw this sign.

The guy at the cafe first put a little bit of the powder at the bottom of the cup then filled it halfway with the cherry Icee and put more powder on top of that. He finished it off with another layer of the Icee and a few extra dabs of li hing mui on top. My advice to you when you are your sipping this – do it fast. As the flavor seeps to the bottom of the cup, the flavor gets more sugary and syrupy. Warning: If you don’t have a sweet tooth, this may not be for you.

When I got back to Oahu, I did start to notice signs at small mom and pop shops offering this drink. I bought some li hing mui from the market and hope to try this out in LA. If you see me at 7-11 with a bag of li hing mui at the slurpee machine, don’t mind me.

Shave me off a piece of that… shave ice!

The summer months make me crave shave ice… not shaved ice. I’m talking SHAVE ice. It’s the fine icy treat that President Obama indulges in when he visits Hawaii. In Los Angeles, we have Get Shaved which is as close as it gets to the real deal in Hawaii but their store is all the way in North Hollywood and their food truck is hard to track down because it covers a big area (ahem… @getshaved, please come to downtown LA during the weekday!!).

When I was in Hawaii this spring, I made a pilgrimage to Matsumoto General Store that specializes in this fluffy refreshing goodie. Check out my video of my experience and why shave ice isn’t your everyday snow cone. By the way, this is the first video I’ve posted and I’m on the fence if this is going to be a regular feature. I still need to work on my Final Cut skills. But please leave a comment if you want more videos (or not).

I mention li hing mui in this video and you’re probably wondering… exactly what is it? Well, it’s a salty plum powder. I know your taste buds just turned when I said that. The flavor is a nice rounded taste of salty and sweet that goes well with the sweet flavors of the shave ice. Lots of Hawaiians actually dip their fruit (like pineapples) and sometimes gummy bears in this reddish-orange colored powder. My roommate, Isabella, was the one who told me about the li hing mui and my life hasn’t been the same since then.

Here’s a closer look at Matsumoto’s.

Even though Matsumoto’s is known for their shave ice, they really are a general store. They sell candy, food, trinkets, and t-shirts.

Here’s a close-up photo of my friend’s shave ice — she got the Matsumoto special which is coconut, lemon, and pineapple.

Let me know if you want more video and also if you have suggestions on the best shave ice outside of Hawaii… especially if it’s in Southern California.