Chocolate Lovers Enjoyed the 5th Annual Hawaii Chocolate Festival
The 5th annual Hawaii Chocolate Festival just finished and Tiki’s Grill and Bar was there. The festival was part of the Pacific Expos’ Fall Food & New Products show at the Blaisdell Convention Center, on October 16-18. The chocolate festival highlighted the growing local cacao industry with some delicious chocolate creations using locally produced cacao. This year Tiki’s served Crunchy Manoa White and Dark Chocolate Ravioli.
Passport to Chocolate Heaven
For $20, visitors to the show got a tasting passport that let them sample at least 10 specialty chocolate creations. If all that amazing chocolaty goodness wasn’t enough, a passport also got attendees into the Food and New Products show for free where they could check out another 200 booths with many offering samples of their products to try.
The Inside Scoop
The filling for the chocolate ravioli has a few surprises that I know chocolate connoisseurs are going to love. Along with the house made ricotta will be dark chocolate, mac nuts and candied Buddha’s hand. Each ravioli is topped with shaved white chocolate, salted black lava caramel and vanilla ice cream. The presentation looks really elegant and the mix of flavors and the crunchy texture of the ravioli shell make a dynamite combination.
The Story of North Shore Cacao
Until recently cacao, the bean used to produce chocolate, was largely unknown in Hawaii as an agricultural product. Then it seemed, out of nowhere the Waialua Estate chocolate company appeared. With their extra-dark 70% cacao chocolate they instantly generated a lot of interest among chefs specializing in Hawaiian regional cuisine and the local farm to table movement.
Grown on a single 20-acre estate along the Kaukonahua River in Waialua on Oahu’s North Shore, the trees were actually planted back in the 90s. It was more of an experiment to see if the trees could be successfully grown here and they were mostly forgotten until a few years ago. Dole Foods finally sent some sample beans off to a well-known West Coast chocolatier. They hoped that they could possibly produce something that could be a made in Hawaii chocolate product. Up until that time virtually all chocolate confections made in Hawaii were made with imported chocolate.
It turned out that the quality and flavor of the North Shore beans was exceptional. In 2007 the first crop from the Waialua Estate was processed by Guittards, a 150 year old family owned company near San Francisco. They use traditional French small batch processing techniques to create a rich delicious chocolate.
A New Hawaiian Tradition
Taking their cue from Waialua Estate other Hawaii producers have started to grow cacao. The industry is still in its infancy but with some help from events like the Hawaii Chocolate Festival and a growing public awareness the future looks bright. Chocolate made from locally produced cacao is comparable to the best chocolate in the world and supporting local producers is important for everyone in the islands.