Aloha Festival

Posted by on Mar 13, 2012 in Food Journal, Restaurant Reviews

Aloha Festival

This past Saturday and Sunday we had an amazing treat - The Aloha Festival in Tempe Arizona! We got to the festival sometime in the afternoon. As we walked up, we could smell what I thought was sure to be some of the best slow cooked pork ever! People were passing us by, the women’s  hair adorned with the Tropical flowers from the island. One guy we passed even had his beard done up with the flowers :)! There was a huge crowd gathered as we got closer.  The sound of Hawaiian music filled the air and as soon as we walked in we were greeted with the beautiful sight of the Hula dancers doing their stage performances. They were dressed in colorful traditional clothes and swaying in perfect time with each other. The sight of them along with the relaxing music made me long for a hammock and a nap :D, but that’s not what we had come for.  We watched for a little while, but it wasn’t long before our stomachs, and our kids were telling us it was time to move on. So off we went to find the food.

There were two things that I was determined to have before the day was over. Slow roasted pork, and my first taste of Poi. Poi is made from taro root that is often fermented. According to my Penguins Guide to Food (a must have for every foodie), most non-Hawaiians don’t care for Poi. We’ll see, I’m a pretty big fan of pretty much anything food! We went up to the first booth. I being a newcomer, was not sure what to order so I asked the girl to give me something traditional. I was served Kal Bi (short ribs), teriyaki chicken, white rice, and macaroni salad – not quite what I was looking for. I wanted something a little more exotic if you know what I mean. It wasn’t a problem though, the kids destroyed every bite and I went back to order more. The next thing I ordered was Manapua. The sign said “shipped directly from Hawaii”-sounds interesting. This turned out to be a delicious sweet bun sort of dish that was stuffed with a saucy (think sweet BBQ) meat. The bun was super soft, like a marshmallow. It is helpful to know that you peel the bottom paper looking thing off of this. It is used only for the cooking. The girl sitting across from us at our picnic table was kind enough to share this info before any of us took a bite :)! The Manapua was reminiscent of the sweet buns that I ate so many years ago in Japan. Super yummy :D! And now for some Poi.
After checking several booths, I found that the only form of Poi available (at least that I saw) was Poi Mochi. Translated at the bottom of the sign as Hawaiian Donuts. Sounds good! So I got an order of the Poi Mochi and had my first official taste of Poi!

Sticky, sweet, delicious Poi :P – soooooo goooood. It kind of reminded me of like a funnel cake on the outside and like hot sticky sweet rice on the inside which is not what it is at all, I know. Still, that’s what it reminded me of, and I want you to get an idea of what it tasted like.

We started walking around again and found a booth where they were smoking chickens on a spit. They looked amazing and smelled even better. I looked up at the sign and Yay, I found the pig place. But where was the pig? I didn’t see it on the spit – that’s because it was done – Yay again! I put in my order – not anything off of the sign, but “I’d like enough to feed my husband, my 16 year old son, and myself please – only pork”. I was given a box filled with white rice on the bottom and beautifully cooked shredded pork on top. Lots and lots of shredded pork. It was tender and perfectly smoked, and well worth the drive to Tempe! Now all of us were so full of pork and other goodies that we were going to explode if we ate another bite. That is at least until we passed the Hawaiian Shaved Ice booth and my three year old announced that she wanted ice cream. The sign read “choose up to three flavors and Azuki beans upon request”. Azuki beans, what’s an Azuki bean? I’ll tell you what an Azuki bean is (because now I know :D) – it’s a super sweet bean that you eat with your shaved ice. I’d never had them before so I asked for a taste. The woman gave me a spoon full and…….yummy again. Seriously, I need to go to Hawaii – they have good stuff there! We ordered our shaved ice – no beans (it was for the little ones, I couldn’t possibly eat anymore). We walked around browsing the shops for a while so the little ones could enjoy their last treat of the day. And when they were done,  it was time to go home, so sad :(. At least we still had some of the left-over pork to take home :D! Mmmmmmm!

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