|Shave ice on Maui|
It's Hawaiian so you can't drive. But someone could definitely import a real shave ice machine and make a name offering the beauty of flavored snow.
Snowballs and other stands here serve up crunchy ice flavored with candy-colored syrups. The Hawaiian ice machines grind finer. The ice really feels like the fluffiest snow, and the syrups just spread into the ice. Nothing pools on the bottom.
|Ululani's in Kihei|
At the top end, chains like Ululani's pour flavored syrups that they make themselves. Basic fruits like banana, strawberry, and watermelon. Tropicals like mangos, lychees, and passion fruit. Exotics like tamarind or "tiger's blood." They really taste like fruit, and the fluffy snow makes them completely unique.
Okay, I'll say it: It makes them better than snowballs. (I love you snowballs. But I have to speak the truth.)
They're getting about $5 a cone on Maui -- plus another dollar if you get coconut or macadamia ice cream on the bottom. (And you have to get the ice cream on the bottom.) It seems like someone could import a machine and skim a little of the frozen yogurt trend into a profitable business.
A few summers ago, Mrs. HowChow and I found the snowy soft shave ice at an Artscape vendor, but we haven't seen it again. I see Yelp reviews for Hula Honey's that looks like a mobile vendor or a food truck. I'll need to campaign for a Howard County visit next summer.
Surprisingly, the other lesson that I learned on vacation was that I can't wait for Whole Foods to open in Columbia in 2014. We stumbled on a Whole Foods one morning when we were heading out on a day-long drive, and we bought delicious sandwiches that we ate sitting on a black-sand beach.
Even without the beach, Whole Foods is going to bring some stuff that just doesn't exist here now. The prepared foods were wonderful. We stopped again and filled our hotel refrigerator with lunches -- poke and tortilla chips, then hummus, cheeses, olives and grilled vegetables.
In Hawaii, these were delicious alternatives to hotel restaurants. Back in Howard County, the prepared food will be a convenience, but the meats and fish will be my big draw. Harris Teeter's spicy chicken sausage remains a great staple, but Whole Foods sometimes offers a half dozen chicken sausage variations. Grill them. Cut them in pasta sauce. Crumble spicy ones into tacos. I can't wait.