Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What Howard County Needs: Shave Ice & Whole Foods (Or "What I Learned On WInter Vacation")

Shave ice on Maui
Snowballs are a wonderful tradition for Baltimore, but I'd drive a long way for the Hawaiian variation called shave ice.

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.


Annie Rie said...

You need to try this place next summer. We learned about them on MPT, a Bryan Voltaggio special. They are almost due north of McKeldin State Park and you can get there using a number of the back roads, or Marriottsville Rd. to Liberty Road then east.

You can go hiking at the reservoir or McKeldin then get one amazing shave ice.

Worth the drive. Just prepared for the lines.

Anonymous said...

I agree that shaved ice is a thousand times better than snowballs. I grew up in Illinois where shaved ice was popular and I miss it so much now! Wish someone would open a shaved ice stand!

Brian B said...

The Ice Cream Cottage in Arbutus has shaved ice.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Annie Rie - the egg custard and cherry are really tasty!

Stephanie T said...

Also agreed with Annie Rie. The Hawaiian Snoball stand is fantastic... just don't expect to pick up an extra to take home for your roommate in east Baltimore on a 100* summer day. Not a bad popsicle, but try explaining why you had to go all the way out to the other side of Randallstown for that.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree. This county does NOT have enough in terms of food selection. It's ridiculous that we're limited to Safeway, Food lion, Giant, Harris Teeter, Wegmans, Roots and David's for our prepared foods. Bring on Whole Foods!

Anonymous said...

In reply to the previous Anonymous--

I hope you all DO realize that a Whole Foods in the Town Center will probably put David's out of business--and probably Today's Catch as well. But, I would guess that is OK with you chain-worshipping sheep. And I hope you have some plan in mind to replace those jobs that are lost.

Just a bit more of the mechanization and homogenization of life in Columbia. God forbid that there be small businesses who offer an alternative. When are we going to get more Old Navys and Targets and Wal-Marts, thanks to Kimco?

Wake up, folks, before it is too late....oh, wait. It is already too late.

Have fun with your corporate giant food sources.

Bobo said...

Hula Honeys is the real deal. The owner (a good friend of mine)is Hawaiian. She buys many of her syrups straight from Hawaii. We WILL get her out here next spring -- we just have to let her know where to find a large crowd on a hot day. And thank you for correctly calling it shave ice; there is no "d" at the end.

Anonymous said...

You just had to mention shave ice... You're making me miss home :( If anyone visits Oahu, go to Waiola Shave Ice or Matsumotos on the North Shore for some oh-melts-in-your-mouth shave ice. I personally like mines with ice cream and azuki beans.


SC said...

I wonder how similar Haiwaiian shave ice is to the "shaved snow ice" at Sno Dream in Montgomery Mall. The one at Montgomery Mall has dairy in their flavor blocks, but it's a very fluffy snow/ice type dessert or snack.

K8teebug said...

I'm sorry, but David's is dirty. They need to deep clean that store. Love Today's Catch and will always go there!

Can said...

Rehoboth Beach has shaved ice on Coastal Blvd down near the boardwalk/beach. It's next to the Cold Stone and Five Guys near the end of Coastal.