Posts Tagged ‘Hawaii’

PostHeaderIcon Hawaii Vodka

Hawaiian Vodka was born from the idea that excellent spirits could be made right here in Hawaii from our abundant natural resources and perfect climate

Really Hawaiian

PostHeaderIcon Hormel SPAM Hawaii Label Design Contest

Hormel Foods is currently holding a contest, asking Hawaii residents (must be a Hawaii resident) to submit a winning exclusive Hawaii label design for their SPAM 25% Less Sodium canned luncheon meat. The deadline to enter the contest ended this Friday, but online voting by the general public to choose the best design begins today!

This follows the success of the Hawaii Collector’s Edition they offered exclusively to the Hawaii market back in 2003, which looked like this…

The back of the can…

Here’s how the Hormel SPAM 25% Less Sodium can label currently looks…

Most SPAM varieties (turkey, bacon, garlic, etc.), including their competitors (like TREET) include a suggestive recipe or way to use their product on the back of the label…

Well, I hereby exclusively present to you my dear Tasty Island readers, my original submission for the Hormel SPAM 25% Less Sodium Hawaii edition 2011 label design…

A profile angle of how the can would look…

Here’s the label template that was provided by Hormel (as a PDF)…

which I imported into various art programs to fill in the blanks with my design…

Click image to enlarge

Keep in mind that one of the rules is that “Designers can work in all white space (front and back of label), but must leave brand trade dress information on the label as is.”

Now let me explain my design. First of all, there’s COUNTLESS possibilities and ways to go about this. You could go the “Hawaiian Host scenic box” approach, and simply plug in a montage of beautiful scenic spots around the islands (beach, waterfalls, attractive hula gal and/or guy, etc.). Or you could go the gallery art “Cristopher Lassen” approach, which of course would entail hours upon of hours of work.

Then of course you could simply just show a nice shot of SPAM Musubi or other original SPAM dish that has a local spin to it on the front. Because everything has to be original and/or royalty-free, if you were to show a hula doll, tiki statue or some other typical Hawaii tourist trap stuff, it would either have to be your own, or you’d need permission from the manufacturer or person who made it. I’m not sure where Hormel got that Hula Girl Doll on the 2003 edition, but it’s certainly a great piece, so kudos to them for that design.

Whenever I create something that requires an artistic mind, such as say a masthead for a website, usually my FIRST concept is the one I find works the best. That said, the concept I propose here was the very first thing that came to mind, and I just rolled with it (or surfed it if you will).

My girlfriend highly recommended I think “outside the box” and get away from SPAM Musubi, but you know what? No matter what, there’s no denying SPAM Musubi is THE defining icon of what SPAM means to Hawaii, period. SPAM, eggs and rice? Sure. SPAM Katsu, absolutely. SPAM in Saimin and fried noodles? Most definitely. Yet, by far, SPAM Musubi tops them all, and is truly as much a top-of-mind icon to Hawaii as the North Shore and/or Kilauea, just to name a few. No matter what, the venerable SPAM Musubi continues to be a an absolute REQUIREMENT on a SPAM label that will be mass-produced to honor Hawaii.

So a “SPAM Surfer” you ask? Absolutely! Why not?! There’s actually a key subliminal message behind that. With this being the 25% Less Sodium version — having 580mg of sodium versus regular SPAM’s 790mg — the reason Hormel is using this version is simply because, while Hawaii still enjoys being the largest consumer in the nation of SPAM per capita (with Guam actually beating us, but they’re a territory, not a state), the 25% Less Sodium is a better seller here than the regular SPAM. From a marketing standpoint, this ideally reflects Hawaii residents as a whole being at least somewhat health conscious. So “SPAM Surfer”  is intended to represent an active, outdoor lifestyle on the beach in Hawaii, and surfing is certainly a healthy sport that keeps you fit. Hence, a “SPAM surfer dude”. Adding to that, the graphic of the wave splashing and barreling right underneath the “25% LESS SODIUM” ribbon banner provides an underscoring way of giving the impression that salt is being washed away … even though sea water is salt water, but you get the drift. lol

I might also add, with the rebooted Hawaii Five-0 v.2.1 enjoying renewed TV network success, the barreling wave can also be associated with that (from the opening theme song). Or at least I’d like to think so.

Then of course he’s giving da’ shaka, the universal sign language gesture of Aloha.

Thrown into the design is a Hibiscus silhouette with a simple gradient blend, which as you may know is the official flower of the state of Hawaii. I actually want to redo that using an actual photo and vectorize it, which if my design were to be used, I’d certainly change that out in the final version. I also want to redo the wave illustration a little bit (simplify it more) if given the opportunity to do so.

Now the back of the label is really my favorite part! One idea was to take a block of SPAM and carve it into the shape of Diamond Head Crater, yet I took that eight steps further and “carved” the entire Hawaiian Island chain out of SPAM! Au-right! You know it! lol In Photoshop of course, by clip masking the text over a photo of a slice of fried SPAM. So if you look closely at the surface of the islands, it looks like they’re made of SPAM, which I’ve affectionately renamed in honor of Captain Cook’s “Sandwich Isles”, “DA’ SPAMWICH ISLES”. Clevah (clever) eh!

With that, my idea of a serving suggestion is: take some slices of SPAM and cut them out into the shape of the Hawaiian Islands, fry ‘em up and present it on a flattened bed of rice and furikake on a plate, garnished with Teriyaki sauce and green onion to make the plating presentation complete. I bet your guests will be FLOORED! In fact, I’ll do it myself and blog it here in a post coming soon!

The first paragraph of the text copy is my own, while the rest is directly from Hormel SPAM’s history web page.

The two SPAM Musubi on the bottom left corner were (stress WERE, until I ate them both) mine, which I bought from the Kaheka Don Quijote, made by Tokyo Bento. 5 SPAM Musubi on them, as they were “Crazy Tasty” indeed! lol Believe it or not, I took the photo of that SPAM Musubi (duplicated on the label and rotated) on the dashboard of my car right before eating it at the beach. Au-right!

Finally, if you look closely, the gradient yellow and aqua blue band wrapping the top and bottom of the label has Tapa print embedded in it, sealing the “This is a Hawaii label design” deal.

So anyways, that’s my design and I’m sticking to it, Teriyaki sauce and all. Voting opens to the public today, Presidents Day, Monday, February 21 to Friday, February 25, 2011.

If you like/love/adore my design, please vote for me at Mahalo!

The Tasty Island

PostHeaderIcon Sugai’s Gifts of Hawaii

Our main inspiration is the joy of our life, our daughter Mardani. Both my husband and I enjoy working with Native Hawaiian Woods i.e., Koa, Milo, Hawaiian Sandalwood, etc.

Really Hawaiian

PostHeaderIcon Hawaii Bookmarks

You’re going to see a lot of bookmarks throughout the Hawaiian gift stores …. THESE ARE THE BEST. Hawaii Bookmarks are the ones to keep an eye out for.

Really Hawaiian

PostHeaderIcon Aerial Photography Hawaii

Stunning photography of Hawaii by aerial photographer Karl Hedberg.

Really Hawaiian

PostHeaderIcon So you want a Blue Hawaii Drink Recipe, you say
Hawaiian Food Recipe

PostHeaderIcon Blue Hawaii Drink Recipe, Photo: Jennifer Davick; Styling: Erynn Hedrick Hassinger

Hawaiian Food Recipe

PostHeaderIcon HCC Eats: Cheeseburger Hawaii Lunch Truck

Hot off the heels (or grill) of our recent visit to Honolulu Burger Co., this past Friday Diner E and yours truly came across yet another burger joint, this time in the form of a lunch truck operated by Cheeseburger, a chain with brick ‘n mortar Hawaii locations in Waikiki and Lahaina, Maui, as well as Nevada and Florida.

Their kitschy old Hawaii memorabilia-themed meals-on-wheels was found parked near the entrance of the campus cafeteria at Honolulu Community College, right up the street mauka of the Iwilei Costco.

We originally went there with the intention of sampling da’ grindz at HCC’s campus cafeteria, but the sign on the door said they were closed on Fridays. So being that Cheeseburger’s truck capitalizes on the opportunity and parks right in front there on this particular day, it was pretty much a no-brainer to give this mobile alternative a try.

Getting right to it, let’s check out their menu…

OK, so their regular all-American menu is why I’ve named it a “lunch truck”. Yet I suppose you can also call it a “lunch wagon”, as even here, local style plate lunches are thrown into the mix to cover all student body demographics…

Wow, a plate lunch that also includes a green bottle import beer? Now there’s a “moke” dream come true! lol Nah but, no alcohol is served here — they’re just using the brewer’s chalkboard.

What’s nice is everything here is priced as a complete meal, where the burgers and sandwiches all include fries and a drink, plus you can upgrade to Onion Rings or Sweet Potato Fries for just .25 more.

What also nice is, if you care to “dine in” while enjoying the wonderful ambiance of  bustling Dillingham Boulevard in the heart of Kalihi (a.k.a. “God’s Country”, a.k.a. “The Center of Hawaii’s Food Universe), there’s covered seating conveniently located right there in front of da’ truck…

With that,  while not “dining in” (out), otherwise like Honolulu Burger Co., Diner E ordered his usual “gauge” burger here, this time sampling Cheeseburger’s take on “The Teriyaki Standard” (because, you know, there are standards) in the form of their ‘Island Style Cheeseburger’…

Cheeseburger lunch truck – Island Style Cheeseburger : Teriyaki Cheese Burger with a slice of Grilled Pineapple, topped with sliced iceberg lettuce, tomato, red onion and “special sauce” on a toasted white bread bun. Served with (upgraded) Sweet Potato Fries and (included) Drink (not shown). .25

Here’s another “profile” angle of the plate…

My “gauge” burger of course is the Swiss ‘n Shroom, where here at Cheeseburger they prefer calling it the ‘Shroom and Swiss’…

Cheeseburger lunch truck – Shroom and Swiss Cheeseburger, topped with slice iceberg lettuce, tomato, red onion and “special sauce” on a toasted white bread bun. Served with (uprgraded) Sweet Potato Fries and (included) drink (not shown). .25

Lookin’ good there, with a generous helping of  sauteed white mushrooms covering the thoroughly melted swiss cheese, which in turn is completely covering the 90/10 lean-to-fat ratio Y. Hata-sourced all beef burger patty.

The “profile” angle of the same plate, with my drink of choice, Hawaiian Springs Young Natural Artesian Water…

Here now is my Shroom ‘n Swiss in fully-assembled form, where you see it’s quite a stacker!..

Open wide and say “ahhhhh”!…

As you see, this stacker of a swiss ‘n shroom burger is pretty much dwarfing my hand. After several eye-closing, savoring bites…

So how is it? Winnahs! Ono!

I was skeptical all the way until this point, from the moment the server told me A) they “grill” their burgers on a flat top griddle (GRIDDLE, NOT GRILL!), and B) that the patty was preformed (a.k.a. institutional) 90/10 beef, which most burger enthusiasts may argue is too lean (less flavor).  But wow, hey! This is one mighty fine example of the classic Swiss ‘n Shroom’r, with almost all the right things in place.

Which there’s several reasons I can immediately point out in why I’m so fond of it. First and foremost, while Cheeseburger’s “institutional” preformed 90/10 patty can’t touch the open range grass-fed Big Island beef, nor was it ideally char-grilled, for what it’s worth, it was cooked to a nicely-crusted finish, while retaining a decent amount of moisture  inside. While its beefy flavor really popped thanks to the patty itself being well seasoned with salt and pepper. I can certainly taste when or when not a patty has been seasoned while cooking on the grill/griddle, and these were, thank goodness.

The same well-seasoned flavor also applied to the very generous helping of tender ‘n mighty tasty sauteed white mushrooms, while gluing all that together was the als0-tasty and thoroughly melted Swiss Cheese. In fact, the swiss cheese had much better flavor on this burger than the one that topped my Mushroom Mushroom Burger from Honolulu Burger Co..

Not stopping there, the cook also performed the crucial (almost to the point of being “kosher”-crucial) step of TOASTING THE BUN, where it’s split in the center. Very,very important, and thankfully, check! Done!

Last but certainly not least, unlike Honolulu Burgr Co., who uses fresh-cut white sweet onions, Cheeseburger uses fresh-cut RED ONIONS for their burgers, and THIS is where I personally think is what separates the two, with huge points in favor of the red onion. There’s just something so simple yet complimentary about the red onion’s flavor profile that makes all the difference between an “eh, so-so? Burger” to being a “Yeah!” burger! Like, Seriously. Seriously!

As for Cheeseburger’s “special sauce”, it tasted pretty much like your usual thinned-down Thousand Islands Dressing (essentially ketchup and mayo’), where while I prefer simple ‘n plain ‘ole mayo, this worked…

Summing up Cheeseburger’s take on the classic Swiss ‘n Shroom (or vise-versa; however you wanna’ say it), I was pleasantly surprised, given the circumstances (griddled institutional burgers from a lunch truck) and give their take on this visit a very solid, absolutely incredibly tasty 3 SPAM Musubi!  Enough where I’d “Hana hou” it (go back for more)!

Back to Diner E’s ‘Island Style Cheeseburger’, let’s check it out in built form…

Witness the Teriyaki sauce “juicyness” on the top of the bun, where you know that’s just gotta’ be some “crazy-tasty” goodness (in the words of Diner A). Also witness the slightly “papa’a”  (a.k.a. “Koge”, a.k.a. “burnt edges) on the slice of pineapple topping the teriyaki burger patty with melted American cheese on it. Can I get anymore descriptive than that?

Continuing on,we need to check the requisite Tasty Island cross-cut view of this baddy (after a few tasty bites, of course!)…

The verdict from Diner E? “Eh,so-so”. First of all, he didn’t care for the addition of the ‘Island Style’ grilled pineapple slice, finding it non-complimentary to both the melted American Cheese, as well as the Teriyaki-coated beef patty.

The Shack also offers an almost entirely identical burger to this called the ‘Island Burger’, which I myself tried, and thought was just “OK”, but not something I’d order on a regular basis. What i think is, whoever thought of this ‘Island Burger’ concept of combining a pineapple with teriyaki, weren’t thinking about complimentary physical flavors, but marketing flavor by sound via combining two familiar food names often associated with Hawaii.

Anyhow, Diner E also complained that the bun had a stale texture, which was contrary to my thought on it, where I personally found my bun was nicely-toasted and quite supple.

Ultimately, yet not surprisingly, the key contrast for Diner E was his recent memory of the FAR-SUPERIOR Big Island free-range hand-formed 1/3 pound burger patty featured at Honolulu Burger Co., that ultimately made Cheeseburger’s burger — or perhaps ANY burger for that matter PAIL in comparison. Which of course is an unfair comparison (because, you know, anything made in Hawaii RULES!), yet must be noted.

Not much more commentary about his burger other than that, where he sums up Cheeseburger’s ‘Island Style Cheeseburger’ with 1 SPAM Musubi.

Speaking of which, in light of Honolulu Burger Company’s absolutely SUPERB Sweet Potato Fries, how does Cheeseburger’s take on it stack up?…

They’re Yam-based and quite flavorful in and of themselves and certainly have potential, yet they weren’t seasoned adequately with salt and lacked the delicately-crispy texture on the outside that HBC’s was so good about. I’m not even sure if they were deep-fried, as they were rather greaseless in a lifeless way, if I shall nitpick it.

Still, a good accompaniment that I’d say is worth the extra .25, where their suble sweetness was a wonderful contrast to the savyry burger. Some help in the form of their deep-frying method (if it’s even cooked that way) and a few taps more of the salt shaker, and Cheeseburger’s Sweet Potato Fries would really pull it off.

Summing it up, I’d DEFINITELY return repeatedly for Cheeseburger lunch truck’s onolicious, well-seasoned, RED ONION!-laced Mushroom and Swiss Burger, while I think their Sweet Potato Fries have star potential if/when executed properly. Plus, the price is certainly right at .25 for the complete combo, and the convenient location near the Iwilei Costco works for me.

Cheeseburger Hawaii “Aloha on Wheels” Lunch Truck
Honolulu Community College campus
Tel. (808) 852-7146 for more info’

The Tasty Island rating

(2) Good. I’m glad I tried it. (Ono)

P.S. Diner A’s Teriyaki Prime Burger combo plate from Zippy’s on the same day…

Zippy’s Teriyaki Prime Burger combo, including fries and medium drink. .25

Yum-yum potato bun!…

P.S.S. (can I say that? lol), I sampled my first Ono Pop at KCC Farmers’ Market this past weekend…

That’s quite a spread of exotic paletas popsicle flavors, so instead of driving myself nuts trying to decide which one to choose, I simply asked the owner which one is HIS favorite, which he quickly handed me the Butter Mochi…

Let’s have a bite…

The verdict?  Full-bodied in a frozen, somewhat gelatinous mochi kind of way. Definitely a butter accent going on, while not being TOO sweet, which I always appreciate. Overall, very tasty and accurate in flavor and texture to what it’s described as.

My only complaint is that it tasted a little freezer-burnt, being contrary to them being touted as being fresh-made.

While seems a bit steep for a popsicle, one must take into consideration the ingredients this particular Butter Mochi Paletas Ono Pop lists: Island Milk, White Star Mochiko Flour, Naked Cow Dairy Butter, Organic Sweetened Condensed Milk, Local Eggs, Pure Hawaiian Vanilla and Island Sea Salt. Very nice!

Summing it up, I give Ono Pop’s Butter Mochi flavor 3 SPAM Musubi. Loose the “frost bite factor” and it could be a 5!

On my next visit, I’m all over that Ume Thai Basil Ono Pop.

The Tasty Island

PostHeaderIcon Coffees of Hawaii

From the tiny island of Molokai in the Hawaiian archipelago come extraordinary premium coffees. 100% Moloka‘i coffee.

Really Hawaiian

PostHeaderIcon Potluck – Stories That Taste Like Hawaii

Try a taste of different stories about Hawaii Island, some sweet, some savory, some great with Kona coffee, others better with box of tissues. Treat yourself to Hawaiian-style snacks or make a meal of it.

Really Hawaiian