Battle of the Shave Ice: Snoh Ice Shavery vs. Realeza Michoacana
Last summer, on my trip back "home" to Hawaii, I bought two Obama bobbleheads -- well, bobble-bodies -- one with the leader of the free world holding a surfboard the other of him holding a shave ice.
Judy Nichols Snowflake-like ice makes Hawaiian shave ice a melt-in-your-mouth experience. Will Judy be able to match it, back in the Valley?
It's the latter that has me walking to my car in the 102-degree desert afternoon, feeling the heat of the sidewalk soaking through the soles of my black leather shoes. I'm in search of a frozen time-travel moment back to Lanikai Beach, where my flip-flops were just steps away from Island Snow, where Barack and I get our shave-ice fixes.
Shave ice is a humble thing, born in the M. Matsumoto Grocery Store in Haleiwa on the North Shore of Hawaii. Founded in 1951, Matsumoto became a gold mine in the '60s, when it started serving shave ice with homemade flavors to pipeline-weary surfers and marijuana-scented hippies. The store's signature combination, named for the founder, is coconut, pineapple, and lemon. Today, it serves 1,000 shave ices a day, and it estimates that half of them are eaten by tourists who cross the worn wooden floorboards from around the globe.
If the syrups aren't sweet enough, you can have a scoop of ice cream in the bottom of the cone. And if you're feeling particularly "local," you can add azuki beans, red beans from Asia that are boiled and sugared to add a sweet chewy texture.
Moving to Hawaii in junior high was culinary culture shock, with exotic foods like crack seed, kimchee, lomi-lomi salmon, kalua pork, chicken long rice, lychee nuts, manapua, poi, and saimin with Spam. I learned to love it all, and shave ice was a bridge from the old world to the new.
Back in the Valley of the Sun, I am looking for another take.