Side Dish: Second Coming

Zippy's opens on Maui. Can a second coming be far behind?

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Gossip Gourmet

zippy'sWhen the “Zippy’s Coming Soon” sign finally came down after five years, Gossip’s mother asked, “Does that mean Jesus is coming back, too?” Well, we can’t vouch for J.C., but plenty of island folks shouted hallelujah as they lined up for Zippy’s famous chili and Zip Pacs (bento boxes brimming with “two scoops rice,” teriyaki beef, chicken, fish, and—what else?—a slice of Spam).

Meanwhile, your intrepid foodie was lining up for artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, chocolates, and pickles at Slow Food Nation in San Francisco. The dozens-deep line at Zippy’s, opening day, didn’t hold a fork to the thousands stampeding the victory garden planted at San Francisco’s Civic Center. But, oh . . . what amazing heirloom melons and wild-crafted honeys were had there!

Slow Food Nation started as an Italian food critic’s vehement reaction to fast food. (Sorry, Zippy’s!) When McDonald’s opened near Rome’s ancient Spanish Steps, Carlo Petrini armed protesters with bowls of penne. What began as righteous indignation has since swelled into a global, grassroots movement promoting food that is “good, clean, and fair,” and helping small, local farmers achieve sustainability.

Miz Gossip learned several new vocabulary words at the Slow Food fest, which she’ll proudly share with you. “Foodshed” was bandied about by food-industry movers and shakers attending Changemaker’s Day at the fest. Similar to a watershed, a foodshed describes the flow of food from where it originates to the place where it’s consumed. Identifying foodsheds can help us support local agriculture. “Affinage” is the art of washing cheese wheels with flavor-bestowing bacteria. Er, yum? Professional affineur and second-generation Grayson Dairy farmer Kat Feete plied Slow Foodies with a delectable, rinsed-rind goat cheese. “I’m proud to be able to come home to the family farm and know there’s a future there,” she declared. “Slow Food has allowed us to educate ourselves and move our craft forward.”

Hear that, Maui farmers? Time to jump on the Slow Food bandwagon.

In Hawai‘i, Slow Food chapters on O‘ahu, Kaua‘i, and Hawai‘i sponsor really cool events such as poi-tastings, brewery and tofu-factory tours, and “from bean to bar” chocolate-making workshops. The time is ripe for a Maui chapter. Any takers?

Whew! All that podium pounding has made Gossip hungry. Let’s grab some grub somewhere new, shall we? I almost hate to spill the beans on this secret, but here it goes: Izakaya Matsu (Azeka’s I Marketplace, 280 South Kïhei Rd., 874-0990) is a tiny, off-the-beaten-path paradise for those looking for Japanese pub fare. Izakayas are Japan’s answer to Spanish tapas restaurants: watering holes that satiate drinkers with small servings of sumptuous food. Izakayas abound on O‘ahu, but this is our first on Maui. Owned by the Restaurant Matsu folks, it’s only open for dinner, but at least it’s open late—till midnight on weekends. Specialties include okonomiyaki, sort of a seafood pancake topped with bonito flakes, nori-wrapped mochi, and takoyaki—a.k.a. octopus balls! I won’t explain further; you’ll just have to try them. Wash the tasty morsels down with some Okinawan beer.

One secret your Gossip would loooove to spill is the scoop on Chef David Paul’s new restaurant(s). I don’t know about you, but Miz G is simply salivating at the thought of sampling what this much-missed chef has been cooking up since he left us six-odd years ago.

Finally, if you’re looking for the gourmet gift that keeps on giving, check out the adorable, food-inspired Christmas ornaments at ornaments2remember.com. Deck a friend’s tree out with island-inspired glass mangos, sushi, and shave ice.

Cheers! Here’s hoping your holiday season is delicious and slow.

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