Wailua Shave Ice
Three reasons why I love living on Kauai are that our small island community is charming and supportive, and we have excellent shave ice. Our friend, Will Lydgate of Steelgrass Chocolate Farm, tells Dan about a new favorite: Wailua Shave Ice. It sounds so good, we leave our upcountry home in Kapaa and drive down the hill to the corner of Kuhio Highway and Nui Street, near Paradise Beauty Salon & Spa. A bright red wagon is parked in an unused lot where a view of the ocean is just out of reach and children’s laughter charges the tropical air.
Even though they just opened last month, big smiles and calls of aloha come from owners Josh Tamaoka and Brandon Baptiste as a steady stream of regular customers fill nearby picnic tables. Patrons sit on bar stools lining either side of the wagon and orders are quickly filled.
“We learned how to make shave ice from uncle near Big Save,” says Brandon as he loads a cylinder of ice into a machine. “He’s been doing it since I was born, literally. He taught us how to make the perfect block of ice so it shaves up light and fluffy.”
Josh and Brandon, who were born and raised on Kauai, have re-imagined a Hawaiian tradition. They offer a chemical-free version infused with old-fashioned charm. No artificial flavors, preservatives or high fructose corn syrups are used in their luscious confections.
Downy ice is piled into white pyrex bowls and syrup — made with fresh fruit (local when possible) and organic cane sugar — is drizzled over the top. I get the Coconut x Coconut x Coconut with coconut milk, thick coconut sauce and roasted coconut flakes. I’m in love. It’s dreamy, creamy and not too sweet.
Dan has the Ginger Ale made with lemon and lime syrup and chunks of candied ginger. The flavor is explosive and brisk. We share a “Small Kine” Mocha made with beans roasted at Small Kine Coffee. Coconut foam is drizzled over the ice and cocao powder is dusted on top. With a strong coffee and sticky sweet flavor, it’s a coffee lover’s dream.
Other flavors made with local produce include Kauai Dream (orange, vanilla and ginger), Pineapple Pickers (pineapple and vanilla bean) and Banana Horchata (horchata, bananas and cinnamon).