Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday…

Whatever you call it where you are, here in Hawai‘i it is Malasadas Day and it is tasty. Mine, this year, was particularly delicious thanks to a (relatively early) morning call from friend/client Cathy Nobriga Kim. She’s Roselani Ice Cream’s third generation ice cream maker so she knows a thing or two about sweets! And her timing was perfect. I was a couple of minutes away from her office when she called to say, “Stop by for Fat Tuesday, the real kine.”

The Portuguese began immigrating to these Islands in 1878 – to work the plantations and also to teach the ali‘i (royalty) about ranching. Cathy’s family – the Nobrigas – are well known on Maui for their Kahakuloa ranch and the excellent beef cattle they have been raising since the 1920s. Her father, Uncle Buddy Nobriga, is mentor to the next generation of Maui cattle ranchers. But I digress…

Like all immigrants, the Portuguese brought their culinary traditions to Hawai‘i with them. The sweetest of these is the malasada, a delicious donut-like confection. During the plantation days in anticipation of the beginning of Lent, Portuguese women would fry up big batches of malasadas which their husbands would share with other workers in the fields. It didn’t take long for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino immigrants and the local Hawaiians to embrace them as their own. Today, malasadas are ubiquitous throughout Hawai‘i and each Island has its “malasadas palace.” On Maui, it’s Home Maid Bakery which sells them hot – the only way to enjoy them, really – for a few hours in the morning and a few more in the evening.

But the ones I had this morning – two different kinds – were both truly amazing and truly HOMEMADE. The first, made from Uncle Buddy Nobriga’s grandma’s recipe, are egg malasadas (that’s them in the first photo). Light, airy and meant to be eaten with maple syrup. I had never even heard of egg malasadas before. The second , yeast malasadas made from Auntie Barbara Nobriga’s own recipe, are the kind more familiar to me but these were far beyond any others I’ve ever had (that’s them in the second photo). Dense, with a really yeast-y, almost malty taste sprinkled with not just sugar but a sugar-cinnamon mix that adds yet another layer of flavor. Unreal. Proving once again there is nothing as good – for the emotional self as well as the tummy – as a recipe handed down through a family. Auntie Barbara says you’re supposed to eat at least six to really get the full force of Malasada Day. Believe me, I could have EASILY eaten six. But I stopped at four.


  1. We're going to Dynamo in SF on Saturday for their bacon doughnut. Mmmmmmmm...

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  3. Where's my editor??? Anyway, here we go...

    After drooling over your pictures of the Malasadas, a treat I shy away from as it means too much time on the treadmill, I went to the Home Made Bakery website. Joseph, my just turned 30 son and I lived in the old part of Wailuku Heights for several years. Although the trip was for their healthy bread we couldn’t resist purchasing a fresh, out of the oven delectable sweet. This is not a memory I often remember and was happy for the recall after reading your blog. The next time I am in Wailuku I hope to remember to pick up “Omiyage” from the Home Made Bakery to bring to my upcountry friends that perhaps don’t get past the Dairy Road line often enough. Oh, the egg Malasadas are not familiar to me either and they look delicious! Great piece Bonnie. Thank you!

  4. But wait...good news...Home Made bakery has an outlet on Dairy Road (Kahului Industrial Park —Dairy Center 395 Dairy Road, Kahului).

    I'm outta here!

  5. Going back to this post, I was reminded how delicious these malasadas look. I think you have been in NYC recently, and hope you will alert us if you run across them there. Also, as a food person, I thought you might enjoy my co-writer, Wide Open Space's very funny post: http://rainingacorns.blogspot.com/2010/04/cooking-with-giada.html.

    I look forward to your next post, as well!