Set in the lush island paradise of Hawai‘i, the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival (“HFWF”) is the premier epicurean destination event in the Pacific. Over three weekends in the Fall of each year, a roster of over 100 internationally-renowned master chefs, culinary personalities, and wine and spirit producers gather on different islands to host cooking demonstrations, wine pairings, one-of-a-kind excursions, and exclusive dining opportunities with dishes highlighting the Hawaii’s local farmers, fishermen, and ranchers.
This year, the event takes place from October 14 through October 30th on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. If you are lucky enough to be in Hawaii during this time, check it out!
LIMITED EDITION PRINT FOR A CAUSE:
As a proud sponsor of HFWF, REYN SPOONER designs a limited edition print for the festival that celebrates the culinary traditions of the islands. The print is used to create men’s Aloha shirts, women’s sarong scarves, aprons, and other accessories. 10% of all proceeds from the collection is donated to HFWF to support sustainability & cultural and educational programs in Hawai‘i.
For 2016, our design team researched the archives of renowned Hawaiian artist, Dietrich Varez, and combined elements from different woodblocks. The result is a montage of stunning works of art that illustrates 4 stories of our Hawaii food culture.
KALO | ‘TARO’
Kalo or taro is one of the canoe plants brought to the islands by early Polynesians to help them survive in the new world.
Kalo is believed to contain the greatest life force of all foods. Today it is still a primary staple for locals and plays a large role in Hawaiian heritage and cultural traditions. Taro is often fed to babies as their first whole food and to the elderly for its ease of digestion and high vitamin content. Kalo can be considered the “soul food” of Hawaii.
KU-ULA | HAWAII FISH GOD SPEARFISHING
Ancient Hawaiians drew their sustenance – physical and spiritual – from the land and sea around them. Fishing, thus, held a central role in provided the primary protein in the Hawaiian diet. The many proverbs, prayers, and tales attest to the importance of fishing. Noncommercial fishing, especially spearfishing, is still widely practiced in Hawaii today.
Here, in an adaptation of a Veraz print called O I’a, the fish god of Hawaii, Ku-ula, is spearfishing in tumultuous waters. Ku-ula was believed to possessed wonderful mana or power to control all sea life.
HINA-PUKU’AI | GODDESS OF PLANT FOOD.
This block is based on original Varez artwork called Hina-puku’ai, Hawaiian Goddess of plant food. She is believed to be one of the many forms of the Goddess Hina. The name literally means “Hina gathering vegetable food.” According to legend, Hina-puku’ai had a special gourd in which she kept food. One day, she accidentally spilled all the food out of her gourd. The food flew up to the sky and became the moon and the stars.
Here, Hina-puku’ai is reaching up for a ripe ulu or breadfruit, another remarkable canoe plant brought to Hawaii by early Polynesians. It has a recorded culinary history of over 3,500 years and is a rich source of complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamin C, thiamin and potassium. Our goddess is also surrounded by bananas, sweet potatoes, taro, bowls and bamboo – all important ingredients and implements in Hawaiian cooking.
KI HO’ALU | ‘SLACK-KEY GUITAR’
There is nothing like Hawaiian music to transport you to the islands. But why is a farmer playing slack-key guitar part of our food and wine design? Look closely and your find that food is very much part of this lyrical artwork.
In front of the singer, we see a large wooden bowl and a calabash to the right of the ukulele. Both implements were used by early Hawaiians to carry food for family gathering and drinks such as kava, a muddy-tasting tea made with roots of the kava plant. Kava has been used by Pacific Islanders for centuries as a pain reliever, ceremonial drink and anxiety reliever among other uses.
We also see opihi shells scattered about. Opihi is an edible limpet in the mollusk family. Dollar per pound, it is the one of the highest valued seafood in Hawaii because harvesting requires tremendous amount of finesse and courage. The only time a picker can pry off an opihi from its rock in the surf is when it loosens grip to feed on algae. But if the picker fails his first try, then the opihi will tighten its grip making it impossible to loosen. So in Hawaii, someone is teasingly called an ‘opihi,’ if he is she is really stubborn.
Above the singer, we see the canapé of a Hala tree, distinctive for its aerial roots and pineapple-like fruit. Early Hawaiians found uses for the entire tree. The leaves were woven into hats, mats, and roofing materials. The segments of the fruit were used as food. And the wood of the tree has been used to create water pipes, posts and calabashes to carry food and drinks.
At the neck of the guitar, we also see a Lehua blossom of the Ohia tree. You can read more about this amazing plant in our prior blog about Lehua and Ohia. In the context of food and wine, lehua blossoms contain nectar that make some of the most thought after honey, prized by connoisseurs for its light, delicate flavor and creamy texture.
Please check out Reyn Spooner’s collection of limited edition products dedicated to the Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, and support Hawaii’s multi-cultural culinary education and sustainable agriculture.