Monday, August 1, 2011

Happy 20th Anniversary Lorraine Shave Ice, and Double Kudos to Guy and Lorraine on their 40th!

Home of the best banana bread, shave ice, coconut & banana cream pies, beef jerky, passion-fruit jelly, toasted coconut, chocolate-covered bananas and coconuts, AND PEOPLE on Maui!

My Faithful Bloglodytes already know of my love for Lorraine Shave Ice as professed in the previously posted and lauded “Worth the Trip: Maui’s Road to Kahakuloa.” That memorable tale recounted the thrilling adventure the Wondrous Audrey and I made driving north on Route 30 and the perilous County Road 340 during a trip to Maui in 2009. We discovered Lorraine Shave Ice and made several subsequent visits during our vacation, braving the treacherous, cliff-hugging, one-lane road in order to partake of the homemade delights and Spirit of Mahalo that Lorraine specializes in.

Audrey and Lorraine from our 2009 trip. Lorraine scolded me for not featuring The Wondrous One in my previous post about her magical mercantile of mouth-watering munchies!

But Audrey and I are not alone in our love for the place. Of the twenty reviews on yelp.com, eighteen gave a perfect five out of five stars and the other two gave four. The harrowing ride on County Road 340 was the only concern of one of the latter less-than-perfect reviews and the other ended with “Go check it out. Add your picture to the wall and become a regular :)” without citing a single negative—obviously the type of person who does not believe in giving perfect scores, holding to the idea of perfection being something ever sought, yet never attained.

Upon our return to the mystical Island of the Sun last May, we couldn’t wait to risk life and limb once again to see our friend and her equally endearing husband, Guy. Lorraine greeted us like long-lost family members. It had been two years but there was no mistaking her recognition of us—although I’ve been told, I’m hard to forget and not necessarily in a good way! She and Guy had been playing cribbage, and Guy wasted no time in challenging me to a game. It was obvious he had just had his way with Lorraine and he could smell fresh meat ready to be devoured on the peg board.

The Wondrous Audrey enjoying a humungous Lorraine Shave Ice eponymous frozen delight, which are far bigger than her competitors but at the same price!

Unfortunately, my recollection of the game, which I played over one summer with my dad, was gone, replaced in my teeming brain with comic-book and various pop culture minutia. But that didn’t stop our kibitzing with Maui’s most gracious couple about everything, including Lorraine’s yummy treats, all of which, other than the meat with which she makes her beef jerky, are made by her with fruits cultivated from her own backyard, from the bananas and coconuts—either chocolate-covered and frozen or served in her scrumptious cream pies—to the passion fruit used in her jelly. Plus, she offers hand-crafted quilts and bags!

To call passion fruit tart would be an insult to tarts!

Another sweet staple of the island is coconut candy, a processed, overly sugary product much bally-hooed by the guide books. Lorraine makes her own toasted coconut shavings—nothing but the fruit baked in its purest form—and it is heavenly. When I asked her how she made it, she reacted as if she were the Colonel and I’d asked for a list of his famous chicken’s seven herbs and spices. Others had offered to buy her recipe or even sell her unparalleled coconut in mercantiles across the state, but she covets its safety like a mother cobra protecting its young.

Lorraine guarding a bag of her delicious toasted coconut

She also makes an unforgettable banana bread, a particularly contentious snack on the island. Lorraine has two rivals bookending her establishment on County Road 340, including the notorious Julia’s, a gaudy, fluorescent lime-green bus stop of a shack just past Lorraine Shave Ice on the left, which was said to have the “best banana bread on the planet” by author Andrew Doughty in his bestseller Maui Revealed.

Behold Julias chicken coop... er... I mean banana bread stand

Even if you were unaware of Doughty’s fallacious (to me) exaggeration, the workers at Julia’s are not shy about screaming the fact with as much tact as a cocktail waitress in a bowling alley to every passer-by. The owners have also compromised Maui’s landscape by posting signs, complete with B&W photocopies of the travel guide’s cover and pertinent page, at every vista point and natural sight noted in Doughty’s book. Apparently their definition of the Spirit of Mahalo in which Hawaii prides itself includes vulgar and obnoxious displays in order to make a quick buck.

Days of fuchsia past à la Maui

Not to be outdone in the crass department, the competitor on the south side of Lorraine Shave Ice, the name of which escapes me, has painted the boulders skirting the road opposite the trailer out of which they conduct business a matching putrid day-glow pink. In case the defacing of the island’s natural beauty to line their wallets wasn’t despicable enough, they also have the local children run in front of traffic in order to slow the cars down as they approach, a heinous act Lorraine made me aware of only after I’d told her of nearly hitting a local child on a bike while maneuvering around the blind corner that leads cars into the small village of Kahakuloa where these banana bread wars are fought.

This quaint church greets southbound travelers entering Kahakuloa. Beware small children as you round the bend to the left of the steeple!

Lorraine Shave Ice has nought but a modest sign hanging at the entrance. But unlike its rivals, there is parking, seating and hospitality to go with truly delicious fare. Lorraine is pistol-whip smart with a take-no-prisoners, yet generous, personality that had me swearing she was secretly from New York City. Guy is the calm to her storm, but no less friendly and giving. They are the Lucy and Ricky of Maui and as much beloved by all who meet them.

Sign of great things to come

Lorraine was born and raised in Kahakuloa, but moved to Honolulu to accommodate Guy’s work. They built the house and opened Lorraine Shave Ice in 1991 with Lorraine shuttling between islands to run the shop on weekends before Guy retired and they turned their full attention to the business. Julia—if there is such a person—may or may not be originally from the area, but from the seemingly Scandinavian accents of the Aryan youth who man her booth, they most certainly are not. The European connection may explain why Julia’s charges six dollars for a loaf of banana bread the size of a box of Barnum’s Animal crackers where Lorraine’s is the same size and price at half the cost, but just as delectable if not better—perhaps the conversion from euros to American dollars got skewed. And Lorraine offers one with real bittersweet chocolate chips, again at the same price!

She revealed that she hadn’t changed her prices since she first opened the business twenty years ago! When I told her she most assuredly could raise them and should, she referred to the current economic woes of the country and rhetorically asked how she could do that to people. No further proof was needed to confirm my suspicions, that as nice as the income is, Lorraine Shave Ice was most about the proprietor’s love of people and wanting to share her home and treats with the world.

As we chatted, I mentioned to Lorraine that I had exalted Lorraine Shave Ice on my blog. She and Guy are happy luddites and wouldn’t know a website from a talking picture. But one of her fans had printed and sent her a color copy of my post, which after some rummaging, she pulled from a stack of puzzle books and other ephemera by the side of the picnic bench where patrons can enjoy their gastronomic goodies at leisure. She hadn’t connected the dots until I’d spoken of taking a picture next to one of her pineapple plants, a photo worthy of Ansel Adams featured in the entry. I was pleased she’d seen it and doubly so with her cheerful response—she loved it!

Lorraine’s reaction when she discovered that Spider-Man was a fan of hers

Audrey and I also discovered that Lorraine and Guy would be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary on August 1st this year, making for a dual dose of conviviality. The Wondrous One and I feted our sweet sixteenth on our last night on Maui this year. Upon hearing of our impending day, Lorraine jumped from the table and hurried upstairs, returning moments later with a fresh slice of banana cream pie she’d baked the night before when she was having difficulty sleeping. Her insomnia proved to be our good fortune. We attacked the creamy confection like Cookie Monster, likewise leaving a smattering of crumbs. It was one of the best anniversary gifts ever!

The true Spirit of Mahalo!

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