Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday open house at Whole Foods

Nadine Kam photos
Amidst the season's pumpkins and gourds, Natalie Aczon, center, introduces media to the joys of the Whole Foods Market holiday table.

Whole Foods Market hosted a preview of a few of its offerings for the holiday table on Nov. 9, in advance of a free public tasting taking place 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 18, for those in search of tasty new ideas, want to simplify their holiday food needs, or just want a nibble of their turkey before committing to bringing home their whole prepared bird on Thanksgiving Day.

Each department will be rolling out samples of favorite holiday edibles, including roast turkey, roast ham, cranberry chutney, and more.

Before starting the tour, Natalie Aczon, Whole Foods Market Kāhala's marketing supervisor, shared that the company does its best to be transparent in its standards and practices so that those interested in health and sustainability issues know just what they're getting.

They feature edibles from 250 local vendors, with more on the way, she said. The only fish they carry is farmed or live-caught within 100 miles of the islands, and meat purchased here is vegetarian fed, with no hormones or antibiotics.

Whole Foods shoppers line up for a taste of juicy, tender turkey, below, and cocktail shrimp.

If you're considering picking up a cooked turkey, choose from free-range birds, to kosher to organic, or smoked turkeys, at about $6.99 to $9.99 per pound. The market is also one of the only stores to carry made-to-order turduckens—a partially de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck, stuffed with a small de-boned chicken. Custom orders are being taken at 738-0820. Options can also be viewed at

Easier still, pick up dinner for six, at $99.99, which includes a 10 to 12 pound turkey, 48 ounces of stuffing, 24 ounces of gravy, 60 ounces of mashed potatoes and 16 ounces of cranberry sauce.

A la carte sides are available as well, from, cornbread stuffing to an autumn puree of butternut squash, carrots and yams, to fruit-juice sweetened pies.

Of course, the holidays don't end with Thanksgiving, and more free holiday tasting events will take place from 4 p.m. Sundays in December, on the 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd.

The store is also inviting all its 4,000-plus Twitter followers to a holiday-themed wine tasting from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 17. Those who can't make it can eavesdrop on the event by following #wfmkahalawine at

If you need a potluck side dish, Whole Foods has plenty of options.

There's organic eggnog.

The eggnog was conveniently placed next to Jeanne Toulon's tasting table for Koloa Premium Hawaiian Rum. The Kaua'i Spice Rum, with its spice cake, caramel and vanilla flavor, is perfect for the holidays.

The tour started with Big Island Garnet yams.

It's good to see kids learning to eat healthfully and craving purple sweet potatoes.

Various flavors of Ohelo's Mango Chutney were presented with ham, crackers and blue cheese. I loved the Hawaiian chili pepper flavor on ham.

Cranberry cheddar wasn't part of the "official" tour, but with samples available, I got sidetracked. It's amazing how a handful of berries flavored the whole cheese.

An edamame-feta dip was presented as a low-fat, low-cholesterol alternative to typical mayo-based dips. The recipe follows.

The day we visited was also the day Whole Foods started carrying Daniel Anthony's hand-pounded pa'iai.

Here's the dip recipe:

Edamame-feta dip
(From Eating Well magazine)
2 cups frozen shelled edamame
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup crumbled feta
2-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add edamame and garlic; return to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until edamame is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Place the edamame, garlic, 1/4 cup of cooking liquid, feta, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender. Puree, scraping down the sides as needed, until smooth. Transfer to a serving bowl or storage container.

Place plastic wrap directly on surface of dip and let stand 30 minutes at room temperature to allow flavors to blend. Thin with additional cooking liquid to desired consistency, if necessary. The dip will keep, covered, in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Serve at room temperature. Makes 1-1/3 cups.

Nutritional analysis per tablespoon: 31 calories, 2 grams fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 2 g carbohydrates.

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