Happy Memorial Day, folks! Today it's important to pause and be thankful for those who have paid the ultimate price for our nation and so we can enjoy the freedoms we have. We're starting a business and it should not be taken for granted that America is a place where every one of us, if we so choose, can go into business and pursue that American Dream.
Today, I've got poke on the brain. Even though my family and I made pizzas today, all I can think of is poke! I did a bit of research into the history of poke and learned that it pre-dates Captain James Cook's arrival in Hawai'i. Traditionally it was bits of fish (reef fish back then), limu (seaweed), kukui nut, and sea salt. It's not hard to see why this meal has endured for over 500 years (likely more).
Our brewpub will feature two main foods - Hawaiian style poke, and pizza. I am proud of my poke-making skills, I've worked hard on it and spent a lot of time "studying" poke at various places in Honolulu when I'm there for work. It's not hard to make, it all really depends on the quality of fish you have. I find that too often on this island, restaurants serve poke as a way to get rid of aging fish in their fridge/freezer. With all due respect to other restaurants here, I find that every place I order poke, it is the same experience here in American Samoa: old fish, sticky consistency, too much shoyu, and the same ingredients - carrot, cucumber, onion, shoyu & sesame oil.
At Flying Fox Brewing Company, we're going to feature the poke - with rice in poke bowls, with 'ulu or talo chips, or just by itself. It will be poke your way; pick your ingredients and what your poke will be served with/on. I find it very odd that an island in the South Pacific, with the largest US tuna cannery and a ton of fishing boats, large and small, has such a little amount of good seafood readily available. Stranger yet is how cheap you can get good fish here - under $5/pound for yellowfin tuna, swordfish, wahoo, and mahimahi. Even fresh bottomfish is around $5-7 per pound. You'd think with this availability and low cost, you'd find amazing seafood at every store and restaurant on island. Well, in the immortal words of Lee Corso..."NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND!"
In actuality, the market for good seafood here is not a big one. People are just as content to open a can of tuna or even mackerel to satisfy their seafood fix. But we're guessing that this could change given the right conditions. Don't get me wrong, you can get good seafood here. Places like DDW, Sadies, Tradewinds and Paradise often have great seafood menu items. The problem is, these are places you will likely spend between $15-30 on a meal. If you're looking for good seafood without breaking the bank, options are limited - like nonexistent kind of limited.
That's where we will try to stand apart - good poke at a price under $10. Poke and a 16 oz glass of one of our locally brewed beers for under $15. Two beers? Still under $20. But it's not enough to just have a good price on food - it has to be something that tastes and looks good. Taking advantage of the local fishermen to have the fish we need to have yummy poke on a daily basis is our goal at Flying Fox Brewing Company. We considered not doing food at first, but it didn't take long to think, 'this is Samoa, you can't NOT do food!'. So in addition to poke and our signature beers, you can come to our place in Pava'ia'i and get smokey tuna dip and chips, garlic and sesame edamame, or our 14" pizzas. We'll also accommodate alternative diets and try to have a tofu poke on our menu as well. Bottom line is: I want us to be different. Variety is always good and we hope it will bring people in the doors. Come for the beers, stay for the food? Well, we'll see I guess. Enjoy your short week folks, and remember to #DrinkLocal!!!