Jake opened the sliding door and stepped out onto the hotel room balcony. The sun had just set, and purple clouds were hovering over the horizon, bordered on both sides by the bay’s looming cliffs.
He leaned against the railing and looked down at the tiki-lit esplanade four stories below, at waiters in white jackets steadying trays of hors d’oeuvres against their chests and female bartenders in Goldfreeze tank tops behind the cocktail bar.
“Hey champ.” His roommate Chris was leaning against the door, holding a beer. “You going down to this thing?”
Jake looked back down at the veranda, which was quickly filling up with guests and sponsors. “I don’t think so,” he replied. It had been a long day on the water, waiting through fifteen other heats for his own. Luckily the waves were still rolling in at the end, glassy 10-footers, curling outwards into picture-perfect tubes which he had ducked into with all the ease of an island-born waterman.
“Come on!” said Chris. “One drink.”
“You go,” said Jake. “Trying not to psych myself out before tomorrow.” It was somewhat true – these weren’t his waves, after all, and there were a lot of good surfers here – some of the best, from Australia, California, Brazil, Indonesia…so he did need to focus.
“All right, well I’m going,” said Chris. “Catch ya later.” The blond boy skipped out the door, and Jake turned back to the ocean, relieved to be left on his own. He couldn’t tell his best friend the real reason why he’d stayed behind. It was an island, yes, but it was different from his own – filled with tourists and traffic, busier than a bustling Tokyo intersection even in the ocean, with all the cameramen, locals, groms – and kooks, trying to surf waves they had no business looking at. He missed the expanses of ocean stretched to the horizon, empty but for the millions of fish and crustacea that filled the reef below him.
Lulled by the scent of hibiscus and the fresh ocean breeze, Jake dozed off. The sounds of laughter and live music faded until, an hour later, he woke up to banging on his door.
“Hey Jakey!” shouted Philippe, an older Tahitian surfer, piling into the room with Chris and two female surfers. “We brought the party here!”
Chris handed Jake a plate of food. “Haupia pies. Now there’s a taste of home for you.”
Jake looked down, slightly shocked to see the humble dessert his aunt used to make transformed into catered hotel food. He bit into one and closed his eyes, transported to the overgrown backyard of their family trailer, where Aunt Nell had machete-d coconuts and tubers into a surprising white-and-purple finish. They tasted close enough – the same delicate earthy flavor, lightly sweetened, topped with creamy coconut.
Jake smiled to himself. The island was with him still. He put the rest of the pies in the fridge, and went out to join the others.
- Sweet Potato Layer
- 16 oz of purple Okinawan sweet potatoes (about 2-3 large potatoes, boiled or baked + peeled) or yams (purple sweet potatoes are sweeter than yams, so adjust sweetener depending)
- ½ c coconut cream
- ½ c coconut sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tb tapioca flour or arrowroot starch
- 1 tb grassfed gelatin (sub agar-agar for vegan)
- ½ c water
- ¼ c hot water
- 1 tb apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 2 cups water
- ⅓ - ½ c. tapioca flour or arrowroot starch
- 2 tb coconut sugar
- 1 tb grassfed gelatin (sub agar agar for vegan)
Scottish shortbread crust or AIP crust
- Mix crust and pat firmly into silicone molds.
- For sweet potato layer, bloom gelatin in cold water. Mix and blend all other ingredients together. Add hot water to bloomed gelatin, and incorporate into sweet potato mixture.
- Pour on top of crusts and bake for 30-40 minutes at 325 degrees Fahrenheit (until set). Allow to cool.
- While pies are baking, make haupia layer by mixing all the haupia ingredients together in a saucepan and heating on low heat until everything is incorporated and mixture begins to thicken (whisk gently and continually). Once mixture has thickened, pour onto cooled tarts and stick in fridge.
- After about an hour or so, haupia should have solidified and tarts are ready to eat. 🙂