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Gallery: 13th Annual Waikiki Spam Jam
Today, crowds packed Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki to celebrate Spam, which Wikipedia helpfully defines as "a brand of canned precooked meat products made by Hormel Foods Corporation." It was the 13th annual Spam Jam, and reaffirmed the Aloha State as the state with the most love for the stuff.
Dozens of local restaurants set up shop to share their specialties, as well as special dishes that incorporated Spam. Stages featured live music and dance performances. And of course there was Spam swag.
Once again, there was a tweet-up (a social media meetup) organized by Toby Tamaye of AT Marketing. Local food bloggers, Instagram addicts, Twitter lovers and Facebook fanatics were invited to Hula Grill at the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel, where we were able to photograph and sample the dishes featured at the Spam Jam in one place.
Toby and his team did a great job organizing everything, with the events many restaurants delivering special presentation plates of their dishes, as well as trays of their offerings to serve.
One good thing about a social media gathering is that you're encouraged to photograph your food. And it was serious business. While there were quite a few smartphones, there were more complicated rigs as well.
Another good thing about a social media gathering is that there's absolutely nothing wrong with standing around in a group in which everyone is focused on their devices rather than the company.
If getting to sample both classic and experimental Spam dishes, Toby gave out prizes at the event. In addition to Spam-branded gifts, there were other goodies from event sponsors Hula Grill, Outrigger Resorts, MYTH, and Alaska Airlines.
And we had a special appearance and photo opportunities with Spam Guy. Or gal. I'm not quite sure what the mascot's name is. Here he is with an Alaska Airlines rep and the winner of the day's grand prize, 80,000 Alaska Airlines miles.
Oh, and I was joking about not paying attention to people. We were in great company, and I saw many friendly and familiar faces. My daughter and I also got to meet a few online acquaintances in real life for the first time.
So what kind of Spam dishes did we try? I'll only cover about half of them here, though you can visit the full photo gallery to see everything. I apologize, by the way, for the low-light images. I just can't bring myself to use a flash.
From Chai Waikiki, Spam with fresh ahi katsu with wasabi curry and fresh mango salsa:
From Gordon Biersch, Spam hash cake sliders:
From host Hula Grill Waikiki, Spam fried rice loco moco:
From Jimmy Buffett's at the Beachcomber, Spam rice bites (that look a little like Kauai's famed Goterborg musubi):
From Seafood Village, Spam manapua:
From ABC Stores, spicy Spam poke:
From P.F. Chang's, Spam lo mein:
From Hawaiian Crown, grilled Spam and cheese sliders:
And there were desserts. From Hard Rock Cafe, Spam cupcakes:
From Eggs 'N Things, Spam cheesecake:
There were also Spam ice cream sandwiches from Uncle's North Shore Gourmet, and Spam popsicles from Ono Pops. I admit, I didn't try any of the desserts.
Like TV cooking contests with mystery ingredients, it's always interesting to see what different chefs do with Spam. Some dishes were pretty good, although those tended to be the most traditional, "safe" recipes:
And some dishes were... at the very least daring.
See the full gallery on Flickr.