Whole Foods Eats: Taro Delight Smoked Taro Dip

What’s with it that this is the second product I walk out of Whole Foods with that has Olives in it? Perhaps it’s the interior design of the store that puts me into “Mediterranean Mode”. Who knows.

Anyhow, this past weekend I paid (dearly) another visit to Whole Foods while on the same Kahala Mall excursion day that took me to The Counter Custom Built Burger restaurant. This time at Whole Foods getting what I promised myself I’d return for from the last visit, which is this Taro Delight Smoked Taro Dip.

Doesn’t SMOKED TARO sound intriguing to you? Well, it does to me!

So there I was again in the Kahala Mall Whole Foods like a kid in a candy store going ga-ga over all the cool exotic groceries I’ve never seen in any other supermarket, returning back at that refrigerator case isolated in the back section of the deli area near the sushi counter, where they have an entire line of Taro Delight Smoked Taro Dip varieties.

With exotic flavors such as Sun Dried Tomatoes, Curry and “Taronnaise”, I could not resist picking one of these up to try myself.

What Whole Foods needs to consider with so many unusual products on their shelves is having sample stations on a regular basis like Costco. I heard they have them on Sundays, but I didn’t see any when I was there. What if this sucks? Then what? I hope you have a good return policy or I’m gonna’ be very upset. Especially after being left $8 in the hole for it. Or should I say “whole” for it. I mean where else do you have to spend over $16 for dip and crackers? Only at Whole Foods! They should just rename this supermarket “Whole Wallet” or “Whole Spending Cash”, as that’s what it’ll cost ya’ to shop there. lol

Just kidding. Seriously though, yes this dip costs $7.99 plus tax, then add the La Panzanella Croccantini crackers to go along with it, and it indeed all rang up over $16 for crackers ‘n dip. Ouch.

Of course this isn’t your everyday Joe crackers ‘n dip. We’re talking here Croccantini and SMOKED TARO DIP. Well, ehem, OK, now you’ve got my attention!

Here’s the Croccantini crackers I bought at Whole Foods to accompany this dip….

Here it is unwrapped….

Notice on the package it says ROSEMARY. Yum, one of my favorite herbs. You can see distinctive pieces of Rosemary sprinkled throughout the surface of the cracker that’s been mixed into the dough, and taste it too! While $8 is a chunk of change to pay for a package of crackers, I must say, these certainly have the crispness, flavor and quality to just about justify the cost. Depending on your perspective of course. La Panzanella is based in Seattle, Washington, so that’s good too, as we’re supporting made in the USA products.

OK, back to the star of the show, the Taro Delight Smoked Taro Dip. As you see I chose “Olive the Above”. No, not all the flavors they have in stock, as I’d certainly be in the “Whole” if I did that! lol No, it’s cleverly named “Olive the Above”, which essentially is the core smoked taro dip with minced olives in it. Here’s a view of the 12 oz. container from top view…

Here’s the ingredients…

Let’s open it up and take a look…

Wow, I wish Poi nowadays were this thick! Actually this was the only flavor that had a similar purplish-gray color like poi. Most of the other flavors took on their said type such as light green, light pink and tan.

Nothing else to do now but spread some on the Croccantini and sample some, cuz!

It certainly tastes like what it’s labeled as, with a distinctive flavor combination of lightly-smoked taro and olives, yet it’s not too outspoken, but more on the mellow side.The smoked flavor is very subtle as well, yet you can certainly tell it’s there, giving the dip a full-bodied flavor, which would certainly be missed if it weren’t smoked. The olives actually match quite well with the taro. I was skeptical at first, but now after trying it, I’m convinced the Olive the Above flavor combo is a keeper.

The taro flavor is a bit strange in combination with the rosemary-infused Croccantini, but after a few bites, your palate acclimates to it.

The slight essence of garlic salt in it, as well as the consistency of the dip as a spread also sort of reminds me of hummus, so this should work equally well on Pita Chips. Probably wonton chips too. Whichever cracker or chip you get to accompany it, make sure it’s low sodium because the smoked taro dip has enough garlic salt in it already.

Here’s another sample at a different angle…

No shortage of minced black olives in it, that’s for sure.

Let’s try jazzing it up with some roasted red bell peppers and fresh chopped scallions…

Oh yes, that’s money right there. The peppers and onions really bring more life to the party here, not just visually, but flavorwise as well. This is definitely a pupu you could serve at a VIP party.

One more sample…

That’s pretty.

According to Tom Purdy, the man behind this product, you can also make this into a creamy salad dressing by whisking it together with Olive Oil and Vinegar. That sounds interesting. I think I’ll try that next and will add it here after I do so.

I’m thinkin’ a smoked taro and olive dressing might also taste good tossed with pasta like say, linguine or fetuccine.Perhaps just add some fresh herbs like Italian Parsley and Basil.

Tom uses Chinese Dryland Taro for this product, which he claims yields the right poi-like creaminess, even after the addition of the various flavorings.

As mentioned earlier, there’s a variety of flavors that Whole Foods carries, including Taronnaise, Poke (yes, Poke!), Smoked Salmon, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Thai Chili and a few others I can’t remember. I’m glad I chose Olive the Above. It makes me feel like I got all of them in one container. lol They’re all $7.99 each per 12 oz. container.

Diner AC bought a container of the Smoked Taro Dip Poke flavor, which she said was delicious. Da’ buggah even get ogo inside… how’s dat?!

According to their website, Tom also sells his Taro Delight products at the Kapiolani Community College Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. I’m not sure if it’s cheaper there than at Whole Wallet Foods, but that’s one venue I seriously need to attend soon (maybe tomorrow if I can get up early enough) and blog it.

Here’s the store front of Whole Foods at Kahala Mall…

Whole Foods Kahala Mall

Now that I think about it, on this last visit, I didn’t lock my radar on what next to try at Whole Foods, but once I walk in there again, it won’t take long to find something expensive and interesting!

What? Taro Delight Smoked Taro Dip – Olive the Above flavor
Where did you buy it and how much? Whole Foods Kahala Mall, $7.99/12 oz. container
Big Shaka to: Distinctive mildly-smoked taro and olive flavors work together quite well. Good body (thickness). A good foundation for creative cracker toppings (see one example above). Can also be used to make a creamy salad dressing and other creative culinary applications. The “Smoked Taro” name can garner high price tag as a menu item (if you’re a restaurant manager or owner). Made in Hawaii.
No shaka to: Relatively expensive (especially at Whole Wallet Foods). Olive the Above flavor doesn’t include all of the above flavors. lol No sample stations in the store so I can try before I buy.
The Tasty Island rating: 3 SPAM Musubi

What? La Panzanella Croccantini – Rosemary flavor
Where did you buy it and how much? Whole Foods Kahala Mall, $7.99/8 oz. package (includes eight 4″x7″ Crocantini)
Big Shaka to: Very crispy and fresh tasting. Distinctive Rosemary flavor featuring real chopped Rosemary blended in. Nicely toasted. Marries well with most spreads, including the smoked taro after you acclimate to it. Sturdy enough for thick spreads like the Smoked Taro dip. Breaks apart into smaller pieces cleanly (doesn’t crumble). Made in the USA.
No shaka to: Relatively expensive (especially at Whole Wallet Foods). Not made in Hawaii.
The Tasty Island rating: 3 SPAM Musubi

Related links:
Dip into extra-tasty taro with many hip flavors – Star Bulletin
Nouveau taro – Honolulu Weekly
Poi Dip – HawaiiBusiness.com
About Tom Purdy – FirstFridayHawaii.com
KCC Farmers Market website information

3/1/09 Post edit: Following are photos I took yesterday at the KCC Farmers’ Market…

Tom Purdy of Taro Delight, Taro Delight Smoked Taro Dip products, Smoked Taro Dip Poke, Smoke Taro Dip Poke version 2

Kukui Sausage Company

Taronaise, Red Chili & Coconut, Chipotle Mustaro, Evil Jungle Taro Green Thai Churry Smoked Taro Dips

Gold Fire!!! Yellow Curry with Sage, Olive the Above, Sun Dried Tomato Smoked Taro Dips and Chinese Dry Land Taro

All these smoked taro dips were offered as complimentary samples to try along with tortilla chips…


13 thoughts on “Whole Foods Eats: Taro Delight Smoked Taro Dip

  1. I don’t know, olives + taro just sounds wrong to me. But I put sugar in my poi so what do I know? And in these parts, we call it Whole Paycheck 😉

  2. Dana, Whole Paycheck… I love it! That’s much better than Whole Wallet. I’ll use that one from now on. That’ll be especially fun to say out loud when I’m in the store. Hopefully they don’t kick me out. lol

    As for the Taro + Olive combination, as said in the write-up, it reminds me a lot of Hummus. Especially with the addition of the garlic salt in it. This really lands in the middle ground between Polynesian and Mediterranean, yet somehow I think it works. Honestly.

  3. Pomai, There taro dip here in San Francisco but we do have Whole Food Stores. I think of trying to make my own dip that only way if you like some thing very much learn to make it.

  4. Betty, taht’s waht I thuaght. lol

    Liza, I’ll have to dig through your Maui Blog a little later when I have more time. Looks great! FYI, my girlfriend’s from Kahului.

    Kat (and everyone else), I made it over to KCC Farmer’s Market this morning. IT IS INCREDIBLE! You folks need to get down there ASAP! It’s truly a Hawaii foodie’s paradise. Anyway, I met Tom Purdy there, and he’s such a great guy. Even gave me a sample of the taro he uses for his dips to take home and try by itself. He had a couple of special Smoked Taro Dips done Poke style to offer today that were just OFF THE CHARTS ONO! I’ll add them here later, as I bought a couple to take home and enjoy. I also have great pictures of all the other flavors Taro Delight offers.

    Oh, and it is indeed cheaper to buy the Taro Delight Smoked Taro Dips at the KCC Farmer’s Market than at Whole Foods, being $6 there vs. $8 at Whole Paycheck. lol

  5. Hey there, the taro dips are available at the KCC farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. The guy who makes them sells his dips and taro/salmon laulau, and taro poke, and its cheaper than whole foods direct from him

  6. Andy, as you seen in the post, I retrofitted a bunch of photos of my visit at the Taro Delight booth at the KCC Farmers’ Market this past Saturday. The Poke Taro dip was really ono! So much that I bought a couple to take home. I also really enjoyed the Dill flavored taro dip. That’s a winnah right there. I could see mixing that with olive oil to thin it out and using it as a pasta sauce.

    Indeed it was also cheaper at the KCC Farmers’ Market, costing $6 for the 12 oz. tub vs. $8 at Whole Foods.

  7. Aloha Pomai,
    You photograph food close up like a pro! Don’t ask to photo my feet… too long in sleepa an bare foot! Thanks for the great piece. I start this Wed. at Restaurant Row open market and with Kaiser Pensacola Clinic Fri. the 20th. Coming to the Rest. Row market… Veggie Laulau w/ taro and shiitake mushroom among other veg and a choice of Taro Delight toppings. In the works… Mac and Tease! Creammy Taro Mac, no dairy or egg.
    See ya,
    Tom Purdy

  8. You can also get this onoliscious product at Tamura’s Kaimuki & Aikahi….
    They have the best prices on it! $6/tub

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