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Posted at 4:16 p.m. on July 24, 2014
“The party was such a big hit the cops were called because we had too many people,” an aide to Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, told HOH about the overwhelming response to the Aloha State’s July 23 taste-around.
The inaugural event was packed during our visit, with waves of people — all wearing complimentary purple-flowered leis (700 were distributed throughout the evening) — flowing in and out of the Kennedy Caucus Room to see/hear/taste/learn all about the island state.
“Aloha!” Hirono greeted each guest as they poured through the front door. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, extended his welcome to the rapidly swelling crowd from up on stage later in the program.
As for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, well, it turns out she’s a hugger.
We thought (for a second) that we’d spotted Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, mingling with native Hawaiians and curious staffers alike, but when we turned to look again the smiling face had disappeared into the crowd, leaving us feeling dejected about having failed to connect with her about the best part of the visually stimulating set-up. Our eyes must’ve been playing tricks, because the congresswoman was actually in Hawaii.
Party planners said Sen. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., was quite taken with the samples of fresh papaya, while Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., was purportedly buzzing about Big Island Bees’ Ohia Lehua Blossom honey.
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy opted for a meatier experience, waiting in line, like everyone else, for a taste of kalua pork.
The Vermont Democrat even passed back a few plates to waiting staffers.
Non-congressional stalkers had plenty to occupy themselves with as well.
There was ukulele phenom Aidan James, who rocked the mic for a bit.
Others gravitated towards Brad Parker, the creative vision behind Tiki Shark Art, and his wonderfully weird creations.
(Don’t know about you, but we’re all shook up)
(Hail to the King, baby!)
And at least one guest got a shout-out for exercising impeccable sartorial judgment from an island native.
“Now that’s an Aloha shirt!” the visiting businessman congratulated an older gent sporting a short sleeve number emblazoned with a rendering of a classic woodie.
Having done the requisite amount of people watching, HOH then went off in search of sustenance.
The most interesting things that made it into this mouth included:
This tropical cooler — fruity, with a delightfully citrus twang to it — was very refreshing, particularly after a steamy day on the Hill.
Succulent slow-cooked swine mixed with tender, sour cabbage. (Good call, Sen. Leahy!)
Chocolate-covered Coffee Beans
“You can drink’em or you can eat’em,” Kauai Coffee Company’s Gary Soto assured guests as he spooned chocolate-covered peaberry beans (robust flavor, with a slightly bitter aftertaste) into waiting hands.
Blue Hawaiian Shaved Ice
The Aloha Munchies aide who assembled our frosty treat (think: coconut-spiked fruit punch) said most folks had been tossing back guava-, strawberry- and blue Hawaiian-flavored chillers.
“That’s what I was looking for,” declared one overjoyed older woman as soon as she spotted the neatly stacked grilled snacks.
The little girl that gave the potted meat production a whirl shortly thereafter, strongly disagreed.
“Ewww! That’s gross!” the youngster squealed after spitting out the half-chewed delicacy into her mother’s napkin.
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