HANAMA‘ULU — “I had to tell them ‘no,’” said Esther Riopta Tuesday from a tent erected outside the Island Love service window in Hanama‘ulu.
“We’re down to the last bucket of dough, so we can only take care of the pre-orders for malasadas and beignets, a form of French donuts,” she said.
The Riopta ‘ohana, led by malasada chef Donovan Riopta of 22 degrees baked, joined other bakeries dispensing malasadas on Malasada Day, or Malasada Tuesday that always falls on the day before Ash Wednesday.
“I’m lucky to have the help of family and friends,” said Donovan Riopta, who had his hands full with pre-orders of more than 100 packages of malasada, and 80 packages of beignets, square-shaped pieces of dough, including yeast, that are deep-fried and generously garnished with confectioners sugar. “I’m changing up the oil to take care of the last of the dough before the pre-orders come in to pick up.”
Donovan’s sister, Casie Riopta, owns Island Love, where 22 degrees baked operates out of on Tuesdays and Thursdays between the Island Love’s normal offerings of shave ice and newly-added waffle dogs.
Malasada Tuesday dates back to the days of the plantations during the 1800s when Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday, was observed the day before the start of fasting and the Lenten season. The practice refers to the final night of eating the rich, fatty foods and desserts before Lent.
Womenfolk from the Portuguese plantation camps also used Malasada Tuesday to use up the oils and cooking grease ahead of Lent.
“I haven’t heard too much about Malasada Day until we got rushed,” Donovan Riopta said. “We turned down orders for Valentine’s Day because we thought we would put the effort into Malasada Day.”
Business was brisk from the time they opened shortly after 7 a.m.
“Our first orders was at 7 a.m.,” Esther Riopta said. “But we had people waiting from 6:30 a.m. And then, there was the rain that slowed our starting, too.”
Marlena Paterson of VIP Sweets and Treats had her family, including her eldest son Eric Sudeth, helping malasada chef Eddie Coloma crank out endless batches of the sweet morsel from under a tent set up outside the bakery at the Kaua‘i Village Shopping Center in Waipouli.
“It’s been steady,” Paterson said, noting that the popularity of malasada had the bakery increasing its offering to daily until 1 p.m.
The bakery also tailored back its Valentine’s Day offerings, and was closed Monday in anticipation of the annual malasada rush.
“Everything is fried to order. It takes about seven minutes to do a batch. This year is not as busy as we anticipated because there are so many people unemployed and businesses working with adjusted and modified hours.”
The All Saints Episcopal Church and Preschool that traditionally offers its Ashes to Go ministry to celebrate Ash Wednesday today was also caught off-guard.
“Normally, we have a family that comes in and does Malasada Tuesday,” said Dominique Cami Baldovino of the church’s office. “But they didn’t show this year. It was a good thing I could get to VIP Sweets and Treats for drive-thru pick up for our group (that includes the preschool population).”
Cami Baldovino said the church’s bishop is not allowing them to do the popular drive-by Ashes to Go this year.
Instead, the All Saints Episcopal Church and Preschool is offering two Ash Wednesday services — one starting at 8 a.m., and the second one starting at 6 p.m. — where participants will be offered individual packets of ashes that they can self-apply.