Here’s a break from holiday news, or for some heading west, a few tips on tropical delights from a land called Hanalei (sung to “Puff the Magic Dragon.”)
Food isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when planning a trip to Hawaii, and I dare say that’s legit. But since good eats are the focus of our time together, I thought I’d share with you some of the local flavors of Kauai which are both exotic and delicious.
Of course it all begins at the farmers’ markets, which have vastly improved since my last visit to this island 14 years ago. During our weeklong stay, we were able to attend two lovely markets on the north shore in Hanalei. We were told to arrive early on Tuesday, and as you can see other folks got the same memo. Local goat cheese, macadamia nuts, organic greens, fresh ginger, purple sweet potatoes…and the obvious abundance of tropical fruit were just some of the goodies we would scoop up for our home cooked meals. Here are some highlights and some health bennies: (you can see I’m having way too much fun with food photos)
No trip to the islands would be complete without a (frequent) visit to the fish market. There are two on the north shore: one in Kilauea; the other in Hanalei. For fresh fish selections I favor the Hanalei market, as their assortment was far superior. (Let me know if you want details on specific types.) In Kilauea, the ahi-wraps are not to be missed for lunch (large and rich enough to split,) or whatever they feature as the fish taco du jour. (Sidebar – save room for dessert at the ice cream store next door after 2:00pm. Chocolate coconut macadamia nut – TO DIE FOR. But do not engage the owner in conversation. I don’t think he gets out much.)
For additional grocery items, Hanalei now has their own Papaya’s Natural Foods– a wonderful health-food store with much more than granola. Consider it a Hawaiian version of (a small) Whole Foods with everything from grass-fed beef and pantry items to an organic salad bar offering produce from local growers (another great lunch tip.)
If you just need a fix of the ‘aloha spirit,’ a must-do for food and drink is Bar Acuda in Hanalei. Opened three years ago by Jim Moffat (Slow Club and 42 Degrees in San Francisco), this place has the vibe and is a big supporter of all things local and seasonal. Their tapas-style menu changes weekly, they feature great wines by the glass, and their cocktails can drive a person to drink. After the surfing, of course.