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It had been more than 5 years since I visited Hawaii, but in the last 6 months I visited there twice—first for a summer wedding and then for a fall getaway.
Whether you are looking for an escape from the wall-to-wall beach bums in high season or are visiting during the slower months, take just one day to explore the growing Hawaiian islands field-to-table movement. This is exactly what I did on the island of Oahu.
Small farms are popping up on all of the islands and doing very well selling their produce to local groceries, restaurants and farmer’s markets. I was able to visit quite a variety of "farms".
At our first stop we learned about the Hawaiian method of growing and processing coffee. Even as I write this I can still smell the heady aroma of roasting coffee. Of course, the smell was reinforced by my tastings and for once it all tasted as good as it smelled.
We also went to a cacao (they pronounced it Ka-kow, not ko-ko) orchard to learn about the cacao beans. It turns out that the raw cacao kernel is somewhat flavorful if you can get beyond the slimy texture.
Fortunately, the raw tasting was followed up with the “serious tasting" - dark chocolate, milk chocolate, chocolate with chocolate nibs, cleansing our palates with the same freshly brewed coffee. We were quite a lively group after this energy lift.
After stopping at an organic fruit farm which specialized in mangoes and avocados, we completed our journey at a taro root farm. Knowing that taro root is the one and only ingredient in poi, I was not overly excited having tasted poi in my younger years at hotel luaus. Luckily, we were served a delicious non-poi lunch and only sampled the poi which was freshly pounded as we watched.
As I mentioned, I had "eaten" poi before and approached this tasting with trepidation (and also with great hesitation because I was so full having just had coffee, chocolate, mangoes and a full lunch). But, the hospitality and the warmth the hosts extended to our group was so heartfelt that I could not refuse. But, to be honest, although I tasted the poi, and it was better than the last time, it is not anything I will ever request.
While the Hawaiian Islands are known for their stunning beaches and beautiful waters, take time for a unique adventure. I came away from this experience with a new sense of the islands and its people… and the added bonus of tasting the most flavorful mangos, chocolate, fresh coffee, and (probably) poi I have ever had.
Follow me on Twitter @experiencetrvl.
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