Eating Local in Kauai
Kaua’i stole my heart and my tummy. 10 days on the Garden Isle in the middle of February was 10 days of utter paradise. Just what the doctor ordered. What is not to love about welcoming and friendly locals, lush landscapes and warm fragrant air. The beauty of the island is breathtaking and wild.
We were greeted at the airport with warm hugs from family and arrived to a house filled local delights. Each day we indulged in loads of tropical fruit, fresh veggies and fish. As much as I love apples and squash, it was such a treat to have this variety of local produce to choose from in the middle of winter and loved ones to share it with.
Our days were filled with sunshine, rain showers followed by rainbows, walks on the beach, stunning hikes, swims in the ocean, farmers markets, ping pong and plenty of laughs.
Most mornings we were awoken by beautiful song birds and a wild chicken laying an egg.
As with all trips I take, food is my number one way to experience the local community and culture. Kaua’i certainly delivered on the food front. For such a small island, there is a strong local food movement and good availability of local produce and products made on Kaua’i. Even the local burger joint uses 100% Kaua’i grassfed beef.
We stayed in Hanalei, a small town on the North side of the island surrounded by breathtaking mountains. It has a limited number of restaurants, lots of surfers, great beaches, local organic produce and a friendly and very relaxed atmosphere. We fell into the lifestyle easily and happily.
Big daily decisions included whether to make lunch, go into town or eat tacos at the taco truck across the street.
The twice weekly farmers market kept us well stocked. Just a sampling of things we found include: arugula, kale, chard, green onions, carrots, beets, radishes, tomatoes, beans, eggplant, lettuce and other salad greens, avocados, basil, cilantro, all varieties of citrus, pineapples, star fruit, young ginger, fresh turmeric, bananas, and papayas.
Beautiful taro fields just outside Hanalei on a misty morning.
Fresh cold coconuts ready for drinking.
We ate many fruits we had never tried before like loquats, mulberries and a bunch of which I can’t remember their names. Some certainly better than others.
A walk into town (or drive to Kapa’a) often involved a stop at local coffee shop Java Kai for a pick me up in the form of an iced coffee or fresh fruit smoothie.
Beautiful citrus. We even had a lime and tangelo tree in the yard where we stayed. Such a novelty for this Canadian gal.
Some edible favourites that really stood out were the avocados, so rich and buttery. The pineapples for sure, particularly the white pineapples which are unbelievably sweet and juicy.
Oh and the limes. So many different varieties but all incredibly juicy and flavourful. When you touched them the oils would just rub off on your hands they were so fresh and fragrant.
A daily drink creation involved mango or pineapple juice, fresh squeezed lime juice, young ginger and sparkling water. Yum.
And then there were the bananas. These are apple bananas and Cuban reds I believe. I can take or leave a banana most days but not these ones. Just the perfect size, texture and sweetness. Everything tastes better when it is picked and eaten fresh.
This is just a taste of what Kaua’i has to offer. I want to share some of our finds should you find yourself on Kaua’i and in search of good food.
Lots of information on local farms and products at Kauai Grown
A great list of farmers markets and all kinds of info at Edible Hawaiian Islands
Places to eat and drink in Hanalei: Java Kai, Pat’s Taqueria (taco truck), Hanalei Taro and Juice Co, Bubba’s Burgers, Tahiti Nui for an afternoon or evening Mai Tai, and The Dolphin for a great meal or to buy fresh fish. We heard lots of good things about Bar Acuda but we didn’t make it there this time.
Kunana Dairy has yummy goat cheese and beautiful organic produce.
Gelato from Papalani Gelato.
Raw honey from Shagnasty Honey. Love the name!
You know when you have an idea of what a place will be like and then you arrive and it far exceeds any expection? That was Kaua’i for me.
Words are failing to describe the beauty and joy I experience while on Kaua’i. Hopefully the images help where words have failed.
It was certainly hard to leave this all behind. Vancouver welcomed me back properly with its dark, cold and rainy skies. All I could do to cope after getting home from the airport was to hide under my flannel sheets and dream of warmer days.
But I am left with a heart, soul and belly that are well nourished and a feeling of hope that spring is not too far around the corner.
Mahalo Kaua’i. Until we meet again.