It’s famed for its glorious beaches, sublime surf conditions, lush green island interiors and fascinating and surreal lava parks, but there are also places for foodies in Hawaii that point to a strong culinary heritage that many people perhaps don’t consider. I guess the association with SPAM is forever etched in the mind of gastronomes! Let me assure you the cuisine of the 50th State is much more than tinned luncheon meat, as these places for foodies in Hawaii will prove.
I have always associated macadamia nuts with Australia and didn’t realize it was a significant crop in Hawaii. But it is and there are a couple of places for foodies in Hawaii if you, like me, love the creamy nut. There’s the big factory operation of Mauna Loa Macadamia Factory with its visitor center but I think you might prefer the more intimate operation of Tropical Farms. It’s a rural setting and the shop is stacked with macadamia goodies. You’ll find it at 49-227A Kamehameha Hwy, O’Ahu
You may think a Pina Colada sums up Hawaii, but surely the beverage of choice has to be Kona coffee. You can learn all about how the coffee cherry becomes the coffee bean that becomes Kona coffee at a number of farms nestling in the volcanic slopes of the Kona Coast of Big Island. There are also coffee farms and plantations that have B&Bs and vacation accommodation, but a great place for foodies to visit is Greenwell Farms in Kealakekua. Here a guided tour takes you through orchards that are 120 years old and you can see workers raking the coffee cherries onto hoshidanas (platforms with rolling roofs).
A visit to Hawaii has always been on my lust list but it’s creeping ever higher in the must-do stakes because as I write this list of places for foodies in Hawaii, I am realizing the islands produce some of my very favorite things. Like pineapples! The tour of Hali’imaile, the plantation town, is the only pineapple tour in the US. Get to Maui, learn all about the fruit, the eco-friendly cultivation techniques and then gorge yourself silly on this delicious, oh so sweet and juicy fruit.
Surrounded by a tangle of lush vines and heavily-scented tropical blooms, in a misty rainforest clearing you’ll find the Rare Hawaii Honey Company. Rare by name, rare by nature, their signature honey sounds heavenly. It is a monofloral honey, meaning it comes from one flower, and that flower blooms on a single grove of kiawe trees. Only the honey that is not needed to sustain the bee population is processed for sale and that yields about 25,000 pounds annually. There’s minimal processing and the result is raw, organic honey that is silky and a stunning pearly white color. Pass me a spoon! The shop also sells honeys mixed with other ingredients, and also lehua honey and macadamia flower honey. You’ll find honey heaven at 66-125 Lalamilo Farm Road, Waimea, Hawaii.
I’m not going to make a recommendation here other than to say one of the essential places for foodies to visit in Hawaii has to be a Luau. A Luau is a traditional Hawaiian feast and usually a pig is the central attraction. The reason I’m not mentioning any specific one is because there are luaus all over the islands and it really is best to get some local intel about where the best places are and take it from there.
Farmers markets have taken a wee while to catch on in Hawaii, but now they’re here with a vengeance. Cited as being one of the best is the KCC market that takes place in the car park of the college located on Diamond Head Road on O’Ahu. There are not only stalls and stalls of freshly picked fruit and vegetables, but some sensational snacks and dishes made from the bounty of the islands. It may only be 10 o’clock in the morning but can you resist a mouthful of barbecued abalone fished off the Kona coast a few hours previously? Seafood too much at that time of day? How about pizza topped with macadamia nut pesto and sweet North Shore heirloom tomatoes?
Ok, so I was a bit disparaging of spam at the beginning of this article but we have to respect that Shoulder Pork And Ham is a big part of Hawaiian culture and foodies especially should appreciate that. There’s no place better to “understand” spam than at the annual festival of spam – Spam Jam. 2015 will be the 13th year of the Waikiki Spam Jam and like all festivals in Hawaii, it promises great food (erm spam?), great entertainment and great fun. And like Monty Python said, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam…
When I was considering places for foodies in Hawaii, I was wishing that maybe I could stop by Kamekona’s shaved ice bar or the Shrimp Truck but then I remembered that Hawaii 5-0 is actually a TV program and there was no way I would ever taste one of the big guy’s shrimp salads or dare I say, spam burritos. Probably a good thing. I’ll stick to reality. That reality also includes vanilla farms, chocolate (cacao farms) and as Condé Nast Travel says, fabulous restaurants because Hawaii is the “New Foodie Frontier.” Ready for a Hawaiian foodie fest?
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