Tasting Kauai

A Culinary Romp Through Paradise

Cacao Pod Photo by Daniel Lane

Cacao Pod Photo by Daniel Lane

On the east side of island is Ein Rogel Farm. A 26-acre sustainable exotic fruit farm nestled in Kauai’s Kahuna Valley. There are 80 varieties of tropical fruit on the estate and the five-million-year-old Makaleha Mountain range provides the trees with pristine
spring water.

A fresh morning dawns as a couple from Colorado eagerly wait for the farm tour to begin. It rained through the night and into early morning, and the group that was to be ten is now three. The birds don’t care. As the clouds break, they sing with the emerging sun.

Kauai is known as the Garden Island because of the abundant rainfall due to Mount
Waialeale. An east facing peak grabs warm, moist trade winds and turns them into
tropical showers. Plants thrive in the graceful dance provided by water and sun, and
somehow being in their midst draws out the life in you.

Under a covered awning in the warm morning air, we chew sticky-sweet sugarcane and
learn it’s called the Hawaiian toothbrush. “I always tell people to have a light breakfast
because when you come on the tour, you’ll be eating a lot!” says our guide, Jesse

As water spills from Makaleha Falls into one of two streams on the property, we cross a
bridge festooned with bright tropical flowers and shaded by towering camphor trees.

Jesse coaxes a succulent prize from the center of a purple fruit with plump, white
flesh. “Mangosteen is known as the Queen of Fruits,” he says as we slip a piece into our
mouths. “The inside is so sweet that the Queen of England, when Captain Cook was
exploring this area, paid $125 in today’s currency for one of these.”

Pineapple plants and 12 types of citrus thrive with hundreds of colorful flowers. Trees
such as ylang ylang perfume the air. Chickens and turkeys roam freely while bees are
busy in their hives making tropical honey.

Whack! Jesse breaks open a coconut with his machete. We take an ambrosial sip and
learn it is not milk but water that we are drinking. Redheaded Brazilian cardinals spy the
cracked nut and wait for our departure so they can free the husks of whatever sweet
meat we overlook.

Shaded by the canopy of a cacao tree, Jesse compares chocolate to wine. Pumpkin-
orange, crimson-red and chestnut-brown pods dangle from the tree’s branches like sun kissed jewels. “You’ll notice a difference in taste between Kauai chocolate and
chocolate from Ghana or the Dominican Republic,” he explains.

An emerging trend is classifying chocolate. Single estate means it comes from one
farm, and single origin means it comes from one country. Rarely will there be a single
varietal, a common practice with wine. There are ten edible cacao species or varietals,
and Ein Rogel Farm cultivates three.

Nature’s kinetic energy transfers to us as we romp along the orchard. Childhood
memories blossom from the recesses of our minds. We recall our first taste of an
orange, or our mother, cutting a star fruit, and wondering at its shape.

As a freelance farm and food writer based on Kauai, I have met artisans who create
with aloha: Farmers that delight in nourishing bodies with organically grown produce,
and chefs who are deeply gratified when one bite makes a person close their eyes, let
out a deep breath, and sigh in pleasure: Mmmmmm!

A Kauai Culinary Tour

I wanted to spread these seeds of aloha, so decided to create a day-long, farm to fork
culinary adventure. We start the day with a two-hour tour at Ein Rogel Farm, of which I
was inspired to write the story above.

After the farm tour, we’ll meet at the Kauai Marriott Resort. While we sit at the outdoor
courtyard lanai, executive chef Guy Higa will serve a four-course lunch made with Kauai
grown ingredients. He’ll also do a cooking demonstration, so you can ask questions and
learn how the professionals cook.

For Reservations or inquiries call 808-635-0257. Deadline to register is Wednesday July 11