Tasting Kauai Part Two - Farm To Table Kauai eats. A look at all the food stops on our Tasting Kauai tour as well as a little about the mastermind behind these tours, Marta Lane. Thanks Tasting Kauai for sponsoring this post. I received a complimentary tour and no other compensation.
Marta Lane is an amazing person. What she has done and is doing for the local Kauai food scene is so incredible. Marta Lane is a freelance writer specializing in Hawaiian food and farming on the island of Kauai. She has contributed to many publications such as Hana Hou! magazine, Edible Hawaiian Islands magazine, HILuxury magazine and her columns "Tastes of Kauai" and "On The Farm" ran every week in MidWeek Kauai and The Garden Island Newspapers from 2010 to 2014. She founded Tasting Kauai in 2012 as her official tasting food tours business because she wanted people to experience Kauai's culture through food in a much more personal setting. Tasting Kauai guides small groups of adventurous eaters to local farms, hot spots including higher end farm to table restaurants, and food trucks. The tours provide a look at how the farm to table industry is thriving in Hawaii while getting a chance to speak to some of Kauai's best chefs, business owners and farmers.
You leave the tour with an entirely different perspective of food on Kauai and greater sense of respect for the Hawaiian culture. Marta shares the Aloha Spirit through her tours. And I was so incredibly grateful to be able to go on one. Marta also has a full-color restaurant guide book and a Tasting Kauai app. Her book and app were recently updated and the tours were updated as well. Her tours range from meeting at a farmers market to learn all about the different fruits and vegetables grown on Kauai, meet local farmers and sample the produce. Other tours are more extensive with different farms and or restaurant stops. The one I went on, Royal Coconut Coast Tour, included the tour of Kealia Farms that I covered in part one of this series, as well as several food trucks, a bakery and a higher end farm to table restaurant. It was an incredible sampling of Kauai eats and our tour guide, Michelle Lemay was so much fun.
Picking up where I left off from the Kealia Farm Tour we headed back to Kapa'a for our first Tasting Kauai stop. One of the many food trucks on Kauai. Nom Breakfast & Burgers - A food truck in Kapa'a, Kauai's east shore across from the Kauai craft fair. Plenty of seating with picnic tables and umbrellas to dine there or they can pack up your food to take back to your condo or hotel. One of the many food trucks on Kauai that supports local farms.
Nom Kauai or Nom Breakfast & Burgers was started a little over a year ago. It took two people, Mark and Terri Brown, to be sick of their corporate mainland jobs to finally take the plunge of moving to Hawaii with the idea of owning a food truck.
They advertised on Craigslist that they needed a chef to go with the food truck they were buying and they found their chef, Thomas Fuquay, who was already on Kauai looking to do his own thing in the restaurant biz and branch out from his current chef job. The Brown's got the truck shipped to Kauai, they developed a menu with Thomas and away they went.
Their menu is pretty simple but so delicious; breakfast offerings, salads, sides and burgers and a few offerings for Keikis AKA kids. All the beef for their burgers is grass-fed and raised on Kauai at Mederios farms in Kalaheo. They get their produce from local farms and farmer's markets. They fully believe in supporting the local farms as much as they can. Their food is all prepared fresh daily and they have a specials menu that changes frequently. They are most known for their Nom Burger and their chicken and waffles.
Doesn't everything look amazing?? We got to sample the Chicken and Waffles. Which was so insanely tasty that we came back a few days later to have again. The chicken is marinated in buttermilk with a hint of cinnamon, coated with a mixture of all purpose and whole wheat flour and fried to perfection. Served on top of a thick, fluffy Belgian waffle and served with the most amazing pineapple bourbon butter I have ever tasted.
Like I wanted to marry the pineapple bourbon butter it was that good. Local Hawaiian pineapple is the best pineapple on the planet. And mixed with bourbon and butter? Heaven.
Hands down the best chicken and waffles I have ever had. As we were nomming on our sample Terri Brown chatted with us and told us all about the story about how Nom Kauai came to be. I love that they said life is short time to make our dream a reality and left behind their suits and briefcases for flip flops and spatulas. They celebrated their year anniversary of Nom this summer and told us that they were getting busier by the day. They are parked on a lot that is shared with several other food trucks of varying cuisines. Greek, Mexican and shave ice.
The food truck scene on Hawaii has really started booming these last few years, and the fact that they source ingredients from local farms makes the quality of food better than expected for a food truck. Everything made fresh daily, a view you can't beat and friendly owners that are more than willing to talk story with diners. A must stop for casual, but delicious eats on Kauai.
Make sure you add Nom Breakfast & Burgers as a stop on your next trip to Kauai. We stopped back by for one last meal before we left the island and I had the chicken and waffles again and my husband got the Nom Burger which he loved. Our girls shared an order of the chicken and waffles as well. We loved it that much we had to have it again!
Next stop on the Tasting Kauai tour - Wailua Shave ice!!
Shave ice is one of my favorite treats in the whole world, and it is a must eat when on Hawaii. Last year when we were on Maui we went to the famous Ululani's shave ice, and while they are world famous, they use food dye filled syrups that I try to avoid. We actually had stopped by Wailua Shave ice the day before the tour, not knowing that we would be sampling it on our Tasting Kauai tour the next day. The agenda for the tours changes often so we weren't given a list of specific stops. And even one of the stops changed the day of the tour due to an emergency from one of the chef's. I liked the element of surprise of what we were going to be sampling. Wailua Shave ice is unlike any other shave ice I have had on Hawaii before. Located just a block or so down from Nom Breakfast and Burgers, it also is a food truck that has a giant electric shave ice machine that the gals working there were using to shave the ice to the thinnest layers imaginable that melted in your mouth.
Other shave ice I have had before ended up more like crunchy bits of ice so this was a real treat. Their toppings were all very gourmet and sourced locally from farms, and what was in season. Passion fruit happened to be in season when we were there so they had a Lilikoi Cream with a vanilla bean milk that was poured over the freshly shaved ice and topped with fresh passion fruit. I had that the day before we had stopped by. The day of I had a sample of their special of Guava Sunrise. It was shaved ice with fresh orange and pineapple juices, fresh guava puree and a starfruit slice on top.
So gorgeous! My mom had the Kauai Orange Dream - orange juice and coconut milk with a haupia foam and fresh orange on top. Since she was sharing she was served their usual size of a serving. Very generous and you can see the texture of the thinly shaved ice.
While we ate and sipped our shave ice, we got to meet and chat with Brandon Baptiste, one of the co-owners of the stand. He told us how he was a professionally trained chef, had traveled around the United States and was cooking and sous cheffing in some very high end Michelin starred restaurants such as French Laundry. He told us how he purchased the electric shave ice machine that shaves the ice to a specific thickness, which isn't thick at all, for the melt in your mouth ice and how the ice is frozen to a specific temperature for shaving. He told us about the recipes they use for the syrups and toppings, which are their popular flavors and which they have only seasonally versus year round. They also have a small shave ice cart in Portland, Oregon. It goes to show you how special Hawaii is when you are from there, travel the world to cook professionally in some amazing establishments, but end up back home running a local shave ice stand because there really is nothing like Hawaii anywhere else. You could tell how much passion went into the recipes and how genuine and friendly everyone was that worked there. It was a shave ice experience unlike anything I have ever had before and one I will never forget.
Our next stop was as last minute surprise stop. One of the vendors had an emergency and wasn't able to host us so Haole Girl Island Sweets stepped in. And I am so glad. Because I love pastry!
I was looking at the location and realized it was the same shop that made my wedding cake almost 10 years ago when we were married on Kauai. Icing on the Cake was the bakery that made my cake, they relocated to California a few years after my wedding. Then it became Cakes By Kristin, who made fabulous cupcakes, until Judy Capertina took it over in 2012. Located in the Kinipopo shopping village in Kapaa, just south of the Coconut Marketplace, Judy puts out 64 pounds of croissant dough a day along with other pastries, cakes and breads. Judy has been a pastry chef since 1978, a graduate of the Culinary institute of America and has been the executive pastry chef at many high end resorts, as well as chocolatier and pastry instructor.
Cute Hawaiian bungalow on the outside, high end French pastries on the inside. Judy is also a world class chocolatier, chocolate work being her favorite but she also creates stunning wedding cakes. She was the Pastry coordinator at the Cannes film festival in France and Sundance Film festival for 15 years. Despite her worldly pastry experience and impressive resume, she chooses Kauai as her home to create pastries again. Her prior time on the island had been when she was the executive pastry chef at the 5 star Princeville Resort from 1993-1995.
When Judy opened Haole Girl Sweets she did so with the intention to bring something new and unique to the islands. Classic French croissants with an island twist. She uses locally grown produce and chocolate, dairy from Kaunana Dairy, taro from local taro farms, locally produced honey and more. Listening to Judy speak about where she sources her ingredients you can tell how passionate she is about the quality of the ingredients she uses and where they come from. Her support of local farmers is incredible. And the quality and taste of her pastries proves her passion and support.
We were all practically salivating over all the baked goods listed on the sign outside the shop. How amazing do they sound? Passion fruit cream cheese filled croissants, macadamia nut sticky buns, all butter classic croissants with island honey, warm croissant quiche made with Kilauea goat cheese. Pastry heaven!
How gorgeous are these macadamia nut sticky buns. Judy had made a special treat for us to sample that day - taro focaccia. She explained how she doesn't normally bake savory breads but had an abundance of taro and felt like making a few loaves of taro focaccia. And I am so glad she did. It had a lovely light lavender hue from the taro, it was soft, dense and chewy. I was bummed she had only made a small amount for samples because I would have bought several loaves of it. It was that good. We were given the option to purchase some pastries from her and since croissants are her specialty I bought just about one of each.
I bought a Maui Gold roasted pineapple and cream cheese croissant, passion fruit cream cheese, mango creme which had a light custard inside with the mango, chocolate banana croissant, coconut purple sweet potato croissant ( seen cut in half in the middle - which was my absolute favorite out of the bunch) and banana bread. My kids devoured the banana bread and the chocolate banana croissant. My husband and I split the rest over dessert that night and breakfast the next day. They reheated beautifully and were perfect paired with hot cups of Kauai coffee. I am so glad that Haole Girl Sweets ended up being one of our stops because I loved listening to Judy speak of her baking and chocolatier experience and her passion for supporting local farmers. Another reason showing how Tasting Kauai has done an incredible job forming relationships with local vendors, chefs, bakers and farmers. Judy also sells her pastries at several farmers markets all over the island. We stopped by her booth at the Saturday morning farmer's market a the city college a few days after the tour so I could get a few more croissants. Butter and honey for my kiddos, another coconut purple sweet potato for me.
The final stop on our Tasting Kauai tour was Oasis on the beach.
Located in the Waipouli Beach Resort, Oasis on the beach is a higher end restaurant with gorgeous ocean views, and incredible farm to table food.
Walking up to the entrance you can see the aqua blue ocean through the restaurant doors. The open concept of the restaurants makes you feel like you are dining outside. The restaurant located at the back of the Waipouli resort in Kapaa is separate from the hotel, so you don't need hotel reservations to dine there but you do have to walk through the hotel to get to it. It's a very romantic setting, but also kid friendly if traveling with kids.
There were two Hawaiian monk seals resting on the beach on the other side of the hedges when we were there. An absolute gorgeous setting for an incredible tasting of Executive Chef Sean Smull's creations. I love that the tour ended with this meal since it was a bit fancier and felt like the perfect way to end a perfect day. We got to sit and relax, enjoy the view, and enjoy some incredible food.
We started with a gin based cocktail made with fresh island dragon fruit that was currently in season, muddled Tahitian meyer lemon and a ginger syrup. The syrup was made in house with fresh islands ginger. The drink was almost too gorgeous to drink. Almost. Isn't this gorgeous?
Since my daughters were along on the tour the chef made them their own mocktail so they too could have a fancy drink. They loved the color.
I was so involved with listening to the Chef talk about his culinary education and experience as well as describing the dish I had started eating before I snapped a photo! Shame on me! I also was listening so intently that I forgot to write down all about where he worked before Oasis. I was also watching my children in awe of them gobbling up this exquisite dish of jalapeno, starfruit and guava marinated pork loin, roasted okinawan sweet potatoes, brined key limes, charred beets and fern shoots and flowers. This was absolutely incredible. The pork was cooked perfectly, the flavors worked so well together and all the different textures on the plate were fun to eat. If my kids enjoyed it, anyone would.
And now for dessert!! This was a Kauai coffee, kahlua and dark chocolate mousse, with an absinthe and almond biscotti, dehydrated flowers and orange scented cream. This was heavenly. The mousse was so flavorful and rich but not so rich that after one bite you didn't want more, I fished the dessert and wanted more it was so good. The biscotti was thin and worked perfectly with the mousse and the cream. A very thoughtful and well created dish that balanced out the pork dish we had just finished. All in all this was an amazing experience and everything we ate was all sourced on island. There is something to having a full meal that had a lot of thought and care put into it from a restaurant that gets about 90% of its menu ingredients on island. The support of local farms and farmers is incredible on Kauai. It was an amazing day, one that I will never forget.
I want to thank Marta again for having us on her Tasting Kauai tour. Michelle was such a fun tour guide, super informative and we even got to chat about farmers markets on the island to visit during our stay and other favorite restaurants. We even ran into Michelle at the Hanalei farmer's market on the north shore of Kauai later in the week. One of Marta's favorite restaurants is Street Burger in Kapa'a that has 26 beers on tap, gourmet burgers with locally sourced beef, lamb from Niihau, outrageous fries and decadent desserts. We met up with Marta and her husband Dan, a professional photographer, for a meal at Street Burger. It was so great to sit and chat with both of them and get to learn more about the tours, her book and passion for the local food and farm to table scene on Kauai. We also got to meet the Chef owners, Kristin and Aaron Leikam. Aaron is head chef and Kristin is the pastry chef. I mentioned earlier when talking about Haole Girl Island Sweets that she had taken over the baker from "Cakes by Kristin", well that Kristin is the owner of Street Burger. I love how small Kauai is not just physically but because everyone knows each other and supports each other. Kristin ( and Marta and Dan) insisted we try her unique twist on s'mores for dessert and I am so glad we did. It was another memorable meal and getting to know Marta and Dan better made it that much better. You can find out all about Marta's tours on her Tasting Kauai website, which also has a ton of information about Kauai restaurants, chefs, farmers markets, gorgeous photography by Dan and more. Marta also developed an app that I found highly useful on our trip. Even though I had been to Kauai several times already, I discovered new restaurants via her app. I can't recommend her Tasting Kauai tours enough. They are so worth the experience. You leave with a full belly and even fuller heart feeling more like you are a member of the Kauai O'hana and not just a visitor or vacationer. Kaua'i changes you and these tours will forever cement a permanent place in your heart with love for Kauai, its food and its culture.
I also want to thank Dania Katz, the publisher of Edible Hawaiian Magazine, for introducing me to Marta Lane. One thing I love about social media is the ability to make friends and connections all over the world through common interests. Dania knew that it would be a perfect for Marta and I to meet and that I would love her tours and she was right! I subscribe to Edible Hawaii Magazine, one of my favorite publications to read.