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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
Fresco's Bruschetta Flavored by Hawaiian Farms Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Fresco BruschettaAs some of you no doubt already know, the word "bruschetta" really just means grilled bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. What you put on top of that is really up to you -- even though many people (especially in the U.S.) associate bruschetta with chopped tomatoes, garlic, onion and basil. At Fresco, the new Italian restaurant in the Rainbow Bazaar at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki, Executive Chef Rodhel Ibay -- inspired by the name of the restaurant ("fresco" means "fresh" in Italian) -- decided to take the flavors of local farms to create his version of the dish.

"Going out to the farms brought to light how much the flavors of one simple fresh vegetable or spice can transform into a single dish," said Ibay. "When I first tried the tomato straight off the vine at Waimanalo Farm, that first bite is what motivated me to create my bruschetta."

In addition to the "traditional" tomato bruschetta, Ibay highlights other local produce with a macadamia-crusted avocado bruschetta and a roasted Big Island mushroom bruschetta -- and was kind enough to share his recipe here with us (below). Enjoy!

Oahu's KCC Farmers Market Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

KCC Farmers MarketI've said it before and I'll say it again: One of the best ways to get to know a community when you're traveling is to visit its farmers market. That's especially true on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, where the KCC (Kapi'olani Community College) Farmers Market is the place to be on a Saturday morning (left) -- both for locals and for visitors staying in Waikiki (a 10-15 minute drive away). Offering local produce, flowers (including gorgeous orchids and hibiscus), honey, fish and prepared foods (including some from KCC's Culinary Arts Program), the KCC Farmers Market is one of five markets run on Oahu by the Hawaii Farm Bureau, which prepares a tip sheet each week to help navigate the more than 60 farm stands at the Saturday morning market. Staying in a hotel limits the buying possibilities -- for instance, based on our visit a few weeks ago, there were many gorgeous flowers being taken home by locals and the most popular stand was Big Island Abalone. But even for visitors, there are a lot of great options.

Waikiki from Diamond HeadThere are three coffee stands: Koko Crater Coffee Roasters, which has the premium spot right near the entrance, for those that are in major need of a caffeine fix (like we were), Keopu Coffee and Aikane Coffee. Other favorites included two local honey stands: Rhea's Hawaiian Honey (which offers samples and where we bought some amazing macadamia nut and organic cinnamon honey) and All Hawaiian Honey Coop (which has the best t-shirts and from whom we bought the Christmasberry Honey). We also loved the green juice from Otsuji Farms, made with kale, greens, beets, fresh pineapple, lemon juice and apple juice; the fresh island ginger drinks from PacifiKool; and the fresh roasted corn by Na 'Ono at the Kahuku Farms stand. Again, with 60-some stands, this is a major farmers market and not only a wonderful overview of the abundance of Hawaii's local offerings but a great way to spend a Saturday morning. Another plus is it's located right across from the entrance to Diamond Head State Park, for those who feel fueled up enough after the farmers market to make the trek up to the top of Diamond Head and take in the beautiful views (above).

Lovely Lumeria Maui Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Lumeria MauiThe north shore of Maui is one of my favorite places in the world. Between the wacky beach town of Paia, the glorious organic farms of the Upcountry area and Haleakala herself, the area has a magical quality that's hard to match. What it doesn't have is a lot of places to stay for those who want a real Maui (vs. resort Maui) experience. There is the Paia Inn, located within walking distance of both local Baldwin beach and the restaurants in Paia -- including the wonderful Paia Fish Market and Flatbread Pizza, which lists the local farmers who provided that day's fare on the menu. And there are small B&Bs and home rentals available through or For a long time that was about it. But now there's an offering for those who want a location -- and much more -- between the beaches of Paia and the Upcountry town of Makawao: Lumeria Maui.

Lumeria MauiThe brainchild of founder Xorin Balbes, who saw potential in the historic buildings that originally housed retired plantation workers, Lumeria Maui has been beautifully restored and turned into a boutique inn and retreat center with 24 guest rooms, a yoga studio, a farm-to-table-focused dining room and -- naturally -- gorgeous gardens. Complimentary offerings for those staying at Lumeria Maui include an organic breakfast, daily meditation, yoga, classes that include a series of horticulture programs and weekly garden tours -- and, after March 15, a new pool. Special events and workshops -- including Lumeria's signature Glow Cleanse -- are also offered throughout the year. For more information, call 855-579-8877 or visit

Seasons 52's Cliff Pleau Talks Beets Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Seasons 52 beetsI recently attended a sneak preview for the new Seasons 52 in Century City, part of a unique chain of 23 restaurants found throughout the continental U.S. that focus on healthy food using fresh seasonal ingredients (nothing on the menu is over 475 calories). As part of that focus, the Century City location features an indoor herb garden, a chef's garden and a spectacular outdoor living wall. At the preview, we were treated to a series of dishes created by Cliff Pleau, the Seasons 52 Culinary Director. The highlight, for me, was his beet carpaccio (pictured here) so I asked him for some tips on working with beets at home for those of us who are growing them or looking at them at the farmers markets and he was kind enough to send his thoughts (below). Enjoy!

Beets are awesome if you think of them as a natural root that has all the nutrients to push a plant through the soil and allow its leaves to reach sunlight. Their earthy quality allows for lots of flavor combinations. I like using gold beets and chiogga beets, but whatever is in the market is fun and tasty. Beets do need to be washed well. The tops can be de-stemmed and steamed. I like to eat them with sea salt, olive oil and red wine vinegar.

Roast beets by putting them in a roasting dish with a little bit of water (just a little in the bottom), some olive oil and sea salt to cover. Roast until almost tender in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 45 minutes. Then let them rest covered for 15 minutes. They can be chunked or peeled, and used for various creative applications. To peel, just rub off the skins with your hands and a paper towel.

For a beet carpaccio, slice peeled beets thin on a mandolin and plate with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt and add an herb salad mixture. A couple of flavors and ingredients that work well with beets include: goat cheese, wasabi (mix with sour cream), herbs, grains, citrus, ginger and black pepper.

Citrus Tabbouleh from Seasons 52 Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Citrus Tabbouleh from Seasons 52Gotta love winter citrus season. In the past, we've shared recipes for a Pantescan Winter Salad from Tasha Zemke (who lives on the Italian island of Pantelleria). This year, we have a new recipe from Seasons 52 Culinary Director Cliff Pleau, who previously shared with us his tips on working with beets and a fabulous beet carpaccio recipe. This time he's sharing a recipe for his citrus tabbouleh, which at Seasons 52 they serve with scallops (pictured here). Enjoy!

1 lime, zest and juice
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 orange, zest and juice
1 cup bulgur wheat
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 ounces water
5 drops Chipotle Tabasco
12 orange segments, cut in 4
1/4 cup sun-dried cranberries, reconstituted
1/4 cup English cucumber, diced small
1/4 cup tomato, diced small
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped

Preparation: Wash and zest lime, lemon and orange. Squeeze juice and reserve. Place the bulgur wheat in a flat glass baking dish. Combine olive oil, ginger, salt and citrus zest. Mix with the wheat. Combine citrus juice, water and Tabasco. Heat in microwave for 1 minute. Pour liquids over wheat, set aside covered for 1 hour. Place wheat in a bowl, add all other ingredients and toss lightly. Refrigerate until needed.

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