The Hawaiian Island of Maui has two great agricultural events coming up this week. First is the Grown on Maui Bus Tour on April 2, which includes stops at the Hali’imaile Pineapple Company, the O’o Farm in Kula and the Alii Kula Lavender Farm (pictured left). Then, on April 3, the Maui County Agricultural Festival runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Waikapu.
Even if you’re not able to attend these two events, there are a number of Maui restaurants working to embody the farm-to-table model, either with their own kitchen gardens or by sourcing their produce locally. Here are a few to try next time you’re on Maui, based on my experiences and those of my friend, Jennifer Franklin, who in addition to her holistic psychotherapy practice (www.opendoortherapy.com), is quite the farm-to-table connoisseur and visited the island with her husband last December. Feel free to send in any of your favorites as well!
Paris Nabavi, the chef/owner of the Cilantro Mexican Grill and Pizza Paradiso Mediterranean Grill restaurants, sources much of the produce for his restaurants from Da Kine Farms and Kula Produce, who in turn source from smaller farms on Maui and Oahu. He recently met with the new distributor for Kapalua Farms (which is under new ownership) and is hoping to start getting some of his produce from them as well.
From Jennifer: James McDonald, the owner/chef of I’o and Pacifico in Lahaina, has his own organic farm in the Upcountry, O'o farm, which also offers tours where guests can harvest their own food and then have lunch. And in Ka’anapali, most of the ingredients were locally grown at Son'z Maui at the Hyatt Regency. Even the simple mixed green salad we ordered was dressed impeccably at S'onz
(Click "read more" for rest of restaurant list.)
All of the restaurants at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, benefit from the kitchen garden that Executive Sous Chef Marc McDowell put in last year. Scores of herbs, fruits and vegetables only have to make a journey of a few hundred feet (vs. a few hundred miles) to make it to your table. Highlights include the Beach House, the Anahola Lounge and the Banyan Tree, their signature restaurant. Guests can order off the menu, choose the current tasting menu – or let Chef Ryan Urig create a tasting menu based on their personal preferences in a bit of “freestyle” cooking. Jeff and I enjoyed a "his and hers" tasting menu on our last visit and, not only were many of the ingredients straight from the herb and vegetable garden, the entire experience was, quite simply, spectacular.
From Jennifer: We had the best sushi of our lives at a small little sushi joint in Kihei called Koiso (808- 875-8258). You need a reservation because there are only 12-14 seats in the whole restaurant. It's delicious! Make sure you order the opakapaka if it's fresh that day.
The Flatbread Company makes great salads and flatbread pizzas and gives credit to the local organic farmers whose ingredients they use. They also use nitrate-free and free range meat. The Ono Gelato Company ("eat local taste aloha") a few doors down also credits local farmers. From Jennifer: “The fruit-flavored gelati were far better than the milk-based.”
And then there’s Mama’s Fish House (pictured left) I have to admit that every time Jeff and I go to Mama’s Fish House, my first impression is that it’s a little over-the-top. Then I look out at the view and eat fish that is not only incredibly fresh (the fisherman’s name and the place it was caught are listed on the menu) but perfectly prepared and the feeling quickly dissipates. Adds Jennifer: For market to table, there is no better fish you'll have on the island.