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Welcome to Gardens to Tables
Hawaii Vanilla Company's Frozen Peanut Chocolate Chip Pie Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Hawaii Vanilla Company kitchenAnyone who’s grown orchids knows how, let's say, sensitive they can be. Try growing one that only blooms one day a year and has to be hand pollinated. That, my friends, is the Vanilla Panifolia Orchid, from which we get the spice vanilla. Those interested in learning more about what goes into growing vanilla can do so at the Hawaii Vanilla Company on Hawaii’s Big Island. The farm not only offers tours but also has a shop filled with vanilla-infused goodies and the ability to have lunch or tea in their restored coffee mill (above). (For more on what's offered at the lunch, see the article I wrote for

The Hawaii Vanilla Company is owned and operated by the Reddekopp family: Jim’s the farmer and guide, Tracy’s the chef and the kids serve as kitchen help and servers. Tracy’s working on a cookbook and was kind enough to share this recipe with us for frozen peanut chocolate chip pie – perfect for the upcoming holiday season. (Click "read more" for recipe.)

Sourcing Locally at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows on Hawaii's Big Island Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Mauna Lani tomato dishExecutive Chef Sandy Tuason at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows is a man with a mission: to source as many ingredients as possible from within 100 miles of the resort. To that end, he has partnered with local fishermen and farms on Hawaii’s Big Island that include Hawaii Island Goat Dairy, Hawaiian Vanilla Company, Hirabara’s Big Island Babies (for lettuce and greens), Rincon Farm (strawberries), Volcano Island Honey Company, Kona Fish Company, Fresh Island Fish and Hamakua Macadamia Company.

And below is one of the results: his recipe for grilled vegetable gazpacho, with ingredients sourced from Big Island farmers (except, of course, for the V8 juice). To make you want to jump a plane to Hawaii’s Big Island even sooner (and because we couldn’t get a photo of the gazpacho), the photo shown above right is their Hamakua Heirloom Tomato dish, with watermelon, micro basil and sherry vinaigrette -- which looks like wine but is really “tomato basil water that cleanses the palate and brings out the fresh flavors of the dish." (Click "read more" for gazpacho recipe.)

Poached Prawns Bruschetta with Tomato-Olive Vinaigrette from Spago Colorado Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Spago Colorado tomatoesJoining the ranks of chefs who’ve added a kitchen garden isn’t easy when that garden is at 9,000 feet in mountains of Colorado. But Executive Chef Mark Ferguson of Spago Colorado at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, did just that – growing tomatoes (right), fingerling potatoes, rainbow chard, carrots, English peas and a variety of herbs this past summer and incorporating them into the restaurant’s summer menu. With the season for tomatoes coming to a close, here’s his recipe for a bruschetta featuring poached prawns and a tomato-olive vinaigrette.

Poached Prawns Bruschetta with Tomato-Olive Vinaigrette

8 ea. Fresh Santa Barbara spot prawns
½ lb. unsalted butter
¼ cup Ligurian extra virgin olive oil
1 ea. House-grown heirloom tomatoes, concasse
1 ea. House-grown baby leeks, chopped
4 ea. Olives (kalamata or gaeta) sliced thin
1 ea. Lemon, for juice
4 slices House-made ciabatta bread, grilled
1 ea. Garlic clove
Pinch House-grown red chili
1 sprig House-grown min and basil, leaves torn in small pieces
To taste Sea salt and cracked black pepper

Peel the tail section of the prawns, leaving the tail fin intact and devein, leaving  the head on or off based on preference.
Bring the butter and oil up to a boil in a sauce pan, season the shrimp with salt and chili and place in the butter-oil mixture and allow to sit off the heat for 3-5 minutes.
Mix the tomato, shallot, olive and mint together and season with salt and pepper.
Slice the ciabatta thick and grill, remove and rub with the garlic clove and the poaching oil.
Place a small amount of the vinaigrette n the center of four places. Top with the ciabatta.
Remove the shrimp from the butter mixture and lay on the bread slides.
Top the prawns with the tomato vinaigrette and a generous amount of cracked pepper.
Serve immediately!


Apple Banana and Kabucha Pumpkin Soup from the Fairmont Orchid Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Chef Collin Thornton of Fairmont OrchidI have just returned from a great trip to Hawaii’s Big Island – one of the most agriculturally rich places in the world. Because of this, most of the places we visited were really dedicated to sourcing their produce locally. Some, like the Fairmont Orchid, have gone a little further by putting in their own kitchen gardens. Here’s the Fairmont Orchid’s Executive Chef Collin Thornton (right) on what’s growing in their garden – plus a great recipe for fall:

The Fairmont Orchid’s Herb Garden features three varieties of Bananas: Apple, Williams and Cuban Reds. All are delicious but the local favorite is the apple banana. This small sweet banana packs a big punch with great texture and a rich sweet flavor. Kabocha pumpkin squash seems to flourish as well here on the resort. Our seedlings have started producing 10 pound-plus pumpkins in as little as two months with no sign of stopping! They make beautiful ground cover and will continue to produce for months. This simple but wonderful soup is bound to leave an impression with friends and family as the velvet smooth pumpkin soup is rounded off with the subtle notes of sweet banana. (Click "read more" for recipe.)

Tasting Australia and the Adelaide Showground Farmers Market Print E-mail
Written by Linda Hayes   
Tasting AustraliaI'm sitting at my desk in Colorado, flipping through my iPhone and drooling over photos I took during Tasting Australia, a weeklong, world-class culinary event that's held just every other year in Adelaide, the delightfully food-centric capital of South Australia.

This year, Tasting Australia took place in late April, which, while it may have been early spring in the Northern Hemisphere, was early fall Down Under. How odd (and slightly disorienting at first) it seemed, to be munching on things like chilli peppers and beetroot when, at home, asparagus and cherries were just showing up at market stands and on the pages of food magazines. Odd, but delicious.

But back to the event. In addition to a full schedule of media-oriented dinners, tours and visits to surrounding wine country, Tasting Australia included the BankSA Feast for the Senses presented by the LifeStyle FOOD Channel, a weekend celebration that's open to the public. Set at the edge of the meandering River Torrens, the Feast featured tastes of the region's bounty offered by friendly vendors set up in dozens of peaked white tents, while sailboats and rowers floated lazily by (above left).
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