Kauai foodie tales

I don’t really consider myself a “foodie,” but I suppose I should, given that one of my top raves about my visit to Kauai was the food.

A-number-one reason I cried about my departure from Hawaii – I did not want to leave the farmers markets behind!

Oh, man . . . fresh papaya with a squeeze of lime!

Crisp, perfumy starfruit!!

Citrus to die for!!!!

Fresh apple bananas – the tangy sweetness brought tears to my eyes!!!!

Boo hoo hoo! It was sooo depressing to come back to the aged produce in our western Nebraska grocery stores, with the only upside being the root vegetables available at our Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market. (I should thank my lucky stars we HAVE a winter farmers market here in Wyobraska!)

For the 411 on farmers markets on Kauai, check out this page from Kaua’i Grown.

Our first haul, from the Monday afternoon farmers market at Kukui Grove Shopping Center, which is in the parking lot behind the Kmart. It was the best of the three markets we attended.

Our first haul, from the Monday afternoon farmers market at Kukui Grove Shopping Center, which is in the parking lot behind the Kmart. It was the best of the three markets we attended. Pictured above: green onion, baby bok choy, passionfruit, limes, starfruit, zucchini, grapefruit, pineapple, winged beans, ginger, papaya, eggplant, daikon radish, apple bananas, mango, lettuce, tangerines, avocados, and banana flower.

Second haul, from the Tuesday afternoon farmers market in the parking lot of the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center. This was the smallest of the three markets we attended, with only about 4 or 5 vendors present that day.

Second haul, from the Tuesday afternoon farmers market in the parking lot of the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center. This was the smallest of the three markets we attended, with only about 4 or 5 vendors present that day. Our third haul, from the Thursday afternoon market at the parking lot of the Kilauea Neighborhood Center, I did not photograph, alas, but we didn’t buy as much that day because we were leaving the island in two days. Pictured above: green onion, turnip, apple banana, tangelo, macadamia nuts, mizuna, pomelo, rambutan, lettuce. At the last market, I recall we bought carrots, winged beans, tomatoes, and papaya.

Things I learned about / experienced for the first time, thanks to the farmers markets:

1. It’s fun to thoroughly bruise a tangelo, then clip the top and drink the juice straight from the fruit. Nature’s juice box! But beware – squeeze at an inopportune angle while you’re drinking, and you’ll get tangelo juice in your eye. (Yes, I did that. Ow.)

2. I don’t know how to do passionfruit. How can something smell so good and taste so vile? The fruits perfumed the air with a come-hither Sweettartiness, but the gelatinous seed inside was horribly sour and bitter. I read later that you’re supposed to choose passionfruit with a wrinkly skin, as this indicates ripeness. The passionfruit we purchased were smooth-skinned, so maybe that was the problem?

3. Mizuna is a tasty, piquant addition to a salad. Just cut off the inch or two at the root end, chop, and add to other greens.

4. Macadamia nuts in the shell are so perfectly round, they are a pleasure to roll around in the hand. I’d eaten plenty of the nut meat before, but I’d never seen one in the shell. They are a bit difficult to crack, but no more so than, say, Brazil nuts. Actually, they’re easier than Brazil nuts, in my opinion, if you have the right tool. Some sources I found online suggested using a vise grip and hammer, or two rocks (one of which would have a round indentation to prevent the nut from smashing). I happened to find a very sturdy seafood cracker in the drawer in our rental kitchen that was just perfect – the nuts fit right into the rounded part, so they didn’t smash. Sometimes I had to turn the nut around until I found the place where it would crack, and I kind kind of wore my forearms out, but it worked!

5. Rambutan is nature’s gummi candy. They look a bit scary, but they are tasty!

Just peel off the thick, hairy hide off a rambutan to get at the fruit inside, which has a kind of gummy texture. The seed, which you have to eat around, reminds me of the seed of a mango in how it clings to the fruit's flesh.

Just peel off the thick, hairy hide off a rambutan to get at the sweet fruit inside, which has a kind of gummy texture. The seed, which you have to eat around, reminds me of the seed of a mango in how it clings to the fruit’s flesh.

6. It looks like a gigantic grapefruit, but a pomelo is much more mellow in flavor. I resorted to the Internet in my quest for a good pomelo-peeling technique.

We ate our pomelo out of wine glasses. Why not?

We ate our pomelo out of wine glasses. Why not?

7. OMG! Winged beans! Fun and tasty! Apparently, the winged bean is “like an ice cream cone – you eat the whole thing” – immature pods, mature seeds, dried seeds, leaves, flowers, roots. I wish I could grow these here in Wyobraska, but they only flower with warm temps AND short day length – something you’re not going to get around here without a greenhouse.

Pretty!

8. Banana blossom – the ultimate Kauai farmers market experience, and probably not one to be repeated.

Bugman knew what the banana blossom was when he spied it on a table at the first farmers market.

Bugman pointing out a banana blossom at a botanical garden.

Bugman pointing out a banana blossom at a botanical garden.

He just had no idea how to prepare it to be edible. He asked the lady at the booth, and she said you peel it apart and get the flowers out from inside and prepare each one. “It’s a lot of work,” she said, “You can Google it.”

We figured, “What the heck – once in a lifetime experience, right?” and bought the thing. The lady looked kind of skeptical; I wish we’d been able to go back and tell her that we persevered and succeeded!

First things first – banana blossoms reek! The thing was sitting on the countertop, and I kept smelling its astringent funk. Imagine the smell of a banana peel, but not with any of the sweetness of the fruit inside. Imagine that bitter banana peel smell warped and intensified so as to resemble some kind of industrial paint thinner, and you’ve just about got it.

I wrapped it in a couple of plastic bags and put it in the fridge (which is what you are supposed to do with them, as they go bad quickly). Despite the double-bagging, every time I opened the refrigerator door, that funky odor would smack me in the nose. “Please!” I begged Bugman, “Please cook this thing and get it out of the fridge!”

Bugman did some Googling, then sat down to the task.

Here's what it looks like when you peel one of the bracts off of the banana blossom - under each bract is a cluster of little flowers - baby bananas if you will. Each flower has to be processed individually, with the too-tough/bitter-to-eat pistil and calyx removed from each one. Then the flowers have to be soaked in lemon water to prevent them turning brown.

Here’s what it looks like when you peel one of the bracts off of the banana blossom – under each bract is a cluster of little flowers – baby bananas if you will. Each flower has to be processed individually, with the too-tough/bitter-to-eat pistil and calyx removed from each one. Then the flowers have to be soaked in lemon water to prevent them from turning brown.

Working on processing the banana blossom. Per online advice, we slathered olive oil on our hands to prevent the sap from staining our fingers. We both tasted the banana flowers as we worked - YUK! Bitter! Astringent! Can this really be edible?? Hooboy. This may be a lot of work for nothing. (Photo by Ma Bug)

I helped Bugman process the banana blossom. Per online advice, we slathered olive oil on our hands to prevent the sap from staining our fingers. We both tasted the banana flowers as we worked – YUK! Bitter! Astringent! Can this really be edible?? Hooboy. This may be a lot of work for nothing. (Photo by Ma Bug)

Once you get far enough into the core of the banana blossom, there is a "heart" that is entirely edible and can just be chopped up. It turns brown in the blink of an eye - faster than cut apples and pears do.

Once you get far enough into the core of the banana blossom, there is a “heart” that is entirely edible and can just be chopped up. It turns brown in the blink of an eye – faster than cut apples and pears do.

Bugman chopped up all the banana flowers and sauteed them in olive oil and garlic with soy sauce, and something magical happened! The horrible bitterness and astringency disappeared, leaving behind a vegetable somewhat reminiscent of artichoke in flavor and texture.

We served up the banana flower as an accompaniment to a meal of sauteed winged beans, brown rice, and bigeye ahi steaks.

We served up the banana flower as an accompaniment to a meal of sauteed winged beans, brown rice, and bigeye ahi steaks (procured from the Koloa Fish Market as a one-pound chunk of fish), with a side salad of fresh greens and sliced daikon radish. Everyone agreed – it was the best meal we’d had the whole trip, probably in part because of the unique learning experience.

For dessert that night, we had Hawaiian sweet potato pie (also purchased at the Koloa Fish Market), topped with haupia (kind of like coconut pudding/gelatin).

I love this stuff!

I loved this stuff! It was not too sweet, and very rich. As soon as I can get my hands on some Okinawan sweet potatoes, I plan to make it myself!

I’ve transitioned into the “prepared food / restaurants” category of my Kauai foodie tales. Here are a few more notes on places we ate on Kauai that are worth mentioning.

a. The Feral Pig in Lihue. This Irish pub emphasizes using local foods. I ordered the fish and chips. The fries were just OK, but the fish was the best fried fish I’ve ever had in my life – thick and meaty and perfectly cooked. And, they did have malt vinegar available, as I would expect from a place that hosts wonderful live Irish music.

b. Oops – one Oahu restaurant worth mentioning – Roy’s Waikiki. Super spendy, but super delish. I got a sweet potato bisque with kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, and goat cheese creme fraiche as an appetizer, followed by a main dish of rice-crusted opakapaka (Hawaiian pink snapper) with caprese ravioli, “sea asparagus,” and, I think, artichoke puree. It. Was. Amazing.

c. Back to Kauai, and a Brazilian/Mexican restaurant in Hanalei – Neide’s Salsa and Samba. I’d never had Brazilian food before. I ordered the traditional moqueca fish stew. Loved it!!!!

moqueca

d. Chicken in a Barrel – it was next door to the place where we rented our tandem bike, and their literal barrels of smoking chickens smelled really good. Plus, with all the danged chickens I’d seen roaming Kauai, I needed to eat some chicken! Tender chicken meat, served with chili and rice. Pretty good – and messy! Good thing they have a handwashing sink at the corner of the counter of their food stand.

e. Kauai Chocolate Company. OMG – HOMEMADE ICE CREAM!!! One variety was made with vanilla beans from the owners’ backyard. My favorite that day was the coffee ice cream. They also make chocolates, as implied by their name. The aroma of chocolate about knocked be backwards when I opened the door to the shop – they were in the process of making their specialty, chocolate opihis (limpets). Soo goood!

Anyplace that makes a wee deck chair for and begoogles their product get extra points from me.

Anyplace that procures a wee deck chair for and begoogles their product get extra points from me!

All that’s left to mention is the beer. We tried a few brews from Kona Brewing Company and Maui Brewing Company. Nothing particularly noteworthy, apart from Maui Brewing Company’s limited-release Lorenzini Double IPA. Wowza, is that good stuff!

great beerThe citrus juice added during the brewing process really gave this beer a tropical overtone and complimented the natural citrus-y taste of an IPA very well. I loved it and wish I could get my hands on some more! (Anyone traveling there and want to ship me some??) 😀

Apologies to those of you reading this during the lunch hour. Just know that I went through several hours of wish-I-could-have-that-again torture while writing this post.

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

Juneathon Day 11 – FOOD

It seems that lots of other Juneathoners are posting about food today, so I’ll jump on the bandwagon (and attempt to obscure the fact that I am not planning a workout today, though I do hope to tackle the mound of dishes by the kitchen sink, which should count for something).

Healthy eating is part of running/biking/cross-training, right??

The summer farmer’s market has started up again, and I am thrilled! The variety of fresh and local foods inspires me.

Here was the haul from Saturday morning:

Cheese curd, asparagus, precooked pureed butternut squash, rhubarb, chevre walnut-cranberry-rosemary cheese ball, chocolate-walnut turnover, s'mores scone, kale, vitamin greens, lettuce, Andouille sausage, German sausage, brats, chorizo, fermented spicy cabbage, two loaves of whole-grain bread, and a jalapeno pretzel.

Cheese curd, asparagus, precooked pureed butternut squash, rhubarb, chevre walnut-cranberry-rosemary cheese ball, chocolate-walnut turnover, s’mores scone, kale, vitamin greens, lettuce, Andouille sausage, German sausage, brats, chorizo, a jar of fermented spicy cabbage, two loaves of whole-grain bread, and a jalapeno pretzel.

The German sausage, curds, rhubarb, pastries, one loaf of bread and lettuce have already been consumed this week.

I might try something like this for the vitamin greens.

The kale and squash found a home in this lovely soup this evening: curried red lentil and butternut squash soup with kale and toasted chickpeas.

I am very glad to say that I did not wind up wearing any of the soup, as it would have been impossible to get the turmeric stains out of my clothing. I do have a yellow stain on my hand, though. Oops.

Copyright 2014 by Katie Bradshaw

Cycle Greater Yellowstone: Day 5 hitching to Cody

Day 4

No biking to report on, since we rode in a car over Chief Joseph Pass. Not a whole lot of pictures, either.

The dining tents at sunrise under Pilot Peak. Since we weren’t riding, and since there we were in a wilderness area with no community volunteers, Bugman and I helped the volunteer crew, packing up tables and chairs and loading bags onto the gear truck. (There were definitely bags exceeding the 65-pound weight limit. The people with the heavy bags should have been sentenced to bag-hauling duty, IMHO.)

Our ride stopped at Absaroka Bicycles (for the record, it’s pronounced ab-SOR-ka or, to some, ab-SOR-kee) in Cody so we could check in. I plugged in my near-dead phone and was able to check my email and the tracking updates on our bike rim – it had been loaded onto a truck in Cody that morning and would arrive at the bike shop before noon. The guys at the shop knew whose truck it would be on, even. (Not surprising. Cody’s population is less than 10,000 people.)

The original plan had been to pick up the parts and take everything back to camp for the mechanics to work on. However, the guys at the shop had blocked out time to build the wheel for us, one of the guys mentioned that he was a certified wheel-builder and had talked with the bike manufacturer about specs, and it seemed best to get it done sooner rather than later. We agreed to pick our bike off the gear truck when it arrived and wheel it over to the shop, which was only a couple of blocks from our campsite at the Park County complex.

Our ride dropped us off at the Park County Public Library so we could charge our phones and wait for the gear truck.

The library is GORGEOUS!

I wandered out around 11 to see if any help was needed in assembling camp that day. (No need for help – there were plenty of Boy Scouts on hand.) Soon, I spotted the gear truck. I approached the truck captains about getting our bike out when it was convenient, and they dropped what they were doing to help. (Wow! Thanks, guys!! Really appreciated!!!)

At the bike shop, Bryce the Wheel Builder and, I believe, Rick, the shop owner, consulted online guides to make sure they knew how to take apart our Rohloff wheel hub, since they’d not encountered one before. As we spoke with Rick about this, he pointed out that if we were going to get serious about long-distance touring, we would probably want to downgrade our bike to something more common. Otherwise, we’d risk getting stuck waiting for parts (case in point!) and would probably need to learn to do most of the maintenance ourselves. Rick and Bryce also walked us through lessons on modern bike wheel geometry and materials, how the weight of a bike is supported across the spokes, and the benefits of having a higher number of “holes” in the hub (for a higher number of spokes) on touring bikes (or tandems) carrying more weight than a normal bike. Bryce also got to talking about some of the other long-distance riders he has built wheels for, some of whom have sent in postcards hundreds of miles later, saying that the wheels he built were still holding true. He about gets a tear in his eye when a wheel he has built goes out into the wild, wide world.

(Note: Bryce tightened up the spokes on our front wheel again, too. As I type this, the spokes on our rear BryceBuilt wheel are still firmly in place. The spokes on the front wheel, which was built elsewhere? At all different tensions again. You can’t beat a BryceBuilt!)

In summary, I can highly recommend Absaroka Bicycles and the folks who work there. Check them out if you are in Cody!

Awesome bike shop in Cody, Wyoming, on the south side of town, in a strip mall: 2201 17th St # 7, 307-527-5566

While our wheel was being built, we followed a recommendation and headed downtown to the Irma Hotel for lunch. The food was okay, but, man, was the interior of that place interesting to eyeball. It was built in 1902 for “Buffalo Bill” Cody and still has its original cherrywood bar.

We wheeled our bike back to camp and parked in the bike parking, which was created by stringing sturdy ropes between trees or metal posts.

Bike parking in Cody. There's another tandem in there - see?

Bike parking in Cody. There’s another tandem in there – see it?

We ended our day with a trip to the farmers market, coming away with a cinnamon roll nearly as big as my head. We sat down by our tent to share the treat, which attracted plenty of attention from passers-by. It was our wedding anniversary "cake." I have been blessed to have spent 15 years with you, dear Bugman. Cheers to another happy 15!

We ended our day with a trip to the farmers market, coming away with a cinnamon roll nearly as big as my head. We sat down by our tent to share the treat, which attracted plenty of attention from passers-by. It was our wedding anniversary “cake.” I have been blessed to have spent 15 years with you, dear Bugman. Cheers to another happy 15!

We had a little rain prior to evening announcements. On another topic - see that little green tent with three holes in it? Those ZeroHero recycling stations were posted in all of our camps. Over the course of a week, we were trained in the fine art of recycling: recycle, compost, trash, paper, cardboard. The ride organizers wanted to reduce the footprint of all us riders in these small communities - thus, the recycling, and also the encouragement for all the riders to bring mess kits, so we could further reduce resource use. There were wash/rinse/sanitize stations at each camp for those few of us who used our own plates/cups/utensils. Frankly, I think I avoided weight gain by using my petite camping bowl/dish to control portion sizes instead of using the monster paper plates the caterers made available.

We had a little rain prior to evening announcements. On another topic – see that little bronwish-green tent with three holes in it at left? Those ZeroHero recycling stations were posted in all of our camps. Over the course of a week, we were trained in the fine art of recycling: recyclables, compost, trash, paper, cardboard. The ride organizers wanted to reduce the footprint of all us riders in these small communities – thus, the recycling, and also the encouragement for all the riders to bring mess kits, so we could further reduce resource use. There were wash/rinse/sanitize stations at each camp for those few of us who used our own plates/cups/utensils. Frankly, I think I avoided weight gain by using my petite camping bowl/dish to control portion sizes instead of using the monster paper plates the caterers made available.

While everyone else that evening was raving about the fantastic views from the day’s ride over Chief Joseph Pass, we plugged our ears.

Lalala! We don’t want to hear about what we missed!

We’ve got to make it back there someday . . .

Day 6

Copyright 2013 by Katie Bradshaw