Taro is grown abundantly on Kauai, having been farmed in Hawaii since ancient times.
Both the root and the leaves can be eaten, but only after they’re cooked. We became familiar with the crop when we lived on St. Vincent, where the leaves are used to make callaloo, a spinach-like side dish or soup. I still crave callaloo soup.
Hanalei Taro and Juice Co. prepares all-things taro and I ordered a taro hummus sandwich and was surprised the hummus was purple! Apparently taro comes either white or purple. The sandwich was fine, served on a bun and topped with lettuce, carrots and tomato as well. I also couldn’t pass up a banana taro mochi cake.
Slightly chewy and gummy like a mochi but with bits of purple taro and sweetened with banana, it was strangely addicting.
Taro chips are similar to potato chips and are made at Taro Ko Chips Factory. We searched out the factory and found this little shack.
It was Sunday and we were disappointed it was closed. This could have been a fun stop.
With shave ice competing for their attention, I couldn’t even talk Remy and Simon into the taro and tropical fruit smoothies at Hanalei Taro& Juice Co. I’m not a fan of snowcones but the treats at Shave Ice Paradise are shaved so fine, the ice melts the instant it hits your tongue. Remy and Simon requested them daily and ordered them topped with a “snowcap” (sweetened condensed milk), just like they do snowcones in St. Vincent.
We took a trip down memory lane at the farmers market. We found Sapodilla, which has a brown sugar-like flavour and color. It’s not our favorite fruit, but the cool thing about sapodilla is that gum is made from the sap of the sapodilla tree. We had a tree at Petit Byahaut and white thick liquid would ooze from the bark. We never did get around to making our own gum. Also, bats would fill the tree at night, eating the fruit.
And Soursop, a prickly dark green fruit with a white creamy flesh that needs to be sweetened before it tastes like the quintessential tropical fruit. We used to puree the flesh with, again, sweetened condensed milk, and ice.
And we even found Plum Rose, except it’s called mountain apple in Hawaii. They’re like a cross between an apple and a pear but with the flavour of a rose. Yummy and refreshing!
Remy and I fought over the Lychees. We find these in Asian markets in Seattle, but the ones on Kauai were added proof fruits and vegetables taste so much better freshly picked. They were the sweetest and juiciest lychees we’ve ever had.
We learned about Longan, related to the lychee with a similar fruit under a different skin. These were good too, and cheaper than lychees, but not quite as sweet and juicy.
Pono Market in Kapa’a is a great stop for local food. They have plate lunch specials every day plus Lau Lau, pork wrapped into a taro leaf bundle. The gentleman behind the counter told us the Lau Lau is ready every day at 10:30 and they usually sell out before noon. Unfortunately, we were too late the day we visited. However, their poke, a raw ahi salad seasoned with nori, onions, sesame seeds and spices was delicious, as was the kulolo cake (made from taro and coconut milk). We had our doubts, but it was sweet and coconuty and even Remy and Simon helped gobble it up.
Lastly, vendors selling dried fruit set up at beaches and parks all over the island. The vendor at Waimea Canyon had these coconut flakes.
If you’re there, buy them. Brian doesn’t get excited about coconut like I do, but he bought two bags.
Check out wanderfood wednesday for more food blogs!