A Peach Face “Love Bird”

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At one of the Ali’i Garden farmers’ market, in Kona, we came across Pretty Bird and her warning sign.

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These are some of the important questions I might have in meeting a bird, a cat–or even a person–for the first time. And, they are each clearly answered for me.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60872-d2489302-Reviews-Alii_Gardens_Marketplace-Kailua_Kona_Island_of_Hawaii_Hawaii.html

Waimea Farmers Market

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We arrived at 7:45. Seeing this sign and no visible crowd, we laughed. We couldn’t imagine the need for a bell, especially on the chill Big Island.

However, once we got into the ring, we sensed that the sign was a fair warning. People were elbowing their way to the best eggplant, the heirlooms, the Hamakua mushrooms, the freshest blackberry turnovers (there was an oven at the stand).  When I seized (I can be inspired to get in on a competition too) the last bundle of spinach, I sensed the venom of the growing horde behind me.

I don’t think this is what they mean when they refer to the “aloha spirit.” That spinach and the rest of my ingredients were certainly worth the fight.

Hola. Podria tomar una photo, por favor?

Market!

Today was Taco Friday. As I went to retrieve three carnitas tacos for Mari, I did two laps around the park to determine whether my favorite vendors were around — and approximately where.

At first, I had a hard time warming up to the crowds and asking permission to take photos or surreptitiously snap shots, but when I did inquire, people obliged my requests generously in the park and throughout the rest of the afternoon and into the evening.

These are some of my favorite shots of the day.

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Halekai – Light Show and a Light Meal

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Located at the Fairmont Orchid, Halekai (Home by the Sea), a beachfront café, is the perfect place for appetizers and drinks as a prelude to the show: sunset. Because we were there to toast eventide, I had the Kohala Sunset, a tincture of light rum, orange curacao, orange juice concentrate, and grenadine, and M had the Lilikoi (passion fruit) Margarita. Though they were similar in appearance, I enjoyed the Sunset’s texture more than the slightly more viscous floating lilikoi.

In addition to welcoming evenfall, we were anticipating the torchbearer who runs through vast grounds of whichever resort, lighting the way and finally blowing a conch to say goodbye and express gratitude to the sun.

Testing out nearly every option on the appetizer menu, we couldn’t help but notice some Mexican influences, such as chips, guacamole, and mango salsa, and that the desserts were titled “postres.” This seemed odd when paired with the Asian-influenced chicken pot stickers and chicken satay skewers, and the local items such as Hamakua Mushroom and Spinach Flatbread. But all of these dishes (and I am sure others) were incredibly unique and delectable.

Go for the light show. Have a drink and enjoy some of the scrumptious small plates.

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Produce Market

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Just up from the Kona Farmers and Crafts Market, located on Alii Drive in the heart of Kailua Kona, (we’ll check this out later), we found a produce market (and some other vendors of mostly jewelry, sarongs, and souvenirs) under a cluster of black tents.

M commented tat this place features even a wider variety than the Hilo Farmers’ Market.

And, everything is so fresh, sweet — ambrosial.

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Hilo Farmers’ Market

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On our list of food that we wanted to pick up at the Hilo Farmers’ Market (on Saturdays and Wednesdays, 6 am-4 pm there are over 200 vendors), were: purple yams; purple, orange and white carrots; Hamakua mushrooms; white pineapple; apple bananas; avocados; Maui onions; red potatoes; cherry tomatoes; corn; and anything else that looked delicious. We were thrilled to be able to find everything on the list in ample supply except for the colorful carrots.

Because it is summer, pomegranates, lychees, passion fruits, dragon fruits, strawberry guavas, and hairy-looking rambutans, among other fruits, are in season. Hawaiian honey, tropical preserves, and a man who shucks coconuts for visitors to enjoy the coconut milk with a straw are all part of the sampling.

Across the street from the market is a block of vendors selling flowers, crafts, jewelry, sarongs, bags, soaps, and other products and gift items along with some small stands offering a variety of prepared foods.

This block is a fascinating place to chat with locals and discover the colors, flavors, and music of the windward side of the island.

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