In case you don’t understand queso de cabra: goat cheese, the kind people at the Pochote Market cheese stand, are here to help you know what you are getting.
Pochote Market is an organic farmers market that draws a lot of wealthy folks and tourists (who speak English and other languages).
Who needs words to make an effective sign? Plus, who can resist an adorable constellation of miniature goats? I can’t!
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.
Waikoloa Village, off Waikoloa Rd. has a few places to dine, a municipal golf course, a KTA grocery store, a post office, and more. The other morning, out of butter and eggs, we decided to head to the market there. We were hungrier than we’d realized and searched out a breakfast joint.
The smells of Kona coffee brewing and macadamia nut pesto lured us into the café and then quickly out the door into the breezy Hawaii air at a patio table. The rest of our party had typical breakfast foods (eggs, Belgian waffles, toast) with a twist or two (Portuguese sausage in place of boring breakfast sausage, for example), but I had the (local, organic, sweet, fresh) veggie wrap which was a sun-dried tomato tortilla which featured their macadamia nut pesto, local mushrooms, three squashes, carrots, red bell peppers, and “homemade” pico de gallo. What a super-delicious detour!
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.
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.
On Thursday night, we went to Café Pesto in Kawaihae (there is also one in Hilo). It was, as usual, an excellent dining experience fit for a celebration. The dishes are made of local, organic vegetables, meats, and fish. M started with a drink called Lime in da Coconut; it was a sparkly mix and the lime was refreshing. I had the mango chicken that had a jello-like mango chutney on top of it. I know this sounds sort of gross, but despite the gelatinous texture, it was divine. A mix of spicy and sweet, it paired perfectly with the corn relish that also arrived on top of the chicken. Mom had a bowl of coconut curry soup that she was still mmmmmmming about this evening. And, N had the special, a bowl of pesto penne topped with local seafood.
We also had to try out a few of the desserts all of which were too large (as if that’s something to complain about!) and were as beautiful as the rest of the plates. We tried the chocolate ganache, coconut tart, and cheesecake. We might’ve wanted to replace the chocolate one with the crème brulee on the menu, but we were completely satisfied with all of our selections.
We’ll be returning for a few more while we are here. 61-3665 Hawaii 270, Kawaihae – cafepesto.com
La Jícara, a restaurant, a bookstore promoting books by independent publishing houses, a children’s bookstore and play space, and a gallery, is located at Porfirio Díaz 1105Porfirio Díaz 1105.
The food is incredible; the atmosphere is irresistible (the restaurant part is a sort of garden area surrounded by the other elements), and the quirky staff members are helpful. On one visit, one waiter plopped some organic insect repellant and said, “You’re going to need this.” On Friday two waiters took my order, but forgot for a second to get my three friends’ requests.
They offer a comida del día with soup, salad, agua fresca, and a hearty dish such as two cheesy crepes. I had a salad with beets, nuts, and jicama; the house dressing was delicious, and so was the mint and ginger lemonade I had. I also had two tostadas with beans (no epazote!!), hummus, and shredded carrots. This was topped with Parmesan cheese and was incredible.
The art show featured people being overrun by beetles which was perfect as the streets of Oaxaca seem to be overrun by these same beetles, a fitting tribute.
There’s not really a whole lot of typical Oaxacan fare here or Mexican food for that matter, but the intense flavors, tranquil atmosphere, and great prices make La Jícara a mandatory stop.