Saturday, August 2, 2008

Kauai = Raw Heaven

If there is a heaven, it looks an awful lot like Hanalei. This tiny surf town on the northern side of Kauai, the northernmost and smallest of the Hawaiian islands, is as close to paradise as one can get. Obstensibly, the draw is a semi-circular bay whose water is placid in summer but produces killer waves in winter. Towering over the bay is an ominous mountain, home to the wettest place on earth and therefore covered by clouds most of the time. But the sun shines in full glory on Hanalei, only slipping away for brief showers that are always followed by brilliant rainbows.

Abundant natural beauty, check. But even if Hanalei didn't have the perfect beach (as well as a dozen other perfect beaches within driving distance), it would still be an amazing place to live. The little town has everything I could want: an organic food shop, fish market, fantastic yoga studio, crystal and gem shop, a couple of really good restaurants and a few clothing shops (and they only sell summer wear, of course, as it's always summer weather in Kauai). Everything is within walking distance, so no need for a vehicle unless it's the 2-wheeled variety.

And with the lush tropical folliage that the rain showers provide comes my number one reason for loving Hanalei: tropical fruit. The fantastic selection, along with lots of lovely vegetables and other goodies, can be purchased at the farmers markets held twice weekly. Papayas, mangoes, mountain apples, apple bananas, the sweetest pineapples you've ever tasted, young coconuts with their hydrating water, lychees, black and white sapotes, soupsop, jackfruit, starfruit...on and on. I also picked up many different varieties of greens, skinny Japanese eggplant, okra, organic sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, carrots, avocadoes, and some lovely local goats cheese. All of this bounty is spread on folding tables in a green field, overshadowed by mountains and trees.

We arrived on Tuesday at 2:45 for a 3pm market start. Because the markets are small and popular, people crowd around a roped-off entrance as if awaiting admittance to a nightclub. But in a much more egalitarian fashion, everyone rushed through at 3pm on the dot. In a frenzy, I paid $12 for a sugarloaf pineapple - sounds steep, but believe me, it was a mindblowing pineapple, all sweetness and no acidity. With my grandmother, sister, boyfriend's sister and dad, and friend, we managed to collect quite a haul. Here we are contemplating it back home on our lanai:

Any doubt yet that this is heaven?


Kate Quinn said...

Hi Jessica,

I love your blog and the fact you're writing about Raw Gastronomy, something I am also very interested in, from a food writing perspective.

I've recently discovered the Tamarillo, and a new love has been formed. However your recipes take them to a new level and I'm itching to get home and try the Carrot Cake out!

It seems like you're mainly based in Adelaide? I'm visiting there in September for a few days, can you recommend anywhere to go for good raw-friendly food? I'm staying in the city center and don't think I'll have time to travel much beyond that.

Kate (from Perth)

Jessica Loyer said...

Hi Kate, so glad you're enjoying the blog. I just had a quick browse of yours and I will have to be back for a more in-depth read - good stuff!

The best place to be if you're raw in Adelaide is the Central Markets just west of Victoria Square. You can pick up as much lovely produce as you want. Make sure you stop by Goodies and Grains for an organic juice, in the arcade, and Wilson's Organics on Gouger St. There aren't any raw restaurants yet, but Wilson's Cafe on Whitmore Square and Bliss Organic Cafe make good salads. If you eat fish, try the sashimi and seaweed salad at Wasai off Gouger St. I will be in Melbourne by then, sorry!

michelle said...

Good lord!! That is a lot of food that you guys bought. So good to see that Kauai is also starting farmer's markets. It's still a new concept in the state because people were so used to getting EVERYTHING shipped from the mainland and because land is so expensive there, they were using it mainly to farm "cash crops" like sugarcane and pineapple. Now that those industries are nearly all gone, people are realizing that there is money to be made in growing real food!! Yayyy! Glad to see you're enjoying Kauai. Hanalei is gorgeous.

Akemi was asking about you. She is planning on graduating in December. Yes, I'm still kicking around in Adelaide...I see Jen often and will see George in Oxford. Ciao!

Jessica Loyer said...

Yes Michelle, it is fantastic that Kauai is waking up to local agriculture. The climate is perfect for growing so many lovely fruits and vegetables. There are now multiple farmers markets every day throughout the island. Also read my most recent post about a really cool effort to develop a unique local industry...cacao farming!

Oh please say hello to Akemi for me, I miss her so much! She was the best housemate. We've moved out of that house now and we're in the process of relocating to Melbourne. Very exciting! Enjoy Oxford!

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