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Genny Wright-Hailey: Taste of the Hawaiian Range always offers something different

September 6, 2016 - 12:05am

Come meet the people who produce our fresh and nutritious Hawaii Island food at the 21st Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range 6-8 p.m. this Friday at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. Tasty culinary stations, food producer booths and agricultural-themed displays — over 75 participants — will sprawl both inside and outside at the resort’s conference center.

Each participating chef is assigned a whopping 100 pounds of a specific cut of pasture-raised beef or locally-sourced pork, lamb, mutton, goat or USDA-inspected wild boar. The result is a culinary adventure of tasting everything from tongue to tail, so chefs and attendees can get acquainted with not-so-familiar cuts and discover delicious new ways to use them. The pasture-raised beef is sourced from local, humanely raised cattle that are free of antibiotics and hormones.

Restaurants debuting at the 2016 event include Noodle Club, Waipio Cook House, 3 Fat Pigs, Daylight Mind Coffee Co. Waikoloa, Monstera, and The Fish Hopper.

In addition to “grazing” on expertly prepared meats, attendees can sample other local food products and view compelling educational displays on sustainability and agriculture. New exhibitors this year include Beyond Organic Consulting, Waimea Butcher Shop, Paradise Hawaii Balsamics, Spicy Ninja Sauce, Rapid Ohia Death, Farm Works Hawaii, Orchid Isle Traders, Hawaii Lassi-Akmal Foods, USDA Farm Service Agency and the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Veterinary Extension. Also new will be a streaming video shown at different event locations, featuring Big Island ranchers and farmers talking story about why they produce food.

Those wanting to learn firsthand how to use and prepare pasture-raised beef can attend the event’s annual Cooking 101 culinary demonstration. This year’s team of guest presenters are chefs Kevin Hanney and J Schoonover of Oahu’s 12th Ave Grill and Kokohead Café. The 3 p.m. presentation includes sampling and is $10. A 1 p.m. seminar, “Learn Where Beef Cuts Come From,” is free.

Pre-sale tickets are available online for $45 through midnight Thursday, and at the following locations until sold out: Kuhio Grille in Hilo, Kamuela Liquors and Parker Ranch Store in Waimea, Kona Wine Market in Kailua-Kona and Kohala Essence Shop at Hilton Waikoloa Village. If available at the door, the price will be $60 per person.

Info: 322-4892,

Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range provides a venue for sustainable agricultural education, plus encouragement and support of locally produced ag products. It is supported by business participation, sponsorships and in-kind donations. Several participants have graciously contributed recipes to whet your appetite.

Orchid Isle Traders

Focusing on spices, flavors and value-added products by local food producers, veteran food journalist and cookbook author, Sonia Martinez and retired engineer, Kevan Kendrick have opened Orchid Isle Traders. Their product list currently ranges from kahili ginger-infused green tea to whole cloves, vanilla extract, naturally dried tropical fruits and locally made fruit butters. Some items are sold under the new Orchid Isle Traders brand.

“We buy local vanilla beans and make our own extract, or sell a trio of ready-to-use beans,” shared Martinez, a Cuba native and co-owner of the former Akaka Falls Inn. “We also import items that we can’t yet source locally, but are valuable to culinarians.”

The company’s mission is to create new connections between small Hawaii Island growers, processors and artisans, while creating a new, web-based outlet for markets beyond our shores. Martinez shared that Orchid Isle is looking for local growers of cardamom, cumin and other select spices.

Website is in the works:

Sweet sautéed corn with vanilla bean

By Sonia Martinez, Orchid Isle Traders

This side dish will work with just about any cut of meat. Number of servings can be customized.

Shuck and clean fresh ears of corn; cut the kernels off the cobs. Sauté corn in a skillet with a pat or two of butter.

Add a vanilla bean that has been split; you can scrape the seeds and add them to the corn. If no vanilla bean is available, use a dash of vanilla extract.

For the equivalent of about six ears of corn, use 1/4-/2 teaspoon of the vanilla and stir to blend well.

Add a couple sprigs of fresh thyme, if desired.

Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Paradise Hawaii Balsamics

Using top grade, 25-star Italian balsamic vinegar, Paradise Hawaii Balsamics creates 29 flavors of vinegar, showcasing island ingredients like mango, guava, lilikoi and pineapple; other vinegars are infused with fig, ginger, espresso, grapefruit, white garlic and blackberry.

“We combine the flavors of Italy and the Big Island,” says co-distributor Eden Patino.

Concocting the flavors is Tamar Gilson, who came up with the product “to make salads more appealing.”

Their line of vinegars is sold at the Makuu Farmers Market in Keaau, Hilo Farmers Market, Kapohokine Adventures in Hilo and online. Here is one of their recipes for using the vinegars; more recipes can be found at

Steak kabobs with Hawaii Balsamics Vinegar

By Tamar Gilson, Hawaii Balsamics

1 pound steak

1 pound cherry tomatoes

3 tablespoons Hawaii Balsamics Garlic Cilantro or Blackberry Ginger Balsamic vinegar

Wooden or metal skewers

2 to 3 cups of warm cooked rice

If using wood skewers instead of metal skewers, soak wood skewers in water for 5 minutes to prevent burning when cooking. Cut steak into bite sized, 3/4-inch cubes; set aside. Wash cherry tomatoes and remove stems. Thread steak cubes onto skewers, alternating with whole cherry tomatoes. Preheat broiler. Broil kebabs (on a cooling rack with a baking pan beneath it) or barbecue on a grill for 10-15 minutes or until almost done. Remove skewers from heat and paint on Hawaii Balsamics flavored vinegar with a barbecue brush. Return skewers to heat and let caramelize for one to two minutes on each side, then remove from heat. Place rice on serving platter and top with skewers. Serve hot. Makes 3-4 servings.

Pu’uwai Ranch

Best lamb tacos ever

By Jill Ficke-Beaton, Pu’uwai Ranch

This recipe from last year’s Taste event uses pasture-raised lamb; makes 4-6 servings.

2 lbs. ground local lamb

1 package flour tortillas

1 piece each: red, orange, and yellow bell peppers, finely diced

2 cups Maui onion, finely diced

Taco seasoning of your choice

3 cups shredded romaine lettuce

2 cups diced fresh tomatoes

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup pitted olives, chopped

Taco sauce or salsa

In a large skillet, over medium heat, brown ground lamb; drain. (Recipe says to save the drippings for your favorite dog.)

Add peppers and onions; saute until onions are translucent and peppers are soft. Add taco seasoning; cook five minutes more. Warm the tortillas. Fill tortillas with lamb, then add lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, olives and sauce or salsa.

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