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Tasting the wide range of local products

Updated: 
September 21, 2014 - 12:05am

Markets and more

Farmer-direct markets: Hooulu Farmers Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays, Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay; South Kona Green Market, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays, Amy B.H. Greenwell Ethnobotanical Garden in Captain Cook; Keauhou Farmers Market, 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, Keauhou Shopping Center.

Plant advice lines are answered from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday at the University of Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service in Kainaliu, 322-4892 and 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Tuesday and Friday at UH CES at Komohana in Hilo, 981-5199.

Gardening Events

Saturday: Fourth annual Wiliwili Festival, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Waikoloa Stables in Waikoloa. Workshops, crafts, plant information and forest tours will be featured. The West Hawaii Master Gardener Association will sell seeds and offer free plant advice. Keiki activities, a silent auction and plant giveaways are also included in the free event. For more information, or to sign up for a tour or workshop, contact 494-2208 or wdfi@waikoloadryforest.org.

Next Sunday: Annual KCFA Barbeque, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the picnic area across from Honaunau Bay, Two-Step Beach. Kona Coffee Farmers Association members, new members and their families are invited. Tammy Duchesne, superintendent of Puuhonua O Honaunau National Park will be a guest speaker. Limited free parking. Join or RSVP by email to Marylou@cuppakona.com or info@konacoffeefarmers.org or call 329-4035.

Meat eaters in Hawaii, usually choose common cuts of beef or pork to barbecue or use in Hawaiian dishes such as laulau or kalua pig and cabbage. We seldom eat less popular cuts which are rarely available. Consider brains, pancreas, feet, tongue, cheek and the more available liver. Often these “off cuts” are made into delicious dishes including head cheese, sweetbreads and pate, or pickled and smoked. Even the intestines can be used for sausage casings and the stomach as well as heart, lungs and liver of an animal is used for the Scottish national dish, haggis.

The idea of eating off cuts is unappealing to many, but if area farmers and ranchers are to run sustainable operations, their entire animals should be revenue producing. All it takes is some pleasant tasting experiences of recipes from a variety of cuts to expand our palates to include dishes using less popular animal parts.

If you have attended the annual Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range you may have tried and enjoyed such unusual delicacies as “Rocky Mountain oysters.” With an oyster-like texture and mild flavor, these bull testicles can be a tasty treat.

Though the event began 19 years ago as an introduction and celebration of locally grown beef, it has expanded to include meat from pigs, goats and sheep as well as other products from these animals including tasty cheeses as well as ice cream. The festival now includes other agricultural products, such as mushrooms, vegetables, fruit, nuts, honey and chocolate. Many farmers and ranchers have booths at the event offering product tasting as well as growing and processing information.

The festival attracts foodies interested in trying new dishes and gathering interesting recipes, but it is also a great place for farmers and gardeners to learn about growing new plants and learning new ways to prepare them. The University of Hawaii’s Mealani Research Station will be one of the groups present offering an educational booth.

The Taste of the Hawaiian Range has expanded a bit this year. It will run from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, in the downstairs ballroom and outside on the Lagoon Lanai at the Hilton Waikoloa Village. In addition to the evening tasting, two afternoon classes will offer information on selecting and using local beef. At 1:30 p.m., Glen Fukumoto from UH Cooperative Extension service will offer “A Primer on Local Beef.” This free seminar will cover information from Glen’s 30 years of research. Chef Peter Abarcar Jr. from the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel will offer “Pasture-raised Beef Cooking 101” at 3 p.m. His class will include information about cooking with local beef and a tasting of two dishes prepared on-site for $10.

Another addition this year is chef and rancher pairings. These pairings are designed to increase communication between food producers and chefs according to event chairwoman Jeri Moniz. Seven of the 30 tasting stations will be staffed by the chef as well as the farmer or rancher responsible for supplying the meat being featured. One pairing example has linked the Triple D Ranch’s beef with Chef Edwin Goto of Village Burger in Waimea. The 600-acre ranch has been raising grass-fed cattle since its beginnings in 1906. Chef Goto’s motto “Supporting our island ranchers, one hamburger at a time,” drives his business in the Parker Ranch Center. His menu features produce and products beyond beef. For his pairing with Triple D he will create an interesting and unique recipe using beef chuck roll. If you go, be sure to look for their booth on the Lagoon Lanai.

UH CTAHR and Hawaii Cattlemen have joined with several other area organizations to sponsor this event. It is viewed by them as a venue for sustainable agricultural education as well as a way to support and encourage sales of locally produced agricultural products. Links and tickets for the event are available at tasteofthehawaiianrange.com/store/ticket-purchase.html along with other available outlets.

Tropical gardening helpline

Cecelia asks: While at the Kohanaiki surf spot recently I noticed an unusual flower on a plant that was growing over the rocks. The fragrant flower is white with a yellow center and has a mass of stamens coming from the center. The small oval leaves grow from a sprawling woody stem that covers the pahoehoe and rocks. The seed pods are green and oval and have a funny smell when opened. What is this plant?

Answer: The plant you describe is an endemic Hawaiian native, meaning this species is native only to Hawaii. Its botanical name is Capparis sandwichiana. It is sometimes known in Hawaiian as puapilo but more commonly as maiapilo which literally translates to “bad-smelling banana,” probably as a reference to the smelly fruit rather than the fragrant flower.

Maiapilo is in the Capparaceae or Caper family. It is a close relative of the caper bush, Capparis spinosa, whose small flower buds are pickled and used in Mediterranean cuisine. In English, the island plant is called Hawaiian caper bush.

The flowers bloom after sunset, remain open through the night and last until midday, at which time they fade to pink as they die

Though the plant is rare in the wild and somewhat endangered, it can be grown from seed easily and cultivated in landscape situations that are hot and dry with soil that drains well.

Email plant questions to konamg@ctahr.hawaii.edu for answers by certified master gardeners. Some questions will be chosen for inclusion in this column.

Diana Duff is a plant adviser, educator and consultant living on an organic farm in Captain Cook.

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