Guest Author - Annie Billups
Perusing the stalls of Kapi'olani Community College's farmers' market feels like being on a movie set. Vendors smile, customers sample, and colorful produce floods every step. Saturday mornings from 7:30 to 11, both locals and tourists flock to this farmers' market next to Diamond Head crater. Some go for a breakfast of locally grown, grass-fed hamburgers. Some go to sample exotic fruits and buy souvenir salad dressings. Others go out of habit to buy weekly fruits and vegetables, which are sometimes less expensive than supermarket produce.
Hawaii-grown coffee stands usually greet customers at the entrance. Sipping a cup of joe just miles from its origin simply tastes better. Other typical treats include fried green tomatoes, pesto pizza, hot salsa, and taro dip. Taro, or kalo in Hawaiian, is a giant, leafy-green plant with a purple root. Hawaiians traditionally mash the root into a paste and mix it with water to form a pudding-like treat. Taro Delight, the dip sold at the market, has a consistency like hummus and flavors that titillate the taste buds ($5). Some people opt for the roasted corn on a stick ($3). This one's a local favorite, and a staple at most local festivals and fairs. But for the hungrier-than-most, loco moco is a must. This favorite local dish consists of white rice, a hamburger patty, fried egg, and gravy. And it's not just any hamburger patty; it's hormone-free and grass-fed from North Shore Cattle Company ($8).
After filling your stomach, it's time to shop. The market's butter avocadoes are so thick and creamy, you can practically taste the butter. And no less buttery is Maunawili Greens' butter lettuce. For the adventurous eater, Kahuku sea asparagus is a must-try. It resembles asparagus in appearance, but not in taste. This stuff is salty and hints at the sea it came from. Succulent papayas are always in season in Hawaii, and thus always at the market. Buy them yellow to eat traditionally, and green to make papaya cole-slaw. Difficult to find but worth the search are red bell peppers. While these probably don't break the bank on the mainland, in Hawaiian supermarkets they cost around $7.99/lb. At KCC Farmers' Market, they cost a few dollars for a bag of three.
While it's easy to get lost in produce, it's imperative to find the artisan bread section. Mauna Kea Baking Company and Chris Miura offer a bounty of sweet breads, sourdough, baguettes, focaccia, and more. And if you're too full to consider purchasing bread, samples are available.
Waltzing through the market is impossible to do without noticing the flowers. Varieties of orchids abound, and they're much more affordable than mainland prices. Tropical flowers such as torch ginger, olena, hibiscus, and heliconia unite in a sunset of colors. Arrangements are sold starting at $7.
With full bellies and grocery bags, this Saturday morning jaunt leaves little to be desired – except for a return trip, of course!
4303 Diamond Head Rd.
Buses #3, 22, and 58 will take you there!