Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Made in Mau`i

Many of us if we are lucky to be able to, have made an effort these past few months to support local, support small business, support family owned businesses, and support black owned businesses.  But what about places that we have fallen in love with through our travels over the years or have become like second homes for us?  For me, that is hands down Mau`i, as I have this inexplicable connection to it where I actually get homesick for the islands when I leave.  I do not know if it is because it gave me a respite post 9/11 during my first visit or possibly some Native Hawaiian ancestry way back when as one of my classmates in my very basic Hawaiian language class discovered she was 1% Oceania when her DNA test came back to explain hers.  Whatever the reason, I am Hawaiian at Heart.   So, I felt like I got punched in the gut when I had to cancel my annual 2 weeks for this month especially since it would have been a milestone birthday and milestone anniversary.  As I was thinking about how much good I could have done with the $2500 maintenance fee for my time interval that I still have to pay for it to sit empty, I realized that just because we cannot physically be there this month, I find it even more important this year to lift them up the way Mau`i lifted me up back in 2001 and during other hard times in my life since.  One way is to buy Made In Mau`i products. 

For the past 16 years, my daily breakfast for my two weeks on island was always half a strawberry papaya and half a bagel slathered with butter avocado guacamole -  I use to always get it from the Honokowai Farmer’s Market but discovered Kumu Farms when I brought my dad to the Maui Tropical Plantation about 5 years ago.  Since then, I always stop by Kumu Farms on the way in from the airport for their GMO-Free Sunrise Strawberry Papayas.  Unfortunately, the Maui Tropical Plantation has closed indefinitely this year but Kumu Farms is still currently open for farm fresh market boxes available for local pickups and thankfully those papayas to ship to the mainland.  In the past, I have ordered a few times a year as gifts for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Christmas.  This summer alone, I have been ordering for myself and most recently right after I had to officially cancel my visit.  A bottle of their papaya jam will hopefully fill the void when I do not have access to the fresh fruit. 

Ku`ia Estate Chocolates -

I am always on the lookout for new businesses and experiences on Mau`i, so was ziplining over Upcountry when Skyline Hawaii was the first zipline operator in the US, the pineapple tour when the fields were still operating on the hills by Kapalua, Surfing Goat Dairy when tastings were part of their regular tour and O’o Farms lunch and farm tour when it just opened, among others. 

So, it is no surprise that I was planning on the chocolate tasting at Ku`ia Estates for my chocoholic husband’s 50th birthday this month.  Since that is no longer possible this year, the next best thing is to have a tasting at home.  All chocolates are made in Mau`i with most of their cacao beans from Brazil and Ecuador but if you want Mau`i grown beans, choose the “Grown and Made in Maui” products. 

I ordered their 70% Grown and Made in Mau`i 2020 Limited Release gift box and a variety of 50-piece bags, blood orange, lemon grass, and Mau`i coffee, as I know after we taste it, we will be wanting more.  I had just missed their release of the Mau`i mango by a week but since all net profits goes towards Mau`i charities and non-profit community organizations, I know I will be ordering more especially with Christmas around the corner.

Mau`i Wines -

I visited Mau`i Wines during my first visit to Mau`i in 2001 when it was still called Tedeschi Vineyards after co-founder Emil Tedeschi.  Wine tastings and tours were free and still were when I brought my dad about 5 years ago when they had plans to open up the King’s Cottage for a more intimate tasting experience.  Since I am lucky to have easy access to Napa and Sonoma Valley wines living in the Bay Area, I was drawn to what was unique to them, the pineapple wines using the Mau`i Gold Pineapples.  Since we, including my dad was a fan of the Mau`i Splash, I ordered a bottle of that as well as two bottles of the Hula O Mau`i Sparkling Wine, one for that milestone birthday and another for our milestone 20th anniversary 2 weeks later. 

Most restaurants have been temporarily closed since March, but you can still support your favorites by ordering gift cards for future use or treat your favorite Mau`i employees to use once they reopen.  While ordering their homemade focaccia through Doordash is not feasible, ordering that Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water they served with that focaccia is.  With many of us also baking more than ever, focaccia is one of the easier ones and you will be dipping away in no time - 

Maui Beef Crisps -

I originally heard about these Beef Crisps via a Yelp review of a gas station.  You read that right, as it was created by a person who worked at the Ilima Shell gas station and was originally only sold there.  These crisps are not like jerky but more of a chip texture, so good that this is all that is left from our previous order.  It became so popular that it has become widely available around the island including Island Grocery Depot or also for shipping.  Good thing too as the Ilima Shell has permanently closed since our last visit last year.

With fresh fruit limited to bring home since it needs to be treated to pass agriculture inspection, Maui Fruit Jewel’s has been my go-to omiyage to bring back each year.  Maui Fruit Jewels delivers you the flavors of those tropical fruits in a bite sized fruit jelly made with 100% Hawaii grown fruit.  For those indecisive, there are variety boxes or small boxes of just your favorite flavors.  Of course, that means papaya for me.           

I cannot believe it has been 6 years since I toured Ocean Vodka and I still have that original bottle as well as the new unique ones -

It is so smooth that you can sip on its own, in cocktails with many recipe ideas on their site or even Vodka Sauce for Penne Alla Vodka -  

Pau Hana Vodka -

This is another one that I had intended to visit this year for their tasting and tour of their distillery in Hali`imaile that makes not only vodka, but rum, whisky and gin.  Distilled with Mau`i Gold Pineapple since they are located in the middle of the fields, it was the Pau Vodka that I really wanted to try so just like Ku`ia chocolates, I purchased a bottle to taste at home to sip and to mix up some tropical cocktails.  Paired with an ocean waves CD or a virtual concert like Uncle George Kahumoku’s Sunday concert from his home to yours for just $20 - and you can feel like you are in Mau`i. 

Although many are protesting for reopening, I would never want to jeopardize the health and safety of what makes these places special to begin with, their people.  With a high elderly population, less advanced medical facilities and multigenerational households common on the islands, it is even more important to protect the kupuna.  By supporting their local businesses, hopefully it will still be there for me next year.  Until then, A Hui Hou!

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