Kauai Orange Dream, Uala Niu and Lava Flow are three flavors at Wailua Shave Ice. // © 2015 Samantha Davis-Friedman
Feature image (above): Clients tour the taro fields of Kealia Farm during the Royal Coconut Coast Tour. // © 2015 Tasting Kauai
- North Shore Tour: Tuesdays, $120 per person
- South Shore Tour: Wednesdays, $120 per person
- Farmers Market Tour: Wednesdays, $30 per person
- Short Order Tour: Three Thursdays per month, $60 per person
- Royal Coconut Coast Tour: One Thursday per month, $120 per person
- Travel Agent Commission: $15 per person
Kauai Food Tours from Tasting Kauai offer much more than just an excuse to eat delicious local food. The tours are an opportunity to learn about how Kauai’s farming and culinary communities work together to create the island’s unique food culture.
Founded by Kauai-based food writer Marta Lane, Tasting Kauai gives visitors the chance to connect with local farmers and food artisans through tours that highlight several areas of the island, as well as a farmers market tour that teaches people how to select and cook local produce.
During my recent visit to Kauai, I went on the Royal Coconut Coast Tour, which features the foods grown and prepared in that area. Here’s a look into what the tour offers visitors, in order of each stop.
The tour began at Kealia Farm, where the primary crop is taro, a plant Lane describes as “Hawaii’s staff of life.” We went into the taro fields to see how this important Hawaiian crop is planted and harvested completely by hand. Afterward, were able to taste taro in the form of poi (a dish made from the fermented root of the taro, which has been baked and pounded to a paste — definitely an acquired taste) and laulau (steamed packages of roasted pork and taro wrapped in taro leaves).
Wailua Shave Ice
Next, we drove to the nearby town of Kapaa, where the relatively new — but fast-growing — food truck community includes Wailua Shave Ice. This bright red truck serves popular shave ice with all-natural, from-scratch flavorings such as pineapple, strawberry and Okinawan purple sweet potato. My favorite was the Coconut x Coconut x Coconut, with coconut milk, haupia (a coconut dessert often found at luaus) and toasted coconut flakes.
Our next stop was JO2, where chef Jean-Marie Josselin creates amazing food inspired by the island’s multi-ethnic community. He uses only locally sourced and organically grown ingredients to ensure maximum taste and nutritional benefit. During our private tasting, Josselin prepared two delicious bites for us to try: a savory lamb “pie” over a bed of organic faro and a fresh, locally farmed shrimp wrapped in crispy phyllo threads.
Oasis on the Beach
The last stop of the tour was Oasis on the Beach, which strives to “capture the diversity of local cultures and influences without burying the delicious flavors that local ingredients offer,” according to the company. To illustrate that philosophy, chef Sean Smull prepared an amuse-bouche of peppery edible flowers, sweet star fruit and a morsel of salty pork. The tasting was accompanied by a handcrafted mulberry-tarragon gin and tonic cocktail, with mulberries from the chef’s own garden.