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O’o Farm Raises the Bar

Farm to table has become all the rage in the last few years, and for good reason.  Many people want more than just a meal, and they want to eat it with a clean conscience, knowing that is was made in a kind and sustainable manner.  High above the bustle of Maui’s beach scene is a charming farm tucked into the green countryside that embraces this belief.

O'o Farm

O’o Farm in Kula is a charming farm perched on the hillside, peeking out from the billowing fog that often frequents their land.  My friend and I were met by our guide, Ancil (who has the job title of tour guide, server, bus boy, barista and composter) at the entrance and joined by a very friendly couple from Oregon.  Most tours range from 8-20 people, but we were lucky to have a more intimate group.  The moment the farm tour started, it became very apparent how much this company truly respects the land they farm on.  These 8 1/2 acres sit 3,500 feet above sea level and they have found themselves growing a “culinary adventure”.  From olives to coffee beans to stone fruit, this mediterranean climate is able to produce items not usually found on a tropical island.  Funnily enough, they’re too cold to grow many of the tropical fruits, and the rainfall is only about 30 inches a year.  They’ve found some success with growing subtropical fruits, however, like cherimoya and loquats.  On the tour, you’ll get to pick some of these straight off the tree.  Taste testing doesn’t get fresher than that!

O'o Farm

Ancil pointed out the surrounding forest of wattle trees, known for being a huge pest to grow around but also being very beneficial because of its high nitrogen levels that it transfers to the soil.  These trees didn’t hold much significance until I found out that they nearly saved the upcountry lifestyle after a widespread Kula fire wiped out almost all of the vegetation in the early 1900’s.  Today, these trees are used for the wood fire stove and are chipped up and used in the compost.

O'o Farm

This farm was actually the brain child of Pacific’O Restaurant in Lahaina, who are dedicated to serving local and sustainable dishes.  They were running into an issue on acquiring what they needed and keeping their commitment to local produce, so they got creative and started their own farm to cut out the middle man.  We walked down lines of citrus trees, winding through rows of swiss chard, mustard greens and candy stripe beets.  Their herb garden would win in any contest and their edible flowers were as beautiful as they were tasty.  However, their pride and joy was a small red berry on a tree.

O'o Farm

Coffee is a passionate topic for many, from a morning necessity to slowly sipping it to ascertain notes of mocha and cherry.  This farm family started their coffee hobby by roasting their own beans in the tool shed.  What began as a small interest has now become ardent pursuit of the perfect cup o’ joe.  Their stunning roasting house, which is built with recycled wood, sees these lovingly grown beans from bean to cappuccino.  It’s rare to drink a cup of coffee on the land that the beans were grown, roasted and brewed!

O'o Farm

Ancil regaled us with a plethora of unique facts about goats being the first to discover coffee beans, the fool-proof method of lasagna gardening and O’o Farm’s future in olive pressing.  On cue with our grumbling  stomachs, he handed us over to the chef in the rustic outdoor kitchen.  Looking perky considering his 6 am arrival at the farm, Chef Daniel proudly showed off his basket of freshly picked fruits and vegetables that would be a part of our dining experience.  The colors, the fragrance of lemongrass and kaffir lime drifted our way.

O'o Farm

After Chef Daniel entertained us with the impending feast that he’d be preparing, Ancil reappeared and guided us to their roasting house to get up close and personal with their passionate pursuit.  Their passion is in good company, as coffee is the second most traded commodity after oil.  And now O’o Farm is jumping into the competitive coffee ring and entered the 2015 Cupping Competition, a prestigious statewide competition that crowns someone with the coveted Grand Champions of Hawaiian Coffee award.

O'o Farm

The lunch bell rang and we made our way over to the buffet, where skillet crispy tofu mingled with candy stripe beets, yellow beets and rainbow carrots.  A dish brimming with juicy brined chicken was next, paired with blood oranges, kaffir lime, rutabaga and hints of rosemary and cardamon.  The fresh catch of the day was Monchong, which was perfectly moist and flaky.  This delectable dish boasted flavors of caramelized Florence fennel and elephant garlic with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf.  We proudly piled on a mixed green salad and citrus vinaigrette from the bounty we had just picked from the garden.  Lastly, and possibly my favorite, was the wood fire focaccia bread, still warm from the stove.

O'o Farm

We relished in each bite, and the freshness of each dish was so apparent and appreciated!  As the fog slowly started rolling in, perfectly timed french press coffee pots were brought out for our sipping pleasure, and was paired with house made dark chocolate truffles.

O'o Farm

This culinary experience was more than just a fun time or a great meal.  It connected us to the entire process from the growing to the picking to the cooking to the eating.  For anyone that wants to take home once in a lifetime memories that include more than just the beach, this is a must do!

To read up on another commentary of this incredible farm, visit this O’o Farm Review.

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Maui Matsuri 2015: Don’t Miss It!

MM festival FOR WEB

    The Maui Matsuri is a 3-day event that is dedicated to preserving and perpetuating Japanese culture on Maui. “Matsuri” means “Japanese festival,” and the Maui Matsuri incorporates some of the most notable cultural exhibits, educational activities, entertainment and food in order to bring the community together to celebrate Japanese-American history, heritage and culture on Maui. The event is produced for the public by a volunteer team, and admission is free.
    The official theme of this year’s festival is “on” or debt of gratitude to others. An artistic rendering of the “on” theme is depicted below, which will be the official design on this year’s festival t-shirt. The artwork was designed by Artist Jonathan Yukio Clark. He chose to include the crane in his design, as it is prominently featured in the Japanese story “Tsuru No Onagaeshi,” which tells of a crane weaving cloth from its own feathers as a way to show its gratitude to a man who rescued it.

Maui Matsuri 2015 design

    The 2015 Maui Matsuri festivities will begin on Friday, May 8 for the kickoff event, featuring karate, taiko, bon odori (bon dance) practice, coloring contest, appearance by Hello Kitty, and more from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Queen Ka’ahumanu Mall center stage. The kickoff event is sponsored in part by Araki-Regan & Associates, LLC.

Hello Kitty FOR WEB

    The festivities continue the following weekend. On Friday, May 15, there will be a movie night from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the University of Hawaii – Maui College student center (Pilina Building). This year for movie night, Kikaida キカイダー the superhero is back! Join us for the Maui premier of the full-length feature film “Kikaider Reboot” that will feature the Maui on-screen debut of the superhero along with his friends and arch-rivals with modern sci-fi action and visual effects. “Kikaider Reboot” is 110 minutes, not rated, and subtitled in English. The movie is distributed by JN Productions, Inc. and brought to you in part by Seki’s Machine Works. Check out the official trailer below!

    On Saturday, May 16 will be the 15th Annual Maui Matsuri festival from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the University of Hawaii – Maui College main courtyard, presented by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui. Thousands of people attend the festival each year, because it is simply THAT good! And we couldn’t do it without our major supporters and sponsors: County of Maui, Hawaii Tourism Authority, IBEW – Local Union 1186, Island Honda, Maui Taiko and UH – Maui College.

Here are my top 5 reasons not to miss this year’s festival:

      • YUMMY FOOD! Yes, really yummy local Japanese food. Just imagine starting off with a delicious musubi, followed by a mouthwatering bento and some of the best chow fun on the island, and then savoring a taste of some nishime, curry stew, and edamame rice. Don’t forget to leave room for dessert: andagi, shave ice and Uncle Lani’s famous poi mochi. Where else can you enjoy all of these delectable dishes conveniently in one place? At the Maui Matsuri!

Bento FOR WEB1

      • LIVE ENTERTAINMENT, DEMONSTRATIONS & DANCING! From taiko to bon dancing (Japanese group dancing), this is one festival attraction you don’t want to miss! You will be awed by performances of Edo Kotobuki Jishi (traditional lion dance from Old Tokyo) by Oahu special guest Kenny Endo and the Taiko Center of the Pacific. Endo is a leading artist in contemporary percussion and rhythm. Endo was even recorded in motion capture suit and featured in the movie “Avatar” as well as in soundtracks for films such as “Picture Bride” and “Apocolypse Now.” You can catch him and his group at the entertainment stage at 4:30 p.m. Then, head over to the demonstration area at 4:50 p.m. to check out the Maui Karate Association, as they thrill the crowd with their skills and mastery of karate. Hold on… during all the excitement, did you miss Kenny Endo and his group perform? No problem! They will be doing an encore of their performance at the entertainment stage again at 6:30 p.m. Then, wind down the night by joining the crowd for a little bon dancing around 7:30 p.m.

Lion Dance FOR WEB

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      • EXCITING CONTESTS! Enter our contests… or just watch other people compete for prizes and bragging rights in this year’s contests! This year we will have the following contests: eating (natto and saimin), hanafuda/sakura (Japanese card game), cosplay (costume), video-gaming, and manga (Japanese comic cartoon or anime) and art drawing.

Natto FOR WEB

      • MANY WAYS TO KEEP YOUR KIDS OCCUPIED! If you are looking for fun for the entire family, this is the right place! The kids will enjoy a variety of activities, while the adults can join in the fun or simply take a moment to relax while enjoying a cup of refreshing shave ice. You will be happy to hear that we are providing something NEW to entertain your kids this year: kids games! Purchase scrips, so your kids can play games and win prizes! We are also continuing to offer the Kodomo (Children’s) Corner with free arts and crafts.
      • AN OPPORTUNITY TO BUY LOCAL & SUPPORT LOCAL! Meet local artists, crafters and vendors, and cultural exhibitors, many of whom represent local businesses and feature Made in Maui or Made in Hawaii products. Buy some really neat products, or stop by a cultural exhibit table where you can partake in activities such as: arranging your own floral, take-home souvenir using what is found in nature.
            For more information on the Maui Matsuri, please visit our website: www.mauimatsuri.com. We are also on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and the official hashtag for the event is #mauimatsuri. There will be 2 Instagram contests this year, and the winners will receive free festival t-shirts, so please be sure to like/follow Maui Matsuri on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to get all the contest announcements.
            Kashiko (sincerely yours),
            Traci Giordano Silva

Silva Gang

              About the Guest Blogger: Traci Giordano Silva is a freelance graphic artist, writer & social media strategist. She is the director of public relations, marketing & social media for: Fukumoto Engineering, Maui Matsuri, Soroptimist International of Maui & Soroptimist Founder Region. Silva is also a blogger & the creator of “Life on a Silva Platter,” a whimsical blog focused on finding humor in life’s quirks. She lives on Maui with her husband Mike & their “kids” (pet cats & dogs). She loves making new friends in her many adventures & enjoys giving back to the community.

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