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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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Hawai‘i State Chili Championship Cookoff on Sunday, July 20 at Ulupalakua Ranch – Come for a Sunday Drive

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Ulupalakua Ranch Store & Grill, along with Shaka Pops Maui and Maui’s Winery, invites the public to come on up to beautiful Upcountry Maui for the 2nd Annual CASI Hawai‘i State Chili Championship Cookoff on Sunday, July 20, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The cookoff, which is sanctioned by the nonprofit Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI), debuted last year at the Ulupalakua Ranch Store and was so successful that the organizers decided to expand this year’s event and make it part of the Ulupalakua Sunday Drive series, with proceeds again benefiting the Maui 4-H Livestock Association.

Chili Cook Off

As anyone knows who’s “come on up” for a Sunday Drive, the day is all about fantastic live music! Maui’s own Country Knights will be performing on the beautiful grounds of Maui’s Winery. The Knights are good-time island favorites, featuring Herb Andrews on vocals and guitar, Rob Loney on bass, and Jon Melia on drums. They perform at many major resort conventions here in Hawai‘i, with music described as having a relaxing, island-style country feel, especially their most frequently requested original song “Maui, You’re On My Mind.” The Knights will perform from 11 to 3 p.m.

Maui News Maui Scene Pic

Over at the Ranch Store, Bradda Francis will entertain from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bradda Francis has been called “the Hawaiian Elvis” for good reason. A full Native Hawaiian, he has a deep, rich voice that can transition into many different styles (and he can also sing in seven different languages!). Maui audiences especially love his authentic Hawaiian melodies, and you’ll hear plenty of those at the Sunday Drive event.

BraddaFrancis

Just as hot as the music that’s playing on the Ranch is the lunch that’s cooking on the Grill. Executive Chef Will Munder has created a spicy new menu that’s all about chiles in all shapes and sizes. Try the Anaheim Chile Enchiladas with Queso Fresco, or Steak Tacos with Pasilla Pepper Salsa. From the Hawaiian Chile Pepper Croutons in the famous Caesar Salad, to the Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos you can order on the side, to the Red or Green Ranchero Sauce you can add to your Elk Burger, it’s a day full of flavor and spice. Yes, and that includes dessert: Ancho Chile Pepper & Double Chocolate Tarte with Cinnamon Whip Crème—¡ay, caramba!

The event also marks the debut of Ulupalakua Ranch Store’s own Pulehu BBQ Sauce and No Bull Hot Sauce, newly bottled, labeled and on sale. Like everything else at Ulupalakua, the sauces are all made from local ingredients and created fresh in-house. If you love what you taste, take some home with you!

Shaka Pops for Chili Cook Off

The chili cookoff was brought to Maui by husband and wife chili enthusiasts Larry Lutz and Christine Vestfals—the makers of Shaka Pops Maui. These handmade, natural Hawaiian ice pops are the perfect way to cool down after a bowl of hot chili. (Unless you’re trying the Spicy Mayan Chocolate pop, made with fiery chili spices just for the event!) How many pops can you eat? That will be the question during the Shaka Pop-Eating Competition at the Ranch Store. Keiki from Maui 4-H will be selling pops, with a portion of the proceeds going to benefit the 4-H program.

Popsicle eating contest Maui

Just across the road at the King’s Cottage Tasting Room, Maui’s Winery is offering new kama‘aina pricing all day for all visitors. The Winery recently brought home two prestigious medals from the 2014 Los Angeles International Wine Competition: a Gold for the lively and elegant Lokelani Sparkling Rosé, and a Silver for the layered and intriguing 2011 Plantation Red. In celebration of these triumphs, the Winery is offering low celebratory pricing on both wines just for the day.

Lokelani-Sparkling-Rose1

Tasting room staff will offer visitors advice on “Pairing with Heat,” with a display of the do’s and don’ts of pairing wine with various levels of spice. “It can be hard to find the perfect marriage between wine and spicy cuisine, where the classic rules of food and wine pairing just do not apply,” says Joseph Hegele, Director of Marketing for Maui’s Winery. “Pairing the wrong wine with spicy food can actually accentuate the heat and impair your palate.”

For the chili cookoff, visitors can purchase a $5 tasting kit to sample the competition from 12:15 to 2 p.m. and place their vote for theirfavorite chili in the People’s Choice category. “Anything goes” for that category, as well as for the Best Restaurant category, so cooks can get creative. Rules are a bit more stringent for the official CASI Rules chili. All three categories require that the chili be cooked onsite the day of the cookoff. A limited number of judging seats are also available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dan MIller

Maui’s own Don Miller of Makawao will be returning to defend his 2013 title, taking on chili aficionados from around the islands. The competition will be spicy, as 2008 Terlingua International Chili Championship (TICC) winner Susan Dean from Johnson City, Texas, and Texas Men’s State Champion Alan Dean will also be competing. Winners will be announced at 3 p.m.

The winning three Hawai‘i resident cooks will be invited to compete at the legendary TICC in Texas on November 1, 2014. Prizes include a hand-painted cookstove donated by Shaka Pops Maui for the first-place Hawai‘i cook, as well as gifts from Ulupalakua Ranch and Maui’s Winery. Last year’s event raised more than $1,600 for Maui 4-H. Ulupalakua Ranch has a long-standing commitment to Maui County’s agriculture community, as well as to the future farmers and ranchers in the Maui 4-H program.

CASI is a major nonprofit organization that raises over $1 million annually for local charities and its scholarship fund, all while promoting chili appreciation.

Poster Chili champsionship Maui

 “We are so proud to welcome the state chili championship here once again,” says Diana Azevedo, manager of Ulupalakua Ranch Store & Grill. “It’s a wonderful and fun way to bring the community together, and we’re excited to introduce our new line of Ulupalakua Ranch branded food products on this special day!”

For more information, visit www.shakapopsmaui.com/chili.

About Sunday Drive events at Ulupalakua

Ulupalakua hosts twice-yearly Sunday Drive events to share and honor different aspects of this unique historic area. Each event features live music on the beautiful grounds of Maui’s Winery, lunch specials at Ulupalakua Ranch Store, complimentary wine tasting, and opportunities to learn more about the area’s history and culture.

For more information about Sunday Drive events, call toll-free (877) 878-6058. To learn more about Ulupalakua, please visit www.mauiwine.com or www.ulupalakuaranch.com.

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PLEASE KOKUA and support Ulupalakua! Help us keep these events free and open to the public by patronizing the Tasting Room and Ranch Store and by respecting our rules: NO DOGS (for the safety and comfort of all), NO COOLERS (purchase your delicious meal and drinks here in Ulupalakua!) & NO OUTSIDE ALCOHOL (county liquor laws are very strict). Mahalo!

 

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