Introducing Part I in our Baby Moon Travel Series - O'o Farm, Up-country Maui.
This special trip deserves a bit more than a bunch of photos in a post, so I decided to break up the highlights into a three-part travel series. First up, an Up-country farm tour and luncheon at the self-sustaining organic O'o Farm. Read on to learn more about Up-country farm living (Maui isn't just about the beach), and at the end of this post snag a slow-food veggie recipe!
When we first walked up to the farm, we were greeted by these gorgeous olive trees lining the laneways and learned that O'o Farm produces it's own olive oil. The scene reminded me of something straight out of Tuscany. The perfect way for this foodie to begin the tour!
Flanking the olive trees were coffee cherry bushes. It was surprising to learn just how big the coffee culture is in Maui. We went on to taste the coffee cherry buds (they taste just like a sweet red pepper). Chef uses the coffee cherries often in his menu on the farm, and we would be enjoying a sampling of a coffee cherry glaze that very day with lunch!
Chef introduced himself and talked a little bit about what we could expect on the menu for the day. This being an organic and locally-sourced farm, the menu changes with the seasons. He described how he would be using no electricity, only a wood-fired grill, to prepare our lunch. After a quick education on slow cooking, he sent us into the gardens to select our greens for lunch!
The opened grill and picnic area was just too cute for words. A wonderful, breezy little rustic retreat, high up and away from the crowds and heat at the beaches. (Up-country is always about 10-15 degrees cooler with a much stronger breeze than any other part of the island...Heaven <3)
Full disclosure here - some of these "greens" looked straight up like weeds you'd pull out of your garden and walk away from. At one point Justin even made a little joke to me saying that it looked like something he would run over with the lawn mower...haha. Then again, I suppose with a little squeeze of fresh lemon and some olive oil anything tastes good. And...you can't get much more organic than this!
A peak into our garden basket with collected greens for our starter salad. What surprised me most was their use of the flowering Fennel plant. I'm used to traditional Fennel that looks like a bulb, but the plant itself yields these little yellow flowers that taste strong like licorice. We tried some and woah! Apparently, these little yellow buds are the trending Avant garde thing to adorn fancy-pants salads. So much so that our tour guide Tony made a joke about brushing a few kernels onto the ground saying that it cost $3 for a few kernels!
Tony is holding up lemongrass in the photo on the right. The entire garden smelled of a cool mountain breeze and fresh herbs. <3
We ended our luncheon with a tour of the coffee facilities and got an education on coffee beans, the filtering process, and how to identify fancy grade beans from the regulars. Who knew there was so much to learn about coffee on an isolated island in the South Pacific!
The photo on the right features our first main course, sent out after our freshly-picked salad. Locally-sourced, wild-caught, fire-roasted Mahi-Mahi served with daikon radishes atop a purée of greens and avocado. The brightness of this dish amazed me! It made me realize how often in our day-to-day lives that we're consuming colorless, nutrient-robbed foods.
The top photo features one of the best roast chicken dishes I've ever had. It too was served starch-free with fire-roasted kale and rutabaga fries. Did you know that rutabagas contain not only half the calories of traditional potatoes, but they also pack the power of magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc? -- talk about a pregnancy superfood! Below, I've included a recipe you can try at home!
The tofu appetizer dish shocked us. Soy in general is usually something I stay away from. In the past, it just hasn't agree with me in both texture and taste. And it is definitely something my Midwestern, meat and potato-lovin' husband stays away from! Maybe it was the coffee cherry glaze or the fact that the tofu was cooked on an open-fire grill, but this dish pleasantly surprised us both. Chef sautéed the greens with lentils and included a puréed vegetable mash in lieu of a starch -- absolutely delicious and you really did not miss the meat!
Wood-fire Rutabaga Fries
A drizzle of healthy fat (olive, avocado or coconut oil works great!)
Fire up the grill to about 400 F, or the oven to 425 F.
Peel rutabaga and slice into fries with a mandoline.
On a large skillet (or baking sheet if using the oven), toss ingredients together.
Roast for 20 minutes, tossing around once to ensure even cooking.
I hope you enjoyed taking a peek into one of our very favorite travel experiences on our recent trip to Maui. On your next vacation, I highly recommend signing up for a farm tour and learning about locally-sourced food. It's an eye-opening experience!
Check back shortly for Part II in our Baby Moon Travel Series where Justin and I document The Road Knows: Experiencing The Road to Hana. Sometimes a mandatory detour is the best thing to turn a vacation into an impromptu travel adventure!