So we are back in our favorite place in the world (thank you June Jones), this time for two glorious weeks. If we didn’t have phenomenal house sitters watching out little Yoda man I might feel guilty leaving him for so long, but we do….so we are soaking up the sun, taking some time to relax, de-stress and celebrate each other.
Saturday morning we did what we love to do….explored a few of the local farmers markets on The Big Island in Waimea. Some people think going to local markets is just like a taking a trip to your local grocery store, but to us it is so much more. I seek out local markets and farmers markets in every city we travel to; where else will you find the best, seasonal, fresh and completely local products, specific to the place you have travelled to. And, it is also a great opportunity to meet the locals, hear their stories and experience something you may never otherwise try.
After taking the 20 minute drive, and 20 degree temperature drop, up to the lush green Waimea from our condo at the Mauna Lani we get to our first stop was the Waimea Farmers Market at the “55 mile marker on Highway 19.” (An apt and spot on description.)
Not too big, but filled with everything from flower and plant vendors; local farmers with piles of fresh radishes, squash, baby lettuce and of course, avocados….Big Island avocados are some of the creamiest and most delicious around; coffee roasters; Thai and Korean barbecue vendors; even a French crepe and fresh tamale maker.
We meet David Touchet, baker and owner of Palani French Bakers, who tells us he and his wife have been on the Big Island for 10 years, moving from San Francisco where he worked in classic, French bistros. Though most of his business is wholesale to local restaurants, he is a part of this weekly market every Saturday to sell to the locals.
We buy a fresh Sundried Tomato and Garlic Fougasse, which we will later toast with some extra garlic, tomato and olive oil….making our own type of Spanish tomato bread; a huge bunch of radishes and baby romaine from Honopua Farm, a family run, organic, solar powered farm in Waimea; and some Rincon Family Farm strawberries.
Then on to the Waimea Town Market at Parker School. (Parker Ranch is the largest cattle ranch in Hawaii and oldest in the US, founded in 1847 by John Palmer Parker.) This one is a bit fancier, bigger and filled with veggie and fruit vendors, clothing vendors, soap makers, coffee roasters, cheese makers and more.
From Keleka Farm we find baby fennel and fresh goat cheese with rosemary and black pepper. A few tomatoes from Hawaiian B Natural Farms…unfortunately our buddy Raymond Kawamata….the Tomato King of The Big Island who owns Kawamata Farms in Waimea is out of town (in Barcelona) so we won’t get to enjoy his beautiful tomatoes until he returns next week….and of course, some of those beautiful Big Island Avocados.
With that we head home to create a monster Hawaiian salad, adding in a mango and cucumber we found at our last stop; a funny roadside farmers market we found on our last trip, close to the Port of Kawaihae. Paired with our delicious tomato garlic bread and fresh goat cheese, along with a bottle of Cade Napa Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon, we agreed this was one of the best dinners we have had lately….fresh, fresh, fresh and so delicious.
Fresh Hawaiian Salad
Ingredients: Keep in mind, the beauty of this salad was how fresh and delicious everything was….it can be made anywhere with any ingredients, the key is to find and support your local markets.
2 baby bunches of romaine lettuce, torn to bite size pieces
1 large tomato, chopped
4 radishes – these were as creamy as they were peppery
1/2 English cucmber, chopped
1/2 baby fennel, sliced thin
1/2 avocado, chopped
1/2 ripe mango, chopped
1 -2 tablespoons fresh, chopped cilantro
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
For the dressing:
Squeeze of fresh lime (dressed on the avocado immediately to keep it from turning brown)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
2-3 tablespoons good olive oil or grapeseed oil
Whisk all the ingredients together for the dressing (except the lime that has already dressed the avocado) in a small bowl. Set aside. Combine all the ingredients for the salad in a large serving bowl, add about 1/2 of the dressing and toss well. If necessary, add a bit of additionally dressing just a touch at a time (you really want to keep the flavors of the veggies vibrant). If desired, serve the remaining dressing on the side. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the crusty, toasted bread rubbed with fresh tomato and garlic with a drizzle of olive oil.