We were staying in Napili Bay, on the island of Maui. Vegan food was a bit of a mixed review... though I certainly never starved. By and large, I found it pretty easy to get by, and even found a few real winners for eating out. But there is one area where Hawaii really, really excels for a vegan:
You all know how devoted I am to eating locally grown produce. Here in Santa Cruz, that means eating a lot of apples and pears this time of year... soon the citrus arrives and also the pomegranates. So it's hardly a hardship. But, all the same, I almost never allow myself the indulgence of buying bananas or papayas flown all the way from Central or South America...
So, you can image how stoked I was on this gorgeous display of what passes for local fruit in Hawaii:
Guava, Papaya, Rambutan!, Apple Bananas, Pink Dragonfruit, and Pineapple.
Oh man, I was in heaven. Not to mention the lovely view from our place.
One of the most amazing things is how you just see this fruit growing EVERYWHERE. In fact, I picked these guavas up off the ground on a hike we took. Everywhere you look are coconut trees, guava trees, banana trees, papaya trees, sugar cane, mango trees (sadly, it was not mango season)... for a food-crazed freak like me, it's positively distracting!
These wonderful little bananas called apple bananas were available at the farmer's markets and they were so delicious. Little and sweet, but with a little tang of tartness, I was totally in love with them. One day I just ate 7 of them for lunch.
Also, these little rambutan were a big highlight for me. I've had fresh rambutan a couple of times before - but these were absolutely the most delicious ones I've ever had. They were juicy and moist, sweet and soooo delicious. Rambutan is similar to a lychee nut ... Mr. VE&Ts says they are like a juicy little coconut. I'm not sure about that... They are sweet, but not sugary, a firm but juicy flesh, a little hint of lemony flavor, with an almond sized pit in the middle. I ate as many as possible!
Another big star for me was this gorgeous pink dragonfruit. Like Rambutan, I'd had fresh dragonfruit before (when we were in China), but MAN this was a whole different story. The flesh is delicate and melts in your mouth. It's full of seeds, but they are not a nuisance at all - they are like little sesame seeds or quinoas as far as texture. The flavor is light, delicately sweet, and lovely to eat. And that stunning color... totally cool.
Sadly, we learned that in January, Maui will no longer be growing pineapples for export. What a shame. One of the gigantic landholders in West Maui has developed into massive golf courses, condos, villas, hotels, and so on ... and it all used to be pineapple farms. Apparently it is a difficult and demanding crop, and it's not as lucrative as more Ritz-Carlton hotels. Sigh. We made a special point to eat and enjoy as much pineapple as possible.
Here is a crazy little picture of me celebrating the local Apple Bananas, still on the tree. Future Yum!
Well, you can bring home as many pictures as you take, but you can't bring home rambutan and dragonfruit. You should have seen me, gluttonously scarfing down 1/2 a pineapple, an entire papaya, 2 bananas, and six rambutan on our way to the airport!!! I was determined to maximize my tropical fruit consumption to the very end!!!
However, I did bring home a few special little treats from Maui to share with you, my faithful readers. In honor of ten years of Mr. VE&Ts and Me, I'm offering a little piece of Hawaii to one lucky winner: Hawaii Candy Coconut Wafer Cookies (they look sorta like fortune cookies), totally delicious Dried Mango (no sugar), Dry Roasted Unsalted Macadamia Nuts, a mini jar of Maui Pineapple Jam, and a mini jar of Hawaiian Mixed Fruit Jelly (Lilikoi, Guava, Pineapple, & Orange). If you want to win, just leave a comment - and be sure to leave your email address if you don't have a blog where I can reach you. I'll pick the winner next Wednesday, one week from today!
Now I'm happy to be home, cuddling with our furbabies again, and hard at work in the kitchen getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow!