Same-day farm-to-table dining worth drive to Oahu's Kahumana Organic Farm & Cafeby: Derek Paiva
posted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 05:29 PM
Same-day Hawaii farm-to-table cuisine on Oahu’s Waianae Coast?
It’s more than for real at Kahumana Organic Farm & Cafe. It’s also really good.
A macadamia nut pesto tossed with whole wheat pasta and stir-fried kale picked just hours earlier? Check. Organic turkey meatballs flavor kicked with fresh-gathered spinach and basil in a housemade tomato ratatouille brimming with just picked eggplant and long squash? Check. The best homemade hummus—yes, hummus!—you’ve ever had, wonderfully flavored by bits of fresh cilantro, red onion and the kick of Hawaiian chili pepper? Oh, yeah.
Getting to Kahumana Organic Farm & Cafe is quite the drive—a full 30 miles from Honolulu, past Pearl Harbor and Ko Olina Resort to the town of Waianae, on Oahu's scenic, but mostly residential leeward coast. Still, if the thought of sampling dishes made with Hawaii-grown produce at its freshest rouses your tastebuds, there's no place quite like Kahumana.
Kahumana is a certified organic farm that grows more than 40 varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs. The farm's A Taste of Kahumana Café is part of a long-term commitment toward providing a community model for healthy eating. The 14-acre farm and café are also part of a larger nonprofit focused on providing transitional housing and career training for individuals in need, seeking jobs in agriculture and food service. Opened a year ago, the cafe is one of the only restaurants we know of on Oahu that specializes in same day, farm-to-table dishes.
Official harvest days at Kahumana are Tuesday and Friday. But café manager/director Robert Zuckerman and his co-chef Ranjith Ramanakumar walk the farm every day to gather produce for their menu, which changes daily.
“The menu is mainly improvisation. It has to do with what’s available on the farm, and what’s available at the market,” says Zuckerman, who supplements fresh-picked Kahumana produce with organic products from local markets and Waianae's weekly farmers market. “The farm determines some of the specials. But if I get an early morning phone call from the person I regularly get fish from—for example, last week she gave me some fresh akule—we’ll put something together.”
For the record, Zuckerman fried up the akule crisp and served it alongside organic brown rice and a stir-fry of vegetables picked fresh from the farm.
Zuckerman smiles. “Most of the time, the menu is creative spontaneity.”
Recently, photographer Dawn Sakamoto and I took the drive to Kahumana Organic Farm & Cafe for a tour and some lunch. Check out our time there in words and photos:
Kahumana Organic Farm's "A Taste of Kahumana Cafe" serves lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday (dinner from 6 to 7:30 p.m.). But we arrived early and took a walking tour of the farm first.
The farm and cafe are located in Lualualei Valley on the Waianae Coast of Oahu.
Farm manager Lou Clark prepares to harvest dryland taro for the day's lunch menu.
Clark digs under the plant to get to the taro root—the tasty, starch-filled part of the plant.
Digging the entire plant out of the ground takes some effort. Notice the complex root structure of the taro.
Clark cleans off the dirt from the taro, which also takes some effort, right in the field.
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