If you're planning a trip to Honolulu, you have to definitely set aside Saturday morning for a visit to the Saturday's Farmers Market at the Kapiolani Community College on the edge of Diamond Head. This was the first time I visited this farmers' market, and it really is probably the biggest on Oahu.
You have to get there early because it's open from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m., and everyone has to drive there since there's no mass transit nearby. That means a big mess in the adjacent parking lot. But it's worth the hassles to check out all the produce stands and the food stations. You see some typical farmers market things but also some unique items to Hawaii.
The Saturday's Farmers Market is sponsored by the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation and the culinary program at Kapiolani Community College. (Some historic background, Kapiolani Community College used to be closer to town on Kapiolani Boulevard, thus the name. Then they opened a campus near Diamond Head. The main town campus eventually closed and now it's only at the Diamond Head location, and its culinary program has produced some of the most noteworthy chefs in the state.)
Here's a sample of some of the things at the market:
Baked goods from Bale Bakery. This is a Vietnamese bakery famous for its bahn minh sandwiches. So their French rolls are pretty popular. But as you can see, they've now branched out to a lot of other goodies.
Of course you're going to have to find taro at the Hawaii market. Taro is a starch that's made into poi when boiled and pounded. There are not too many people growing taro now so it costs a premium at stores. But everybody needs their poi!
Here's an unusual item I saw at the market. This one hippie-like woman was selling this thing called Noni. She says it's an ancient Hawaiian herbal treatment. The Noni is placed in a jar and allowed to ferment, and then juice comes out. The juice is taken to heal illnesses and improve digestion. Another note: It has a really funky smell. It really smelled like cheese, which was odd. And when you touch it, it's really soft like cheese. Kind of weird.
This is one of the more tropical flowers found at the market. This one is called Olena. I thought it was so pretty in the light.
People like to make salad dressings in Hawaii. So here's a stand selling a creamy herb dressing and a soy-based dressing. They were pretty good.
I've never seen this before: baby eggplant. Who knew they started off orange-red?
Preparing a pizza for sale. Look at those cheese being placed on top. Yum.
We're not getting much tomatoes in the Bay Area, but in the hot weather of Hawaii, they can get it any time of the year.
Of course, papayas are everywhere and they're my favorite Hawaiian fruit, after the mango. I love papayas. They're healthy for you and taste so great by itself. The ones above are the ruby red ones, sometimes called strawberry papaya for its red-orange flesh.
The jams at the market were all tropical, like this one from Kahuku (a lot of things are from Kahuku, a farming town near the North Shore of Oahu) and is made with Lilikoi, a popular Hawaiian fruit. I think it's the Hawaiian name for passion fruit. This particular jar was a bit too sweet, but I loved the mango jam and bought a jar of that to bring home!
Kona coffee is a major seller here, but fyi, Kona coffee beans are expensive! They were selling a bag for $17. Too bad I don't drink coffee.
Here's another thing you won't find at Bay Area farmers' market. This is Ogo, a seaweed grown in Kahuku (again). It's popular to mix in when making poke, the Hawaiian dish of raw tuna and seaweed. Can you imagine packing this up and bringing it back to your hotel! LOL.
Saturday's Farmers Market at Kapiolani Community College, Parking Lot C, 4303 Diamond Head Road near Waikiki. Every Saturday from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Saturday, May 17, 2008