I Ka Pono Farmers Market
Behind Parker School Theater, at I Ka Pono Community Garden, Waimea
Saturdays, 7:30 a.m.-12:00 noon
Yesterday I ran across photos taken at the Babes November 09 trek to chilly Waimea to visit the legendary farmer’s market at Hawaiian Homestead’s Kuhio Hale and decided to record the day’s most enjoyable events.
All good intentions aside, we rerouted to I Ka Pono’s Farmers Market behind Parker School Theater, which is much smaller in size, but big on content – meaning the quality of vendor hawking their wares on that sunny Saturday morning. And a good detour it turned out to be!
The first table offered freshly baked, tender herb breads, focaccia, and happily, lots of samples – an inevitable fact of life at farmer’s markets everywhere (do you think this is where Costco got the idea?). The Babes, armed with wads of single-digit currency (a prudent idea for these types of shopping sprees), loaded up on assorted baguettes, foccacia and fresh herbs. Fortunately, we thought ahead to include coolers and ice packs to store our anticipated bounty, and were able to run each purchase to the safety of prepared storage in the car, which was parked nearby (another perk of a humble-sized venue).
Moving down the line, we stopped (and almost never left) the next booth. Like mama hens, hovering protectively around their nest, we descended upon the trays laid out before us filled with a tempting array of just-grilled, homemade sausages. As a matter of fact, the chef couldn’t get them out of the frying pan fast enough for our liking! At some point, I noticed him eyeing me suspiciously as I reached for my – what – umpteenth sample? The proverbial lightbulb clicked on, and I announced that I would in fact buy some to take home. I am sure that he heaved a sigh of relief as I pushed a handful of bills into his wife’s hand for my bag of Chorizo and Italian sausages. The Babe frenzy of purchasing continued as orders were taken, money exchanged hands, and bags of goods delivered to the coolers in the parking lot.
In order to allow more shoppers to enjoy those sausages, and to give the chef a much needed breather, we continued on to the next concessionaire. More bread! And baked on site from the back of a truck! Baker Kevin Cabrera, of Sandwich Isle Bread Company (http://www.sandwichislebread.com) is the rockstar of artisanal breads – and hauls his French-made Panyol wood-fired oven on a trailer so that he can park it wherever and bake on site!
How great is that?? Have Oven Will Travel!
We literally elbowed through the gathering crowd to edge our way up front so that the samples, nicely displayed in baskets, were all ours! I purchased a Fig-Walnut loaf, Challah and Multi-Grain with Raisins and Pecans plus a block of unsalted Chimay butter (ooh la la) from Belgium. I could have added far more to the haul, but at $7.00 per loaf, I needed to keep some pocket change for the many lunchtime offerings available to us that day.
Carolyn and I wandered over to Kekela Farms “salad bowl” tent – a dazzling display of colorfully tempting, locally grown produce, herbs and cheese. Like all decisions made that day, it was tough to choose from the verdant array spread out before us. Some of the other gals sauntered over to the orchid tent, followed by the bauble booth.
Catching up with the others at George Poppas orchid display, we found that Carol had snapped up a couple of exotic beauties and Tina was on her way to orchid nirvana. I can’t even begin to tell you the names of all the different classifications that surrounded us in that steamy tent, but I can tell you that orchids definitely have a siren’s allure – and it is difficult to resist their call! check out George’s website: http://www.poppasorchids.com – he even ships!
The jewelz lady – Sheryl Goodspeed of Mauna Kea Moonlight – displayed a bounty of exceptional pearl and custom gemstone jewelry. Carolyn was hypnotized by an unusually designed strand of southwestern (of course!) turquoise beads that just happened to adorn her blouse perfectly. As she modeled the piece, which actually looked fabulous on her, we all clucked and cooed just like good babefriends are expected to do (except we really were quite sincere in this instance) and tried to persuade her to part with her hard-earned dineros. In the end, she denied herself the pleasure of the buy and kept her credit card safely tucked away in her wallet. She hasn’t admitted such, but Carolyn probably has dreams about what might have been! Kind of like I do when I shun a fabulous pair of shoes that speak to me.
Just as I made a decision to purchase a tamale plate, Cindy motioned to me from Claudette Smith’s table, where she served gourmet sandwiches, pastry wrapped sausages, and jars of her specialty tomato relish. The pomegranate, lime and sparkling soda iced beverage concoction sold me!
Claudette operates Blue Moon Personal Chef & Catering Service (808-884-5120) and after sampling her savory wares, we highly recommend her! Be sure to get some of her special tomato relish – spicy!
On the way out, after our delicioso lunch, some of us visited the local honey – bee keeper tent and purchased fine honey, jams and chutneys. Everything at this market was locally made or grown, and well worth the visit!!
We never did make it to Kuhio Hale – next time! We heard through the “lilikoi vine” at Starbucks that morning, that the first Saturday of the month is the best time to head north towards the ‘wet side’ of Waimea for the Hawaiian Homes market, when chefs and local ranchers mosey together and feature locally grown lamb(chops), beef, free range poultry and their eggs – and all the herbs, flowers and produce you could ever dream of farmed right there in Waimea’s verdant countryside.
P.S. Some of the Babes detoured to Merriman’s Restaurant on the way back to Kona. They grow herbs and veggies served at meals and have a wonderful garden just outside their door. We have lots of photos, but decided to post just a couple in order to pique your interest and give you another reason to make the journey to cowboy country.