Friday, May 27, 2011

Chocolate Stories: The Road to Hana

Maui Chocolate Stories, Part 2: Hana & Lahaina 

While in Hawaii last week, I hoped to locate and eat some cacao fruit, and try new chocolates with local Hawaiian flavors. Fortunately, both goals were realized.

Hana Weekend
We made the beautiful 3-4 hour drive (including stops for pictures and lunch) to Hana on a Friday afternoon; all was good. At our lunch roadstand stop, we found some handmade coconut candy, and a Wow-Wee Maui dark chocolate bar, with Hawaiian coconut. (See last week's (May 2011) Chocolate and Coconut Theme Week posts.)

We made the beautiful 3-4 hour drive (including stops for pictures and lunch) to Hana on a Friday afternoon; all was good. We stopped at one roadstand and found some handmade coconut candy, and another Wow-Wee Maui chocolate bar (written about a few days ago during Chocolate and Coconut Theme Week).

However, once in Hana, we found that many places we were hoping to tour were closed over the weekend. So, sadly, we missed going to Ono Farms, where I'd heard they have cacao trees, and I did speak to one of the owners who is making chocolate. Hope to connect next time we're in Hawaii.

Happily, we did stop in Kipahulu on our drive past Hana, and there were a few cacao trees near the Laulima Farm roadside stand. Even better, there was one cacao fruit left for sale inside. I took the fruit back to our hotel room; the next day I opened the pod with a plastic fork, and enjoyed the white pulpy fruit with a light citrus flavor surrounding the large almond-sized cacao seeds. There were 43 seeds packed in this one cacao fruit/pod -- more seeds than fruit. But, that's fine, because while the white fruit is used in the initial fermentation process, it is the cacao seeds that are processed into chocolate.

The fresh, unroasted seeds were a beige color on the outside; and, if you broke one apart you would see a deep purple inside.

Lahaina Day Trip

The last full day of our vacation in Maui, I drove to Lahaina, in search of chocolate covered Spam at the Banyan Tree Deli and Bakery. Sweet Paradise Chocolatier was closed. So, I poked around the Front Street area for other chocolates, and possibly some Shave Ice.

It was a very hot day, and on my way to the 600 block of Front Street, I first stopped at Paradise Found, a family owned shop offering crepes and gelato, to sample their chocolate and banana gelato flavors.

It was so warm outside, that a few blocks later, I felt compelled to drop into Scoop's to try single cups of Lappert's banana fudge and coconut ice creams. Phew, this was hard work.

At last I arrived at the Banyan Tree Deli and Bakery. Sadly, found myself gazing at the empty display case where the chocolate covered Spam had been. However, owner and chocolatier, Darren Hagobian, couldn't have been nicer. I was able to obtain two tasty strips of chocolate covered bacon and a very satisfying dessert made of three very large  marshmallows on a stick, rolled in peanut butter, chocolate and coconut (see Chocolate of the Day - May 24, '11 post).

After driving past fields of sugar cane this week, I made one final stop on the way back from Lahaina to Kahului -- the Alexander and Baldwin Sugar Museum. While inside the gift shop, a local woman told me about a family recipe for adding grated cacao into a sweet cake or batter-type bread. I would have loved to have taken home some cacao fruit to try this. But, not surprisingly, the agricultural inspection folks would frown on randomly taking fruits and plant seeds out of state on a plane back to California. 

ChocolateBet: May 27, 2011

Chocolate of the Day:
1 piece
Sweet Paradise Chocolatier
Banana Rum Truffle
Good +
Weight: .5 oz. (14 g.) (estimate)
Calories: 74 calories (estimate)
Cost: $2.83 ($16.99 for a box of 6)
Purchased from: Whole Foods Market, in Kahului (Maui), Hawaii

Chocolate is often mixed with fruit and alcohol. Today's chocolate truffle from Hawaii (from Sweet Paradise Chocolatier) combined local (Hawaiian) apple banana and Maui rum. The rum was not really detectable, but the filling tasted like authentic island banana.

Since today was Day #2 of Chocolate, Banana and Cherries Theme Week, I paired this banana and rum truffle with a tiny sip of homemade cherry syrup and kirsch (cherry liqueur) -- also good with chocolate and/or vanilla ice cream. A variant of this combination is likely to turn up later this week, in the form of an adult banana split.
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