February 14, 2013
I returned yesterday from a trip to Hawaii, the only U.S. state where cacao fruit can really be grown. I was in Kona, Hawaii, located on the west coast of the largest and southernmost island that comprises the state. And, at 18 degrees Latitude North, the Big Island is perhaps the best island for growing cacao, the raw material for the chocolate that we all love.
So, yes, I was on the hunt for cacao fruit, and island grown and made chocolates; but I also enjoyed discovering a few exotic fruits that might be good combined with chocolate. Vi(e) fruit truffles anyone?
I was fortunate to be able to visit the award-winning Green Gecko Coffee Farm in the Kona area. The owners of Green Gecko, Mike Katz and Lawton Allenby, had designed a veritable tropical paradise on a few acres, with coffee, a variety of fruit trees, flowers -- and even a few recently planted cacao trees. I also visited a few different Farmers Markets with them. These outdoor markets were a great way to sample local produce, fruits, macadamia nuts, and other items.
At the Saturday morning Keauhou Farmers Market, I met an evangelist for the Lulo fruit; and Vheissu and Carolyn Keffer, of Kona Origins, a company I will write about next.
However, to celebrate today, Valentines Day, I'd like to give a shout-out to Elena Garcia at Elena Chocolate.
Her Raspberry Liliko'i (passion fruit) heart-shaped chocolates were the perfect chocolate for Valentines Day this week. Elena expounded on her love for both different grades of chocolate and fresh flavor additions -- a combination of skills and interests not always found with chocolatiers -- who may just want to stick with buying one brand of base chocolate, that is easiest to work with.
Elena was more aware of pairing certain types of chocolates with various ingredients. Hats off to Elena, an infectiously creative spirit and artist. The Raspberry Lilikoi chocolate was delicious.
Happy Valentines Day to all!