Thursday, January 6, 2011

In Which We Enjoy Perfect Cocktails at a Delightful Organic Plantation, and Meet a Herd of Wild Boar…

Most of Kauai was, at one point, given over to sugar plantations. There are none in operation anymore, but many of the original plantations still exist, some with the sugar mills still standing. As the sugar and workers needed transporting around the island, there was once an extensive rail system. It’s hard to find any evidence of this anymore (which is a shame – I love a good train ride!) but there is one plantation that has remained open to the public with a variety of ‘attractions’ which include a train ride around the plantation which still grows sugar, as well as many fruit and vegetable crops, a rum distillery (and tasting room!) and a fabulous organic ‘farm to table’ restaurant.

We decided a visit was in order and so we arrived just in time to board the open air cars. The tour was tame (I could probably have crawled faster), but we did get to see an astounding display of fruits, many of which I had never heard of or seen before. The announcer was amusing and reminded me of the ‘safari guides’ on the Jungle Cruise at Disneyland, but he was hard to hear over the yabbering of the Hawaiian family sitting in front of us. I am not sure why they were even there as they seemed completely bored with the whole thing. When I could hear him, he was listing off various combinations of fruit that they had managed to produce – what sounded like tangerines and rambutan or lychees and some sort of plum something or other, and pears and grapefruit or whatever. I’m pretty sure they make some of that shit up. I would. I mean who is going to know the difference if you tell them those little brownish-red nut-like clusters are a cross between a Korean Longoyongo and a Tahitian Boralora plum, when actually they are just crab-apples? Not me, my friends. Bring it on I say.

Anyway – the highlight of the trip came when we stopped by a field of “pet” wild boars. The population of people in Kauai in 64000, and the boar population is 333000!  It’s open season all the time for hunters in an attempt to keep the population down. I don’t think it’s working.

These boars are, well, boorish, with faces only a mother could love. They all rushed over toward us as the train pulled up, and it was a sight to remember.


After the boar episode, we wandered the grounds and, surprisingly, the boys found their way to the rum tasting session. We all convened at 22 North, a beautiful ‘Farm to Table’ restaurant offering only local organic food. We sadly were in between meals and were forced to endure a sampling, instead, of local cocktails and mocktails. Mine, a Ginger Orange Julep, was amazing and consisted of ginger syrup in soda water with muddled blood orange with a bit of fresh mint. So delicious.


Kent had a mojito with local grapefruit, mint, lime and Koloa dark rum made on site. Also delicious.


Pepi had a similar concoction but with African blue basil and something else that escapes me now…


Mel ordered a variation on a pina colada but with lavender essence and local rum. Totally unique and amazing.


All these drinks were created for us by the incredible Laurie who really know her stuff, and took pleasure in telling us all about the farm and the produce grown on site that she uses in her specialty drinks, right down to the ginger syrup. One in a million – I’m glad we found her.

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While we adults enjoyed our drinks, Jacob entertained us with small red prickly fruit similar to lychees known as Rambutan.

Meet Rambutan man:

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More tomorrow!

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