guide Maria Sadusky shows off a lilikoi (passion
fruit), ready to eat, at Ono Farms near Hana on the
Hawaiian island of Maui. The tour of Hawaii's
largest organic farm includes tastings of at least a
dozen tropical fruits, such as those seen in the
Hawaii — Maria Sadusky, our 19-year-old tour guide from
Delaware, frets about going home for a visit because the
bananas just won’t be right.
so afraid to go home at Christmas; they won’t have any
of this fruit, and a Chiquita banana tastes like an unripe
that comparison doesn’t ring a bell with you, think
about rock-hard avocados. Bartlett pears the color of
green grass. Just not edible.
who gave up a tennis scholarship to find her happy niche
with the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms
organization, was leading me and others on a tasting tour
of Ono Farms, a remote organic fruit and coffee farm on
the junglelike Hana Coast of Maui.
recent trip, I combined it with a tour of Maui Brewing’s
expansive new Kihei brewhouse, plus a visit to a
distillery near upcountry Makawao, all part of a growing
number of tasting and sipping tours that are making this
Hawaiian island a food-and-spirit lover’s vacationland.
was warned to come hungry for the 1:30 p.m. tour of Ono
Farms, where owner Chuck Boerner and his crew farm 70
acres of a 300-acre property on the southeast shoulder of
in a rustic pavilion at the end of a long and winding
driveway that climbs through lush orchards of bananas and
breadfruit, this experience is as much tasting as it is
tour, promising at least 12 varieties of tropical fruit
for sampling, along with coffee and chocolate, all grown
on the farm ($35; children younger than 10 free,
born in Honolulu, came to this coast with his parents in
1942, ultimately creating what is claimed to be Hawaii’s
largest organic farm, calling it "Ono," the
Hawaiian word for "delicious." Among other
things, it grows bananas for Whole Foods stores throughout
has a passion for discovering novelty fruits from tropical
climes. On my visit, Sadusky delights in slicing and
serving several fruit treats that are new to me. The big
hit: the ice-cream banana.
you freeze them and take them out they have the
consistency of ice cream!" she announces, offering a
even better, she says: the abiu, a native of the Amazon
region, which looks a bit like an orange that got too
friendly with a persimmon.
has kind of a toasted-marshmallow flavor, and it’s my
favorite fruit on the entire farm. I just couldn’t stop
eating them," Sadusky exclaims.
not so sure. There’s a disturbing kind of s’mores
cleanse their palates with tart slices of star fruit —
so named for the perfect star shape when sliced crosswise
— before sampling oddities such as the canistel, native
to Latin America and commonly known as egg fruit. The
texture is alarmingly like a hard-boiled egg yolk.
I think it’s kind of icky. But I admit my palate has
been educated in a way that wouldn’t have happened if I’d
stuck to plate-lunch trucks at Ka’anapali.
learn about how to prepare breadfruit, and as we walk
through the groves, I get a ripe one to take along. Next
tropical adventure: frying up breadfruit pancakes in our
rental-condo kitchen the next morning.
butter and syrup, these Polynesian flapjacks — though a
tad mushy — make a tasty meal on the lanai, concocted
from a fruit that looks like a football with mumps.
on vacation. So after breakfast — maybe make it a late
breakfast — go beer touring.
Brewing Co., just over 10 years old, operated out of a
crowded Lahaina brewhouse until the end of 2014, when it
opened a big, shiny new $15 million brewery in a clean and
spacious business park in the Kihei uplands.
the red-awninged beer garden, you get views down to the
ocean and the distant, uninhabited island of Kaho’olawe.
far, the only food is from food trucks and carts that park
out front, but I was perfectly happy with the tasty
Lilikoi Pork pizza ($12) from Outrigger Pizza’s
is the Hawaiian name for passion fruit, and its tangy
sweetness makes a delightful pairing with pork, crispy
crust and — for my October visit — Kula Pumpkin Ale,
which is like pumpkin pie in a pint glass. Raw ingredients
came from a pumpkin patch high on the shoulder of
tours ($15; mauibrewingco.com) include a tasting of the
brewery’s four flagship beers (Bikini Blonde Lager, Big
Swell IPA, CoCoNut Porter, and Mana Wheat), along with a
souvenir glass and a token for a full-sized house
group’s skinny-as-Ichabod Crane guide, Buck Florian,
tells some of the challenges of shipping beer from Maui to
15 states and 13 foreign countries: "There are
definitely issues with having a brewery 3,000 miles out in
the middle of the ocean!"
one, primary ingredients must be shipped from the
mainland; about 60 percent of the hops come from the
Pacific Northwest. Expanding the market across the seas is
one reason Maui Brewing puts its beer in aluminum cans,
which are light, easily transported, and protect the brew
from sunlight and air.
he leads a 30-minute tour through a chilly indoor forest
of stainless tanks on concrete floors, Florian tells about
the recipes — "we actually use 300 pounds of
toasted coconut in each 100-barrel tank of CoCoNut
Porter" — and the process, geared to be
"green" wherever possible, including sending
spent grains to local farmers for feed.
of the farmers told me his cows now start wagging their
tails when they see the truck coming up the
driveway!" Florian said.
beer lovers in paradise, a happy offshoot of Maui Brewing
moving out of its Lahaina digs: A new brewery has moved
in. Kohola Brewery (the name is Hawaiian for humpback
whale), opened a tasting room in December at 910
Honoapiilani Highway (koholabrewery.com). Among its
trademark brews: Talk Story Pale Ale.
in upcountry Makawao, in funky World War II-vintage
quonset huts across the road from Maui Gold’s pineapple
fields, Hali’imaile Distilling is making its own
island-style joy juice.
flagship brand is Pau Maui Vodka, made from those
high-sugar pineapples grown with the benefit of warm,
sunny days, cool nights, fresh water and volcanic soil.
Maui distillery started with California’s LeVecke
family, whose big mainland business now bottles spirits
for Costco’s Kirkland label. But while Hali’imaile has
deep-pocket backing, this is a hands-on, small-batch,
showcase distillery, where master distiller Mark Nigbur
has designed his own pharmaceutical glass stills.
a 45-minute tour with tastings for adults ($10, children
younger than 12 free; haliimailedistilling.com), you step
under one of the corrugated tin roofs and it’s warm,
musty and aromatic of sweet yeast mashes. Guide Michelle
Maros tells the story of making vodka.
can use anything with enough sugar to distill to 190
proof, or 95 percent alcohol; it can be from potatoes or
a selfie modeling one of the fake mustaches kept in a jar
by the door, a playful trademark of the distiller’s
Paniolo Whiskey, named for the bewhiskered Mexican cowboys
imported to Hawaii in the 19th century to help with the
cattle that Capt. George Vancouver presented as a gift to
King Kamehameha. Another brand made here: Sammy’s Beach
Bar Rum, distilled from Maui sugar cane and bottled as a
vanity label for rocker Sammy Hagar.
the tasting room, island-inspired choices range from
chocolate-coconut whiskey to pineapple-orange-guava vodka.
a bottle home to Grandma and you never need buy those
macadamia-nut chocolates at the airport again.
a sampling of more tours of interest to food lovers
Local Tastes of Maui hosts two-hour walking tours focused
on food sampling, art and local history in Paia, Lahaina,
Makawao and Kihei; $45, localtastesofmaui.com.
Hawaii Tasting Tours offers lunch or dinner tours on Maui
and Oahu, starting at $134 for Lahaina lunch tour;
Tour da Food Maui offers upscale, half-day tours of
Wailuku or upcountry Maui, starting at $425 per couple;
O’o Farm offers a tour and luncheon in Waipoli, in
upcountry Maui; $58, oofarm.com.
Tedeschi Vineyards last year rebranded as MauiWine, and
continues to offer free tasting and 30-minute tours of its
scenic and historic ‘Ulupalakua facility and grounds.
Hawaii Sea Spirits offers tours of its Kula-area organic
sugar-cane farm and distillery, with a tasting of its
Ocean Organic Vodka; $10. oceanvodka.com.