By Virginia Beck

The farmers market in front of the Historic County Building in Lihu‘e.

The autumn brings the wheel of stars around to the shorter days and longer nights, and on Kaua‘i it means the time of festivals, craft fairs, and music. The holidays approach, and finding just the right gifts can be challenging. But on Kaua‘i, it is a completely different kind of fun. Seek out all the holiday fairs in different places around the island each weekend.

New and creative businesses are springing up all around us, from tiny mom-and-pop shops to younger, enterprising-youth food trucks. Our unique blend of cultures means that foods, spices and cooking methods meet in surprising mixtures.

Hawai‘i is famous for its fruits, and our chefs and bakers find ever more delicious ways to create their dishes and baked goods. In restaurants, you expect the sophisticate exotic combinations. On Kaua‘i, our artisans take it all a step further.

Independent bakers, fruit preserving companies and fresh juice bars are springing up all over the island. They offer a flavorful, healthy alternative to the fast-food chains. Po‘ipu and Lihu‘e both have locations for Papalani Gelatoʻs fresh fruit gelatos and sorbets. Prepare your taste buds for lilikoi, grapefruit, pumpkin spice breeze! And who else would make cookie dough gelato sandwiches?

The farmers market in front of the Historic County Building in Lihu‘e. Photo by Ruby Pap

You can tempt even the pickiest eater with macadamia or guava shortbread cookies from Kaua‘i Kookies. A creative list of flavors at Lappert’s ice cream will challenge your imagination, on all sides of the island. Waimea has Jojo’s Shave Ice — cool cones of finely crushed ice, layered in colored fruit syrups. This is a traditional Hawai‘i treat.

In Lihu‘e and Kalaheo, the Right Slice, fresh pie company, tempts you with items like the Lilikoi Blueberry, or wonderful Ginger Apple. Be warned, the pies are generously sliced, and a single piece can feed more than one. So take a friend or the whole family. Everything is fresh, and you can even find killer chicken pot pies to take home and bake.

In Hanapepe, you can find Midnight Bear’s lavish assortment of handcrafted breads. Roasted garlic and rosemary is my favorite. Or in Wailua, Sweet Marie’s will give you a puzzle trying to choose which fabulous treat you actually want to take home. Gluten free offerings are available, but are so full of taste, you might forget that anything was left out to make it healthier.

In Lawa‘i, you can stop by Monkeypod Jams and take home some coconut curd, curried papaya jam or orange mango marmalade. The jaboticaba jam is rare and delicious.

The Warehouse 3540, Koloa Road in Lawa‘i, features an astonishing renovated structure that houses a Saturday market from 9-1 p.m., and a Friday morning market with fresh vegetables and produce.

Kickshaw’s food truck specialties are stunning lamb burgers, and bacon beef blend burger. Only the freshest ingredients are used. Dark Roost Coffee will speed you up for the rest of your explorations. And Tropical Popsicles will give you a cold fruit boost.

Kahanananea soaps feature surprise ingredients from Deborah Tuzon. They smell so wonderful, you will be tempted to eat them. But don’t!

Wednesdays, don’t forget the Kukui‘ula Farmers Market from 3-6 p.m. You will find everything from specialty dried bananas, aged grass fed steaks, samplers from restaurants, and great music while strolling around.

In Puhi, try the Saturday Farmers market at Kaua‘i Community College for fruits, juices, teas, and Kaua‘i Honey from various producers. Across the street, there is the Aloha Aina Juice Bar, which features açaí bowls, fresh fruit smoothies and haupia in the niu bowl, a traditional favorite.

In short, there are so many fairs, food markets and food trucks, you could fill Santa’s stockings many times over. Whether you are in Hanalei, Kilauea, Kapa‘a or Po‘ipu, you will find treasures of all kinds at the food and craft fairs.

Buying local was never more fun. We share our abundant life giving fruits and foods to each other, and each gift brings us deeper into the presence of Aloha surrounding us.

  • Virginia Beck, NP and Certified Trager® Practitioner, offers Wellness Consultation, Trager Psychophysical Integration and teaches Malama Birth Training classes. She can be reached at 635-5618.

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