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Upcountry Maui – O’o Farm Tour and Luncheon

By far the most questions I’ve gotten about our recent trip to Maui have been about the Andaz Wailea but there has also been a lot of interest in the O’o Farm Tour and Luncheon, so here’s a photo tour of what we did one morning in picturesque Upcountry Maui.

At this point in our vacation, we had already settled into the Honua Kai condo in Kaanapali (post to come about that soon). Driving up to Kula is about an hour from West Maui so we planned ahead and had breakfast on the way at Tasty Crust in Wailuku. It’s an old-school local diner which means the prices are great! We thought it was ok overall. We ordered their specialties – fried rice and the banana pancakes. The pancakes were great but the fried rice topped with egg was ok (The Gazebo’s version is definitely the best). Service was friendly though and it was good for a cheap breakfast.

Fried Rice with the pancakes in the background at Wailuku favorite, Tasty Crust

It’s about 25 minutes from Wailuku to Kula, where we had made reservations for the popular farm tour and luncheon at O’o Farm.

O’o Farm supplies all the produce for their restaurants: Pacific’O, I’O, The Feast at Lele (all along Front Street, Lahaina) and Aina Gourmet Market, (which conveniently is located in the Honua Kai where we were staying!). They are all organic and sustainable, and that’s the philosophy of the farm. They are definitely one of the pioneers of farm-to-table in Maui. Our tour guide and resident farmer, Ansel, explained all the different fruits and vegetables they grow on the farm. Note, it’s BYOB here so you can bring whatever beverages you want.

This way

The waiting area – although everyone kind of waited next to their car

It’s beautiful up here…the day was kind of misty and cool, so we all brought light jackets.

Farmer Ansel giving us an overview of the farm – he’s standing next to coffee trees, from which they harvest and roast all the coffee served in their restaurants and market.

Coffee cherries up close

Orange trees

If Ansel tells you to pluck it, you can eat it!

We made our way over to the main seating and cooking area. On the way I snapped these:

There we met Chef JJ:

Chef JJ tells us about the produce in season and more about the restaurants and the ingredients used. He showed us some interesting vegetables like kohlrabi and red turnips.

We were then offered tastes of Maui Gold pineapple! Yum!

Close up of the produce

This was the main seating area where we will be eating our lunch.

At this point, if you’ve brought your own wine, beer or drinks, it will be stored in the refrigerator for you so you can continue on your tour. After the brief stop with Chef JJ, we all proceeded to the “garden” area where we looked at all the different produce in season. We were able to pick out any lettuces, herbs, and veggies which were ripe for picking, to be used in our first course: a farm-fresh salad!

The gardens

Lemongrass

Red kale

Fresh basil – yum! I learned that if you pluck them to include the bud plus the two mini leaves you see on the stem – it helps your basil to grow more abundantly.

Foraging for our lunch!

Arugula

Oops, I’ve started eating already…this is a snow pea

Here’s one of us at the farms

After we’ve collected enough greens for the salad, Ansel brought them over to Cheff JJ to be washed and cleaned for the salad. We then went to the area where they harvest and roast the coffee. They are in the process of building a larger facility that will eventually include an espresso bar and seating area!

The coffee roasting machine – it was just finishing a batch that smelled heavenly!

Nothing like the smell of freshly roasted Maui-grown coffee

It was now time for lunch! Couldn’t wait to eat and sample the fresh goodies.Lunch was served buffet style. There is plenty of food:

The buffet line-up

Brightly-colored turnips

The salad! I personally contributed arugula, kale, and basil

Crusty bread. I know it’s sometimes hard to find good crusty bread in Hawaii, but this one is delicious and has a nice chewy texture and good “crust”

Stir-fried tofu with fresh herbs

Mahi mahi with what tasted like fresh-picked turnips on top. A lovely complement that didn’t overpower the fish.

Ansel also served as our server…talk about multi-tasking!

Doesn’t get any fresher than this

In addition to having oil and vinegar for the salad at each table, there was Hawaiian sea salt too – just remember, a little goes a long way! Everything was prepared simply and beautifully – the ingredients really stood out. I thought that maybe having a special salad dressing would have been nice too – maybe a burnt orange vinaigrette made with the oranges from the grove!

Time for dessert, and coffee! Can’t forget the coffee.

Mmm, a steaming cup of coffee on this cool and misty day – paired with fresh fruit and hand-made truffles! Chef JJ made them while we were eating lunch. So rich and decadent.

What a truly unique experience. Thanks O’o Farm for such an informative and delicious morning/afternoon.

Tours are 50 dollars pp and must be booked in advance. They run Monday through Thursday from 10:30am to around 1:15pm (or whenever you are done eating). A light jacket is recommended – it got cold then warm then cold again during lunch. Comfortable footwear is key – and preferably ones you won’t mind getting a bit muddy.

O’O FARM
651 Waipoli Road, Kula, Hawaii 96790
808.667.4341

And if you’re going to be in Upcountry Maui anyways, a visit to the Ali’i Kula Lavender farm is just down the road. It’s an amazing place, with enchanting views, beautiful gardens, delicious scones, and the most wonderful lavender lemonade.

Delicious scones and lavender lemonade at Ali’i Kula Lavender

Gorgeous views

Then, visit Kula Country Farms to buy some fresh Kula strawberries! Yum.

Fresh strawberries!

Other fresh produce for sale. All grown around the area.

Cheers to a perfect morning Upcountry!

 

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