Sunday, October 16, 2011

Vegetarian food in Maui and cheese tasting at Surfing Goat Dairy

Some notes on where we ate and what we liked in Maui. By way of background, I am mostly vegetarian and Dan is mostly vegan.

surfing goat dairy
Mana Foods in Paia: Supermarket-sized health food store. Excellent for market items, but also a great deli counter and salad/prepared food bar. Lots of local options, if one is interested in local cheese, baked goods, produce, etc. Having heard about high food costs on Maui, I was pleasantly surprised that the prices were actually lower than those at our neighborhood Whole Paycheck. We bought a lot of our week's food here: lunch picnic makings, breakfast (since we were up and out around 5-6am most day), deli counter stuff (veggie wrap- A+; smoothies A+) & salad/prepared food bar.

Cafe Mambo in Paia: We ate here twice and it was yummy. This is not a vegetarian restaurant but the vegetarian and vegan menu offerings were fairly extensive. We tried the 7 vegetable stew with cous cous and it was delicious. Sesame and nori tofu fajitas were pretty damn good, mostly due to the delicious tofu which was marinated and rolled in white and black sesame seeds (other components of the fajitas were just OK). Because this tofu dish was so yummy, I actually had a tofu burger on our second visit (ok, I was also motivated by the free beer & burger happy hour offer). I rarely eat fake meat meals, but this was really really good and I scarfed down the "burger". Dan had a soup and salad combo on our second visit, which was fine.

Veg Out in Haiku. This small storefront restaurant is tucked away in a shopping center but worth a visit for the hardcore vegetarian or vegan. The menu is extensive and eclectic-- indian, italian, and wraps are a few examples of the types of cuisine. There was some pretty hard-core vegetarian fare here. For example, I had tofu nuggets (nutritional yeast-breaded fried tofu), which brought back sweet memories of coop dining in college (love this stuff). Dan had an avocado wrap with fresh tofu swapped for the cheese, which was also excellent. We both had smoothies, which were very good. Definitely recommend this place. We'll be back next time we are in Maui.

Fresh Mint Vegetarian restaurant in Paia: this is a small family-run Vietnamese restaurant. We weren't really "wow"'d by the food here, perhaps because we are very spoiled at home by an abundance of excellent Vietnamese restaurants. Or perhaps we chose poorly from the menu. Dan had a green papaya salad & I had lemongrass tofu, and neither dish really stood out to us.

Ono Gelato in Paia: I looked forward to gelato all week, but was not particularly impressed when I finally tried it. The store has a food souvenir section that looked interesting though.

Roadside stands:

Myriad informal roadside fruit stands-- excellent. Prices varied from the super bargain to the mildly extortionary (75 cents for a small passionfruit, for example). Fresh bananas, papayas, avocados, liliakoi-- A+++

Up in Smoke Barbecue-- one of several roadside stands in a little strip as you approach Hana on the Hana highway. I had the fish taco (my one meat "transgression" of the week) and it was just OK-- generous portion, fresh tasting ingredients, but the fish was pretty bland even with the various hotsauces on offer. Smoked breadfruit is on the menu & sounded interesting but wasn't offered when we were there. The proprietor was super friendly!

Coffee place at the same roadside strip-- fantastic fresh coconut-pineapple fruit bread when we returned a few days later on bike.

Noted but not tried: Cafe Romantica in Hana. Actually a renovated bus with an outdoor seating counter, this place had an eclectic array of vegetarian items on the menu. It wasn't open when we stopped by, but we might give it a try next time.

Cheese tasting and goat viewing at Surfing Goat Dairy:

The dairy is in the upcountry on the side of the hill. Cute goats, mountain and ocean views-- what's not to like? My cute goat photos didn't turn out so well -- the best is above; you get the idea.

We took the tour, which was kind of interesting and included feeding a small herd of kids (baby goats eating out of our hands-- cute!!), a tour of the milking facility & high-level description of the cheese making process. The high point of the visit was the cheese tasting-- we tried a variety of different styles of cheese and ended up buying quite a sampling of different styles and flavors of cheese. Our plan was to take much of it home as gifts, but we ended up eating most of it ourselves by the end of the week (sorry!).

What we purchased & devoured:
Fruit Quark-- this was really really good. It has a soft yogurt like texture, but is in fact a creamy suspension of little tiny curds with a fair amount of whey left in the mix. The fruit flavoring was scrumptious but didn't overpower the nice goaty taste. This stuff is pricey but really good.

Aged goat cheese: we got the MacGoat Nut, which is aged with smoked macademia nut shells. Dan loved this; I found the smokey flavor a bit intense.

Fresh goat chevre: "barbecue", which was actually smoked with local tree wood (forget which, sorry!). We both really liked this one. The smoke flavor was more subtle, but really interesting.

Chevre in wax & mango chutney: gave as gifts.

We stopped by the Dairy on a lark and really enjoyed the visit.


Christine said...

I keep meaning to take a tour of Harley Farms in Pescadero.

NadiaMac said...

me too! I've had their cheese (I think you can get it in the artichoke bread store in Pescadero) but have never toured the farm.

djconnel said...

What a great blog post!