Saturday, June 26, 2010

What's Up(country)? - Tedeschi Vineyards, Kula

Grapes of Wrath
We had been driving for hours, but I thought we should check out Tedeschi Vineyards since we were in the area. Once we finally made it (about 30 - 40 minutes out of our way), three busloads of tourists showed up in the parking lot at the same exact time. Strike one.

Welcome to the distorted Disneyland of wineries and get ready to experience “the bottoms-up ride,” which consists of being shoved and hovered over in a crowded, single-file line leading to the tasting bar where you can try their disgustingly, sweet house wine; Maui Splash, a pinot grigio infused with pineapple. I’ve never been so happy to see a swill bucket in my life! Just because I’m in Hawaii doesn’t mean there needs to be pineapple in my wine.

As for the red, there were only two varieties. One which was packaged nicely, but tasted like dirt and the other was descent, but its label looked liked it was designed by someone who drank too much of the crappy, pineapple wine. Strike two.

The absolute worst part was that we found out they didn’t even grow the grapes in Hawaii! They were grown in California and shipped there. Are you kidding me? Strike three...we’re out.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What's Up(country)? - Surfing Goat Dairy, Kula

Got your goat?

After roaring down a dirt path and feeling like Bo and Luke Duke kicking up dust in the General Lee, my hubby and I hopped out of the car to be greeted by a humongous pig. But the parking signs made it clear that we were officially in goat country.

Where surfboard meets cheese board, Surfing Goat Dairy blended laid back business and dairy farming as seamlessly as it blended superior cheese with...well, just about everything.

A tour was available to see the goats up close and personal, but we were ready for the spoils – cheese please! Tastings were served at the homespun kitchen, a simple structure consisting of a single room separated by a glass window for serving customers.

Picnic tables and benches sat beneath a wooden canopy, as did numerous dogs that were just as friendly as the staff. A woman in a straw cowboy hat multitasked in the one room serving up several tastings, while nonchalantly chatting about a new recipe she had tried - melting ping pong balls in the oven and slathering them on bread…her husband loved it.

Wait a minute? What?

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Ping pong balls looked like their namesake, but instead of puffed plastic, soft circles of goaty goodness floated in a jar of herb, olive oil. Even Bubs, who isn’t a goat cheese lover, was popping these like candy and bought a jar for himself.

What could I say to a tasting tray of about 15 different varieties of chevre? Nothing…my mouth was too full. From fresh herbs to hot peppers to mango to Alaskan delight (mixed with crab.) Sweet, savory - you name it, they made it.

We also bought a couple rounds of chevre encased in wax (so they kept longer.) I went out on a limb and got the barbeque, which blended smoky with creamy – unexpectedly delicious and a perfect gift for my cheese lovers back on the mainland.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What's Up(country)? - Lavender Farm, Kula

Purple Rain
A mist clung to our clothes since we were pretty much in the clouds. Upcountry couldn’t be any more “up” unless we were talking to St. Peter and its panoramic sights reminded me of clicking through slides in one of those viewfinders I had as a kid.

We breathed in a dizzying dose of airborne lucidity as we entered Alii Kula lavender farm, nature’s version of the chloroform rag, except with a crisp, flowery scent. We were heady from the fumes, but they brought a sense of calm, which was only accentuated by the minimalist landscaping and a gargantuan Buddah perched, cross-legged atop the mountain.

Up to our heads in horticulture, we descended a trail that looped around and ended at the gift shop – only about a 10 minute adventure, unless you took the tour (inclduing lavender scones and tea for $25.) Scattered plants showed brilliant blooms, but it was largely varying bushes of lavender - not the most exciting destination, but worth a stop for the view and to see what the world’s best underwear drawer would smell like.