Sunday, June 11, 2017

Maui 2017 Day 4: Upcountry

05/29/2017
Maui 2017 Day 4: Upcountry

"If you only do one half-day trip in Maui, make sure it's to 'Upcountry'", several people suggested. And... they were not wrong! Due to Maui's crazy microclimates, Upcountry can be chillier, cloudier, and surprisingly rainy (even though it was still 30C at the beach a stone's throw away in Wailea)... but it is absolutely worth the visit.

Soon after I took off the bead/nut necklace and rocked the lei for a bit.
We started off with (an attempt!) to pull off two things: a Kona coffee as my free birthday at a local Starbucks, and the legendary Guava Malasadas (Portuguese Guava Doughnuts) and Cream Puffs at the 100-year old T. Komoda Store and Bakery in the one-street Cowboy town of Makawao. Both of these things seemed epic and both were sadly not to be. We started with the attempt at Kona coffee (as we saw at the airport that Starbucks sells it) and I had a free birthday cup. We met a very nice young fellow, probably about 16 or so, at the Starbucks near Makawao who was pure chill surfer dude and amazingly nice and pleasant. Sadly, they only sell the beans and couldn't make it in a cup, but he made us an epic coconut iced coffee to share which was great, and told us a story of his (recent) and first ever departure from the Island -- a recent trip to Flagstaff, Arizona! He said people were super friendly and nice there and he had a great time. Glad to hear that the "mainland" treated him well! Awesome dude and he gave us plenty of "hang loose" hand signs and was a very Hawaiian way to start the day. He thought we had just arrived as I was wearing Michal's lei around my neck. You usually get those when you check into a hotel, but we didn't get one on our first night so we got them this morning. I thought the lei was cool (though clearly intended for the lady to wear, I thought it rocked so she let me wear it), and our Starbucks buddy basically gave me a full-on high five for still rockin' the Hawaiian vibe 3 days into the trip. Epic. So, no free Kona, but still epic.

Next up was the one-street town of Makawao, where we were on a pilgrimage for guava malasadas and cream puffs, at the legendary bakery that always sells out by noon. C'mon... we got this... and... CLOSED. Bah!!!!!!!!!!! Closed for Memorial Day. We were worried that might be the case at some of these smaller and family-owned businesses. Bah. Was sorry to miss out on this. But, we did see a couple of older surf-y looking dudes chillin' on the sidewalk and stumming a ukelele, and one of the guys saw me walk by and (unironically, of course) said, "Nice lei, man". Hahaha. So that was great. Also we literally saw a chicken crossing the road. Why did the chicken cross the road? Not for a guava malasada, it would seem. At least not today. Anyhow, onwards.

A chicken who literally just "crossed the road".
From Makawao, we headed on to O'o Farms, a local Organic Farm that grows tons of different produce and produces food for a local restaurant. They also give tours where you get to pick your own lunch (lettuce, greens, etc) and they prepare an epic farm lunch including what you picked. Pretty awesome stuff, and totally up our alley.

The tour began and our group learned about the area of Upcountry. You can see lots of clouds here, even though Wailea (where our resort is) is just over there in the distance! It was funny because it took an hour to get there, but "as the crow flies" it should be like a 10 min drive. There just isn't a road there yet, so you have to drive up and around in a big upside-down 'U' shape. I thought it was because there was a mountain to go through or something, but nope -- just a mildly steeping hill. Hilarious. No road yet, just because. Maui is awesome.


Red Catuai coffee
Yellow Caturra coffee
It was cool to see coffee beans, I have never seen them growing before. You could try the outside "coffee cherry" as well as the gummy stuff between the skin and the coffee bean inside. Very cool!

We then headed up to meet the Chef and to hear about all the delicious wood-fired oven food he was making for us as we were picking our salad to add to the meal.




Epic times. Onwards then to pick some salad greens, red lettuce, edible flowers, kale, baby spinach. There was some fresh rosemary there that smelled awesome too.




Rosemary!
Baby spinach, this was awesome

Funny, just regular red lettuce just sitting there growing with the more complicated and fancy stuff.

Sweet haul, bro

The picking and learning about their farming practices was awesome and we really enjoyed it. The clouds were a bit looming, but the weather stayed calm for us until JUST after we got under the shelter to eat lunch.

But first, a quick look at their small new Maui Coffee roasting section.




We headed to the long farm tables and sat down to eat lunch. It was insanely awesome.

First up was some homemade wood-fired Focassia bread... ugh... YES
Yay for edible flowers!
Roasted Turnip and Brocolini
Fish catch of the day and beets with a homemade pesto
Wood-fired chicken breast was INSANELY GOOD
And of course, gotta have Maui Pineapple for dessert!
They also made this amazing dessert, suuuuper smooth chocolate square made with no milk and no sugar -- cacao, avocado (for texture), and a little stevia. It was friggin' EPIC.
And add some Maui Coffee in the mix!

Soooooooooooo that was magnificient. We made some friends at our table and chatted during a great lunch. It was soo good and it started POURING part-way through the lunch. Glad it did it then and not when we were out in the open fields! So pretty great timing for a cozy and glorious lunch with some new friends. Sweet.

Rain!
From there we headed down the Upcountry road a bit further for a quick stop at Maui Wine winery to taste their pineapple wines. Fun to try, but not life-changing, so we didn't pick any up. Nice grounds though.


I really liked this mason jar-turned soap dispenser in the bathroom.


The main event at the end of this road was the Ulupalakua Ranch Store at the end of the road, across from Maui Wine. They have a cattle ranch there, and at the back of the shop they serve burgers made with meat from their ranch. We got one to share since we had literally just finished eating lunch :)




On the way back to Wailea, we headed past the Surfing Goat Dairy, another classic stop on the Upcountry Road Trip. It was a fun little spot and had a cute old cat chillin' there on a bench, enjoying the sun which had just recently returned. We tasted a goat cheese chocolate truffle, and more incredibly a Passionfruit (Liliko'i) Quark cheese that tasted like a damn dream. It was VERY passionfruit-y and sooo glorious, but needed to be refrigerated so a little too complicated to try to take home. Instead we got a scoop of their Liliko'i Gelato, made with the Quark, and it was melty but oh-so glorious. Mmm.




This cat was chillin' super fierce
Liliko'i Quark Gelato ice cream!

Why have only one legendary ice cream when you can have two? We headed back to Wailea via the airport area and attempted to stop at another small, long-standing, family-run ice cream shop called Tasaka Guri-Guri, which I was over-the-moon excited about. It was a gamble, because of Memorial Day, and it turns out it was ALSO closed. We had suspected this might be the case, and re-scheduled our visit for another day. Just one ice cream today, I guess. :) While in the plaza near the airport, we saw a cool arcade-like place and were thinking of staying there a while, but instead headed back to the hotel via Kihei.



Back in Kihei, we stopped at the Foodland grocery store which we had heard had awesome Poke bowls as well, but again since it was a holiday, everything was frozen and didn't look too fantastic. We decided to take a few photos and skip it, heading back to the hotel in time for Sunset Yoga.



Back at the hotel, we made it just in time for Sunset Yoga, a solid hour yoga class on the lawn facing the ocean and the sunset and it was pretty magnificent. No "Cat Yoga" like we did in SF, but a close 2nd. :)








After Yoga we enjoyed the beach and wandered the hotel grounds a bit cause it is such a nice spot.







Here's a close-up of the awesome swim-up bar stools in the water where we had my birthday cake the day before.
Our room was in the corner there, 4th floor, facing the pool.
Always keen to rally and do all the awesome things, Michal encouraged me to decide if we should head out again for another quick jaunt back to Kihei to get the Maui Fishn' Chips I was super keen for and was on the "to-eat" list. We hummed and hah'd for a few min since we'd been out all day, but ultimately decided just to go for it. We caught them still open by about 15 min and got a Fried Mahi (super flaky and delicious) and their famous "Volcano Fries". Ugggh so goood.






From there, we headed out to another well-recommended place, Monkeypod Kitchen. Too much food already, so we just waited for Happy Hour while listening to a local guitarist, and I got one of their famous Monkeypod Mai Tai's with Liloko'i Foam. Holy moly. Glorious.

Monkeypod Kitchen's Liloko'i Mai Tai
For some reason we were still kindof hungry?! So we headed back to the hotel and headed to the end-of-the-night Happy Hour at Luana Lounge. Michal got a crazy sushi roll and I got some (yep, you guessed it), more Poke. Eat all the things!



A great day in Maui. We missed out on the guava malasadas in the morning, and the guri-guri in the afternoon, but I think we still did plenty well in our food and drink experiences for the day!

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