Ever since I saw the first episode of "Portlandia," during which Fred and Carrie bombard their waitress with questions regarding the chicken they use, then leave the restaurant to visit the chicken farm 30 miles away to investigate, I’ve been waiting for a definitive table-to-farm experience of my own. Thanks to Chef Colin Hazama of Sheraton Waikiki and his Table to Farm Dining Series, that moment has come.
It started with a sunset dinner held at the Edge of Waikiki adjacent to the hotel’s infinity pool looking out onto a tie-dye sky. It consisted of five courses featuring produce from Ho Farms each paired with a wine chosen carefully by an Italian native, Master Sommelier and winemaker.
They had me at the first course—a velvety vodka-cured kampachi with pickled baby carrots and a lemon basil pesto. Chef Hazama introduced us to each dish before it was served. So when he told us “the tomatoes were vine ripened and handpicked and the watermelon radish was grown specifically for this dinner (by Shin Ho of Ho Farms herself),” I took his word for it. I knew I would be visiting the farm the next day.
“It’s important to know where your food comes from,” says Chef Hazama. “And that’s the real highlight of what we’re trying to do here—showcase the farms.”
The next morning, after being chauffeured to Ho Farms in Kahuku, we were given a tour of its blooming 40 acres encouraged to snoop around, pick tomatoes and long beans off their vines and realize the stark differences between “local” and “shipped.” Then right there next to the tomatoes, lunch was served.
The tin lunchbox containing a peppered duck prosciutto sandwich, mini mason jars of pickled vegetables and pomegranate beet ketchup was rewarding after being under the sun, but I would drive an hour and a half in the rain all over again to have a third helping of Chef Hazama’s chilled butternut squash soup. Thanks to his cooking demonstration, I didn’t have to ask for the recipe.
The rest of the day, congruent with the entire experience, felt much like reuniting with close family after having been separated for so long. They were overly hospitable and warm, encouraging us to eat more and drink more and to come back soon. I complied. But afraid that “soon” wouldn’t be soon enough.
Catch the next dinner of the six-part series on December 4 featuring Naked Cow Dairy & Creamery. For more information, visit flavorsofhawaii.com.