Yesterday we started our day with coffee and egg sandwiches on taro buns from Passion Bakery Cafe before heading up to the family owned Steelgrass Farms for our chocolate and farm tour. During this 3 hour tour, we learned about growing, harvesting, and making vanilla beans and chocolate. Each vanilla bean on this farm is hand pollinated as the midge that typically pollinates these flowers does not live on Kauai. Along our walk through the farm we sampled fresh sugar cane, Tahitian lime, guava, lilikoi (passion fruit), and starfruit. We also tried some fruit that I have never had before such as Rambutan (jelly-like grape texture inside), Longan (Dragons eye) which is also jelly-like and tastes like cantaloupe, eggfruit which tasted like a sweet potato and had the texture and look of a hard boiled egg yolk, and our favorite, soursop (also called custard apple), which was slightly sour, slimy, and tasted like a tropical party in your mouth.
After walking through the grounds and photographing some of the tropical flowers and plants, we sat down in the forrest pavilion to learn all about chocolate. Our expert guide Andrea taught us all about the history of chocolate and how a cocoa bean is transformed from a slimy purple bean to the wonderful chocolate that we know and love. We tried the cocoa bean through the different stages and got to experience a freshly opened cocoa pod. The slimy white fruit surrounding the cocoa bean is sweet, but as soon as you bite into the purple bean underneath, an overwhelming (but healthy) bitter bean is exposed. After this stage, the bean is fermented and dried producing a bean that is more recognizable (and you may have had cocoa in this stage as “nibs”). From here, the bean is ground for many hours until the chocolate smooths out. During this educational session, we had blind tastings of 11 different chocolates. It is really incredible how different chocolates can taste depending upon the source of the cocoa. At Steelgrass farms, each cocoa tree is initially tested and produces a small batch of chocolate to get the individual flavor notes from that single tree. Slight variances in exposure to sunlight and soil composition can change the flavors in the chocolate. We did end up purchasing a few of the Steelgrass estate bars of which this small family farm hand produces only 1000 per year.
After our chocolate farm tour, the weather turned a bit gray, windy, and rainy (winter does make an appearance occasionally here) so we decided to drive to view some waterfalls. The first waterfall was Wailua falls and the second was Opaekaa falls, which were both beautiful. Afterwards, we took a short drive up to Kapaa and had Kauai beef burgers at Bubba Burger. We saved room for some shaved ice (over macadamia nut ice cream) at Ono ono shave ice. We finished our night with some wine while watching Jurassic Park in bed. A great end to another wonderful day in paradise.