Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chocolate in Hawai‘i

Hawai‘i is best known for crops like coffee and macadamia nuts, but did you know that Hawai‘i is the only in the United States where chocolate (cacao) is grown?

Hawaii-grown cacao.
Native to South America, cacao was first planted in Hawai‘i in 1850. Although there are only a handful of farmers in the state that grow cacao, the year-round tropical climate provides an excellent environment for cultivating this gourmet crop. Here in the Big Island, Original Hawaiian Chocolate processes thousands of pounds of seeds each year at a farm in Keauhou. Other enterprising farmers and residents have also experimented with trees on their properties, providing cacao to local chocolate makers who sell their homemade chocolates at the farmers' markets.

Celebrating all things chocolate, this year's Big Island Chocolate Festival culminates with a gala at The Fairmont Orchid on Saturday, March 23 from 5:30 to 10 p.m. The event features Chef Donald Wressell of Guittard chocolates, and Chef Christophe Feyt, the executive pastry chef at the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino. Both celebrity chefs will demonstrate their deliciously decadent chocolate sculpture at the gala. In addition, there will be oodles of intoxicating offerings made by top local chefs and confectioners to tantalize the taste buds of those in attendance.

The three-day festival, which begins on March 21, also features plantation tours at the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory in Keauhou, located just a few short miles from Holualoa Inn. To reserve a chocolate plantation tour, phone 808-322-2626. For details on chocolate seminars and online ticket sales, visit Proceeds from the festival will benefit local culinary education.

Innkeeper Holualoa Inn

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