There’s been a lack of posts lately because we spent four days at the beginning of the month on Maui, hosted by the Maui Visitors Bureau, attending some terrific events and eating. A lot. Like, every two hours. This was a work trip for Shake, and I got to tag along as his paid-in-desserts photographer. (I know; I’m the cheapest photog ever and totally participating in the death of the industry by selling my services for the price of a drink and a dessert at a posh hotel. Heck, I don’t even hold out for the posh hotel part all the time.) It’s taken me a while to pick through all the photos, dump the junk and process the good stuff.

I’m actually going to jump to the second part of our trip first: the Maui County Agricultural Festival. I dig farm fairs. I like seeing all the animals, even though they always smell kinda poopy. We got parking right near the animal pens, so I got to pet the critters coming and going. I don’t know why I’m so fixated on goats, but I think they’re so full of personality. One tried to eat my coat once, so you wouldn’t think I’d feel so kindly toward them, but I think they’re great. Check out this guy, standing in his lunch:

This goat says, “I don’t care if you’re supposed to eat it, I’m going to stand in it!” © 2012 Sugar + Shake Hi, horsie! It was very cute: all the pens at this farm fair had signs informing you what farm the animals came from and what their names are. Well, not the ones that are eventually destined for eating. That would just be wrong. Forgot to take a picture, so we don’t know what her name is. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

More goat action. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

At this particular farm fest, I really enjoyed checking out all the great produce and added-value products that the local famers had to offer. I think Maui’s farmers and local businesses have done a fantastic job of working together to figure out ways that they can use each others’ products to create new things. For example, a local brewery (Maui Brewing—Shake likes their beer) announced at the festival that they have plans to make a new beer with breadfruit, using what’s produced by the Breadfruit Institute, located on Maui. (No, there weren’t any samples.)

Had the “wrong” light setting on the camera, which, when done intentionally results in dramatic shots like lighting up just one spear of asparagus. The farmer tried to get us to buy a bunch, saying, “Then you can take it home and eat it, instead of just taking photos!” © 2012 Sugar + ShakeBeautiful produce all over. I was tempted to buy some to bring home, but I knew it’d get banged up in transit and I didn’t really *need* it. This photo was actually a goof: I had been playing with light settings the night before and forgot, so I still had the camera set to Spot Metering instead of the normal Evaluative. A bit of a happy accident, as it resulted in this pretty shot that highlights just one asparagus spear. The farmer gave us a sample and tried to talk us into buying some, “Take some home so you can take more pictures!” It was very fresh, and very asparagus-y. Like, you know if you have that asparagus stinky-pee gene, you’re in trouble. To be honest, I didn’t like his asparagus as much as I like the Twin Bridge asparagus we buy at home. Those have very slender stalks, which is how I like them.

More pretty produce photos:

Day 2: Maui Agricultural Festival. Lots of farmers showed up with all kinds of great produce. Loved this farm’s cart stand. © 2012 Sugar + Shake Maui also has a lot of flower farms, especially ones that grow exotic blooms, like these protea. They’re like sea anemones! © 2012 Sugar + Shake

One of the big attractions of the festival was a competition between a dozen Maui chefs. Each chef was paired with a farmer and had to showcase the featured ingredient. Nearly everything on the plates was local, which is quite impressive! Here are some of the dishes (the ones that came out nicely in my photographs, anyway—some of the dishes that were reportedly the best-tasting, I didn’t get good shots of). Hover over the photos for more info on each dish.

Chef Marc McDowell of Makena Beach & Golf Resort prepares his porchetta (sourced from Malama Farm) for the Grand Tasting competition. © 2012 Sugar + Shake Chef Marc’s Porchetta Slider. Pork galore. It took the People’s Choice Award for the competition. © 2012 Sugar + Shake
Chef Tylun Pang of Ko Restaurant at the Fairmont Kea Lani with his farmer partner (actually a rancher) Alex Franco of Maui Cattle Company. © 2012 Sugar + Shake Chef Tylun’s Korean Beef Jun Sushi. © 2012 Sugar + Shake
Shredded Cabbage and Chicken Salad from Chef Jennifer Nguyen, A Saigon Cafe. She said that the chicken was local too (we decided it must have been from a friend or neighbor, since there is no local chicken producer.) © 2012 Sugar + Shake Pan-Fried Smoked Salmon ‘Ulu (Breadfruit) Cakes w/ Tapioca Tartar Sauce, from Chef Riko Bartolome. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Kalua Pork w/ Taro Fries & Coconut Taro Sauce s.v. taro stems frm Chef Chris Schobel, Hula Grill. This is basically a miniature lau lau, which is never particularly photogenic, but that doesn’t mean it’s not tasty! © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Here’s a list of the competing chefs (in order of presentation). They’re all worth checking out, if for no other reason than their big-time support of local farming—but some of these guys are just incredible talents. (You can check out the list of all the dishes on page 7 of this PDF.)

*Chef Isaac Bancaco, whom Shake has met before and says is an outstanding chef, was unable to participate at the last minute. Chef James McDonald stepped in to take his place.

After the Ag Fest, we had some time before the next scheduled event, so we headed off to Kahului for….GURI GURI!! If you’re not from Hawai‘i, you’re probably asking, “What the hell is guri guri?” It’s not quite sherbet; it’s not quite ice cream. It’s somewhere between the two, in a state of delightful, creamy, icy, sweet goodness. In fact, that’s where the name supposedly derives from: “goodie goodie,” the name given to the treat, was pronounced by Japanese plantation workers as “guri guri.”If you Google it, you’ll find all kinds of home recipes. My mom had one that she used to make it for us when I was a kid. Some of the online recipes say to use guava juice (or strawberry guava juice), but the recipe my mom used did NOT have guava in it. Hers, like some of the others you’ll find, used strawberry soda. Actually, I remember that she often used Diamond Head Red Cream soda. Awesome stuff. Anyway, the real deal guri guri only comes from one place: Tasaka Guri Guri on Maui.

The family-owned and operated shop has been located in a small outdoor mall for decades.

Tasaka Guri Guri in the Maui Mall. A local tradition, forever! Go Maui, you gotta get guri guri! © 2012 Sugar + Shake

The real recipe is a family secret, and they only have two flavors: strawberry and pineapple. Fortunately for Sugar + Shake, these are flavors that make us happy! I, of course, get just strawberry, while Shake goes for the combo. These photos are a bit washed out; the sun was hot and I didn’t want to waste time looking for a shady spot to snap a photo. The true colors are bright and vivid.

Guri guri comes in only two flavors: Strawberry and Pineapple. It’s not quite ice cream, it’s not quite sherbet. Somewhere in between in a special delicious category all its own. © 2012 Sugar + Shake Totally overblown photo, but it started melting too fast to search out a better lighting situation! © 2012 Sugar + Shake

I’d originally intended to share the rest of our Maui eating adventures in this post, too, but it’s gotten rather long. So tune in next time to see what else we stuffed ourselves silly on!

For the full gallery of the weekend’s photos, click here.

Disclosure: Sugar + Shake were hosted by the Maui Visitors Bureau and the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua hotel. Travel and accommodations were provided by the hosts, but no compensation was received for this post, and the opinions expressed are strictly my own.