Monday, March 25, 2013

Big Island Chocolate Festival


The cacao plant is starting to make big inroads in the chocolate market on the Big Island of Hawaii. This relatively new commodity is driving huge demand for locally grown cacao and creating new markets in  bean to bar, chocolate purveyors and chocolatiers, secondary finished products, restaurant inspired chocolate creations and food fanciers using the raw product to create some amazing new chocolate inspirations.

Supporting this new fledging crop, the newly formed Kona Chocolate Association was established to promote and educate the general public and buying market of locally grown Hawaiian cacao. The association's main focus is to educate and create outreach opportunities for cacao and chocolate products. The association created a new venue, the Big Island Chocolate Festival, which is celebrating its second year of Chocolate festivities, seminars and gala events. Partnering with hospitality, educational groups and local media to bring more  awareness and interest in the marketplace, this festival has quickly become a destination spot for chocolatiers and their supporters to enjoy all the activities centered on cacao and chocolate creation.


The chocolate festival is a chocoholic fantasy dream come true with alot of chocolate inspired activities geared to the enthusiasts. This three day celebration of everything centering around chocolate included chocolate demonstrations, chocolate farm tours, chocolate competions and of course an ample opportunity to see and savor chocolate at its best.

Student participation from the culinary schools around Hawaii brought out the best in group collaborations and imaginative creations. The attention to detail and focused concentration of the students to make nothing but the best shows the anticipation and excitement to the culinary events.

Ah, it was so hard to just pick one as a favorite dessert or savory presentation an the gala night presentation. Chocolate preparations were all on display from chocolate confectioners, bean to bar creators, chefs and chocolatiers were all putting on an amazing show.

Fortunately, a judging panel chose sweet and savory winners with the culinary team at the Fairmont Orchid receiving both sweet and savory award. They also won the people's choice award for the delicious sample below,cocoa dusted spicy ahi cone with truffle orange vinagrette and chocolate nibs.

Here's a sample of other sweet and savory dishes and chocolate inspirations from the gala evening event.

You get a delicous bite with this chocolate infused Kau pork belly from the Hilton Waikoloa, made with 72% Waialua chocolate from Oahu, pickled daikon and carrots and chile cilantro in a chocolate char siu sauce



Executive chef Donald Wressel from Guittard chocolate was busy working on a floral chocolate fantasy masterpiece. It was amazing, but I'm wondering who got away with this forty pounder at the end of the event, wish I had a big enough bag to haul this puppy away!

The beautiful floral details to this chocolate sculpture.

A very odd and yet delicious mixture of sensations presented was the Big Island Hog Balls made with all local ingredients including nice big chunks of Hawaiian bacon, I think I polished off a good third of this platter alone!

The sold out event at the Fairmont Orchid was truly a chocolate connoisseur's tasting experience, and it also raised funding for equipment at a local Hawaiian culinary school and a community amphitheature at a charter school at Kaleakekua.

Its always great to support and sample locally made ingredients and finished products like Hawaiian grown chocolate and the Kona chocolate association and their supporters are making great efforts to promoting Hawaiian products and events so that more people can appreciate these products.

To see more images of the three day event, please visit my flickr page.

Monday, March 18, 2013

No GMO, Monsanto must go in Hawaii

Hawaiian rallies and marches are always very colorful and filled with beautiful imagery and passion. Here, a recent protest and rally in Hilo against Monsanto and GMO tested produce grown on the Hawaiian islands are galvanizing many diverse groups of supports to pressure government to start labeling GMO produced products and drive out Monsanto interests on all the islands.

Prior to the rally starting a new planting bed was created in front of Hilo's historic Kamehameha statue and people started to plant Taro or Kalo as it is called in Hawaii - a food staple on the islands.


You cannot help to smile with creative and humorous signage that adds a human dimension

to this type of protest.

Personal signage give a more intimate story of the relevance of the rally and appeal for local government to consider their constituent's priorities.

The hands show what its all about....

A'ole GMO means No GMO

Even the oldest march and create insightful written dialog.

The weird and funny always grabs attention and sense of humor along the parade route.

A very large turnout supports and galvanizes local community to act and be heard, hopefully spurring action and changes within government.

Strength in numbers and positive reinforcement of words and local support inspire marchers along with onlookers. Hopefully this march has created some impact and thought, along with a very colorful display of Hawaiian culture.

For more images of the rally and march, please visit the flickr link below.

©Noel Morata, All rights reserved

Come and visit my photography website at

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Beautiful waterfalls in Hilo town.

Its been raining heavy for the past few weeks in East Hawaii, so now that we are getting some beautiful sunny days, I wanted to go out to see the amazing waterfalls happening close to Hilo while doing some errands in town. I'm instantly drawn to visiting some of the gorgeous scenic areas around town when the sun opens up and creates beautiful light to the landscape.

The Wailuku river running through Hilo all the way to the ocean has a series of interesting to amazing waterfalls lining the various areas from the higher to lower elevations.

Above and closer to the mouth of the ocean, the waterfalls are smaller but still dramatic and colorful with flowered trees adding highlights to this mostly green jungle. An older water turbine in the green building adds more cascading water to this sweet spot.

The open area at the mouth has a series of older bridges with this one just facing the ocean, the town of Hilo is just to the left of this photo.

Further uphill is the more famous waterfall and destination spot of tourist to Hilo - Rainbow falls is quite accessible with easy trails going up to the top of the waterfall below. Little rainbow wisps at the bottom of the spill create a nice effect on the rocks.

Further uphill is one of my favorite waterfalls - Pe'epe'e falls. It is not as easy to access with a slippery hike to the bottom which is only done by locals in the know. There are boiling pots or circling currents that spill into pools down the hill into Rainbow falls further downhill.

Here's a shot of the boiling pots below which are extremely dangerous and not swimmable in my opinion.

There are many smaller streams and waterfalls also connecting with the main river like this almost hidden falls next to Pe'epe'e.

Its amazing to see these beautiful falls on a clear sunny day and know its just in the heart of Hilo town. I don't think I can ever tire of visiting these places when I'm in town just doing my errands.

Related Posts with Thumbnails