Saturday started with a tour of Greenwall Farms, a famous Kona coffee grower in nearby Kealakekua. I’m not a coffee drinker, but nonetheless, the tour of the farm was an interesting experience. It started with a coffee tasting session of about seven types. I tried the Medium Roast, which I later found out has more caffeine than two shots of espresso. It tasted to me like, well, coffee.
Other interesting tidbits I picked up during the tour: Starbucks buys coffee from Greenwell Farms and uses a blend of 90% Kona, 10% Starbucks; Greenwell Farms uses a process to remove acidity from the coffee, something that most others do not; Kona coffee gets its taste, which so many people love, from the volcanic ash in the soil.
After the tour, we had intended to head South, but massive road construction changed those plans. Instead, we headed back to Kona and stopped at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue for a late lunch. Good choice. While considered fast food, this place was nothing short of spectacular. I ordered the Hawaiian BBQ mix, which featured beef, chicken and short ribs. The meat is marinated in a bunch of Hawaiian spices, grilled and then served plate lunch style. The two sides were rice and a macaroni salad that was the best I’ve ever tasted.
Stuffed, we headed the same direction as the day before, up the interior road toward Waimea. Then from Waimea we went Northwest toward the coast where we saw some unspectacular beach parks, including Mahukona Beach Park. Naturally, by the time we got close to the exotic beach spots, it was dark so we headed back to Kona. Those will have to wait until later in the week when we are staying on the Kohala Coast, featuring mega-resorts and picturesque beaches.
For dinner, we walked into downtown Kona and ate at the Thai Rin Restaurant. After a long day of driving, I was ready for a beer — a Big Wave to be exact. Unfortunately, despite the dinner rush being over, the service was horrible and it took 15 minutes to get our drinks. I wasn’t expecting much better from the food. But I was wrong. Beef in oyster sauce is probably my favorite dish Thai (or Chinese) dish. This place made it perfectly. After talking it over, I decided the reason I liked it so much was that other than the great taste, they had mushrooms, celery and carrots, in addition to the standard onions and green peppers. Those are the vegetables I like the most in Thai (or Chinese) food, and they had included all of them. Which brought me to another thought. Why do the Thai and Chinese places decide which vegetables go in which dishes? Why can’t the customer decide? After all, when you order a pizza, you don’t let the chef pick the toppings, do you?