Lunch and Linger at the Hawaiian Vanilla Company
Living in paradise, it’s easy to overlook some of the unique venues marketed to visitors and stick to our regular luncheon spots. But occasionally, we venture out of our self-imposed boxes and try something new and exciting.
For those ready to experience something spectacular and mouthwateringly delicious, the Hawaiian Vanilla Company, tucked away in the little town of Pa‘auilo on the Hāmākua Coast, offers a truly unique dining experience.
The Island of Hawaiʻi is famous for its coffee crops and mac nut trees, but not many associate vanilla with Hawai‘i. With vanilla being derived from an orchid, what better place to find one of the few vanilla farms in the world than right here on the Orchid Isle.
Only a handful of places in the world produce vanilla, as it can only be grown within 20 degrees north or south of the equator. This makes Hawai‘i the perfect location for vanilla production.
Founded in 1998 by the Reddekopp family, the Hawaiian Vanilla Company is a charming family-run vanilla farm specializing in the growing and producing of vanilla. In addition to offering educational and entertaining tours of the farm, they also serve delicious lunches during the week. Every dish, right down to the tea and lemonade, is prepared using their own vanilla.
Visitors and locals convene upon the lovely farm for a delicious lunch where vanilla is the main attraction and star of the menu.
Derived from an orchid, vanilla originated more than 1,000 years ago by tribal societies in Mexico who believed the bean to hold magical powers. Because of its temperamental nature, vanilla is the world’s second most expensive legally grown commercial crop, second only to saffron.
The flower is so fickle it can only be pollinated one day out of the year. During that one day, a grower has a total of four hours to pollinate the flower by hand. The beans are hand-picked and then cured, wrapped and dried in a process that takes four to six months. Talk about a labor of love!
Lunch is served in the charming dining room just behind the gift shop. Vanilla infused ice tea and lemonade are served along with a mouth watering appetizer of shrimp crostini made with gram masala and vanilla.
The main course is grilled chicken sandwich. Both the chicken and sandwich bun share hints of vanilla, along with the homemade salad dressing. The owner jokingly, yet accurately states, the only thing not made with vanilla is the lettuce.
After the tour of the farm, guests return to the dining room for homemade vanilla ice cream and a demonstration on how to make vanilla extract at home.
After the lunch and farm tour, guests can stroll through the quaint gift shop and peruse the variety of vanilla based products such as chutneys, salad dressings, lip gloss, body scrubs, lotions, spice rubs and more. All the products are made with vanilla grown right there on site.
Reservations are required if you would like to visit Hawaiian Vanilla Company for lunch as most days are sold out. After an afternoon at the farm, you’ll gain a new appreciation of this
uniquely expensive spice and never look at vanilla the same way again.
TheHawaiian Vanilla Company is located at 43-2007 Pa‘auilo Mauka Road.
For more information visit hawaiianvanilla.com or call (808) 776-1771.