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Let’s Talk Food: Events around town

Merrie Monarch Festival

The Merrie Monarch Festival is in full swing this week. Look for many food vendors, most of them close to the Edith Kanakaole Multi-Purpose Stadium. It is a wonderful opportunity to get your fill of Hawaiian food.

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Ka‘u Coffee Festival

The 10th annual Ka‘u Coffee Festival starts April 21 with the annual Miss Ka‘u Coffee Pageant and the crowning of 2018 Miss Ka‘u Coffee and her court at 6 p.m. at the Ka‘u Coffee Mill. There is a $10 admission fee. For more information, call 928-0606 or email trinimarques@yahoo.com.

On Friday, April 27, the pa‘ina and open house at historic Pahala Plantation House will feature music, hula, food and house tours from 5:30-9:30 p.m. The house is located at the corner of Maile and Pikake streets in Pahala. It is a free event, with any donations going to the Miss Ka‘u Coffee Scholarship Fund. The Pahala Plantation House and the Ka‘u Calendar newspaper are sponsoring this event. For more information, visit www.kaucoffeefest.com or www.pahalaplantationcottages.com, or call 928-0550.

On Sunday, April 29, the Ka‘u Coffee Recipe Contest offers a free 11 a.m. cooking competition in various categories. All recipes must contain Ka‘u coffee. The deadline for entries is Monday, April 23. Cash prizes are awarded in six categories: pupu, entree and dessert for adults and pupu, entree and dessert for keiki. The awards at $100 for first place, $50 for second place and $25 for third place. For more information, call 928-0550.

Throughout the week, visit Ka‘u coffee farms, enjoy the scenic and historic beauty of Ka‘u, Punalu‘u black sand beach, Honu‘apo fishponds, the cliffs of Ka Lae — the southernmost place in the U.S. — and the nearby Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There are several accommodations available in Ka‘u. Visit www.kaucoffeefest.com for participating coffee farms and accommodations. Call 987-4227 for an organized farm tour at 9 a.m. May 3.

On Wednesday, May 2, explore historic flume systems of the sugarcane era and the development of hydroelectric power on a Ka‘u mountain water system hike in the Wood Valley rain forest from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. This hike is limited to 30 people and is $40, which includes lunch.

On Friday, May 4, “Cowboy Up” at Coffee and Cattle Day from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at Aikane Plantation Coffee Company. Find out how descendants of Ka‘u’s first coffee farmer integrate coffee with other agriculture. There is a $25 fee, which includes an all-you-can-eat buffet and a hayride. Visit www.aikaneplantation.com or call 927-2252 for more information.

On Friday, May 4, you can observe the heavens from the summit of Makanau during Ka‘u stargazing from 5:30-10 p.m. The cost is $35, which includes refreshments and shuttle transportation. The tour departs from Ka‘u Coffee Mill. Sign up can be done by visiting www.kaucoffeemill.com or calling 928-0550.

On Saturday, May 5, the Ka‘u Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a at the Pahala Community Center is a full day of fun with hula, live music, local food and crafts, keiki activities, educational displays, guided coffee tastings and farm/mill tours from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The Ka‘u Coffee Experience offers Ka‘u coffees using a variety of methods by professional baristas from 9:30 a.m.-noon and 1-3:30 p.m. There also will be farm tours with shuttle transport at 9:30 and 11 a.m. and 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. The tours are $20. For more information, call 929-9550 or visit www.kaucoffeefest.com.

On Sunday, May 6, there will be presentations by notable coffee experts at the Ka‘u Coffee College at Pahala Community Center. It is a free event, but donations are appreciated. Call 929-9559 or visit www.kaucoffeefest.com for more information.

Hilo Huli

The Rotary Club of South Hilo’s Hilo Huli is slated for 11:30 a.m. Sunday, May 6, at Mokuola Island (Coconut Island). There will be a shuttle service to and from the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium parking lot, so you need not worry about parking. President-elect Benson Medina will be one of the drivers and might entertain you with his ukulele, but not while driving.

So far, vendors include Any Kine Wontons, Coca-Cola Bottling of Hawaii and Pepsi Beverage Company, Hilo Hawaiian’s Queen’s Court Restaurant, Somabat’s Fresh Thai Cuisine, Sweet Thunder Products, WikiFresh and Mehana Brewing/Hawaii Nui Brewing. We have verbal commitments from Poke Market and Hilo Medical Center, which will be there in full force to defend its “Best of Hilo Huli” title from 2017’s event.

Members of the Rotary Club of South Hilo have tickets for purchase.

Hawaii Community College

Back from spring break, the first- and second-year culinary students are anxious to prepare you lunch at The Cafeteria and Bamboo Hale today through Friday. The European standard menu and the cuisine of Italy will be featured at Bamboo Hale. Call 934-2591 for reservations from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Those of you visiting the island for Merrie Monarch should check out HCC for a very tasty and reasonable meal.

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Have a great Merrie Monarch week.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.