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17th Annual Taste of the Hawaiian Range – I Don’t Have Balls

Last night at the Hilton Waikoloa Village, the 17th Annual Mealani’s Taste of the Hawaiian Range took place under a spectacular West Hawaii sunset where more then 35 restaurants took part in a great event.

Kahu Danny Akaka Jr. Blessed the Festival and Mayor Kenoi cut the Maile allowing the public in to the 17th Annual Mealani Taste of the Hawaiian Range

The purpose of the Taste of the Hawaiian Range is to promote an educational venue to encourage and support local production of agricultural products through social, cultural and scientific exchanges featuring a diverse array of talents brought together for the purpose of developing an ethos of compatibility, tranquility and sustainability with this land we cohabitate.

Students learning about nutritional benefits of grass-fed beef.

Before the Taste even began students had an opportunity to attend educational seminars.  Joannie Dobbs gave a nutrition seminar, talking about the nutritional benefits of grass-fed beef.  After that seminar was over, folks moved over to the next Ballroom where they learned how to cook perfect Tri-Tip.

Perfect Tri-Tip

The Seminar on “How to Cook Grass-Fed Beef” with Chef James Babian was held to a full house!

Seminar – “How to Cook Grass-Fed Beef” with Chef James Babian

Around 5:00 Kumu Danny Akaka Jr. called everyone’s attention and officially blessed the festival and the food… then the VIP’s and the Media got a first hand chance to grind down on some of this food!

Kamehameha Schools – Beef (Steamship Round)

The booth that I personally liked the most was the Kamehameha Schools booth that were giving out Fajitas made with Steamship Round meat that had been cooking all day.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/wMHHFgUKTEk]

The booth that seemed to be real popular with the crowd in general had Food Network Star Ippy Aiona as one of the cooks at his booth set up by Solimenes Restaurant in Waimea.

Ippy Aiona takes a break from the grill

I noticed a crowd forming around the booth set up by Honolulu Burger Company as they appeared to be the first restaurant that was ready to put out food… however, I remembered what they were serving and I told myself I wouldn’t do it… as yes… those were the Mountain Oysters!

West Hawaii Today Journalist Chelsea Jensen sure is “nuts” for balls!

Many folks think this festival is all about the Big Island’s meat industry but in reality there was just as much agriculture related stuff as there were meat products.

Its not all about the meat! Mahalo “Kamuela Grown” for donating this produce to Hawaii Island Food Bank

While some folks called me chicken for not trying things like Mountain Oysters or the Beef Heart that was prepared by Aloha Mondays…

So this is what cooked beef heart looks like?

I did get my taste buds to try out cow tongue for the first time… and needless to say, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

12th Ave Grill prepared beef tongue

Out of 35 restaurants that were present, I think I had plates from about 15-20 of them so needless to say I was full by the time I left there.  I have to say that another of my favorites that I had a couple plates from was the Hilton Waikoloa Villages preparation of Beef Brisket!

Beef Brisket from the Hilton Waikoloa

The Four Season’s Hualai selection of tri-tip was also a hit amongst people at the Taste.

Four Season’s Tri-Tip

Now that I think about it… there was one other thing that I didn’t try and it was more like I was avoiding it and that was the beef cheek that was served by the Fairmont Orchid.

Executive Sous Chef Stephen Rouelle offers me some cheek!

I asked the folks at the Taste how restaurants get picked to cook what part of the animal they do each year and I was told, “Our Meat Assignment Committee says they randomly assign meat cuts to different chefs, taking into consideration that chefs don’t get the same cut within a 10-year time frame. New chefs (8 this year) are worked into the mix and assigned one of 22 GFB cuts, or lamb, mutton, goat, feral or commercial pork.”

Out of all the tri-tips and sirloin tips and other cuts of meat that I had.. I really enjoyed the students from East Hawaii Community Colleges beef sirloin tip.

East Hawaii Community Colleges Sirloin Tips

I had never tried “Mutton” before, but  I heard it was good from someone and I bellied up and tried it.  Unfortunately it looks like I’m not a mutton guy!

Mutton from the Town Cafe

I’ve tried goat once before and didn’t really like it, the way that the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel cooked it as a slider made it taste better then the time I had tried it before.

Got Goat from the Mauna Lani Bay

I was getting pretty full by the time I got around to trying the feral pork that was being served Lechon style, but one thing I noticed, was that it did taste a bit more “gamey” then non feral pork but the taste wasn’t that noticeable.

This little piggy didn’t make it away from the cooks at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel

My stomach could only eat so much meat in a few hours… so after having some soda and sitting for a while… I decided to get one last thing before I went up to my room and it was this slider made from beef flank from Village Burger.

I ended up taking this beef flank slider back to my room because I was too stuffed!

It was a great time had by all supporting island food sustainability.  You can find website links to many of the restaurants, food producers and educational displays that participated in this years Mealani Taste of the Hawaiian Range by visiting their website here: www.TasteOfTheHawaiianRange.com

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