Several weeks ago, Town put an ad in the Weekly looking for foragers of wild foods. “I had just gotten back from Northern California,” explains restaurant owner Ed Kenney. He saw all kinds of wild mushrooms on menus. “And I thought, God, why don’t we do that at home?”
Town has big windows that look out on a garden with fig, papaya and ti. It functions under the motto “local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always.”
Kenney got some response from the ad, though not as much as he’d hoped for. He was approached by a few urban foragers with fruit, mangoes and avocadoes. “I try not to buy those unless I know where they come from,” says Kenney. He likes to support local agriculture but is also keen on supporting local wild foods.
He thought maybe the restaurant would get some “interesting, indigenous” stuff. Like out by Makapuu, there are cacti with edible fruit and broad, green nopales. Kenney says Town uses limu, but it’s farm-raised. “Maybe some guys know where to find it,” he mused. “Or maybe there’s not enough.”
One person did call Kenney recently, identifying herself as a forager. So, stay tuned.
Over at Downtown, Town’s sister restaurant, manager Keoni Willing says that hoi‘o (called “pohole” on Maui and “fiddlehead” on the mainland) is the main foraged food they use. The tight curled fern is poisonous after blooming, Willing warns. But good in antipasti before it unfurls.