Revel in mangos at Big Isle's first Mango Festival


POSTED: Saturday, July 18, 2009

Dad loved mangoes. Nothing brought a bigger smile to his face than seeing someone at our front door, bearing a big bag of the sweet, juicy fruit. Since we didn't have a mango tree in our yard, we counted on the generosity of family, friends and neighbors to keep us well supplied.

Watching Dad cut fresh mango was a treat in itself. It amazed us kids that he could remove the skin with a paring knife in just a few smooth strokes—leaving long, paper-thin peels scattered like streamers on the chopping board. What remained after he sliced off the plump “;cheeks”; of the fruit were the oval seeds, with plenty of luscious golden flesh still on them.

We'd stand by the sink beside him (using step stools when we were really small), grab a seed and gnaw it until only a bit of bright fuzz was left. Juice ran down our chins, hands and arms to our elbows, and plenty of it usually got on our shirts and shorts, too.

But, oh, was it ono! My two brothers, sister and I always fought over who would get the last seed.

Likewise, it will be mango mania on Aug. 1 when the Big Island presents its inaugural Mango Festival.

The celebration begins at the Keauhou Farmers Market with tastings and a talk by orchard manager Stuart Johnson about mango cultivation and harvesting.

Chef William Trask, owner of Hawaiian Culinary Consultants, also will be on hand to make Flambe Mango with Chili Caramel Butter Sauce and Basil Whipped Cream.

Mango enthusiasts will then gather at the Keauhou Beach Resort, where the Mango Experience will provide all sorts of family-oriented diversions, including demonstrations of fruit cutting and preparation ideas; sales of mango-themed art, crafts and gifts; and discussions on mango's medicinal benefits and grafting, pruning and natural pest-control techniques.

Also planned are mango displays, prize drawings, live entertainment and a food court offering shave ice, smoothies, jams, chutney and other mango delights.

Refreshing Mangoritas (margaritas blended with fresh, pureed mangoes) will be available at the Veranda Lounge.

The event concludes with a Mango-Inspired Dinner featuring Thai-Style Big Island Beef Salad with Maupulehu Mango Vinaigrette; South Kona Mango-Scented Grilled Mahimahi with Jasmine Rice, Asparagus and Rapoza Mango Relish; and Warm Hayden Mango Sweet Bread Pudding with Mango Cream Anglaise.





        » When: Saturday, Aug. 1

» Call: 769-0672


» E-mail: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


» Web sites: www.keauhoufarmersmarket.com and www.konafarmbureau.org




Mango Lassi

        Courtesy of Stuart Johnson

1 mango (about a pound), chilled and cubed
        1/2 cup vanilla-flavored goat's milk yogurt (it's available at health food stores, or you can substitute regular yogurt)
        1 tsp. fresh ground ginger
        1/4 tsp. cardamom powder


Put all ingredients in a blender, along with the juice that's released from the mango when you cut it. You can also squeeze additional juice from the seed. Blend everything together, pour in a glass and enjoy!




Known as the Mango Medic, Johnson is happy to see his favorite fruit in the spotlight. A native of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, he moved to the Big Island in 2001 and became acquainted with mango two years later when he began working at orchards on the Kona coast. Today he handles irrigation, organic fertilizing, harvesting, grading, sales and marketing for 10 farms growing more than 30 varieties of mango.

“;I take care of a thousand trees, and I educate people about the health benefits of mango,”; Johnson said. “;It has 25 percent of the fiber we should consume daily, and it's a great source of vitamins A and C.”;

Mangoes thrive in Kona, which is typically hot and dry with light rains and little wind.

“;They don't like temperatures over 90 degrees and under 75 degrees,”; Johnson said. “;It's a pretty specific zone, but that's what you'll usually find on the west side of the Hawaiian islands.”;

Depending on the variety, mangoes ripen on the Big Island from May through September; July and August are the most productive months. In a good season, Johnson harvests more than 20,000 pounds of mangoes, which he sells to health food stores and at farmers markets in Kona.

If he has a bumper crop, he'll take a truckload to the east side.

“;It's like bringing water to the desert,”; he said. “;Puna and Hilo get hit hard with rains and winds, which knock the flowers off the trees so they won't bear fruit. I can go there with 1,500 pounds of mangoes and not come back with a single one.”;

Johnson's other passion is music. He plays the guitar, piano, bass, ukulele and drums and has a Thursday evening gig at Kanaka Kava in Kailua-Kona. He has written several songs about mangoes, and often includes them in his repertoire.

“;Tell your readers to stop by,”; Johnson said. “;They can have a cup of kava, listen to my music and talk story with me about mangoes.”;





        Keauhou Farmers Market

        Keauhou Shopping Center

        78-6831 Alii Drive

        8 a.m. to noon (mango cooking demonstration and talk at 10 a.m.)

        Admission: Free

Mango Experience
        Royal Garden, Keauhou Beach Resort
        78-6740 Alii Drive
        2-6 p.m.
        Admission: $10 for attendees ages 4 and older. Free for children 3 and younger. Fee includes a bottle of Hawaiian Springs Water, participation in a prize drawing and your choice of a Kona Brewing Co. beverage or a Mango Festival coloring book and crayons. Tickets are available at the Kailua Village Artists Gallery at the Keauhou Beach Resort, Divine Goods in Holualoa, the Keauhou Farmers Market, the South Kona Green Market and at the door.


Mango-Inspired Dinner
        Kamaaina Terrace Dining Room, Keauhou Beach Resort
        6:30-9 p.m.
        Admission: $39.95 per person, $19.95 for children ages 6 through 12. Free for kids age 5 and under. Tickets must be purchased at least 24 hours in advance, either online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com or by calling (800) 838-3006.


Mango Festival Package
        Priced at $149 single or $199 double occupancy, it includes one-night accommodations, buffet breakfast and admission to the Mango Experience and the Mango-Inspired Dinner. For reservations or more information, call 324-2515 on the Big Island or toll free (866) 326-6803 from the other islands.




Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based freelance writer whose travel features for the Star-Bulletin have won multiple Society of American Travel Writers awards.