Where to get beef on the big island?
My wife and I are going to be spending 2 weeks on the Hilo side of the Big Island next month. We're renting a house and plan to do a lot of cooking and grilling. The general consensus on where to get the best fresh fish seems to be the Hilo farmer's market, Suisan, and KTA on Hwy 11. But I haven't been able to find anything on where to get the best quality, locally raised beef. Is it readily available in supermarkets, or are there fancier, Whole Foods type markets that carry it?
Thanks for your help!
Hi, hope I can be of a little help. I've lived on the island only a month now but have a couple tips, maybe slightly out of your way:
1. In Waimea, they say the place to get the local beef is actually Foodland, not KTA, and that it is delivered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, although when I am there it seems they don't have a good system of labelling what is local or not. All the same, the beef I have gotten there was quite tasty and maybe it would be worth inquiring on the guy at the counter if you were in town. KTA may in fact have a similar selection, but I haven't checked it out. (they are just across the street from eachother, both of Mamalahoa Hwy/the major street through town, Foodland is in the Parker Ranch shopping center)
2. In Honoka'a, there is J&J Meat Market, which has a small storefront and I've heard very good things about them. I *think* everything they carry is local, not just beef. For instance, I know right now they've got a special on freerange turkey for the holidays. Most of the business is beef. I'm not sure of their prices but I keep meaning to go there and check everything out. It's on Mamane St. which is the main street of town, more on the eastern end of that strip. (Honoka'a is about 45 miles west of Hilo on the hwy)
re: Bill Hunt
It's my understanding that much of the beef carrying the Parker Ranch brand doesn't even come from the islands at all; it's just a marketing gimmick. Hawai'i Big Island Beef, OTOH, is the product of a slaugherhouse in Pa'auilo; given the cost of transporting a steer vs. the cost of transporting a side of beef, that's pretty good assurance that it's locally grown. KTA carries it under the "Kamuela Pride" label.
Slightly off-topic and a few miles to the west, some of the best beef I've ever had came from Maui Cattle Co. They pasture their steers on the slopes of Haleakala and finish them on pineapple sileage near Waikapu. When staying on the south side, one of the first stops is always the Long's Drugs in Azeka Plaza for crack seed and Maui beef. (And Eskimo Candy for fish and poke, but that's another post.)
The only problem with local beef in supermarkets is that there's considerable variation in quality. Of the limited quantities produced, the very best stuff (eg the beef you had on Kaua'i, or the ribeye steaks at Hali'imaile General Store) goes to the top restaurants, and the retail outlets get what's left. By comparison, Parker Ranch Brand beef is all top-third select. So a willingness to look at every steak in the case can work to your advantage.
Sorry, I cannot help you locate it locally.
However, I feel that I must add that the all-time #1 filet (my choice of cuts of beef) was on Kaua`i from Big Island beef. This one surpassed Kobe grade #7 (have not had 8, or 9) and all of the Waygu beef, that I've had. I think that it is worth your efforts and hope that you are successful.