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An Education in Eating in Maui

Eating out of the ordinary cuisine is just one of the many delights of a luxury vacation. Yet foodies who flock to Maui may be interested to discover a little more about the dishes they devour. For those who are hoping to get a culinary education, this Hawaiian island offers a bevy of fascinating tours & tastings that provide insight into where crops come from, how they're grown & what methods local chefs use to turn them into delectable meals. Here are just a few of these unique epicurean experiences:

Market Fresh Bistro This quaint restaurant features an innovative alfresco layout with an open kitchen, making chef Justin Pardo's work a sort of theatrical experience for patrons. The menu focuses on the farm-to-table concept, emphasizing local & seasonal ingredients. While eating here will no doubt delight your palate any night of the week, Thursdays are a particularly special evening at the Market Fresh Bistro. During the dinner hours, a seven-course tasting menu spotlights a specific Maui farm, allowing you to taste the restaurant's locavore philosophy for yourself. For these special events, you'll definitely want to make a reservation – they're popular with residents & tourists alike.

The Breadfruit Institute The National Tropical Botanical Garden isn't just a majestic place filled with exotic flowers. It's also home to the Breadfruit Institute, the source of all you ever wanted to know about the fruit that could, according to Diablo magazine, put world hunger to an end. With more than 120 varieties on site, the institute boasts the largest collections of this starchy tree fruit in the world. Plus, the center frequently holds special programs & events throughout the year highlighting how the breadfruit plays a major role in the Islander diet. You might even learn various ways to prepare it under the tutelage of celebrity chefs.

ONO Organic Farms This family-owned farm is set on a side of the Haleakala volcano, with an extensive range of fruits on the property. Stop by for a guided tour & you'll wander through the jungle-like grounds, tasting more than a multitude different kinds of fruit along the way. You'll spot gourmet guava, tangelo, lychee & mango, as well as others you've likely never heard of, like charimoya & rambutan. Meanwhile, staff will give you a lesson on organic farming, & what it takes to grow all of the mouth-watering fruits here. You'll also get to sample the Arabica estate coffee made on site. Tours are available Monday through Friday afternoons starting at 1:30 p.m., but you can also make a special appointment ahead of time.

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