Getting A North Shore Juice Buzz
It’s 9:15 a.m. at the Saturday farmers market in Hanalei. In 15 minutes, the market will open, and already a small crowd is waiting at the entrance. Cas Lutton, owner of Akamai Juice Company, doesn’t see them. She’s in the market’s commercial kitchen squeezing the last drop of juice from local, organic fruit and vegetables secured from farmers at the market.
Outside, her husband Scott sets up the juice booth. He’s home for a couple of weeks before resuming a concert tour with the band Red Hot Chili Peppers (he helps set up the big video screen), so Cas puts him to work. But he’s a supportive volunteer.
By 9:28, there’s an army of eager shoppers waiting to be let in. Moments before the throng is let loose, Cas jogs out with three glistening containers of her most popular drink, the Cucumber Mint Slushy, a delicious blend of cucumber, mint, lime, honey, pineapple and ice.
Most of the crowd rushes to the right to get the best of this morning’s produce.
But if you go straight, about 100 yards up on the right, you’ll see Scott at the juice booth.
“Would you like to try a free sample?” he asks passersby while shaking a container and pouring a shot. Soon, the booth is buzzing with high-spirited energy fostered by nutritious juice, delighted patrons and Scott’s exuberance.
“I’ll have a noni shot, followed by a Chicoban Slushy followed by a Super Green 21,” says one customer. “But I’ll come back for the Super Green.” Just as Scott pours the last of the Chicoban, (chico, apple bananas, macadamia nuts, honey, organic almond milk and ice), a customer orders another, and Cas runs off to the kitchen.
Besides being the first female helicopter pilot on Kaua’i, Cas has many gifts, including photography, producing films and building an indoor skate park. But it’s her experience catering on Hollywood sets that extracted the juicing idea.
“Heavy hitters like Martin Scorcese need to be on in the morning,” she recalls. “I’d tell him, ‘I know you don’t like anything heavy, so with your grapefruit sections, try this.’ And it would resonate with him; it would light him up a little bit. It turned him on to another side of nutrition.”
Order the Super Green and get a day’s worth of vitamins and minerals in one glass. Today, the blend has 21 ingredients. It’s mild and a little sweet and includes kale, beet greens, apples, carrots, pineapple, bok choy, fennel, lemon, lime, turmeric and yacon.
A brilliant sun lights the grass bright green, the cloudless sky is baby blue and Hawaiian music charms my heart. Chilled mason jars full of orange juice and guacamole wait in an ice bath. Regulars drop by for a quick hug and an Organic Wellness Shot ($2) with ginger, turmeric and garlic.
One lady skeptically peers into her sample cup, takes a sniff and then a taste. “Wow!” She says. “That’s wonderful!” She orders the Akamai Bop, ($4 small, $6 medium, $8 large), a diabetic- and Atkins-friendly drink make with apple banana, orange juice and pineapple.
All-natural, vegan Oat Bars (prices vary depending on weight) are stacked up front. With 16 ingredients, they are rich and moist, almost like a topping on a fruit crumble. If you savor them, you’ll notice the tang from four dried berries and the lingering warmth of cardamom, ginger, allspice and cinnamon.
The first time I tried noni was when I took a bite from the ripe fruit. I quickly decided that I prefer my blue cheese flavor to come from dairy. But I keep hearing about noni’s acclaimed healing powers, so I decide to give it another shot.
“You can’t sip it. You can’t smell it. You just have to slam it!” Scott says, and toasts my glass. “Here’s to living to a healthy 100!” The Organic Noni Shots ($2) are always followed by a chaser. I find the liquid form of noni satisfying, but not so much that I don’t follow up with a shot of Keiki Love (apple banana, papaya, pineapple, passion fruit, lime and honey).
When the market closes, Cas and Scott can be found at the farmers’ stands in search of the best-tasting fruits and vegetables. She’ll use these for her twiceweekly delivery to The Garden Cafe at Common Ground in Kilauea. It’s this process that enables her to pick the best-tasting produce.
“A glass of juice is like walking down memory lane,” says Cas. “I think of all my friends. There’s Uncle Ben’s ginger, he worked so hard on it. He said he loved the juice, it helped his headache. I’m so grateful for the community, the farmers, the chefs. These people have welcomed me, and allowed me to share one of my little gifts. I love what I do. It’s fabulous!”
Akamai Juice Company akamaijuice.com 760-705-8888