Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tasting Brazil by the Side of the Highway

Update 8/17/14: Julie's (aka Giulia's) Food Truck is no longer on Hana Highway. 
New locations: Saturday mornings, Upcountry Farmers Market by the Pukalani (Kula) Longs, full menu
Tuesday and Wednesdays, Pukalani Longs - acai bowl and lilikoi mousse
Friday's, Enchanted Floral Garden

Original post:

A brightly painted orange caravan in a field of green. A table with pastries by the side of the highway.  Three men cutting long stalks of cane grass to create more parking. Was it a fruit stand, one of many on the road to Hana? There was no sign. We had passed Twin Falls and I didn’t get a smoothie then, and I was now thinking about smoothies.

We pulled over and a boy and a girl ran up to meet me. They showed me pastries and croissants on a table outside. These were store-bought. There were also two women, one older and one younger.

They said they made the lilikoi mousse. Lilikoi is passion fruit, a gorgeous, tangy sweet fruit that is as plentiful in Hawaii as zucchini is on the mainland.

The orange caravan was not a smoothie stand, but a Brazilian food truck, and the two children wanted me to try everything. Since the mousse contained lilikoi, I felt obligated to sample it.  Even though I have a ton of lilikoi at home. They also had more substantial food. A Portuguese black bean soup and a yellow seafood soup, both were quite good, which they plied on DH and I.
One of the chefs of the Food Truck.
Maui actually has a significant Brazilian population. There are not as many Brazilians as Portuguese aka “Portagee” who came here to work on sugar cane plantations, but I’ve met more than a handful of Brazilians through the years. Some of them came to Maui to go surfing or windsurfing and even hit the big time. Those who stayed on Maui brought their families here. There are plenty of restaurant and hotel workers from Brazil, even a popular Brazilian jiu-jitsu studio

Menu and pictures of Brazilian food items.

I decided to buy the lilikoi mousse. As I handed over my money, the lady inside the truck said I was their first customer. They had just opened. And something clicked in me. I was their first customer! This was their grand opening!  I should buy more than a $5 dessert. So I bought some yellow soup to go. And then my next thought was “Oh, I should tell Liza” who runs A Maui Blog and Food Trucks on Maui.  My next thought after that was “I should take some photos.”

Mmm... Lilikoi Mousse a la Brazil

The older woman scooped some rice into a Chinese take out box and then ladled yellow soup over it, while I posed with the younger woman. Then she said she would give me the mousse for free, since I was their first customer.

The name of their truck was Julie’s Flavors.

“Are you Julie?” I asked both the women.

“No,” the older woman answered, “Julie was my daughter, she died last month and this was her dream – to have a food truck.” She pointed to a picture on her t-shirt. “This is Julie. We are doing Julie’s dream.”  

Posing with one of the chefs.

Some details:
Feijoada – Black Bean Portuguese Soup, $10
Moqueca – Fish and Shrimp Soup, $10
Mousse de Maracaja – Lilikoi Mousse, $5
Croissants and pastries - $2 each

Dag, Julie’s mother, said they will keep the same menu for now.

Days of operation: Currently, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, weather and other conditions permitting. Subject to change - remember this is laid-back Maui not NYC!
Location (as best as I remember): the town of Haiku, on Hana Highway, around milemarker 15, on the mountainside of the highway, before Ulumalu Road hits Hana Highway
Contact info: cell: 808-2nine8-2465, home: 808-4one9-6851

Languages spoken: English though their Portuguese is much better.  They don't always have the food truck on the highway, so if you are craving Brazilian Food, please call them. I bet they'd be willing to cater for events too.