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Traditional Fijian food
Photograph: LitescapeGaia Tree Sanctuary

Five foodie experiences to have in Fiji

From organic farm visits to restaurants serving unique local dishes, there are plenty of opportunities for lovers of fine food to experience the flavours of the South Pacific in Fiji

By Time Out in association with Tourism Fiji
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Food is an increasingly important and attractive part of any Fiji itinerary. Hotels and resorts across the nation have been emphasising sustainable food and drink with on-site farms and herb gardens and practises such as sourcing their seafood locally. Resorts are also developing their own products including craft beers, rum, honey and cheeses, while a rise in organic farm tours enables visitors to engage with food cultivation practises on a deeper level. Here are five ways visitors and locals can explore the food and drink of Fiji.   

Eat and drink your way around Fiji

Gaia Tree Sanctuary on the northwestern coast of Taveuni is an eco-tourism destination where visitors can take a ‘Spice of Life’ tour of the organic farm and spice gardens. Explore lush hilltops and experience ocean views before enjoying a vegetarian farm-to-table lunch as well as herbal tonics and smoothies. Eat your way through the likes of crispy coconut and cassava croquettes with carrot-top chimichurri, golden tomato and mint salsa, or steamed gaiatree oyster mushroom rice paper rolls. Guides will convey their knowledge on edible native greens, Fiji’s medicinal herbs and exotic spice leaves during this full-day experience.

Lance Seeto is a culinary star in Fiji and his Nadi restaurant, Kanu, is a top local dining destination. Seeto has travelled extensively throughout Fiji to learn about traditional dishes and ingredients, which he fuses with modern techniques. Breadfruit gnocchi and palusami linguini are two of his adaptations of Italian cuisine using Fijian fare, while ota, peas and capers showcase the flavour and superfood properties of young ferns. Indian, Chinese and Thai-influenced dishes grace the menu here and there is even a range of cocktails that lace their spirits with the unexpected ingredient of seafood.

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KokoMana in Savusavu, Vanua Levu Island, is one of the few places in the world where chocolate is made just a few metres away from the cocoa trees. The farm-factory hosts a tour of the cacao farm where they demonstrate ‘tree-to-bar’ chocolate. Visitors get to taste the sweet, pulpy fruit from a ripe cocoa pod, and follow the process of fermentation, sun-drying, roasting, cracking, winnowing, conching and refining, to the final step of tempering the molten chocolate by hand on a stone table to create the gloss and snap of a fine chocolate bar.

Located in Challenge Plaza on the way to Nadi Airport, Tu’s specialises in Fijian cuisine alongside South East Asian and Western dishes. A signature here is the kokoda – a salad of raw fish marinated in lemon juice and served in coconut milk that is reminiscent of a ceviche and a popular South Pacific entrée. The fish lolo meanwhile is a fish stew made with lightly battered and fried fish fillet with lemon juice, chillies and coconut cream. Tu’s was opened more than 15 years ago as a project to employ and train local residents as well as support suppliers of local produce and these days it’s a must-visit Nadi diner. 

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Bulaccino founder Eileen and her daughters were inspired to open their first café in Nadi while enjoying the coffee on holiday in Italy. They now operate three cafés in Fiji (one in Nadi and two in Suva) with trained baristas serving their own roasted Arabica beans grown in nearby Vanuatu. The cafés serve house-baked breads and other high quality ingredients, many of them grown on their own organic farm. Two-hour tours are available of the 30-acre farm near Nadi, which occupies a valley below the Sleeping Giant Mountain range. The farm has sheep, jackfruit and dragonfruit orchards, vegetable and herb gardens, medicinal plants and a bee farm.

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