Ahi Lele Fire Show at Common Ground Kauai
Destination Events Hawaii adds the new Ahi Lele Fire Show to their catering and special event roster. The event, which occurs every Wednesday evening, is billed as “Hawaii’s only exclusive fire show and Polynesian culinary experience.” Upon arrival, everyone gathers in the former dining room of The Garden Cafe to chat and sip Hawaii made craft brew, or cocktails made with local spirits. The Ocean Vodka Refresher is made with free-pressed summer fruit juice, such as mango and pineapple, and a splash of seltzer. Keeping with the fire theme, and served throughout Kauai’s sizzling summer, the Koloa Rum Citrus Uahi is served with a smoke-infused ice cube and includes house
made Surinam cherry simple syrup, Peychaud’s Specialty Bitters and citrus from the onsite garden. Canapés made of fresh ahi and Kauai Shrimp are passed around as guitarist Jeff Caldwell plays guitar. As I stroll through the onsite garden, I can hear Jeff’s melodic chords blend with bird calls and the murmur of a tractor engine. Red, orange, purple and lavender flowers top herbs in a small garden. In another, snap beans, lettuces, carrots and sunflowers stand in neat rows. Patches of pineapple, chard and eggplant grow here and there and Hawaiian chili peppers, lime trees and taro line a walkway. In yet another garden, rows of
scallions look like evenly cropped green hair.
Dinner beings with cubes of raw ahi and guava smoked Hawaiian sea salt served with a salad of inamona, limu, tomato, scallions, pickled onions and kabayaki. A double-sided entree includes Kauai Shrimp grilled over a wood fire, local heart of palm, and a coconut-chili-citrus sauce made with coconut shellfish nage and topped with local microgreens. On the other side, succulent and smokey Kaneshiro Farms slow-roasted pork is served with luau leaf, taro, lomilomi tomatoes and a sweet onion demi glace. A sweet potato
mash is nestled between the two. Coconut milk panna cotta is served for dessert with pineapple and Koloa Rum flambe and mint and coconut candies.
After dinner, we are drink coffee and tea then gather at the dining area’s main entrance. An escort guides us on a five minute walk along a winding path that brings us to the top of a small hill. Four long picnic tables, topped with a ring of battery-operated votive candles, sit under a white canopy. Just ahead, the fire troupe sits on a thatched stage lit with colorful lights. The stage is at the same level as the tables, so if
you’re in the back, it’s tricky to see. Phil Villatora, a well-known Tahitian drummer, as well as Paul Morimoto, Kauai’s top fire-knife dancer, join a cast of 13 to tell the history of fire in Polynesia. Just after sunset, the show begins with a mournful flute and a somber drum.
“The Polynesians have mastered the art of fire-making by simply rubbing two sticks together,” says Coppin Colburn, one of Kauai’s top entertainers. “By doing that, the Hawaiians immediately notice that the fire takes on the spirit of dancing, or ahi lele.”
When Colburn finishes, staccato drums beat as two men at the front of the stage light a fire by rubbing two sticks together. Tahitian dancers in costumes that evoke roosters sashay onto the stage. They dance, in that trance like way that hypnotizes your eyes to follow the sharp movements of their hips, while long plumes of feathers draped around their waist try to keep up. Five drummers and eight dancers perform under the night’s sky and teach us about fire’s critical role in Tahiti, Samoa, New Zealand and Kauai. The crowd laughs in delight as dancers slap their knees, legs and faces in a dance inspired by mosquito attacks; roast marshmallows over an open fire; or as three Hawaiian “stooges” fire walk, catching their ti leaf skirts alight, and slapping each other to put it out. A downpour cools the balmy night as water and fire conspire with sexy Polynesian dancers to make steamy evening. I get one mosquito bite, but that’s because I remembered to wear Second Skin Organics bug spray. Two side tables get splashed when it rains, but the ones in the middle were nice and dry. If you go, be aware that the gravel path to the fire show is dimly lit, rutted and will be muddy if it rains. You be fine dressed in island-casual clothes and comfortable shoes.
Adults (Age 13+) $125, includes dinner, drinks, tax and gratuity. Children (Age 3-12) $95. Children Under 3 Free. Kamaaina Rates and VIP Experience available. Vegetarian or other dietary needs can be accommodated upon request and those with difficulty walking may be driven to the stage.
For reservations, call (808) 639-5960, email [email protected], or reserve on OpenTable.