NUTS FOR COCONUT . . . It was a hot and sunny day under the palms at Grand Wailea at its inaugural Niu Festival in honor of the coconut. But the attendees cooled off with icy cold juices from freshly husked Hawaiian nuts.
At the Coconut Cook-off held as part of the festival on Saturday, Maui Culinary Academy's student-chef Kristin Dougherty of Kahului won the first place Gold Coconut for her dessert entry and a second place Silver Coconut for her main dish entry.
"My inspiration was my baking chef-instructor, Cheech (Teresa Shurilla), who always encourages us to be creative," says Kristin. "I used as many coconut products as possible to show what a student can do."
Coconut Cook-off judges and chefs Alan Wong and Eric Faivre (from left) with magazine editor Marti Rosenquist and Pamela Young of TV fame on Saturday at Grand Wailea.
NIU FESTIVAL photo
Her dessert was coconut creme brulee with coconut short bread touille, while her main dish, sous-vide coconut mahi sausage with citrus hearts of palm salad and taro-coconut brioche, also wowed the judges, including KITV's Emmy Award winning news anchor, Pamela Young; James Beard Award winner, Alan Wong; Grand Wailea's executive chef, Eric Faivre and Maui No Ka Oi magazine's Dining Editor, Marti Rosenquist.
"It was a little intimidating to have Pamela Young and two famous chefs tasting my dishes, but it was also a lot of fun," says Kristin.
The first place Gold Coconut in the main dish category was won by Kristine Snyder of Kihei for her mahimahi laulau with shiitake-coconut risotto and fresh coconut sauce, a take on a Hawaiian favorite.
Young flew in from Oahu to judge the contest and shortly after the winners were named, she rushed back to Honolulu to anchor the 6 o'clock news.
"I hope the Niu Festival has a very long life," she said, "It is such a fun event."
Before attending the Coconut Cook-off, my friend and I checked out the hotel's Grand Dining Room for breakfast, and found a sea of locals enjoying pineapple upside-down pancakes, and the Grand luau omelet packed with kalua pig with sides of lomi salmon, poi and more. Manager Marissa Ugale says they also serve an all-you-can-eat buffet daily in the restaurant.
BITS AND PIECES . . . Wanna wake up to a tasty and inexpensive breakfast with sweeping views of neighbor islands and the Pacific? Then head to 5 Palms Lahaina, which is now featuring a $5.99 weekly breakfast special. It consists of two eggs, and rice or potatoes, and toast. Meat such as crisp bacon is $3 extra.
"We will run the special through August," says Michael Carlson, restaurant manager "And we have special prices on pancakes, our popular Hawaiian omelet, and loco moco and kamaaina get 20 percent discount on food items other than the specials"
IHOP at the Maui Mall in Kahului is offering signature pancakes through Sept. 2, starting at $4.99. "We have red velvet pancakes, sweet strawberry pancakes, and whole wheat pancakes with banana," says IHOP General Manager Judith Tomas.
Foodland Super Market, Ltd., Hawaii's largest locally owned grocery retailer, was recently voted as serving "Hawaii's Best Poke" in a local contest.
So the kamaaina company asked customers which of its 31 Hawaii stores made the best and what variety was their favorite? More than 217,000 votes came in and Foodland Farms Lahaina won with its spin on fresh avocado-ahi poke.
Speaking of poke, we hear the Godfather of Hawaiian Cuisine, Sam Choy, has hit the streets of Los Angeles with his Pineapple Express rolling luau food truck. He'll be at the Toyota Museum in Torrance today and he already wowed the beach crowds in Santa Monica on Sunday afternoon.
The island-inspired menu with dishes including Poke Parfait, Sam's Original Kalua Pork Sandwich, "More Hula For Your Moolah" Wraps, and more.
C'mon, Sam, when are you going to roll back into Maui?
The historic Cliff House at Kapalua is now available for gatherings. Built circa 1940 by noted Maui arborist D.T. Fleming, it underwent a complete renovation last year and now you may rent the cliffside facility for your private parties.
The Cliff House's accommodates up to 20 for seated dining; or 30 people for a cocktail reception. Cater your own food and beverage use the facility's kitchen. Look for a story soon in Scene.