ROVING CURIOSITY . . . If the U.S. can land a mission on Mars, then I should be able to rove to Lahaina on a regular basis and touch down on the latest happenings, right?
On route last Thursday, I passed an alien-looking structure near Maalaea at the red light on the corner of Honoapiilani and Kuihelani highways. At first I thought it was a bus stop, but Mike Atherton, owner of Maui Tropical Plantation nearby, tells me he intends to open a fruit stand there and park his classic Woodie out front.
Orbiting around the pali, I jumped ship in Kaanapali for a couple of interviews, then landed at Fleetwood's on Front St., with precision on its soft opening in the historic Lahaina Store building.
Bar Manager Rondi Sperling of the new Fleetwood’s on Front St., is serving fun cocktails such as the Lime in the Coconut, the 24 Rickey and the Mick’s Margarita at the legendary rock star’s latest venture.
CARLA TRACY photo
I spotted Executive Chef Maro Gjurasic, formerly with the Plantation House. He works under Corporate chef Scott Leibfried of "Hell's Kitchen" fame. The duo were cooking up classic fish 'n' chips with malt vinegar, beer-steamed black mussels, grilled prime flat-iron steak, and Harley Davidson hog burgers.
The 10,000-square-foot restaurant was a sea of people and zebra prints were everywhere. The VIP dining area is even called the Zebra Room.
A bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" as a native Hawaian lit the torches on the rooftop.
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"This will happen each and every sunset," says partner Jonathan Todd. "I swear, you can see Captain Cook and pirate ships out there on the water."
"Blimey! Would Spock think this logical?"
"It's a blending of the cultures of Europe, America and Hawaii," says Todd. "It's a melange of tastes, all blending together."
So "yes," this is what makes Fleetwood's planets apart from the former Planet Hollywood and Lahaina Store Grill & Oyster Bar in the same location.
Big grand-opening parties are planned for Aug. 22 to 25. On Aug. 23, for instance, the benefit for Childhelp Maui will cost you $500 for inside and $350 for rooftop seats with the likes of Steven Tyler, Willie K, of course, Mick Fleetwood and other "very special guests" targeted to take the stage. Call 669-MICK.
The curious journey continues to Duke's Beach House at the north end of Kaanapali, where we find that all of the proceeds from the Chef's Tasting Menu will go to Feed My Sheep through September.
The menu runs from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m. daily and choices include Maui onion soup or rocket salad, Duke's baked fish with Chardonnay-lobster risotto or Dijon-rubbed petit filet; and desserts of creme brulee duo or trio of island sorbets. Of course, do mark your calendars for Aug. 31, when Henry Kapono will perform there.
Discounted sushi, pupu and drinks abound at two happy hours daily at 5 Palms Lahaina. Dine from 3 to 7 p.m. or enjoy the later happy hour from 9 to 11 p.m. Both offer half off the above-mentioned items, according to GM Kennan Randolph.
BITS AND PIECES . . . Snapping with a new Lobster Fest on Tuesdays and Thursday evenings is Molokini Bar & Grill at Makena Beach & Golf Resort.
Basically, you dine on a three-course dinner featuring a classic Caesar salad, a surf 'n' turf main course, and a trio of creme brulee for $39.95 per person.
"Sides include a bed of Molokai sweet potato puree and fresh-from-the-garden baby carrots," says Executive Chef Marc McDowell. "Wine pairings are also available at an additional cost."
The lobster fest joins the hotel's weekly lineup of culinary offerings, which include the Friday Night Seafood & Prime Rib Buffet, Saturday Night Asian Buffet, and the hugely hot Sunday Brunch.
Flatbread Pizza in Paia will host one of its regular fund raisers on Tuesday, this time for the Maui Contractor Women's Auxiliary.
On the other side of Maui's food universe is Central Maui, the final frontier of cutting-edge cuisine here. Yet we found two new food trucks hovering about.
Nestor Jaimies, whose father, Raul, founded the former Papa's & Chilies and the current Fiesta Time concepts, has opened a food truck serving tacos and burritos on Kahului Beach Road.
Of course, the Eat Gogi food truck parked across from Sears on Kaahumanu Avenue has been causing quite the stir. There's just something about kim chee, grilled short ribs and tortillas that makes me want to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and to boldly go where everyone in LA's been before.