TASTE OF PARADISE . . . Tickets tend to get snapped up for all of the top events on Maui. So that is why I'm telling you now about the New Year's Eve bash known as the "party of the year," coming up at Mala Wailea.
"It's a benefit for Maui Arts & Cultural Center and Maui Food Bank," says Mala partner Shep Gordon. "It starts at 8:30 p.m. and is $500 per ticket, which includes dinner, drinks and celeb-filled concert."
Confirmed so far are the Alice Cooper Band, Michael McDonald, and Weird Al Yankovic - with more surprise guests to follow. Steven Tyler showed up without warning last year, "and it was the best year ever," according to Mala Marketing Manager Whitney Stebbins.
Japengo Sushi Chef Jay Ledee will be on a roll with his next class at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa from 3 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo
Mala's chef-partner Mark Ellman and Executive Chef Preston Hope have been busy planning the special New Year's Eve menu.
Entree choices include spiced-stuffed pork loin; petite venison tenderloin and lobster tail with saffron-risotto rice; and macadamia-nut crusted snapper with Okinawan sweet potato in a sweet soy-butter sauce.
Mala is located lobby level of Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, which will be front and center at the Wailea Wine & Food Festival on its final day Sunday. The resort will set the stage for the Perfect Pairing of Wine & Cheese at 10:30 a.m.; followed by the Grillin' 'n' Chillin' barbecue at 1 p.m. outdoors.
"Sunday is the last day of this inaugural festival and, yes - the best is always saved for the last," says Ann Tuomela, local cheesemonger, owner of Guava, Gouda & Caviar, and speaker at this "wine encounter."
Six cutting-edge and world-class wines were meticulously selected by master sommelier Geoff Kruth. Cheeses are still pending as of press time.
Other wine encounters you may still be able to get tickets to include What's New & Trendy in California Wine at the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui at 1:30 p.m. on Friday; and Three Decades of Cabernet Vertical at the Four Seasons Resort Maui at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. For menus and further details, visit www.waileawineandfoodfestival.com.
HYATT HAPPENINGS . . . When Makana graces the stage from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa in Kaanapali as a benefit for Maui Memorial Medical Center Foundation, tickets will be priced right, as will the food.
Listen to the Hawaiian slack-key master and recording artist and savor menu items such as beef sliders and pork quesadillas at $4 each, and fish tacos for $7. Tickets are $45 for general admission. VIP tables of 10 will cost $1,500, but you get bottle of champagne, appetizer bar, and a 20-percent discount at the resort's Japengo restaurant.
Speaking of which, Japengo Sushi Chef Jay Ledee will present his next bi-monthly Sushi Class from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Cost of $35 per person includes hands-on learning skills, tastes and recipes. For reservations, call 667-4796 or visit www.maui.hyatt.com.
We also hear the Hyatt is offering oceanside dining for people who wish to be up close and personal to the water. So is the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa down the beach at Black Rock in Kaanapali.
BITS AND PIECES . . . Those looking for a local style feast will find it at the Maui Beach Hotel's Rainbow Dining Room in Kahului.
Thursday through Sunday evenings from 5:30 to 8:30, the seasonal holiday buffet will be piled high with salad bar items and Maui favorites such as Mongolian beef, shrimp Canton, vegetable tempura, roast pork with brown gravy, seafood stir fry, desserts and more. Cost is $33 adults and $16.50 for children 6 to 11.
And from 5 to 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays in Maui Beach Hotel's Lokelani Lounge, you'll find lots of pupu and drink specials.
Buzz's Wharf in Maalaea is also running with happy hour specials. Come any day from 3 to 5 p.m. and get 30 percent off select pupu items as well as $3 domestic bottles, $4 well drinks and $5 house wines.
Parents also love the Keiki Eat Free promotion daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., when they purchase an adult entree with a $15 minimum bill.
Lori's Hair Shack on Vineyard Street will participate in Wailuku First Friday party this week by selling Coffee We Can Believe In, Hawaii-grown java featuring President Obama's smiling face.