Hot on the heels of the July 4th holiday is Bastille Day. The French La Fete Nationale is also a celebration of independence and it will be commemorated at two unique events this weekend at Gerard's in Lahaina and at Hana Hou Cafe in Haiku.
Unlike July 4th, on which hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelons and corn on the cobs are devoured at casual outdoor cookouts, Bastille Day pays homage to gourmet French fare and culture here on Maui.
So if you are a Francophile, this holiday is perfect, or parfait, for you.
Gerard’s at Plantation Inn in Lahaina will offer seating on its lanai with lazy overhead fans and views of mango trees in the intimate courtyard. The three-course menu provides lots of options and costs $54 per person, plus tax, tip and beverages. For reservations, call Gerard’s at 661-8939.
Gerard’s local fresh snapper comes with potato-carrot puree and emulsion of orange and ginger.
Millefeuille at Gerard’s is a Napoleon filled with berries and lemon curd.
Situated at Plantation Inn on Lahainaluna Road, Gerard's will have your palate singing like an American in Paris on Sunday during dinner with its island-inspired three-course gastronomic menu.
Singer and keyboardist Lydia Panzik will perform that evening. She's like the Edith Piaf of the Maui kind and will get you in the French mood with classic songs such as "La Vie En Rose" and "Mon Dieu," among many others in her repertoire.
Kick back and sip some champagne or a nice bottle of say, Bordeaux, listen to Panzik, and let owner-chef Gerard Reversade tempt your taste buds with multiple choices of his appetizers, entrees and housemade desserts on the special menu.
A native of Gascony, Gerard epitomizes the French culinary world here.
His five, count 'em, hors d'hoeuvres will include escargot Forestiere in garlic butter; pate de foie with cornichons, olives, Maui onion jam and toast; and chilled cucumber soup with Surfing Goat Dairy cheese and tomato-mint sorbet.
Or opt for baby spinach salad topped with scallops; or French snapper dumpling in a sorrel sauce - a classic quenelle just like you get in Burgundy.
Five entrees will also entice you, such as Gerard's famous confit of duck on puree of white beans with garlic petals; Malama Farm civet of pork simmered in red wine; seafood paella Basquaise; grilled Hawaiian country filet of beef served with whole-grain mustard and Maui onion jam; and last but not least, locally caught Hawaiian snapper that will be roasted in savory olive oil with fennel fondue.
All of the desserts, ice creams, curds and mousses are masterfully made by Gerard in house. Choose from creme caramel Opera with chantilly cream and meringue along with strawberries scented with Kirsch; or his famous Dusty Road, coffee and chocolate ice cream laced with butterscotch sauce and other delights.
Hana Hou Cafe in Haiku will once again present a Bastille Day feast, but it will be held on Saturday, instead of the official day of Sunday, like Gerard's.
"We just came back two weeks ago from Paris and Normandy," says Katie Thibault, who owns Hana Hou Cafe with her husband, Laurent Thibault, a Parisian native and a longtime fine-dining waiter at the former legendary Chez Paul in Olowalu.
Laurent has been in the restaurant industry since he was 14 years of age, first attending hotel school. He was also personal maitre'd to the French president, during his time in the French Army.
"We brought some of the flavors we found in France to share with everyone on Saturday," Katie continues. "Lydia Panzik will be singing her wonderful classic French songs. It will be loads of fun."
The Hana Hou prix-fixe menu will also offer lots of choices, such as soup a l'oignon gratinee, or French onion soup; galette de Sarrasin au fromage de chevre, which is a buckwheat crepe with herbed goat cheese as the savory filling.
For the main course, you may choose the steak tartare, and delight in the tableside preparation that seasons raw Maui beef; or the classic coq au vin, chicken delicately braised in red wine with pearl onions and button mushrooms, a dish that dates back to the era of Julius Caesar.
Seafood lovers will also find fuellet aux fruits de mer, which are bay scallops, shrimp and mussels baked with a rich cream sauce in puff pastry.
"All of our main dishes will be finished with potatoes or rice and seasonal veggies," says Katie. "Of course, vegetarian dishes are available upon request."
The piece de resistance is dessert, and crepes Normandy with caramelized apple, ice cream and salted caramel will appeal; so will tarte au chocolate; and Cointreau with Kula strawberries.