Story by Becky Speere
O‘o Farm Breakfast Tour
My cousins’ body clocks were still on mainland time, so they were happy to wake with the chickens, since a gourmet breakfast came with the package. O‘o Farm’s resident Rhode Island Reds and the farm’s catuai coffee trees (a cross between Brazilian Mundo Novo and Caturra) cohabitate happily at a cool 3,500-foot elevation. Our guide, Chris, walked us through permaculture gardens and coffee groves, sharing his mana‘o (thoughts) about growing organic coffee, then served us coffee three ways: French press, pour-over, and espresso. All this talk got us clucking for caffeine and eggs baked with veggies fresh from O‘o’s garden and bursting with flavor. After breakfast, a short walk took us to the new coffee-roasting facility to learn about O‘o Farm’s coffee-bean processing. The folks behind award-winning Pacific’O Restaurant own the farm, and handle reservations for lunch or breakfast tours.
651 Waipoli Road, Kula
808-667-4341 | oofarm.com
The road to Hana was already on my cousins’ wish list. The chance to dine at Travaasa Hana’s Ka‘uiki Restaurant moved it to number one. Chef de Cuisine Konrad Arroyo prepared a seared Maui Cattle Company grass-fed beef tataki on a citrus-and-black tea reduction spiked with lemongrass, ginger and Hawaiian chili pepper. It paired perfectly with my cousins’ mai tai, which was handcrafted with Hana-fresh fruits. I gave four stars to the generous portion of just-caught mahimahi, cooked Tahitian-style with coconut and lime juice, tossed with juicy bites of pomelo and avocado, and served with crunchy sweet potato and ‘ulu (breadfruit) chips. The delicate, macadamia-crusted fish of the day, garnished with an orange liliko‘i reduction and green basil oil, was a perfect marriage of crunchy, tart, herbaceous and ocean-fresh flavors; and came with a side of creamy coconut mashed potatoes and local seasonal produce. Travaasa sources its seafood and beef locally; perhaps it’s the terroir surfacing in the fresh preparations that lets the ingredients shine with umami brilliance.
5031 Hana Highway, Hana
808-248-8211 | travaasa.com
I still swoon when I think about Chef Lyndon Honda’s sauteed Brussels sprouts with salty, caramelized bits of garlicky pancetta and flakes of aged Parmesan drizzled with a thick, sweet balsamic vinegar reduction. Chef departed the brick-and-mortar eatery where he used to prepare that dish; now his company, Laulima Events & Catering, will deliver such fare to your doorstep. When Chef Lyndon and his staff catered a recent tasting in Kapalua, my cousins and I happily scored an invitation. We savored appetizers of Asian turkey meatballs infused with ginger and Thai basil on a piquant lemongrass gastrique. Chef’s beef carpaccio — baby arugula wrapped with thinly sliced beef and laced with a tart lemon aioli and crunchy fried capers — captivated my cousins. So did the red and white quinoa salad with pohole (fiddlehead fern) in an Asian sesame dressing, and a classic Caesar salad dressed with bright lemon and garlic. Later, at home, I found my cousins drooling over Chef’s online menu: maple-liliko‘i-glazed pork tenderloin, Kona kampachi with a pipi kaula (marinated smoked beef) poke, and local asparagus and Moloka‘i sweet potato hash. My choice? Chocolate cake with a side of salted caramel ice cream and roasted apple banana with rum creme anglaise. Or maybe those li hing mui-merlot-poached pears. . . .
808-989-4733 | laulimacatering.com
“So far, so terrific,” said my cousins. “What’s next?” “That’s easy,” I replied. “Swans.” Swan Court, to be precise. As we descended the stairs into the elegant setting for Son’z Steakhouse, white and black swans glided by in the lagoon at the restaurant’s edge. Son’z is a Tri-Star restaurant, and owner Aaron Placourakis and Chef Geno Sarmiento take pride in friendly service, exciting mixology, and farm- and ocean-to-table dining. For starters, we savored fresh ‘ahi lightly dusted in aromatic Moroccan spices and seared briefly, then fanned atop a spicy mustard soy — a delightful mash-up of Pacific Rim and Middle Eastern flavors. Farro grains and Surfing Goat Dairy cheese with pomegranate vinaigrette topped a sweet Maui beet salad that was generously portioned, but so delicious, no one wanted to share. One cousin tucked contentedly into a grilled, twenty-two-ounce, bone-in rib-eye steak. The other declared the Maui snapper the perfect catch: seared golden, moist to the bite, and served with artichokes in a lemon-caper butter sauce. The baked potato was loaded with crisp bacon, sweet truffle butter and mascarpone cheese, but I wisely saved room for dessert: bananas Foster with Son’z signature bread pudding.
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa
200 Nohea Kai Drive, Ka‘anapali
808-667-4506 | sonzrestaurant.com
My cousins had to fly home before getting to enjoy Chef Bloc, an intimate dining experience held the second Saturday of each month in Andaz Maui’s Ka‘ana Kitchen. No way was I going to miss this innovative collaboration by some of the island’s most luminous chefs.
On this night, Chef Bloc featured Ka‘ana Kitchen’s Isaac Bancaco, Sheldon Simeon of MiGRANT and Mala Wailea, and Jeff Scheer, the creative talent behind Maui Executive Catering.
Scheer presented a perfectly executed amuse-bouche: a creamy foie gras au torchon (the free-range goose raised humanely in Ha‘iku) wrapped in a sleeve of buttery crisp pumpernickel, topped with a dollop of persimmon and green tomato chutney, and paired with Lambert de Seyssel’s Petite Royal sparkling wine.
A 2011 Nikolaihof Gruner Veltliner paired with Simeon’s seared ‘ahi, foie gras and avocado. The wine’s light notes of fruit and smoke enveloped the salt-and-pepper-crusted fish and penetrated the burnt-caramel richness of the foie gras and avocado puree.
Cardoons from Kupa‘a Farms created soft beds for a crisp salsify root salad and duck prosciutto, while the fourth course tickled with puffs of foie gras powder and dazzled with shreds of dried duck-neck jerky on crispy burnt rice crackers.
Bancaco’s burnished duck a l’Orange had a rich hoisin-peanut butter reduction, only to be one-upped by his pa‘i‘ai taro prepared two ways: one a crisp and chewy bite reminiscent of fried mochi cake (rice dumpling); the other grated and playfully presented in a fluffy mound that was delicate, yeasty and breadlike, and topped with orange zest.
Halfway through this feast, a palate-cleansing, fresh yuzu icee prepared us for the next four courses…
Scheer’s duck terrine on rye saimin noodles in a katsuo (fish) broth preceded Simeon’s dry-aged duck breast smoked with pili grass and served with a puree of baked ‘ulu (breadfruit). Brunello di Montalcino, 2007 Castiglion del Bosco, provided just the right acidity to balance the sweet persimmon fruit and smoky duck.
As I savored Bancaco’s famous foie gras malasadas and the grand finale — salty/sweet Waialua chocolate foie gras pots de creme and creamy peanut-butter crunch — I vowed to make it to the next Chef Bloc. Maybe the cousins can join me next time.
Andaz Maui at Wailea
3550 Wailea Alanui Drive, Wailea
808-573-1234 | email@example.com