Raise your wineglass if you were at Pineapple Grill for the latest ‘Aipono Awards Winemaker’s Dinner Series. While Miz Gossip regrettably wasn’t, my spy fed me the scoop, calling the Kapalua restaurant’s staff and food “spot on.” Winemaker Bob Trinchero shared his private reserves with a sell-out crowd. Like the ‘Aipono Awards gala, the dinner series benefits Maui Culinary Academy students. Two were on hand, apprenticing under Chef Ryan Luckey in his ‘Aipono Award-winning kitchen. Menu highlights: mochi-crusted kurobuta pork loin and house-smoked wild New Zealand salmon. (The chef swiped guava branches from nearby tennis courts to flavor the smoke—as local as it gets!) I won’t miss the next winemaker’s dinner—at Son’z at Swan Court on May 7—you shouldn’t either. Call 667-4506 for reservations.
Speaking of ‘Aipono winners—let’s sink our teeth into this year’s results, shall we?
Three cheers for Mama’s Fish House, 2008 Restaurant of the Year! Each year Mama’s is a top contender for this title, racing neck and neck until the very last ballot gallops in. This year Mama’s captured a Triple Crown: Most Maui-iest (Silver), Best Waterfront (Gold), and, of course, Restaurant of the Year. In the heated race for Most Romantic, Capische showed lots of heart, winning gold, while old-favorite Plantation House followed hot on its tail for silver. Several new restaurants showed strong starts. Duo won Best New Restaurant (Gold) and Best Dessert (Silver). We trust it was the molten chocolate cake, not the cotton candy, that cinched that win. Flatbread trotted off with Best Place to Dine with Kids (Gold). Where else can kids sip ginger-spiked Shirley Temples, watch chefs shovel pies into a fiery furnace, and build their graphic-design portfolios with snazzy crayoned menus?
Miz Gossip cannot urge you strongly enough: vote for your top tables next year! You might be the deciding vote and win a prize to boot. (Dinner for two or limited-edition Sig Zane apron, anyone?) Finally . . . drumroll please . . . Gossip Gourmet’s Cherry-picked and Sour Apple Awards. Unlike the readers’ choice ‘Aiponos, these are arbitrary, chosen by Gossip herself.
Best New Kitchenware Museum: Cucina Bella. Check out the minimalist and pop-art exhibits at this posh new kitchen supply shop. Up your cool quotient by attending the chef demos. Yes, you are allowed to eat off those one-of-a-kind plates after purchasing. (55 Pakaula Street, Kahului, 871-6428)
Best Hawai‘i Food Blog (Gold): Onokinegrindz.com. This O‘ahu-based blogger has a taste for the homegrown (he shares his grandparents’ guri-guri recipe) and the far-flung (check out his encyclopedic review of Fat Duck in London.) Our only request: more on Maui, please!
Best Hawai‘i Food Blog (Silver): Bev’s Blog. Tune into bevgannonrestaurants.com to read our globe-trottin’ gourmet chef’s diary.
Greenest Kitchen: Mala, now using biodegradable dishwashing soap! Kudos to owner Mark Ellman, who serves organic, local produce at Mala and cutlery made from sugar cane at Maui Tacos. The unbleached napkins earn extra stars.
Not So Green: Aloha Mixed Plate. Eh, you guys, your food is terrific, but maybe not so many separate plastic portion cups?
Worst Export: Marc Aurel. The owner of the eponymous café and wine bar in Wailuku has left the country. Thanks, Homeland Security; we feel a lot safer now.
Juiciest Rumor (Gold): Merriman’s Kapalua. Peter Merriman was the chef who turned Miz Gossip into a bona fide foodie. Your humble Gossip spent her school allowance at Merriman’s sumptuous dining room on the Big Isle. Forget surfboards; what she wanted was lamb chops and a decent cheese plate. This June (cross your fingers) Chef Merriman is opening a farm-to-table restaurant at the former Kapalua Bay Club! Hooray!
Juiciest Rumor (Silver): Takamiya II. A sequel to Takamiya Market, home of the island’s best mini-bento? Yes, please!
Got a delicious rumor? Well, fork it over! firstname.lastname@example.org